Bringing real baking into your home with deliciously simple recipes.
Prep 1hr30min (+ cooling time)Bake 3hr20minMakes 10-12 serves
I often create unique cakes for friends to celebrate special occasion and milestones – cakes that reflect their personalities and our friendship. This one was for my close friend, Tina, to celebrate her 50th. It is based on a recipe by well-respected Australian cooking teacher Greta Anna Teplitzky (from her cookbook The Greta Anna Recipes, published by Angus & Robertson in the 1970s). Tina’s mum made it often while she was growing up and it became childhood favourite. I have zhooshed the original up with a dried orange and pistachio praline and some fun dried pineapple flowers to match Tina’s gorgeous, vibrant and creative personality – quite appropriate I think!
Orange and pistachio praline
- 1 orange
- 45g ( ⅓ cup) pistachios, lightly toasted
- 55g (¼ cup) caster sugar
- 1½ tablespoons water
Dried pineapple flowers
- ½ firm, ripe pineapple
- 300g (2 cups) plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 2 teaspoons mixed spice
- 300g brown sugar
- 200ml light olive oil, plus extra to grease
- 4 eggs, lightly whisked
- 2 teaspoons natural vanilla essence or extract
- 450g tin pineapple slices in syrup, drained and finely chopped
- 300g (2 cups, firmly packed) coarsely grated carrot
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 250g cream cheese, at room temperature
- 75g butter, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon natural vanilla essence or extract
- 185g (1½ cups) icing sugar mixture, sifted
- To make the Orange & Pistachio Praline, preheat the oven to 100°C. Remove the rind from the orange with a vegetable peeler and then use a small sharp knife to remove any white pith from the rind. Place the rind on a wire rack over an oven tray and place in the preheated oven for 2 hours or until dry and crisp but still bright orange in colour (see Baker’s Tips). Remove from the oven and set aside (leave the oven on). Line an oven tray with non-stick baking paper. Spread the pistachios and dried orange rind close together on the lined tray. Combine the caster sugar and water in a small saucepan and use a wooden spoon to stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to medium and bring to the boil. Boil for 8-10 minutes without stirring, brushing down the side of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to dissolve any sugar crystals, until the mixture turns a deep caramel. Pour immediately onto the lined tray over the pistachios and rind. Set aside to cool completely (this will take about 30 minutes). When cool, use a mortar and pestle to grind the toffee into a coarse praline. Transfer to an airtight container and set aside (see Baker’s Tips).
- To make the Dried Pineapple Fowers, stand the half pineapple upright on a cutting board and use a large sharp knife to cut off the skin in strips. Use a mandoline slicer to cut the pineapple into very thin rounds (about 1-2mm thick). Use a small sharp knife to remove any remaining dark bits of rind from the slices and then pat both sides with paper towel to remove any excess moisture. Place the slices on a wire rack on an oven tray (see Baker’s Tips). Place in the oven for 2½ hours or until crisp around the edges but still slightly pliable. Remove from the oven and pinch each slice in the center while still warm to form a flower. Set aside to cool and then store in an airtight container until needed (see Baker’s Tips)
- To make the Cake Layers, preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Brush two 18cm round cake tins with extra olive oil to lightly grease and line the bases with non-stick baking paper.
- Sift together 150g (1 cup) plain flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda and 1 teaspoon mixed spice into a large bowl. Add 150g brown sugar and stir to combine, breaking up any lumps.
- Combine 100ml of the olive oil, 2 of the eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla, half the chopped pineapple and 150g of the grated carrot and mix well. Add to the flour mixture and use a spatula or large metal spoon to gently mix until just combined.
- Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared tins and spread with the back of a metal spoon to smooth the surface making a shallow well in the center of each cake. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.
- Stand the cakes in the tins for 5 minutes before turning onto wire racks to cool (this will take about 1 hour). Repeat with the remaining cake ingredients to make 2 more cake layers.
- To make the Cream Cheese Frosting, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until very smooth. Gradually add the icing sugar, beating well after each addition and beat until well combined and very creamy.
- To assemble the cake, first trim the tops of the cake layers if necessary (if the well you made in the mixture before baking was deep enough you won’t have to do this). Place one cooled cake layer, top side up on a cake stand or serving plate. Spread with ½ cup of the Cream Cheese Frosting and then sprinkle with about 1½ tablespoons of the Orange & Pistachio Praline. Continue to layer with the remaining cake layers, spreading each with ½ cup of frosting and sprinkling with about 1½ tablespoons of praline, and finishing with a cake layer, top side down. Spread a thick layer of frosting over the top of the cake, evening the surface with a large palette knife. Spread any remaining icing around the side of the cake to create a ‘naked’ look. Decorate with the Dried Pineapple Flowers and sprinkle with a little of the remaining praline.
- You can dry the orange rind for the praline (in step 1) and the pineapple for the flowers (in step 2) at the same time if you like.
- The praline will keep in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
- You will only need 5-6 slices of pineapple to make the dried pineapple flowers for this cake but if you would like to make more, place the slices on an extra wire rack on top of the first one and separate the racks with balls of foil at the corners between them.
- The Dried Pineapple Flowers will keep in an airtight container in a cool spot for up to 4 days. If they soften too much and lose their shape, return to an oven preheated to 100°C for 20-30 minutes or until crisp around the edges again. Reshape as in step 2.
- This cake will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Prep 2hrBake 40-45minMakes 12-15 serves
This impressive cake was created by Débora Bueno Leite, one of our Make Me a Baker students, for her graduation. It marries two gems from the state of Minas Gerais in her native Brazil, guava paste and cheese – when served together they are known as ‘Romeo & Juliet'.
- 250ml (1 cup) milk combined with 2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
- 11 guava macarons, to decorate
- Melted butter, to grease
- 375g (2½ cups) plain flour
- 2½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- 250g butter, at room temperature
- 440g (2 cups) caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract or essence
- 4 eggs, at room temperature
- 250ml (1 cup) full-cream milk
- 200g good-quality guava paste (available from good delicatessens and specialty food stores)
- 125ml (½ cup) water
Cream Cheese Filling
- 300g cream cheese, at room temperature
- 200ml cold thickened cream
- 160ml (2/3 cup) sweetened condensed milk
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 680g cream cheese, at room temperature
- 115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 240g icing sugar, sifted
- 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract or essence
- Queen red food colour gel, to tint
- Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Grease two deep 20cm round cake tins with melted butter and line the bases with non-stick baking paper.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Use an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment to beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla for about 8 minutes, scraping down the side of the bowl when necessary, or until pale and creamy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the side of the bowl when necessary, until well combined.
- Add the flour mixture in four equal portions, alternating with the milk in three portions, mixing on lowest possible speed until just incorporated before adding the next; do not overmix.
- Divide the batter into the prepared tins and use the back of a metal spoon to smooth the surface. Bake in preheated oven, swapping the tins around halfway through baking, for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean.
- Transfer the cake tins to a wire rack and allow the cakes to cool completely in the tins. Once cool, cover each tin tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- To make the Guava Filling, combine with guava paste and water in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until the paste is creamy. Set aside to cool completely.
- To make the Cream Cheese Filling, use an electric mixer with a paddle attachment to beat the cream cheese for about 3 minutes or until soft and creamy; set aside. Whisk the cream with a balloon whisk or electric mixer with a whisk attachment in a clean bowl until soft peaks form. Add the cream cheese with the condensed milk and whisk until just combined and smooth. Set aside.
- To make the Cream Cheese Frosting, use an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment to beat the cream cheese for about 3 minutes or until smooth and creamy; transfer to another bowl and set aside. Beat the butter about 3 minutes or until pale and creamy. Add the cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla and beat until well combined and frosting is creamy.
- Remove the cakes form the tins. Cut each cake layer in half horizontally and then brush with the milk and sweetened condensed milk mixture to moisten. Place one layer on a serving plate or cake stand and spread with some of the Cream Cheese Filling and then one third of the Guava Filling. Continue layering with the remaining cake layers, Cream Cheese Filling and Guava Filling, finishing with a cake layer, top side down.
- Spread the side and top with Cream Cheese Frosting to cover, using a spatula or cake scraper to smooth evenly.
- Add a little red gel colour to the remaining Cream Cheese Frosting and swirl so that it is marbled. Place in a piping bag fitted with a small star nozzle (Débora used a Wilton #18 star) and pipe small rosettes around the side and top of the cake (as shown in the image). Place the macarons between the rosette on the top to decorate.
- This cake will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Serve at room temperature.
This recipe was created by Débora for her Make Me a Baker graduation using inspiration from a number of different recipes including those from www.howtocakeit.com, Gretchen’s Bakery YouTube channel, Karen Munhoz YouTube channel and a class she took with MakMak Macarons.
Photography by Amy Piddington.
Prep 1hr (+45min cooling and 1-1hr30min chilling time)Bake 20minMakes 12-14 serves
If you're a chocoholic this cake is heaven. And if you're not, it's still heaven! Wickedly rich and strikingly handsome, this layered centrepiece demands attention no matter what the celebration.
melted butter, to grease
250g butter, cubed, softened
330g (1½ cups) caster sugar
3 teaspoons natural vanilla essence or extract
225g (1½ cups) plain flour
225g (1½ cups) self-raising flour
250ml (1 cup) milk
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water, cooled
Dark chocolate layer
30g (¼ cup) Dutch cocoa powder, sifted and combined with 60ml (¼ cup) hot tap water, cooled
Milk chocolate layer
1½ tablespoons Dutch cocoa powder, sifted and combined with 1½ tablespoons hot tap water, cooled
Light chocolate layer
2 teaspoons Dutch cocoa powder, sifted and combined with 2 teaspoons hot tap water, cooled
Whipped chocolate ganache
500g good-quality dark chocolate (45-54% cocoa), chopped
300ml pure (pouring / thin) cream
Chocolate drip icing
100g good-quality dark chocolate (45-54% cocoa), chopped
100ml pure (think / pouring) cream
2 tablespoons corn syrup
- To make the Cake layers, preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan-forced). Grease four shallow 20cm round cake tins with melted butter and line the bases with non-stick baking paper.
- Prepare the Dark, Milk and Light chocolate layer mixtures and set aside.
- Use an electric mixer to beat the butter, sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition (the mixture will look curdled at this stage).
- Sift together both the flours. Combine the milk and coffee mixture. Add half the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on lowest possible speed until just combined. Add the milk and coffee mixture and beat on lowest possible speed until just combined and then beat in the remaining flour mixture until just combined.
- Divide the cake batter between four bowls (each will have about 360 g of mixture). Add the Dark chocolate layer mixture to one portion and stir gently to combine. Add the Milk chocolate layer mixture to one portion and stir gently to combine. Add the Light chocolate layer mixture to one portion and stir gently to combine. Leave the fourth portion as it is
- Spoon each of the batters into a prepared tin and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Swap the cake tins around and bake for a further 5 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centres comes out clean.
- Stand the cakes in the tins for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool (this will take about 30 minutes).
- To make the Whipped chocolate ganache, put the chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Stir often with a metal spoon just until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Immediately remove the bowl from the saucepan, cover with plastic wrap and place the fridge for 1-1½ hours, stirring briefly about every 5 minutes, or until cooled and thickened to a spreadable consistency. Use an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment to whisk the chocolate mixture in a medium bowl on low speed for 1-2 minutes or until light and fluffy (be careful not to over whisk).
- To assemble the cake, set aside about a quarter of the Whipped chocolate ganache in a bowl for piping. Place the Dark chocolate cake layer, top side down on a cake stand or serving plate. Spread evenly with about ⅓ cup of the remaining Whipped chocolate ganache. Repeat with the remaining cake layers (from darkest to lightest) with about ⅓ cup of the ganache between each. Spread the remaining buttercream over the top and sides of the cake, using a large palette knife to smooth. Place the cake in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to chill.
- To make the Chocolate drip glaze, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set aside. Combine the cream and corn syrup in a small saucepan and heat over a medium heat, stirring frequently, until almost simmering. Pour over the chocolate and set aside for 1 minutes. Stir until smooth and well combined. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until almost cooled to room temperature.
- Spoon the Chocolate drip glaze onto the center of the chilled cake and use the back of a metal tablespoon to spread to cover. Gently push some of the glaze over the edge all the way around to form a drip pattern. Set aside in a cool spot for about 15 minutes or until the glaze is set before cutting.
- This cake will keep in an airtight container at room temperature in a cool spot for up to 3 days.
How to decorate a cake with a drip glaze
There are a few things to keep in mind when creating a luscious glossy drip glaze on a cake.
Make sure the iced cake has been chilled for at least 30 minutes before decorating with the glaze as this will help the drips down the side of the cake set before reaching the base of the cake.
Gradually spoon the slightly warm (it should be slightly warmer than room temperature) glaze onto the centre of the cake, allowing it to flow naturally towards the edge.
Then use the back of a metal tablespoon to carefully ‘push’ the glaze towards the outside, smoothing the top and allowing small amounts of the glaze to flow over the edge and down the side of the cake to form a drip pattern.
The key is to take it slowly, not add too much glaze at one time and don’t push too firmly with the spoon as the drips will become large and cover more of the side of the cake than you want.
Photography by Alan Benson.