Paul Hollywood’s Cob Loaf & Zumbo’s Ultimate Chocolate Brownie

Well, I’m taking a break from cake baking, as last weeks cake was horrible – even the raw batter was horrible. Instead I have moved onto bread.  Is there anything nicer than the smell of bread being baked? As real-estate agents know thrown a loaf of stale bread in the oven (damp, of course), turn it on and let the beautiful aroma waft through the house during an open home, and you have a higher chance of getting a sale. Mmmmh hot bread smell.  I swear  I put on a kilo just walking past a bakery sniffing that oh so yummy bread smell and make that two kilos when I head in and buy a freshly made bun!

 I haven’t really made bread before by hand. We had a bread machine.  Had being the optimal word as the MOTH and I enjoyed the fruits of the machine soooo much that we had to give the machine away as he was getting oh so slightly plump – maybe 1 kilo weight gain, while I ballooned and just got fatter and fatter!! Rather like watching a balloon inflate. I silently wept to see the machine go while my waist-line rejoiced. Now here I am about to tempt fate again. But at least there are only 3 bread recipes in Season One of The Great British Bake Off (TGBBO) to Cook. Paul’s Cob Loaf being the first.

Now according to the web site it comes with video instructions. I rejoiced!  Yeah – I could watch  “Paul Hollywood shows you how to make bread in a step-by-step video.” BUT alas NO!  – “This content is not available in your location” message came up. Dam!! There was something comforting in the thought of being able to watch Paul knead the dough.  Sigh….. So back to reading step by step instructions, and guessing if I was kneading the bread right.

Since there is a lot of down time when baking bread – two hours of proving time in total I decided that I would make Brownies as well. Something to fill in the two hours of waiting. Anyway I like brownies. I especially like eating the raw mixture. Sticky rich raw chocolate  brownie mixture  – mmmmmh.  I can see the kilos piling on.

 But which brownies to make??

In the end I decided on Adriano Zumbo Ultimate Brownie recipe. I have looked at his creations and recipes before. They are usually complex and have multiple steps and have left me shuddering with horror. But not so his brownie recipe. Anyone can make this! Even our cat Pippin could make it. Well maybe not – but you get the picture. This is a luscious, oh so decant brownie. This is a brownie that will make a statement at an afternoon tea. Add French Vanilla Ice-cream and fresh raspberry sauce to your warm brownie at a dinner party and your guests will swoon!  Indulge yourself – have it like this for afternoon tea – we did!!  I swooned. The MOTH swooned. Our daughter swooned.  Yep we all swooned!!!

 This is my type of brownie. It is delicious raw (licking out the bowl was a delight!). It is even more delicious cooked.  It is a brownie that you can adjust to suit you – if you don’t like nuts, add dried cranberries or dried apricots – why not both. Like raspberry then add a generous amount of them in. The base recipe is so versatile.  Thank you Zumbo!!

Base Rrecipe

1. Melt together 70g butter (cut into cubes) and 265g dark chocolate. Now Zumbo uses high quality couverture chocolate, but don’t worry Cadbury chocolate works just as well.

2. Add in 35g vegetable oil into chocolate mixture. Mix well.

3. Beat 3 eggs (room temperature) and mix into 265g brown sugar. Mix well.

4. Add egg & brown sugar mixture into chocolate  – fold together.

5. Sift together 45g plain flour, 35g cocoa, 5g baking powder and pinch salt.

6. Dump dry ingredients into chocolate mixture – fold together.

7. Fold in 85g sour cream.

8. Now add in what you fancy  (N.B.there are 3 steps to go – I am about to degress)

For my first batch I added: 185g of chopped mixed nuts (pecans, macadamia and walnuts) and dried cranberries to my first batch.  In my second I added the same amount of nuts and dried fruit plus 3 dried apricots (they were all I had!!!) then I added 85g  of white chocolate bits and 85g  of milk chocolate bits.

You could just add in frozen raspberries and chocolate bits. Like I said add in what you like.

9. Pour into a 20cm x 30cm tin lined with baking paper. Tip: Have a couple of cm hanging over the end of tin to make it easier to get the brownie out.

10. Put a good desert spoon of Nestle tinned caramel in each corner and in the middle of the mixture and gently swirl through with a fork.

11. Bake for 30-40 minutes at 180 degrees celsius.  It may need a little longer.

I was able to make my first batch of brownies before needing to put the bread into the oven to bake. I made the second after the MOTH, Pansy (the dog), Pippin (the cat) – fed by the MOTH – and myself had had a wee snack of hot bread with lashings of butter and home-made plum jelly.  OMG! Yum, yum, yum. The MOTH makes the best jellies.

Overall the bread was a pass – it had a lovely golden, crusty, crunchy, crust (thanks to Paul’s tip of placing a roasting pan of water in the bottom of the oven). It had a hollow sound when I knocked on it’s bottom. But maybe it was a little dense? Maybe I didn’t  prove it 1st time round. Or was it over proved?? Maybe I didn’t kneed it enough? Really I have no idea. Where is Paul when you need a critique!? But anyway with butter and plum jelly who cares? We didn’t.

What I know is that we have eaten well today. Too well! As my father would have said I am “stuffed like a googy egg”. Time to waddle away from the brownie’s. Weeeellll maybe one more slice with a little raspberry sauce, and a smidge of ice-cream won’t hurt.  Happy baking!





Apple Cheesecake Strudel Slice and Tim Tam Strawberry Champagne Slice

As I said in my previous blog due to my disappointment with the chocolate orange cake I decided to make a couple of slices, one for the MOTH, the other for work. I did a search on Google for the “best “ slices and found the following two slices  on Food to Love. Of all the slices i looked at  it was the pictures of these two that  were enough to tempt me.

I decided to triple the Tim Tam Strawberry Champagne Slice  as I am hoping to make enough for 40 people and the MOTH wanted some as well. Oh no not enough to have just the Apple Cheesecake Strudel Slice for him. He wanted both. So off to the supermarket for 4 tins of sweeten condensed milk and 3 packets of Tim Tam biscuits. I searched 3 supermarkets for the Strawberry Champagne Tim Tams and after getting soaked in the rain each time (Think rain bomb. And NO I don’t own a rain coat! And NO I don’t want one either! I feel and look like a Telly Tubby in them.) I gave up and settled for regular Tim Tams. They worked just fine!

Feel free to substitute fresh strawberries for freeze-dried ones or do a combination of both like I did.

I liked the Apple Cheese Strudel Slice better – not as sweet as the Tim Tam Strawberry Slice. The MOTH also agreed that it was too sweet. One of the factors for this was I made the MOTH’s slice in a small bread tin so the filling was twice as deep as it should have been – don’t do it!  I hope the balance is better in the one I made for staff!

Both recipes are taken from and here are the links.

Apple Cheesecake Strudel Slice

Tim Tam Strawberry Champagne Slice

Well I am well and truly baked out. So I am off to have a hot bath. Happy baking!


Chocolate Orange Cake

Well I am  just over 1/2  way through Season 1 of the Great British Bake Off (GBBO) recipes. Eighteen recipes down and fifteen to go! I may still be able to knock off a couple more before renovations start.

Talking of renovations we are still waiting for council approval. Our draughtsman thought we should have the green light by 1stJuly, but no. Council came back with 17 main questions with another 16 sub questions to be answered to their satisfaction. Second try we are down to 6 questions with 4 sub questions to answer. Now  we waiting for their response. Third time lucky? I should have held a sweepstake at work for the date we are given council signoff to start – a missed opportunity! But progress has been made. I have finalised my new kitchen plan – black and white theme with pops of colour. The quote is better than I hoped for $20,000NZ – without appliances – they have been sitting in our basement for 10 months. Goodness I do hope that no mice or rats have got into the boxes and chewed the wires!! This happened to a friend of the MOTHs.Arrrh shouldn’t have thought of that!Please no mice!  Back to happy thoughts – I have brought the pendent lights to hang over the breakfast bar (hard to describe – clear glass  but with a pineapple type pattern) and an oval chandelier for over the dinning table.  The MOTH  was surprised at my choice. He didn’t think I liked “bling” or “pretty”.  I love “pretty” and “bling”  – I just don’t wear them!

But back to this weeks bake. Chocolate Orange Cake. No major issues except for throwing cocoa powder all over the kitchen bench, floor, and Nepresso machine – I didn’t put the splash guard on the mixer (saves washing up!). It is amazing how far the mixer can throw fine cocoa powder. But nothing spray-n-wipe can’t handle. Years ago my mum fell asleep while heavily pregnant with me after cleaning the house (it was summer and very hot – think 40+ degree celsius hot) only to be woken by a little ghost child patting her with sticky hands. Everywhere she looked she saw white powder, as she said even the air was filled with it.  My brother William was 17 months old and somehow he found a packet of whiting (Mum never worked out where he found this) and a tin of golden syrup. William had a wonderful time spreading golden syrup all over himself, the kitchen floor, walls, cupboards and even one of the dogs! He then continued to entertain himself by throwing the whiting around. Hence the ghost child. Poor Mum didn’t know where to start and  promptly burst into tears. I of course never did anything quite this bad!!  Bu…t I did follow her all down the very long hallway of our old home while she was vacuuming ( think loud old vacuum cleaner) throwing cornfakes everywhere she had been. When Mum finally turned around I was singing out “Here chook, chook, chook. Here chook, chook, chook” having a lovely time. She laughed and just vacuumed them up. I was two.

The best part of making this cake was poking holes all over the cakes for the syrup to soak into. It was quite cathartic stabbing all those tiny holes. As this cake has a “dash” of orange liqueur in it’s sugar syrup and icing, I brought a miniature bottle of Cointreau. And for pity sake what is a dash?!? Do you stand at a distance and just thrown some of the alcohol at the saucepan hoping for the best or is it a cap full? In the end I decided three tablespoons (1/2 the mini bottle) seemed about right. I kept tasting the syrup and icing till I could get a hint of Cointreau flavour. So to me a dash equals three tablespoons!! lol.

                IMG_2399       IMG_2403     IMG_2399

Oh, just looked on Dr Google for what a dash is in cooking and here is what I found:

“In the early 2000s some companies began selling measuring spoons that defined (or redefined) a tad as ​14 teaspoon, a dash as ​18 teaspoon, a pinch as ​116 teaspoon, and a smidgen as ​132 teaspoon. Based on these spoons, there are two pinches in a dash and two smidgens in a pinch.”

 So 1/8 teaspoon of Cointreau is a dash  – not 3 tablespoons!! Oh lol, pick me off the floor from laughing!!

I did make one change to this cake. It asks for chocolate ganache as the filling and covering of the cake, but I decided to use the ganache only for the filling. This cake has so much chocolate and coco in it that I was sure that the orange flavour would be overwhelmed. Instead I made an orange and Cointreau butter cream for the topping. Decoration was Jaffas and Lindt Fruit Sensation Orange and Grapefruit balls – I have since eaten the rest of the packet. Lip smacking deliciousness!

This Chocolate Orange Cake should have been lovely based on the ingredients but I found it sooooo disappointing. In fact I have ranked this as the worse cake so far. There is way too much coco in it! You could taste coco! Nasty! It is dry despite having 100 mls of sugar syrup poured all over it. It is heavy not light.  There is no orange flavour. A fail! Did Paul and Mary of the GBBO deem this cake as a fail?  Did they think the taste balance was all wrong. Or did something go astray with my bake?? I have no idea. Sigh.

Anyway I am off to make two slices – Apple Cheesecake Strudel Slice for the MOTH and Tim Tam Strawberry Champagne Slice for work (neither are GBBO recipes) – please let these taste nice! Happy baking!


Profiteroles Two Ways and Chocolate Tart

Saturday: Profiteroles Two Ways

Turn up the music – Sister Act 1 and 2, Hair, Cabaret followed by the songs from Glee. And sing! So many great songs to bake and sing too! Throw in the odd hip shake and arm wave with wooden spoon and I was transported to my happy place. I decided to re-try making choux pastry which on my previous attempt was a little too wet resulting in run over flat looking eclairs –  nothing that whipped cream and custard didn’t fix of course! This time I was aiming for profiteroles. I prefer to call them little poofs, because lets face it profiteroles isn’t easy to say – and it’s rather spitty! And poof means to disappear and mine did!

Half would have  lemon curd and  lemon curd cream filling while the rest would have a sable top with salted caramel and whipped cream filling. Oh I used Chloe’s decadent, Citrusy Lemon Meringue Choux from Materchef  Australia Season 10 recipe as my inspiration.

I doubled her choux recipe which meant 8 eggs!! However 7 eggs made the perfect consistency of choux! Yeah! Thank goodness a friend  gives us happy chicken eggs.

The sable was something I had never heard of before. A new technique! Basically this is a thin biscuit base made with brown sugar, butter and flour. Once baked it has a cracked pattern which is pretty and gives a sugary crunch to the poofs. You can colour the sable but beware as brown sugar is used the colour may look muddy. initially I tried green food colouring – thinking green would be a nice summery look. Wrong! The sable went a very odd colour – sort of sludgy looking. Oh well I would rescue this by adding red colouring. Red and green should make yellow or orange right? Wrong. Wrong, wrong wrong!  Now the mixture was a sort of funny pinky red with a touch of purple look – but a vast improvement on sludge.

I did have an issue cutting out the sable tops as I had packed all my cutters along with most of my kitchen 3 months ago. It took 15 minutes of experiment to find something that worked. The one unpacked wine glass too big. My medication bottle tops too small. Top off saltseller – nope. In the end the toothpick container worked best, but wouldn’t cut through the very chilled sable so I had to go round this with a sharp knife. Time consuming!!

As for a tip I had read and used for the eclairs I stabbed a small hole into the poofs after 15 minutes of cooking – mistake they deflated! But Chloe’s instruction to open the oven to let the steam out part way through cooking worked like a dream. The poofs with the sable top rose but not as much due to the weight of the sable, but the ones without – perfection!!

I ended up making 60 poofs in 3 different sizes – bite size, medium and man size. My favourite filling was the home-made lemon curd and lemon cream  mmmh yum. Tart and sharp! Note: bog standard gelatine works just fine.

The MOTH and two of his fishing buddies tired the man size ones, one of each  flovour.  Beware the filling will squirt out!! There was much happy murmuring and lip smacking sounds being made! The MOTH declared the salted caramel with sable topping his favourite while he inhaled another one. His friends said the bar was now set for the MOTH to provide baking for EVERY fishing trip. I snorted at that! I informed them, with hands on hips, that that wasn’t happening as I only bake on the weekend (sometimes Saturday, sometimes Sunday) while they go fishing when ever the weather is right and the fancy takes them. They even go fishing for 12 hours on someones 32nd wedding aniversary! So they would be grateful for what they got! To be fair to the MOTH he should go fishing when ever he gets the chance. And what better day to try out his new fishing rods and reels that I brought him for our anniversary than on our anniversary.

As there were still poofs all over the place I took the workman doing repairs on our road a couple much to his delight and the 30 bite size ones to the local rest home for residents to have for supper. Because lets face it even with Pansy helping him the MOTH cannot devour 60 poofs!

I feel that Mary and Paul from Great British Bake Off (GBBO) would have given me the thumbs up for flavour and looks. Whew!

TIP: If you want to fill the poofs from the side then make the sable biscuit smaller than the piped choux. Filling from the bottom, then the sable can be the same size.

Sunday:Sweet Short Crust Pastry and Chocolate Tart

 Today I was back to following the GBBO recipes.  On with my quest.

Blind baking required! Another new technique. As a friend commented I could have used rice but I was scared that it would stick to the pasty or worse yet burn – nope couldn’t risk it! So a mad dash into town to buy ceramic baking beans and a cheap wooden rolling-pin. Since we live 25 km from town a mad dash is a one hour jaunt. While at the Culinary Council in Tauranga I stopped to admire the sugar thermometers and  blow touch but just managed to resisted the urge to buy them.

 Back home it was crank up the music and entertain the MOTH with my singing which was interspersed with dark mutterings while making the pastry. For some reason the MOTH found this highly amusing! He rarely hears me sing. He should be lucky that I usually sing on key! Sometimes I even get the words to the song right!


Now the chocolate tart recipe has stem ginger in it, but I deviated from this as 1. The MOTH hates ginger in sweet cooking and 2. A jar of stem ginger cost $10! – since 90% of the ginger wouldn’t have been  used what a waste. Instead I used frozen home-grown raspberries making this into a soft jelly to float on top of the chocolate. As the MOTH said it needed the sharpness of the raspberries to cut through the richness of the chocolate.

My issue today was that I could’t get the pastry thin enough – I had it down to 2 mm but it was still too thick once cooked. Dam!!  Tip for getting baking beans and greaseproof paper out of mini tarts – eyebrow tweezers!

Flavour – pass. Pastry cooked -pass – no soggy bottoms here! But Paul and Mary wouldn’t have been pleased with it’s thickness. I guess this was more noticeable as I made mini cases – think mini muffin bite size tarts. If I had made the full size or six tarts as suggested the pastry thickness would have been just fine. I now see why people buy mini short crust pastry cases and just fill them. In fact if I ever need mini cases again, I too will do this!

Oh and looks – lol probably a fail. Mine are all different! Some were a little crooked, some were thin on one side and think on the other and I lacked neatness when pouring in the chocolate and raspberry jellies. Mine lack finesse. Mine are rustic looking!

Beware these tarts are rich, super rich. If you make a large tart then serve thin wedges only. You will need cream. And you may even need an antacid!

Happy Baking.


It was funny, but today I was thinking about how I usually spend my Sundays. For the more than 12 years (until August last year when my Mum suddenly passed away) my Sundays normally started off the same way 1. Doing the weeks washing and 2. Spending time with my Mum. I would go up to see her or she would get on her mobility scooter and visit me. I am sure there were Sundays’ that were different, but none spring to mind. Now my Sundays consist of 1. Doing the weeks washing (some things never change) and 2. Baking.

I wonder what Mum would have thought of this sudden baking spurt and the blog? I know Mum would have enjoyed my baking antics but she would have said it wasn’t good for her or my figure. She would have been correct. The blog – well she was an amazing writter having puplished books both of herlife and inspirational poetry, but I think she would have been pleases. Mum would certainly have been proud that her dyslexic daughter, who didn’t start reading till 12, and who got negative four for a spelling exam at school cert level was having a go at writing. She never gave up on me.

I remember years ago Mum got the bug to bake bread once a week. She stopped when both she and I put weight on.  Dad and my brother remained skinny – much to her disgust. Not fair she would have said! But while it lasted –  hot bread with lashings of butter and dad’s blackberry jelly mmmmmmh. Delicious!

I don’t think we ever brought shop made jam when I was a child.  I have no memory of that. But I do have vivid memories of all four of us going blackberry picking. Not at a berry farm! But wherever dad had seen blackberries growing along the road. Armed with buckets we would all start picking. Dad would always take a long heavy stick with him – it had two purposes first to whack the ground and blackberry brambles to encourage any snoozing snake to take off  ( yeah!) and second to hold the brambles down so we could reach each and every berry. We would return home grubby and berry stained with purple hands and mouths,  scratched up arms and legs,  sunburnt  faces and bellies were full of berries.

Anyway today I was struggling. I miss my mother. I miss my old Sunday’s.  I wish she was here to laugh at my baking fails and to laugh when Pippin licked off the icing of an unguarded cake.  My grief for her remains so sharp. Unlike the grief for my father and brother which has softened around the edges. Enough! Enough self-pity! Time to put on music, time crank up the volume and bake! Lets make that bake and sing.

Later:                                                                                                                                                 Todays baking went pretty well. First up was the Peanut Shortcake biscuits with the most delicious dulce de leche caramel with salt and chopped peanuts.

I didn’t make the dulce de leche from scratch but I made it from boiling a can of condensed milk for 4 hours.  This is so easy you just need to keep topping up the water so ¾ of the tin is covered, and make sure you have air vents or the can will explode. I brought a ring pull so that was easy – I just pulled it open a little. Otherwise punch a couple of holes in the top  of the tin with nail and hammer. I also suggest making this the night before  – I did. The only issue I had was that despite constant stirring of the caramel once de-canned it was still a bit lumpy. Pushing it through a sieve fixed that.

 Also never ever put this caramel on toast! I did! It was divine!!! So divine that I had to go to bed to stop eating it!! Yum, yum, yum.

I recommend to double the toffee mixture for the peanuts. I had to make three batches of toffee. Why? Well the trick with the toffee is DO NOT take your eyes off the water and sugar while making it. I did. Result  – one saucepan of burnt toffee.  Hence 3 batches.

But I did learn that toffee comes off super easy if you fill the saucepan with more hot water and detergent and heat on stove while  gently scrubbing. The toffee –  burnt or not  will just melt away.

The recipe said to drizzle the melted chocolate on top of the biscuit and then put the toffee peanut on top. I was puzzled – surely the peanut would just fall off as a drizzel wouldn’t be enough to stick it down  –  but I followed the instructions. I was right the toffees peanut just fell off – not enough chocolate.  Be generous and cover the top with melted dark chocolate, then put on the toffee peanuts. To finish  give the biscuit a flourish by drizzeling with white chocolate. Perfect!


The MOTH arrived home just as the chocolate had finished setting and I made him eat one. Verdict? “These are man size biscuits! A meal by themselves.” ( I had cut each biscuit out with a red wine glass)  “ Yes but do they taste ok?”  No reply – the  MOTH is currently fighting off Pippin and Pansy who were trying to eat it. So a success!

HINT: This is a perfect and very pretty  biscuit to make for a special afternoon tea. As the biscuit doesn’t expand you can cut them to size. Next time I would make them into tiny one bite size biscuits.  A liquor glass would be a perfect size to cut them out with.

 While the biscuits were cooking I got all the  ingredients for the Chocolate Fudge Cake ready. I felt like e pro. I felt like a baker on a cooking show who is demonstrating how to make a cake to their TV audience. They always have their ingredients measured and weight, and waiting in individual bowls. They never have flour flung all around the kitchen with their cake mixture. Their benches don’t look like a cake bomb has been dropped. Their benches look pristine.  Now I too had everything ready to go, in different bowls. My benches were wiped down. Pristine! For the first time I was fully organised and ready to go. I felt smug. What could go wrong? Probably everything  – I thought.

But nothing. Nothing went wrong at all – amazing!!

Happy baking!


This should be a wonderful cake. Peaches, blueberry, crumble topping what more could you want. A more complicated recipe, than last week, as there are three separate steps. Crumble (easy enough), cake (so so) and then jam (The MOTH usually makes jams or jellies, not me). Of course I could cheat by buying blueberry (or blackberry) jam and peach (or apricot) jam and just combining the two. But I won’t. I will follow the recipe.

Luckily we have a freezer full of bags of cut up Golden Queen peaches. Yum, yum, yum. Golden Queen are glorious peaches. Our tree was laden with them. We ate as many as we could. Then the MOTH made peach jelly – mmmmmh – I love peach jelly.  While I made peach and raspberry flakey pastry parcels, peach and apple crumble, and peach puree for pancakes this autumn. Now it will be Peach & Blueberry Streusel Cake! Lets make that two. One for the MOTH and one for work. About time some of the staff I work with get to try my baking.


I’m also going to try a different way to grease my cake tins. Years ago the MOTH’S Aunty owned a café and I managed to get a small container of her fail safe, never stick mixture for greasing any type of baking tin. You didn’t need to line with baking paper you just spread it on. Magic stuff! Sadly I never got the recipe. I did go into a couple of bakeries and enquire – but they wouldn’t sell me any.

However I did find something on Google which I hope will work just as well.

No Stick Baking Mixture

Mix together:

1 cup plain flour

1 cup of  shortening

1 cup vegetable oil

Put into a jar. Keep in fridge.  Apply with a brush.

It looks and smells similar but is less grainy than what I was given.  I  used my fingers to spread it around then pans, as I threw out my pastry brush last week (must add brush to  ever-growing shopping list!). We’ll see if it works.

Oh for fudge sake and flipped waffles!!!! Black smoke rising up from the oven elements. Open door – a cloud of smoke billows out – the cake mixture has leaked from the bottom of the spring ring tin and is now a blackened raising mess on the oven floor. Shut the door. Fudge, Fudge, FUDGE!!!!  What to do?? Dam. So much for 2 cakes!! Open oven again – more smoke. Kitchen is full of smoke. Put partly cooked cake on bench. Throw both oven racks outside to cool. Woops turn off oven! Thank goodness I haven’t packed the metal spatula yet – scrape off cake from floor and amazingly this comes off very easy. Throw blackened cake bits into an oven roasting tray. Turn oven back on but this time to  on to full to burn off any of the bits I’ve missed. More smoke.

Pasny has come to investiagate and heads to the pan on the floor. “No Pansy.” “NO! It will make you sick!” She is eyeing the blackened mess and edging ever closer to the pan which was sitting on the floor.  I said “NO!” She sighs while giving me her sad heart broken look.  I don’t give in, and bin it.

Look at remainder of the cake in the  tin – poor thing.  It’s still half liquid. Oh well throw it back in the oven. I’ll cook it some more – maybe I can save something that is edible. Oven door slammed in digust.

What I need  is coffee!!  Make that strong coffee.

I can’t remember ever seeing smoking billowing from a contestant’s oven on the Great British Bake Off (GBBO). But then again they – the contestants – would crouch or kneel down and peer intently on their creations.  I just put mine into the oven and hope for the best.

The timer goes. Fingers crossed. Cake looks better than expected. Sniff sniff – doesn’t smell too smokey. On with the blueberry and peach jam and crumble topping. Oh for pity sake. Flipping fudge cake!! Just sprinkled on flour and sugar mix that was waiting for the other cake!! Too late – can’t scrap it off as sinking into jam mix. Ummmh, well…. Oh what the heck – just cover with crumble and bake it. Maybe lashings of whipped cream will help?? Will try it on the MOTH – tonight. See if he notices anything amiss. And anyway he loves smoked fish. So he should love smoked Streusel cake too. Sigh.

Lesson learnt.  Do not. I repeat DO NOT use a spring ring tin for this cake recipe!

Please, please, PLEASE let the second cake work! Mixture done – no hic-ups. But what should I cook it in?? Should I put it into a non spring cake tin and then try to remove once cooked or cook it in a glass baking dish and serve it more like a pudding???  Prepare both. Can’t decide which to use. Will toss a coin and let fate decide.


I have used the coin toss to make a couple of major decisions in my life. Should the MOTH and I live move to Australia for a few years?? Heads yes. Tails no. Heads won and we spent three wonderful years in Albury Wodonga, before coming home to New Zealand with our 5 week old baby girl. Should I leave my job (acute mental health and clinical education) at the Tauranga Hospital after working there for 30 years?? Heads won again. Five years later – I have no regrets, leaving the hospital.

Coin tossed  –  glass baking dish and dessert cake it will be.

Two  hours later                                                                                                                                

The house has a smokey odour to it despite being aired out, but at least it has lost it hazy look.  The MOTH, a friend, Pansy and myself have tried the smokey streusel cake – not too bad. Only every third spoonful has a smokey flavour. The GBBO judges would have called it a fail. I call it interesting! Pansy is licking her lips looking for more.

 The second cake looks good.  Perfect nearly. Happy dance.

Dam! I just realised there is a fault with the second cake!! It’s missing a crumble layer!!!  It was suppose to have a layer of crumble mixture on it before it’s first baking. It didn’t. I forgot. Oh dear it has been one of those baking days.

Happy baking!

P.S.  I don’t have a proper photo of the finished cake.  So the lead photo is showing jam and crumble topping going on top.

Oh P.P.S. The No Stick Baking Mix worked great!!


Hum, hum,hum I feel a hummingbird cake or two coming on and today is baking day!  So one for us and one for a friend. This is such an easy cake to make – why had I not discovered this cake before? I  must admit I did have a wander around Google checking out other recipes, but I think The Great British Bake Off (BGGO)  one wins hands down!! I was tempted by Jamie Oliver’s cake topping of pecan brittle but otherwise his, like most hummingbird cakes only have a fruit base of banana and pineapple with pecans for crunch. The GBBO one has the basics but added mango and passionfruit – what a wonderful tropical inclusion!  Oh and walnuts too! Sorry GBBO producers but plain old Hummingbird Cake or Tropical Fruit Cake doesn’t do this piece of  deliciousness justice. I will rename it Tropical Hummingbird cake.  Hum, Hum, Yum!

But I was tempted to make pecan brittle. Jamie Oliver said to do this in a large non-stick pan. Well we have two Jamie Oliver non-stick deep sided frying pans. Weeeell – the large one is non stick. The smaller no longer.  The large one is the MOTHs. I brought him this as a wedding anniversary present years ago. The other is mine. MOTH has never over heated his. I have repeatedly over heated mine – hence it’s no longer non-stick! The MOTH will NOT let me use his. I am banned! His pan is to be respected NOT abused! However this morning as the MOTH was about to head out the door to go fishing (think – good happy mood). I took a risk. Could I try making peacan brittle in his Jamie Oliver non-stick pan – explaining  of course that this is Jamie Oliver’s receipe. “Hell  no!!” And with that  – the MOTH gone. So no pecan brittle.

 A couple of hiccups occurred, of course. I had brought all my extra ingredients on my way home from work  yesterday – pecans,  two mangos (soft to the touch), cream cheese, but not eggs. Frozen over ripe bananas and two small bags of frozen passionfruit pulp (from our home-grown passionfruit) on the bench de-frosting and bags of walnuts still in the freezer.  For once I would be organised and ready to bake first thing in the morning.


On peeling the mangoes they were green and sour. Yuck. Unusable – even Pansy spat a slice out! And we only had three eggs. I needed four. A rush trip back to the supermarket, more eggs (happy chicken eggs of course, not battery hens eggs) and tinned mangos this time. So much for being organised, sigh!

And when making cream cheese icing put the splash protector on top of the mixing bowl!! I didn’t. It’s amazing how far the beater can throw icing sugar. The nespresso machine was covered, I was covered (must buy an apron) and the floor was covered.  I quickly swept and patted off the icing sugar onto the floor where Pansy’s tongue happily delt  to the mess – she is better than a mop! Lesson learnt.

 If I can I like to use locally sourced ingredients in this case, walnuts, eggs, oranges and limes.

The  eggs are from a friend’s mini farm. From happy free ranging chickens. When I was growing up in Australia we had our own hens. Mum and Dad initially bought eight hens. They had all been battery caged hens and had ½ their beaks cut off. They had stopped laying and were heading for the chop. Home they came. They didn’t know how to walk. They didn’t know how to roost and they couldn’t peck food from the ground. My dad taught his “poor girls” to catch food by putting food pellets onto corrugated iron (placed on the ground), and teaching them to hit the iron with their bottom beak to make the feed bounce up so they could catch it. We all helped them learn to walk!  Squatting down, with hens held out in front of us, while supporting their body weight, we waddled around the yard! We must have looked a sight! But learn to walk they did and over time their beaks grew out. Brocky our beautiful silver rooster even taught them to perch. They became happy chickens. They had free run of our pony stud and were only locked up at night so the foxes wouldn’t get them. They laid lots of eggs and raised young of their own.

And we have a walnut grove up the road – public property – so when the walnuts fall it’s grab a bucket and run. Ummm better make that a strolling limping waddle for me,  a brisk  walk for the MOTH, and a gentle trot for Pansy – all in the hopes of beating other walnut hunters. It’s such a fun way to pass a morning! Its’ even more fun smash them with a hammer!!  I am only allowed to smash half a dozen or so as the MOTH reckons I am too enthusiastic and my nuts are crushed!! I call it getting my frustrations out and now that I am baking ready chopped nuts!  But no I am limited to crushing my little pile of walnuts while the MOTH carefully cracks and de-shells his. Hence we have 2 large bags of whole walnut pieces in the freezer thanks to the MOTHs timely hammer intervention.

But back to the cake. There is one tiny fault with this cake in my eyes – the raw cake mixture didn’t appeal to me.  It peered at it.  With the smashed up over ripe bananas, it looked slimy. I hate slimy – yuck. I will only eat well cooked (think ruined) poached eggs in case the white is still slightly slimy! Sigh – I do so like liking the bowl. Oh well it’s good for my figure not to lick the bowl. They cooked beautifully – light, fluffy and golden.

For the cream cheese icing I added both lime and orange juice to give it a little zing and to finish the cake added a variety of crystallised tropical fruits on top. Very pretty.  But uh oh the icing started to slide due to the heat of the room (think wood fire going). As the icing slid so did each of the two top layers of cake. Oh dear! I had to keep pushing them back up and licking cream cheese icing off my fingers(no hardship there) while thinking of a solution. The FRIDGE.  Hence the  MOTH’s smoked fish and  venison curry are now sitting on the oven and the  bottom rack  leaning against the house outside. Yeah! Cake saved before all the crystalised fruit slid off. Phew – a close call. I have seen a number of similar mishaps on the GBBO and my heart always bled for the contestants when their creations fell or slipped apart.

Two hours later:

The door opens. Footsteps heard. No hello. Pansy continues to snooze on my lap – so not a burglar.  The MOTH is home from fishing.  Five minutes later he calls out “Do you want a drink?” “Coffee please. Try the cake – it’s in the fridge.” I reply.  Three minutes later  – coffee handed to me. Back to kitchen he goes reappearing with his coffee and a large slice of cake in hand. The MOTH looks at me and smiles, saying he already ate one slice!!  What?! This is his second slice! He ate the first while waiting for the nespresso.

Happy baking!