Orange Walnut Cake


I forgot to photograph the process and this little bit was the last remaining piece by the time I remembered…good texture, just a little overcooked…

I’m always looking for new ways to reduce waste and to make the most use of each ingredient. After the success of my lemon icing experiment last month, I thought I’d try the same with orange zest. I looked at a lot of recipes but I liked this one for orange walnut cake from Don’t Forget Delicious as it wasn’t too sugar heavy…

I changed the recipe slightly using half and half combinations of raw sugar and coconut sugar, high-grade flour and home-milled whole flour, and manuka honey and coconut syrup.I didn’t read the instructions properly and baked it in a loaf dish which was too deep to allow the centre to cook at the same rate as the outside: it needs to be baked in a flat pan (I realised this just now as I was checking the recipe). It took three small oranges to around a tablespoon of orange zest…I might aim for a little more next time

Because I used the wrong baking dish, I had to leave it in the oven longer to bake the whole way through and so the final result was a little scorched on top and generally dry inside. Lesson learned for next time.

I wanted a Greek yogurt icing recipe as I had a lot leftover after our beets, feta and rice dinner the other night  and found this one:


  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of icing, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon of orange zest – maybe a little more next time for a stronger orange flavour – I only had quite small oranges (took one to contribute about a teaspoon of zest) so using bigger ones next time should sort this


  • Whisk all ingredients until they become a bit thick.
  • Place in the fridge to thicken even more (at least 30 minutes).
  • Spread on cupcakes.

This tasted really good but the recipe calls for way too much yogurt: even after a night in the fridge to thicken it as per the instructions it was still really fluid, too much so to effectively spread…next time I will drop the yogurt down to half a cup and see how that goes…

I was only able to smear a little of the icing over the top without it running off the sides but it did it help conceal the slightly scorched crust. I took it into work and it still disappeared pretty quickly so it wasn’t a total flop…

Orange zest is now a proven ingredient and I am keen to see if I can make a workable orange curd spread in the same way you can with lemons…

We can make and enjoy nice treat and stay true to our green journey…

Beetroot Coffee Cake


I found this recipe years ago. I’ve made it quite a few times, as writ, with the chocolate but always found the the cocoa overwhelmed the colour of the beetroot.

This time I thought that I might drop the cocoa and focus more on the beetroot. I erred in thinking that I needed to sub something in to replace the cocoa – I didn’t actually need to because the cocoa is not vital to the actual baking process – and added one then two (because one seemed too weak) tablespoons of Moccona coffee granules.

Everything else was as per the instructions


  • 1/2 cup of cocoa powder (nope, 2 tablespoons of Moccona coffee)
  • 11/2 cups of flour
  • 11/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  •  A pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of castor sugar
  • 1 cup of light olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 3 free range eggs beaten
  • 1 cup of cooked beetroot, pureed
  • 2 tablespoons of walnuts, finely chopped


  • Sift the cocoa, flour, baking powder and salt.
  • Mix with the sugar.
  • Add the oil, vanilla, eggs, beetroot & walnuts.
  • Mix well – until it is a glorious purple colour.
  • Pour into a buttered and floured 18cm (7in) round or square pan.
  • Bake at 190 degrees for 50 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  • Cool before removing from the pan.


  • 1 cup of cashew nuts (110g)
  • 1/4 cup of strong coffee
  • very scant 1/4 teaspoon of black sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoon of pure maple syrup (10g)
  • 4 tablespoons of vanilla castor sugar

Place the nuts in a cereal-sized bowl and cover them with water. Let them sit at least 6 hours, or, better still, overnight.

Drain the liquid, then combine all the ingredients in a small food processor or blender until super-smooth.

Apply this evenly over the cooled cake.


If you’re going to add coffee to a cake, do it the same way as the icing and mix it into a paste or small quantity of super strong coffee. The dark flecks in the cake are the undissolved Moccona granules. The additional moisture might not go astray either.

I hate the quantity of oil that goes into the this recipe but love the rich colour from the beetroot. I’m going to retest on this by using beetroot in the same cake base as last night’s kumara cake. That will probably use more beetroot so I’d be anticipating an even richer colour.

The cashew and coffee icing absolutely rocks!! It makes this cake. The coffee kick is quite strong but any potential bitterness is more than mitigated by the sugar and lemon. It was just a little slushy so next time I will reduce the quantity of liquid in the coffee.

I like walnuts so will double the quantity next time.

Edit: forgot to name my source, Chocolate Covered Katie, which I found through this great list at Skinny Mom – I am keen to try some of these other icings but really want to focus on pumping out moist cakes first…


Kumara Cake

DSCF0290.JPGKumara this winter has been on special – $1.99/kg – so I naturally stocked up and then had to find ways of consuming it all: you can only soup so much…this kumara cake had a certain appeal…It’s quite simple (I found the recipe on

What you need:

  • 150 grams of butter
  • 1 cup of sugar (I used raw sugar but next time will use a banana or two)
  • 2 cups of flour ( I used high-grade but next time will use my own home-ground flour)
  • 3 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of ginger powder
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of salt (I used black sea salt)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups of peeled and grated kumara
  • 1 cup of chopped walnuts

What you do:

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
  • Melt the butter and blend in the sugar
  • Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and make a well in the middle.
  • Mix in the wet ingredients.
  • Mix through the kumara and walnuts into a thick wet mix and pour it into a lined cake tin.
  • Bake it for around an hour til a skewer comes out clean.
  • Once it’s cool, remove it from the cake tin and peel away the baking paper.

Now the good bit…the icing…

Take 2 tablespoons of melted butter, 60 grams of cream cheese, a cup of icing sugar and teaspoon of lemon rind and blend them with a hand blender until the mix is really smooth.

Spread this evenly over the cooled kumara cake…

Don’t forget to lick the spoon…


Tasty great, with a nice twist between the spice in the cake and lemon of the icing…still a bit dry but I hope that subbing a couple of bananas for the sugar will fix that plus paying more attention to baking times i.e. checking to see if it passes the test before the recommended hour of baking is up…



Pour encourager les autres

Baking cakes is not yet one of my fortes…I can do a mean beetroot chocolate cake but I’m not really a chocolatey type – note to self: try it without the chocolate or significantly reducing it – and so what’s the point…The banana peel cake was OK but fairly bland and had enough sugar in it to excite a kindergarten of pre-schoolers…



I’m getting right into coconut as a core ingredient and bought some coconut flour from Hardy’s in Taupo to try it out as an alternative to wheat flour and because I like trying new things our.

I searched for cool things to do with coconut flour and found this recipe for a coconut cake + coconut icing that was dairy- and processed sugar-free. I also liked that it was a Kiwi website as well so there was no need to translate any ingredients.


  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup liquid honey
  • 4 large free range eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut


  • Preheat oven 170C. Line and grease a 25cm springform cake tin.
  • In a small saucepan gently melt the coconut oil until liquid. Remove from the heat and whisk in the honey. Add the eggs one at a time whisking well between additions, then add the vanilla and lemon juice.
  • Combine the coconut flour, baking soda, salt and desiccated coconut in a large bowl. Pour over the egg mixture and whisk thoroughly to combine. The mixture will be quite wet but the coconut flour will absorb a lot of moisture as it bakes.
  • Pour into the tin and bake for 30-­35 minutes. Check with a skewer.
  • Remove from the tin and cool completely on a cake rack.

The cake itself was quite easy to make but came out a bit dry but I’ll take responsibility for that – got distracted with someone else and left it in the oven an extra five minutes or so. I also didn’t read into the comment about the coconut flour soaking up a lot of the liquid in the mix. I dallied before pouring it into the baking dish: it started to set in the bowl and didn’t lie smoothly in the dish.

It was the icing that destined this cake to be recycled. Because the top was so uneven, I caked the icing on thicker than was good, so thick that the taste and smooth texture of the icing overwhelmed the cake buried beneath. I should have delayed using this icing recipe until I had some more natural coconut i.e. other than the supermarket coconut that the recipe warned might be too dry and/or defatted. I couldn’t get it to breakdown into butter so I added more coconut oil which kinda worked – if it hadn’t been so thick.

I did try toasting the top of the iced cake to see if that lightened it up at all. It was a slight improvement and would have worked had the icing not been so damn thick.


Ready to recycle

The cake and the icing are both largely coconut so, deeming this particular attempt sub-optimal, I recycled it through the blender into my growing stash of almond/coconut meal from my increasingly more frequent production of almond coconut milk. On the upside, I shared half the initial production with the taste team at the Ohakune I-Site, and catching up with them today – with some oatmeal pumpkin muffins, they were surprised that I’d thought this mix a failure.

That sub-optimal performance was largely down to me, and mainly in the icing. I bought some coconut chips today from the natural bulk shop in Taumarunui and will give this another go soon…


Efficient use of energy: drying almond coconut meal (mixed with blended failed coconut cake) on top of the woodburner



Let them eat cake…

Impressed with the therapeutic effects of my Wednesday night bake-athon, I lined myself up for another the following night…

I’m much more a savoury (un- some may say…) character than a sweet…so I don’t cook a great amount of sweet items, even less so now that I am withdrawing from the attractions of sugar and processed foods…however, in the interests of science, and interested to see how some of my hoovered recipes might turn out…I dallied with the sweet side of the Force…

darth sugar.jpg

…and that’s where this image came from…googling for a header image took me to I Quit Sugar and then to some very (chocolatey) dark recipes…watch this space…

So anyways…baking cakes…I had two targets in sight…one driven by a preponderance of feijoas in the fridge (’tis the season) and the other by a ‘waste not’ recipe for banana peels that flicked across my radar on Facebook…

I found a good mix of feijoa recipes at the Waikato Times and intended (and still do) to make something from here but the absence of sour cream in the pantry for the chocolate feijoa cake nudged me towards this one from Melanie Khan. It’s pretty simple  and i made it as writ, less using three-quarters of a cup of raw sugar instead of the directed full cup of white processed sugar (white is bad).

It was quite solid when it came out of the oven: cooked but it didn’t rise as well as I think it was meant to…I’m attributing this to the moist mass of feijoa being disproportionate to the quantity of flour…it had a good strong feijoa flavour so next time – if there is one: so many feijoa recipes and only so much time – I might reduce the amount of fruit and/or reduce it before adding it to the mix so that it is least moist…

Baking 2 June 16

Banana peel cake on the left, spicy feijoa on the right

The main appeal of the banana peel cake was its ‘no waste’ theme – we go through a lot of bananas here on the Green Journey and the peels go directly into the compost to nourish future generations of food – and as we make more and more of our own food, an additional benefit is the reduction in waste, especially packaging for things like pre-packaged products like not-milk milks…so in for a penny…

Although punted around on Facebook, the actual recipe lives at Love Food Hate Waste which has some other interesting recipes for food items that may be approaching their final best by date…as we hit the Central Plateau carrot season (through til October), one that has a real appeal up here is the carrot cake cookies.

kune ecalir shop

The ‘Kune Carrot Shop

Fair warning though, even though it is great that people are publishing  recipes that promote using and not dumping food, these recipes are on the Dark side of healthy with a very high sugar component. I’d be looking at reducing some of that using maybe a couple of bananas perhaps..?

You do have to peel bananas for the banana peel cake…and, if necessary, can save peels in the freezer until you have enough…making sure that you allow time for them to thaw before blending them. I forgot and waiting to the peels to go from rigid to gooey is the main reason the spicy feijoa cake hit the oven first – normally I would do the more complex recipe first: just in case it all goes horribly wrong, at least, I already have something cooking…

Again, I made the recipe as writ with no major issues once I was able to get the skins mushed in the blender…one tip for young players would be to not tutu with the tensioning clip on the cake tin once the cake mix is in: very messy trying to refit the base and close the tension clip again…


The cake rose nicely but I probably left it in a little long as it was a tad dry inside…tasted OK but you’d expect with the amount of sugar in it. I don’t think that the banana peels added anything that could not have been achieved using the normal part of the banana, or even a handful of caraway seeds or something similar…

The creamy substance around the edges is my attempt at a lemon icing and possibly evidence that you can’t believe everything that you read online. My second choice for a feijoa cake recipe was this Lemon Iced Feijoa Cake from the Chelsea site (which sole purpose is the promotion of sugar!) but I had no milk, forgetting that I now have a large bag of coconut milk powder for just this contingency, nudging me towards Door #3…

I did, however, like the sound of the lemon icing as a finishing touch for the banana peel cake, and made this as writ but there is simply too much fluid for the dry content and even after three days, the icing still hadn’t set and most of it drizzled off the sides and soaked into the base – which was not unpleasant…

This chealsea icing versus  not chelsea icing

Comparing the Chelsea recipe on the left with this lemon icing one from All Recipes, you can see that  it has only a quarter the dry content of the other one…an interesting experiment and one that I will file away from when I need a super-sweet lemon effect to soak into a target dessert…

Just for the record though, if I had made the banana peel cake as writ plus the lemon icing recipe on the right, the total sugar content would be 5 1/2 cups of sugar…HOLY MALLOLY!!!! My butterscotch pudding only has a half cup (reduced from a full cup in the original recipe) plus two tablespoons of syrup for the sauce and I thought that was sweet..!!

Not being overly-sweet oriented, I kept the lemonised half of the banana peel cake (all gone now! #sugarcraving ) and gave the other half and the feijoa cake, less a couple of taste-testing slices, to my flue-ey friend to maintain energy levels until a full recovery is in effect…