Honey Pecan Cake

A wonderful light cake fragrant and sticky with honey and pecans

Possibly one of the best cakes I've ever made. Quite something.
Possibly one of the best cakes I’ve ever made. Quite something.

Possibly the best cake I have ever made and I think my dedication to cake is well established.

For a few weeks I’ve had a hankering for a honey-scented cake, similar to my quest for a decent honey ice-cream, even though ice-cream and my stomach don’t see eye-to-eye.

Honey pecan cake.
Honey pecan cake.

Food52’s Baking book delivered. Honey AND pecans, we were onto a winner.

There are steps, there are bowls, just work with it.

The caramel pecan base
The caramel pecan base

Food52 uses a 23cm round springform pan with baking paper that comes up above the join but this sounded like a doomed plan to me so I used a 20cm square tin, which I lined with one piece of baking paper with no joins in it whatsoever (so the caramel can’t escape)

Honey Pecan Cake
A stunning combination of honey and pecans in a delicate cake
For the topping
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup honey
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup pecan halves
For the cake
  • ½ cup pecans
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 110g butter
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  1. Preheat the oven to 175C and line your prefered pan
For the topping
  1. Melt the butter with the honey then pour over the bottom of the pan
  2. Evenly spread the pecans over it
For the cake
  1. Blitz the pecans into a flour, add to the plain flour and set aside
  2. Whisk the eggwhites to stiff peaks and set aside
  3. Cream the butter and sugar until pale
  4. Then add the egg yolks, then the honey, vanilla and buttermilk
  5. Gently stir in the flours
  6. Gently fold through the egg whites and then spoon into the pan over the pecans
  7. Bake for 35-40mins
  8. Let it cool a little then flip onto a serving platter
  9. It'd be divine with ice-cream or cream. Or both.



Espresso brownies

I have just finished my (paid) work and am bracing for school home time. It’s been a mixed bag of a week which saw me in tears last night at the thought of making dinner AGAIN (#everyfuckingnight, I swear to God people, every.fucking.night). Sure, there may have been some hormones involved but let’s just put that day to bed.

These are on the front cover of Food52’s baking book from which I want to bake every single recipe. Hey, maybe that’s a challenge I can set myself? And are so very good.

You need a big baking pan – 33 x 45cm, 13 x 18 inch – so get onto that. You could of course just split the mixture between two smaller ones but as to what size they’d be don’t ask me because, well, numeral.

It makes a lot – 24 large brownies, 36 smaller ones. It uses eight eggs. EIGHT EGGS! When I started cooking as a kid and then with a fair amount of gusto as a teenager I’d show mum a recipe and without fail there’d be an exclamation about how many eggs were in it. Were eggs expensive back then? Was there some sort of price collusion in the 80s I was unaware of? Anyway, it uses eight eggs.

Now, even though in the recipe’s intro it talks about how this is the 35th version of  these brownies the recipe creator June Jacobs has created, I still didn’t follow it exactly. Just follow it exactly OK?

Espresso brownies.
Espresso brownies.

Espresso brownies
Rich, fudgey brownies with icing on top, as if that's even allowed.
  • 3 cups lightly packed dark brown sugar
  • 225g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 eggs (EIGHT eggs!)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1½ cups plain flour
  • ⅔ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp instant coffee powder (use a strong espresso kind)
  • 2 cups toasted nuts (I left these out, totally fine without it)
  • 2 cups choc chips
  • 1½ cups caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp instant espresso powder
  • ¼ cup cognac (I KNOW! Fancy like)
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup choc chips
For the brownies
  1. Preheat the oven to 175C and butter the sheet pan
  2. In a mixer beat the butter and sugar together but you don't want it all fluffy - these are brownies remember, not a cake, you don't need a heap of air in the mix
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping as you go
  4. Then add the vanilla and salt
  5. Mix the flour with the coffee and cocoa powder and nuts
  6. Add to the butter mixture
  7. Pour the batter into the pan and spread it out THEN sprinkle over the choc chips
  8. Swirl the choc chips in a bit (I ignored this and added them with the flour and all the choc chips sunk to the bottom, so yeah, maybe the recipe is right)
  9. Bake for 23½ minutes (don't you love the precision! I did mine for a bit longer because I didn't have the right sized tin and was winging it)
For the icing
  1. Combine everything except the chocolate in a saucepan and stir fairly constantly until it comes to the boil
  2. Let it boil for a a minute or two.
  3. Take off the heat, add the chocolate and stir until smooth
  4. Pour over the cooled brownies
  5. Drown your troubles.


Wholemeal apple and cinnamon muffins

School’s back today. We’re on the homestretch to Christmas people. We’re in for a scorching couple of days which somehow seems appropriate.

But let’s take a moment to talk about lunchboxes. There are parts of the world where you don’t need to pack your kids a lunch. CAN YOU IMAGINE!? I hate it with the heat of a thousand suns.

The worst part is trying to not become pray to food brand marketing but once you say no to the snack packs, back off to the muesli bars and no way jose to anything with sugar you’re basically sending your kids to school with twigs and bark.

I know more virtuous people than I who make up batches of things on the weekend, freeze them then pop them in lunchboxes but whenever I’ve done that the kids never eat it. WHAT IS WITH THAT?

Anyway, I made this Smitten Kitchen recipe the other day and three of the four of them ate them. Into high rotation they go!

Go well my friends, Term 4 awaits!

Wholemeal apple and cinnamon muffins.
Wholemeal apple and cinnamon muffins.
Wholemeal apple and cinnamon muffins
Fantastic muffins full of apple and cinnamon
Serves: 12
  • 1 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 115g butter
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • ¼ cup brown sugar - extra, for topping
  1. Preheat oven to 220C and line a 12 cup muffin tray
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients together
  3. Cream the butter and the sugar
  4. Add the egg
  5. Add the buttermilk - it will probably curdle so don't fret
  6. Fold in the dry ingredients and then the apple until it's all just combined (it's a chunky batter)
  7. Put big heaping spoonfuls into the twelve muffin cups
  8. Sprinkle the extra brown sugar over the top
  9. Bake for 10 minutes then turn the heat down to 200C for a further 10 minutes
  10. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes or so and then turn out onto a cooling rack.
The inner workings. They have wholemeal flour in them, they're practically a health food.
The inner workings. They have wholemeal flour in them, they’re practically a health food.

Lemon ricotta cake

coming together nicely

I have a go to flourless orange cake which I adore, but the other day had some divine paesanella ricotta hanging around that needed to be used. Seeing as I’m doing the whole no carbs with fat/protein and no refined carbs a nifty little batch of ricotta gnocchi was out of the question (quietly sobs) and I was at a bit of a loss when I came across this Ben O’Donoghue and thought BINGO! It has a smidge of (semolina) flour in it but I was willing to overlook it. I love Ben’s recipes and he was always my favourite in Surfing the Menu. Curtis Stone is just a little to much of a show-pony-pretty-boy for my cooking likes.

‘My’ custard powder pastry recipe and the associated free-form apple pie is his Nan’s and I reckon that’s pretty cool.

So let’s get on with it.

Rather tasty

Lemon ricotta cake (in which I used oranges)

Recipe from: At home with Ben, Ben O’Donoghue

  • 225g butter
  • 250g sugar
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 250g ground almonds
  • 65g semolina flour
  • Juice of 3 lemons
  • Rind of 6 lemons
  • 300g ricotta
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 160C and grease and line a 26cm springform cake tin
  2. Beat the butter and sugar until very pale then add the egg yolks one at a time
  3. Combine the almond meal, semolina, half the lemon zest and half the juice (although when I made it with oranges I added all the zest because I didn’t read the recipe properly. Rookie mistake) and fold into the butter and sugar mixture
  4. Crumble in the ricotta and fold through (Ben appears to leave it in little chunks whereas my ricotta was wetter so was more incorporated)
  5. Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks and then fold through the mixture
  6. Pour into the tin and bake for 40mins or until a skewer comes out clean (I find with flourless cakes the time can vary massively – just persevere and cover with foil if you’re worried the top is getting too dark)
  7. Make a syrup with the remaining juice, zest, 1/2 cup of sugar and a cup of water by bringing it to the boil then reducing by half (I sort of forgot to read this bit and just made a syrup of equal parts sugar and juice)
  8. Pour over the cake and eat until you can eat no more.
just a wafer monsieur





Basic buttercake: Dubious Decoration

So I cook and cook well. I bake awesome desserts, slices, cakes, biscuits. I make bloody good jam. I have mastered most breads and forms of pastry.

But this cooking Superwoman has her kryponite. Behold:

Thomas the Effing Engine cake
Scary Thomas
Chocolate layer cake
structurally unsound
rocket cake
Penis cake, resplendent with balls
rocket cake 2
Anatomically correct
rocket 3
Rocket v2
Rocket 4
should have learnt from past structurally unsound incidents
Lego cake
Lego cake that looks like it’s been through a lawn mower


Yeah, me and themed cakes never end well.

For Grover’s actual birthday on Monday I was making a simple delicious buttercake with lemon icing. But I was tired (remember, an epic weekend which I’ve just realised I haven’t told you about) and when my beautiful, simple, buttercake came out of the oven Grover collapsed on the floor wailing he’d wanted a lego cake. I too my eye off the prize people, making the rookie mistake of not distracting, reminding, reassuring that there’d be a poorly constructed ugly ode to food colouring themed cake* at his party this Sunday. No. Instead I did this:

Lego cake 2
He’s asked for a Tardis shaped cake for Sunday…

But look, that cake creation may be so far below par but the cake, the cake is awesome.

This is a simple, plain, delicious buttercake. It’s perfect for birthday cakes you just want to eat or need to turn into a dinosaur, fairy, clocktower or, God help me, the Tardis. I’ve made this the traditional way – beat the butter and sugar, add the eggs etc – and the throw caution to the wind way  – put it all in a food processor and blend until all combined and pale. I know, every time I do it like that I feel like cackling and shouting FRAUD but it works. Goddammit it works.

Traditional buttercake

  • 250g butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups SR flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line a 24cm springform cake tin
  2. Cream butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, incorporating well after each one
  4. Fold in the flour, milk and vanilla
  5. Pour into the cake tin and bake 40-45 minutes or when cake bounces back to gentle touch and has pulled away from the cake tin

Now, you can either top it with melted butter and lashings of cinnamon sugar (I KNOW) or ice it with your choice of icing. That debacle up there was iced with my bog standard lemon icing – icing sugar (2 1/2 cups?), softened butter (about a dessert spoon) and lemon juice until it’s at a good consistency.



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