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.