Category Archives: Fruit

Hummingbird Cake (aka ‘The Best Cake Ever’)

Hummingbird CakePaul’s Birthday Hummingbird Cake (September 2012)

When I was a teenager, there was a restaurant in Darlinghurst that my Mum, sister, and I visited for dinner quite frequently. For a long period of time, each weekly dinner there would finish with dessert at the cafe across the road.

This cafe was run by a small group of wonderfully flamboyant gay men, and their frequent customers, whom we came to know, included a transsexual also named Chanel (they dubbed me ‘The Real Chanel’; she didn’t mind), and many other colourful Kings Cross locals. Many laughs and great times were had on those nights, just by listening to their hilarious conversations. Not your traditional family dinner outing perhaps, but we loved it ;)

Unfortunately I can’t remember the now-closed cafe name, but such is the power of food memories that those weekly visits left a lasting impact, for one particularly good reason. It was there that I discovered an unforgettable cake. It was at that cafe, during those frequent visits, that a true love was formed.

You see, it was there that I first met… the Hummingbird Cake.

Coconut. Banana. Cinnamon. Pineapple. Sometimes Walnuts. Sometimes Pecans! Cream Cheese Frosting. Oh my.

THIS is my ultimate cake. If I were on a cooking show and asked to cook the dish that best represents my tastes and love of food, the Hummingbird Cake would be it. It is tropical, sweet, lush, and as a bonus, it is very easy to make.

If you haven’t heard of, or tried Hummingbird Cake before (OMG), allow me to introduce you…

My Birthday Hummingbird Cake (January 2013)

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Filed under Baking, Cake, Dessert, Easy, Fruit, Recipes

Super Easy Sorbets & Ice-Cream

Feels like: 35.7°C.

That’s the weather in Sydney, right now. As I write this I’m sitting in our sauna / spare room, with a pedestal fan blowing hot air at me just a metre away.

I’m feeling dramatically overheated.

Yes, I’m one of those people who complain about the heat in summer. Nobody likes a whinger though (especially when all of my friends are heat-lovers), so I do try to keep my complaining restricted to my inside voice, most of the time ;)

Despite my dislike of the heat, I can see the positives to it:

  1. My clothes and sheets dried very fast on the line today
  2. I’m on leave today so it didn’t matter that my face is red and my hair is a mess on top of my head
  3. AND there’s nothing like an icy cold sorbet (or a Calippo!) to cool oneself down and take the edge off this hell

Unfortunately I’m all out of sorbet, but I can reminisce about a few I’ve made this month.

The 3 recipes below are very simple, and give quick, chilled gratification. After churning they need to freeze for at least a few hours to firm up. If you don’t have an ice-cream machine, you can make ice-cream via this method from David Lebovitz, or this method for sorbet.

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Filed under Dessert, Easy, Frozen, Fruit, Ice-Cream, Recipes

Blood Orange Sorbet

This ever-changing Sydney weather is making a mockery of my blog post plans. During Monday’s 38 degree heat I decided that this week I’d finally post the simple blood orange sorbet which I’d made over a month ago.

Never mind the fact that blood orange season (August to October) is over, as I type this it’s now raining outside. Unbelievable.

But I won’t be deterred.

This sorbet is too delicious to keep all to myself.

Blood Orange Sorbet

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Filed under Dessert, Easy, Frozen, Fruit, Ice-Cream, Recipes

Short Bites: RSPCA Cupcake Day, Fresh Fruit Salad, Perfect Couscous, and The Garden

Being a cupcake lover I never like to miss an opportunity to bake, and being an animal lover this is especially true when I can bake to support and raise money for the RSPCA. Cupcake Day for the RSPCA was held around Australia yesterday, with cooks around the country baking cupcakes in exchange for a donation at their workplaces, schools, and communities.

There are so many fantastic and creative ideas for animal-themed cupcakes which are perfect for this day. However I knew with my busy weekend, and not arriving home from a day trip until 5pm on Sunday to start baking, that sadly I wouldn’t have time to create animal cupcakes. So I made simple cupcakes, but they were still enjoyed!

For our office fundraiser Tanya made fantastic cookie monster and rocky road cupcakes, Fiona made chocolate butterfly cupcakes, Kelli’s grandma made a variety of cupcakes, including cherry ripe (they weren’t intended for Cupcake Day, but we roped them into it!), and I made lemon butterfly cupcakes and vanilla cupcakes with rosewater buttercream and rose Persian fairy floss.

All together we made and sold around 75 cupcakes, including the few I gave Paul to take to his work, and we raised just under $200! A great effort, and with sugar-filled stomachs we look forward to doing it again next year :D

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Filed under Chicken, Dessert, Easy, Fruit, Healthy, Quick, Short Bites, Techniques, The Garden

Epic Baking Day: Black Forest, Maple Cheesecake and Pineapple for Oxfam

I have a confession to make. I become a bit of an armchair critic when watching MasterChef. I’m a big fan of the show (Team Billy!), but I always shake my head in disbelief when the contestants say things like ‘I’ve never cooked [insert ingredient here] before!’ or even ‘I’ve never cooked a sponge cake!’. Of course, I do not claim to be a know-it-all in the kitchen myself. There are many, many things I’ve never cooked. But I would think that if you were going on MasterChef you’d spend a lot of time learning and practising as much as you can beforehand, right??

Take Jay for example. I really liked him and thought he was a great cook, but he was eliminated on Monday night in a Dan Hong dessert challenge after saying desserts are his weakness and aren’t something he makes. He auditioned for the first series but didn’t make it to the top 24, so he spent the past 2 years reading cookbooks and focusing on improving his cooking. But did he not study desserts? Maybe he did, I don’t know. It just seems odd, considering how many dessert challenges there are in MasterChef (hello Zumbo!) and how much the judges LOVE dessert (have you noticed how excited they get when they’re presented with dessert?).

Jay’s downfall (source)

Jay did say during the week that his reason for not cooking desserts is because he is a type 1 diabetic, so he can’t eat them. Which made sense and I now understand his lack of dessert interest, but still… surely his family and friends would have only been too happy to taste test dessert practising, right? ;)

In case you haven’t noticed, I love baking and desserts so I am definitely biased in my championing of them. I feel so happy when people enjoy a cake or other sweet I’ve made. I truly think there is something magical about baking; from the exact ingredients and methods, to an end result of sweet deliciousness that will bring a smile to anyone’s face… Well, maybe not Jay’s.

What would be your strengths and weaknesses if you were on MasterChef?

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Filed under Baking, Cake, Chocolate, Cookbook Author, Dessert, Fruit, Recipes, The Australian Women's Weekly

Eton Mess

I admit that I am one of those tragics who is unreasonably excited about today’s Royal Wedding. I have no interest in the Royal Family, but I love weddings, and whether you’re into it or not, this particular wedding is a huge event. I’m looking forward to watching the ceremony, seeing her dress, and also to see how Westminster Abbey is transformed into a forest. Ahem.

To celebrate this momentous ocassion, in the comfort of my own home, I decided I should make something British. Eton Mess is suitably romantic – strawberries & cream is a winning combination, and Prince William attended Eton College himself. Can I get any cornier? ;) I’d been wanting to try Eton Mess for a while, and watching Nigella make this simple dessert on Nigella Express over the weekend cemented this choice. I was given the Nigella Express book for my birthday this year, and was happy to see this recipe in it.

Eton Mess is so quick to prepare, and though you could make your own meringues, being an express recipe this uses bought meringues which work just fine. I love the combination of the crunchy, sweet meringues folded through the thick cream, and the strawberries are luscious and make it fresh and a bit lighter. The recipe says it serves 4, but Paul & I shared a serve and it was more than enough. However, if you’re a big fan of cream, 4 serves might be appropriate.

What are your thoughts on the hoopla surrounding the Royal Wedding? Are you into it?

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Filed under Cookbook Author, Dessert, Easy, Fruit, Nigella Lawson, Recipes

Pineapple Crumble

Ah, autumn. I welcome you with open arms! Yes, it’s still pretty warm in Sydney, but the end is near – the nights are cooler and the mornings are darker. I love the cooler weather; it’s comfortable and has many positive aspects, like snuggly pyjamas, bed socks and delicious, warming food.

Although I prefer winter, I do love summer fruit and tropical flavours, like pina coladas and my favourite cake, the hummingbird. This crumble is kind of an in-between-seasons dessert. Tropical flavours in a wintery crumble. Pineapple, cinnamon, coconut, and macadamia nuts - delicious!

I was looking for an easy, healthy dish to bring to one of our breakfast charity fundraisers in the office. Searching for breakfast recipes online (not in my cookbooks, oops), I saw a few for crumbles and I was sold – fruit, oats, nuts… The stuff breakfasts are made of! ;) This isn’t really healthy, or a typical breakfast food, but it was easy as I was able to prepare the pineapple and crumble components separately the night before, and then assemble and bake in the morning before work! I’ve only had crumble a couple of times ever, and I’d never made it before. I’ll definitely be making variations throughout winter for dessert though! This recipe is based on Taste’s Tropical Crumble and Macadamia Crumble.

The quantities made enough for a 1.4L dish, as well as 4 x 200ml ramekins. One more thing, I have a great local green grocer and he didn’t charge me for the pineapple and macadamias, on the condition that I bring him in a serve – so the pressure was on! I hope he likes it – everyone else did (including a colleague who doesn’t like pineapple or coconut… Hi Mark!) ;)

Edited to add: YAY my green grocer loved it, and has been raving about it (i.e. asking me to make it again) since – hi George!

What are you most looking forward to during the cooler weather?

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Filed under Baking, Dessert, Fruit, Recipes