playing with flour

Category: Cake

Banana and Caramel Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting

I do love meeting new people and making new friends but it can be incredibly hard to do, especially when you don’t know anyone or are starting over in a new place. I’m going to be doing exactly that next year and I am nervous about it but thinking about the friends I’ve made here I know I’ll be ok. One thing I’ve found that can help if you’re wanting to meet new people is to join a sports group or club. In my case it was starting a Zumba class. I did some casual classes initially but once I started going regularly I met some amazing ladies who are a lot of fun. One of these ladies recently turned 60 and she is truly inspiring. She’s at class each week, even getting on stage to help teach. Honestly if I have half her energy when I’m her age I’ll be impressed.

To celebrate her birthday I made these cupcakes and we shared them with some champagne after class. They’re moist and full of banana flavour which pairs really well with the Nutella frosting. The frosting is based on a Sweetapolita recipe and is so light and creamy. I used a salt-reduced butter to offset the sweetness a little which helped prevent a sugar overload.

The caramel goes fantastic with the banana but unfortunately the lollies I used were too heavy and sunk to the bottom of the cupcakes. To avoid this use smaller pieces of caramels or cut them up and mix them through the batter. The other option is to melt them down and make a caramel sauce to fill the cupcakes or swirl though. I topped my cupcakes with leftover praline but this is completely optional and just adds a bit of crunch.

Banana and Caramel Cupcakes 

8 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 oz caster sugar
8 oz self raising flour
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
8 oz banana puree
Jersey caramels

Preheat the oven to 170° and prepare your cupcake cases. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and bananas and stir through. Fold in the flour until just combined.

Spoon the batter into cupcake cases until just under half full. Add a caramel to each cupcake and top with more batter to cover. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Nutella Frosting

Adapted from Sweetapolita

8 oz salt-reduced butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 oz dark chocolate, melted
140g Nutella

In a mixing bowl beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Mix the Nutella, vanilla and melted chocolate together then add to the butter mixture. Continue beating until completely combined and fluffy, approximately 3 minutes.



Butterscotch and White Chocolate Muffins with Praline

I’ve recently gone back to an old workplace, this time not as an employee but instead on an elective placement. It’s been quite interesting seeing how things run from another point of view and realising how little things have changed over the years. While there have been some staff changes, most of the old team are still there and still as lovely as ever. I made these muffins as a think you to them for welcoming me back so readily. They didn’t last long.

These muffins bring together some of my absolute favourite flavours: butterscotch, caramel and white chocolate. They’re moist and dense and kept soft by the sour cream. The chunks of white chocolate provide little bursts of sweetness and the praline topping is deliciously crunchy. It’s a little extra that you could choose to omit but it does add another dimension to the muffins.

Overall they are delicious but there are a couple of small changes I would make next time around. Firstly I would increase the amount of white chocolate to 1/3 of a cup and also increase the sour cream to 250g to give a slightly wetter batter. The praline is fantastic but I think next time I will break the caramel up into shards rather than process into powder to give extra crunch and toast the almonds before adding them to the caramel. You will end up with extra praline and this can be stored in an airtight container until you find another use for it.


Butterscotch and White Chocolate Muffins with Praline

2 ½ cups plain flour
3 tsp baking soda
1 cup brown sugar
100g buttermilk
200g sour cream
100g unsalted butter, melted
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
¼ cup chopped white chocolate

Preheat your oven to 180° and prepare muffin cups or tins. Sift flour and baking powder into large bowl and add brown sugar. In a separate bowl combine melted butter, buttermilk, sour cream, vanilla and egg and whisk together. Add to flour mixture and stir to combine. Stir through the white chocolate.

Spoon batter into muffin cups/tins and sprinkle praline over the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Almond Praline

100g sugar
6 tsp water
¼ cup slivered almonds

In a small saucepan combine sugar and water. Heat over medium heat until sugar dissolves then increase to high and bring to a boil. Do not stir. Allow to boil until the colour changes to caramel then remove from heat.

Spread almonds out on a tray then pour over caramel and allow to set. Break up the praline and whiz in a food processor to get crumbs. Keep extra praline stored in an airtight container.

Miniature Neapolitan Cakes

Did you find when you bought neapolitan ice cream that there was a favourite flavour that always went first? For us it was chocolate and then strawberry, but at a distant second. It was only when low on the others or when told off by the adults that we would eat the vanilla. Which is funny really because I love vanilla ice cream these days, although if given the choice I think I’d still choose the same order of preference.

These miniature cakes bring together that classic combination of chocolate vanilla and strawberry so that you don’t have to choose just one. While you could bake each of these in individual moulds, to make life easier I baked 3 larger cakes and then use a cookie cutter to make smaller ones. You do end up with a lot of excess cake so I blitzed this in a food processor and combined it with the leftover frosting to make cake balls. You could easily make them into cake pops if you were so inclined. I wont write a full post for them but I will put a picture up on my Facebook page if you want to see them.

The cakes are dense and very flavourful with rich creamy frosting in between. I used the same frosting as in the cappuccino cupcakes but feel free to use buttercream frosting or any other that you prefer. The cakes are made from one simple recipe with minimal variations. If you’d prefer you can substitute your own recipes but I’d try to keep them similar so each layer is as dense as the next.

I took these cute towers of cake to an 80s themed birthday party over the weekend and they were a hit. Not that neapolitan is particularly 80s but it does evoke childhood memories which for many of us were from the right era. Being so tall it is hard to eat all 3 flavours at once (unless perhaps you use a fork) so it’s interesting to watch and see who eats what layer first. I haven’t quite decided which I like best so perhaps it’s time for another taste test!

Miniature Neapolitan Cakes

Vanilla Cake

1 cup caster sugar
4 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla essence
1 ½ cups plain flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ cup milk

Preheat oven to 180° and prepare an 8 x 8 inch pan.

Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly. Add the vanilla, baking powder and flour and mix until incorporated. Stir through the milk until smooth. Pour into pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Chocolate Cake

As per vanilla cake with the following variations:

Decrease flour to 1 ¼ cups
Add ¼ cup sifted cocoa when adding the flour
Omit vanilla essence

Strawberry Cake

As per vanilla cake with the following variations:

Combine 1/3 cup chopped strawberries with ½ tsp sugar and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Mix into batter with milk. Add ½ tsp strawberry essence and a few drops pink food coloring to batter and stir through before baking.

When all three layers are baked and cooled cut out small rounds of cake with a cookie cutter and level the tops so they’re all the same height. Stack each cake with corresponding frostings in between and finish with a frosting swirl on top.

Sour Cream Frosting

Vanilla and strawberry frostings

170g white chocolate
60g unsalted butter
120g sour cream
300g icing sugar

Melt the butter and chocolate in a large bowl over a pan of simmering water. Allow to cool slightly before adding the sour cream and stirring through. Gradually add the icing sugar and beat well until the frosting is smooth.

Split the frosting in to two bowls and add a teaspoon of vanilla essence to one and ½ tsp strawberry essence + a couple of drops of pink food dye to the other.

Chocolate frosting

As for basic frosting above but substitute in dark chocolate for the white chocolate. This frosting can be quite thick so add a splash of milk if required.

Cappuccino Cupcakes

I absolutely love the smell of coffee but I just don’t enjoy the taste. I could spend all day in a coffee shop but put a cup in front of me I wouldn’t drink it. Baked into something sweet and delicious however, that’s another story. These cupcakes are wonderful. As you bite into them you experience an amazing aroma that pairs perfectly with the sour cream frosting. They’re light but satisfying and have a great crumbly texture.

I was lucky enough to be invited around to a neighbours house for dinner the other night and these were a really quick recipe to bake and bring along for dessert. You can alter the quantities of espresso powder and vanilla to taste but the flavour is quite strong already. The frosting is delicious and creamy and one I will use in the future as it makes a good alternative to buttercream.

I’m not sure what it is about coffee that I don’t enjoy. Possibly the bitterness, but even mild brews don’t get me excited. I think I’m going to have to continue baking coffee flavoured treats to build up my enjoyment so that next year when I’m working ridiculous hours I’ll be able to drink it to keep me going!

For anyone wondering, I got these cupcake moulds from my sister who found them in a market in Melbourne. You can buy them in cake shops and homewares shops too. They’re made of silicon and can be baked in and are just super cute and fun to use!

Cappuccino Cupcakes

125g self raising flour
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g caster sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp instant espresso powder
2 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 180° and prepare your baking cases.

Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl then beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla, baking powder and espresso powder and mix well. Add the flour in batches until all combined. Stir through the milk.

Pour the mixture into prepared baking cases and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Sour Cream Frosting

170g white chocolate
60g unsalted butter
120g sour cream
300g icing sugar
½ tsp cocoa powder

Melt the butter and chocolate in a large bowl over a pan of simmering water. Allow to cool slightly before adding the sour cream and stirring through. Gradually add the icing sugar and beat well until the frosting is smooth. Sift in the cocoa powder and beat to combine.

White Chocolate and Passionfruit Lamingtons

It is finally spring! Not that winter on the Gold Coast is really that terrible but it already feels warmer and brighter outside. It’s that time of year to open windows and have long lunches and barbeques with friends. Which is where these lamingtons come in. Perfect for picnics or lazy get-togethers in the sun they’re a variation on the traditional Aussie lamington. Instead of dark chocolate and jam these miniature cakes use white chocolate and passionfruit to make them light and tangy.

You can choose to fill them or skip this step but the extra hit of white chocolate is quite delicious. If you wanted to be more technical you could slice them in half and fill them to make a sandwich but I find this technique much easier. For those who hate passionfruit seeds in their cakes you can sieve them out but personally that seems like too much effort and I do quite like the crunch you get when you bite into them.

It is also Fathers Day here in Australia and although my dad lives interstate he has been on my mind all morning. I think he’d really enjoy these and hopefully I’ll get to visit and make them for him soon. It’s often hard sometimes to tell your parents just how much they mean to you and how grateful you are for what they’ve done. My dad has always been there for me and I know if I am ever in trouble I could call at any time. While we may not talk much I am often told how much I take after him, and I know that it is from him that I get my love of books and interest in science and medicine. So for that (and many other reasons) I just want to say Happy Fathers Day dad, I love you.

I also have to mention my wonderful father-in-law. Since taking me into their home 9 years ago when they barely knew me, my in-laws have been fantastic. My father-in-law is a patient and very caring man who has taught me a lot. I am really lucky to have both of these great men in my life.

Passionfruit and White Chocolate Lamingtons

125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g self-raising flour
70g desiccated coconut
90g sour cream
60ml passionfruit pulp

Preheat your oven to 180° and line a 19cm square tin with baking paper. Beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and the vanilla and mix to combine.

In one small bowl combine the coconut and flour and in another combine the sour cream and passionfruit. Alternatively fold ½ of each mixture into the batter then repeat with the remaining mixture. Continue to fold until just combined.

Pour into prepared pan and smooth over the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before cutting the edges away and cutting into 16 squares. I found using a serrated bread knife the easiest way to do this. While cooling prepare the white chocolate mixture.

White Chocolate and Passionfruit Filling/Coating

¾ cup milk
200g white chocolate, chopped
500g icing sugar mixture (or pure icing sugar + 2 tbsp cornflour)
Juice from 3 passionfruit
Shredded coconut

Heat the milk in a saucepan over low heat until just boiling. Turn off the heat and add the white chocolate. Allow to stand for a couple of minutes then whisk together until smooth. Combine the mixture with the icing sugar in a large bowl and add the passionfruit juice. Stir to combine.

To fill the lamingtons pour some of the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a long tip. Poke the tip into the sides of the lamingtons and squeeze gently allowing the mix to fill the inside. Stand on a tray and refrigerate for 20 minutes to make the lamingtons easier to dip. While waiting to cool allow the white chocolate mixture to sit at room temperature to thicken.

To dip the lamingtons use two forks and gently lower in to the chocolate. Tap the excess off on the side of the bowl. Place into coconut and coat all sides. When coated allow to sit in the fridge for 30 minutes to set.

Blueberry Friand Slice

As much as my husband would disagree, I don’t own every piece of baking equipment there is. If I could get away with it I would love to buy myself a madeleine tin, mini muffin trays or a bundt pan. And I would definitely buy moulds for friands. I’ve always thought of friands as a grown up version of a muffin or cupcake. Dense yet light, full of almond meal and sold individually (and often more expensively) these miniature cakes are full of class.

Rather than purchase yet another baking tin I decided to adapt a standard friand recipe to make a friand slice instead. While you could pour the batter into a standard muffin tin, I was curious to see how a slice would turn out. The cake is soft and moist and quite sweet and the blueberries burst full of juice when you bite into them. The centre pieces obviously don’t benefit from having the crunchy edge you get on a usual friand, but the taste more than makes up for it.

I was lucky enough to find some out of season blueberries on special, but any berry would work well in this recipe. I poked my berries into the batter before baking but they do sink somewhat anyway so if you like you can just scatter them over the top. If you can afford the luxury of using a vanilla pod I would highly recommend it. Not only do you get to see the tiny black specks within the slice but the vanilla taste is prominent throughout.

This slice goes really well with a cup of tea and is perfect still warm from the oven, with just a dusting of icing sugar.

Blueberry Friand Slice

4 egg whites
100g unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
125g almond meal
160g icing sugar
50g self-raising flour
1 vanilla bean
100g blueberries

Preheat the oven to 150° and line a 20 x 30 cm baking tin with baking paper. In a large bowl whisk your egg whites by hand until combined and frothy. Sift in the flour and icing sugar then add the butter, milk, extract and almond meal. Mix to combine.

Cut the vanilla bean lengthways and scrape out the seeds. Add to your mixture and gently stir until smooth and even. Pour into your prepared tin and smooth surface. Scatter the blueberries over the top and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden and springy to touch.

Allow to cool in the pan then transfer to a board to cut. Dust with icing sugar prior to serving.

Sticky Date Pudding


It’s so much easier to find desserts to have in summer. With an abundance of fruit available it is simple to throw something light and fresh together. Not to mention the ice-creams and sorbets to help cool down the hot days. But in winter? Finding something light and delicious that helps keeps you warm can be tricky. That’s why it can be good to stick with the classics: sticky date pudding.

I love this recipe. It’s simple and fast to make and the resulting pudding is rich and moist and not at all heavy. I adapted a Donna Hay recipe by adding vanilla and using chopped dates rather than processing them as she suggests. I love that you get small chewy chunks of date throughout the pudding but if this isn’t your style, feel free to blend them before adding to the other ingredients.

The butterscotch sauce is incredible. Do make sure you use a large saucepan to allow the mixture to boil properly without making a mess of your stovetop. The creamy and rich sauce pairs so well with the light and fluffy pudding that it’s hard to only have one piece. Best served with thick cream or ice-cream.

Sticky Date Pudding

Adapted from recipe by Donna Hay

1.5 cups chopped pitted dates
1 cup boiling water
1 tsp baking soda
100g unsalted butter
¾ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup self-raising flour
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180° and prepare a baking tin (26 x 16cm) with baking paper. Place the dates, hot water and baking soda in a bowl and allow to sit for 5 minutes.

Cream butter and sugar in a mixing bowl then add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Pour in the dates with the liquid and stir to combine. Sift in the flour and mix until smooth. Pour into prepared tin and bake for 30-35 minutes.

Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before cutting and serving. Use this time to prepare the butterscotch sauce.

Butterscotch Sauce

150g unsalted butter
1 cup cream
1.5 cups brown sugar

Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir until melted and then increase the heat to bring the mixture to the boil. Allow to cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Pour over pudding and serve with cream or ice-cream.

Lemon Layer Cake

I’m really lucky to have some great neighbours. We live in an apartment building where it is all too easy to shut the door and ignore the outside world. It is only over the last year or so that I’ve gotten to know the people living so close to us and I’m so glad I did. It can really help to have friends nearby especially when you have freshly baked goods you need to offload to avoid eating all of them!

When my lovely neighbour Bec celebrated her birthday last week I thought it was only appropriate that I bake her a cake. Being that it is only her and her boyfriend at home I didn’t want to make a giant cake, but rather something small and simple. Unfortunately I only had one small baking tin so each layer was baked separately (hence the variation in sizes) and then assembled.

The lemon in this cake is bright and delicious and pairs well with the cream cheese and coconut frosting. Using lemon curd in the layers also helps bring out the tanginess, feel free to use store bought or make your own.

The edges of the cake can get a bit dry so I would recommend covering the cake with foil as it is baking if it starts to brown too quickly. The recipe converts well into a full sized cake if you’d rather make it that way. Using a 10cm cake tin I made five small cakes which, when sliced, equated to two frosted cakes.

Happy birthday Bec x

Lemon Cake
Adapted from recipe by Donna Hay

220g melted butter
1.5 cups caster sugar
2 eggs
1 cup cream
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tbsp lemon rind
2 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 180° and prepare your baking tins. In an large bowl place your cooled butter, sugar, eggs, cream, lemon juice and rind and beat on a low speed until combined.

Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl and beat for 3-4 minutes on medium speed until smooth. Pour into tins and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before cutting and frosting.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

250g cream cheese, softened
65g butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
4-5 cups icing sugar

In a medium sized bowl beat together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, lemon juice and zest until smooth, about 5 minutes. Sift the icing sugar in a cup at a time, combining with each addition, until you get a thick spreadable frosting.

When assembling the cake spread a layer of lemon curd on each layer before adding the frosting. Continue to add layers until you get the height you desire. I would recommend keeping everything cold to help make the process easier. Cover the top and sides of the cake in more frosting, then press desiccated coconut onto each surface to cover the cake.

Old-fashioned Chocolate Cake

I love a complicated recipe. Numerous steps, hours of preparation and cooking, multiple techniques. It’s a challenge I’m more than willing to accept. But sometimes it’s good to make something simple and classic, like this chocolate cake. Rich, but not overpowering, dense but not heavy, it comes together incredibly fast. I recommend using good quality chocolate and cocoa as there is nothing else to hide behind, so you will notice the difference. The frosting is deliciously chocolately and super easy to spread. Perfect for a last minute dinner party!


Old-fashioned Chocolate Cake

Recipe by Nigella Lawson

200g plain flour
200g caster sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
40g cocoa
175g soft unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
150ml sour cream

Preheat oven to 180° and grease and line two 20cm baking tins.

Cream butter and sugar in large bowl then add all the remaining ingredients: flour, baking powder, bicarb soda, cocoa, eggs, vanilla and sour cream. Mix on medium speed until all combined and smooth.

Pour into prepared tins and cook for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely on wire racks before frosting.


Chocolate Frosting

75g unsalted butter
175g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
300g icing sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
125ml sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (If you want you can use the microwave but go slowly!). Allow to cool slightly. Add the golden syrup, vanilla and sour cream and mix to combine.

Seive the icing sugar into the chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth. You may need to adjust the thickness of the frosting by adding a small amount of water or more icing sugar to get your desired texture.

Spread 1/3 of the mixture on one cake, then place the second cake on top. Use the remaining frosting for the top and sides of the cake. Decorate as desired.

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