Desert Island Cake

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Caramel Sauce

(Chocolate Fudge Cake, Salted Caramel and Toasted Almonds)

Call me boring and predictable, but my Desert Island cake would undoubtedly be chocolate. Even long after falling under the spell of swaying palm trees and a cool salt scented breeze, some of us still need our daily chocolate fix. As soon as I wade ashore, marooned with my 2 chickens (eggs), a cow (for cream and butter) and, somehow, the knowledge of how to cobble together a working oven out of coconut husks and sheer determination, a cake would be baking and a kettle brewing for tea. Paradise sorted.

The cake is from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Heavenly Cakes cookbook. If you haven’t yet gotten the book (and you really should), you can also find an adapted version of the recipe here.

On its own, the cake is moist, perfectly chocolatey and really doesn’t need dressing up. But if you want to take the cake from desert island to dessert island, a casual drizzle of warm salted caramel and sprinkle of chopped almonds certainly wouldn’t go astray.

Salted Caramel Sauce For A Desert Island Cake :
(makes enough for 1 cake; based on a Tartine recipe)

120g caster sugar
10g liquid glucose
1/4-1/2 teaspoon sea salt (depending on your preference)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
25g unsalted butter
squeeze of lemon juice
80g single/pouring cream

Melt the sugar and liquid glucose in a medium-large pot. Cook until it caramelises (you want it a nice dark colour, but not burnt). Turn the heat off, carefully add in the cream (the mixture will splutter), vanilla, butter, lemon juice and salt. Whisk until combined, then strain into a heatproof bowl and allow to cool before using. Just before serving, drizzle onto cake (you can warm the sauce up a little if need be) and top with chopped toasted almonds.

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Caramel Sauce


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Pink Grapefruit, Brown Butter and Bay Leaf Cakes

Pink Grapefruit, Brown Butter and Bay Leaf Cakes

(Pink Grapefruit, Brown Butter and Bay Leaf Cakes)

There are no flowers in my garden at the moment. Zilch. Not from lack of trying, mind you. It’s just that everything feels as though it has come to a standstill. I could blame Winter, or I could just feel a bit grateful that the nasturtiums, lovage and bay tree are still moderately flourishing despite my attempts at love (read : possible over watering).

The bay tree is probably the oldest survivor of our garden. A gift from my mom many years ago, it has proven useful in flavouring soups and stews, as well as custards, ice-cream and cakes like the ones below. A few fresh bay leaves are even said to be the prescribed natural remedy for preventing an infestation of weevils in your kitchen cupboards.

Pink Grapefruit, Brown Butter and Bay Leaf Cakes

Despite the lack of flowers, it’s hard to begrudge Winter its lack of colour when there are pears and quinces to poach and all manner of citrus fruits to eat and bake with. Left with a single pink grapefruit languishing in the fruit bowl on our kitchen counter, I decided to turn it into a batch of small cakes. The cakes are pretty easy to put together, and can be customised to suit the season (blueberries in Summer, cherry blossoms in Spring..).

Pink Grapefruit, Brown Butter and Bay Leaf Cake

Pink grapefruit, brown butter and bay leaf cakes :
(makes 12 little cakes)

110g unsalted butter
3 bay leaves
3 large eggs
180g plain Greek-style yoghurt
finely grated zest of 1 large pink grapefruit
225g plain flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of sea salt
170g caster sugar

Grease a 12-hole mini bundt tray. Preheat oven to 170’C.

Brown the butter with the 3 bay leaves. Strain, discarding the solids. You should have 80g of bay leaf-infused brown butter. Allow to cool a little before using.

In a large bowl, combine the plain flour, baking soda, salt and sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk together the brown butter, eggs, yoghurt and grapefruit zest, and add this to the dry ingredients. Mix well. Pipe mixture into the greased bundt tray. Bake for 18-20 minutes. The cakes should spring back when lightly pressed.

Unmould the cakes and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Make a drizzly icing with icing sugar and some of the juice from the pink grapefruit (to make the icing more pink, tint it with beetroot powder) and decorate the cakes with as much or as little icing as you please. Finish by dusting with bay leaf powder (dry a handful of fresh bay leaves in a low oven for 10-15 minutes until crisp. Blend to a powder in a spice grinder).

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Turmeric and Wild Blueberry Granola

Chocolate Granola

(Chocolate granola)

Truth be told, being more of a muesli or overnight oats kinda gal, I used to be completely unenthusiastic about granola for breakfast. Also chalk it down to being a little slow on the uptake, as far as most bandwagons go. Microwave mug cakes for example (a regular baked chocolate cake just seems so much more satisfying). ‘Good’ chia pudding. Rainbow cakes. Or kale paired with chocolate. Although I suspect one day I may just rescind on that last statement. (Hey, I’ve seen mushrooms dipped in chocolate. Anything is possible these days) Most trends have completely bypassed me on the food highway, but now granola has officially made a pit stop.

It all started with a trip to Las Vegas a few months ago, where we sat in a little stripmall cafe having a breakfast sandwich of peanut butter, banana and granola. As well as being delicious and a textural marvel, it was probably quite apt to find a sandwich Elvis Presley would definitely approve of in Las Vegas. When we returned from our holiday, I decided to try my hand at making granola, with some future pb+b sandwiches in mind. The sandwiches never happened. Seems like the appeal had more to do with time and place. And yet now I find myself in what I’ll probably look back and call ‘my granola years’. That time I made a different flavour of granola every week because I’d suddenly become so fascinated with the possibilities, and the great texture they added not just to breakfast, but later-in-the-day ice-cream and cakes.

Chocolate Granola

My version of granola is barely sweet and not very greasy. It keeps crisp in an airtight jar for what I presume is a fairly long time, though no batch I’ve made has ever lasted beyond two weeks, thanks to my new habit of snacking on small handfuls of granola at any time of the day. The fun thing about making your own is the complete freedom you get to play with flavours. A simple base recipe can be transformed into apple pie spiced granola (with the addition of apple juice, cinnamon, fresh and dried apples and walnuts), green tea granola (another favourite), chocolate granola, five spice granola and now, turmeric and blueberry granola.

Turmeric and Wild Blueberry Granola

(Turmeric and wild blueberry granola)

This turmeric and blueberry granola was inspired by Chika, and tastes -amazing- with coconut yoghurt.

Turmeric and Wild Blueberry Granola :

150g rolled oats
30g coconut chips
60g whole unblanched almonds
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder or extract
1 x orange, zest and juice
70g brown rice syrup
10g extra virgin coconut oil
30g dried wild blueberries (or substitute with dried cranberries)

Preheat the oven to 175’C.

Place the rolled oats, coconut chips, almonds, spices, salt, vanilla and zest in a large bowl. In a small pot, heat the orange juice, brown rice syrup and coconut oil until melted. Pour this over the oat mixture in the bowl. Stir well to completely coat the oats. Tip the mixture onto a large lined tray, spreading it out evenly.

Bake for 20 minutes (or until golden brown), stirring the granola occasionally to prevent the clumps at the edge of the tray from browning too quickly. Remove tray from the oven, allow to cool, then stir through the dried blueberries. Store the cooled granola in an airtight jar.

Turmeric and Wild Blueberry Granola

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