On to the plate

Experimenting with flavours, colours and style of food served at our place


Lemon Meringue Cake

When my December 2013/January 2014 dish magazine arrived I had no time to flick through the pages. It was some weeks later that I browsed the recipes and came across the Lemon Meringue Cake. I was sold. This was going to be my suggestion for lunch, given we were having a more casual meal for Christmas Lunch.

Ready for chilling

The recipe itself was dead simple. You toss all the cake ingredients into the cake mixer at the same time, so obviously the better has to be soft, very soft, but not melted (it explains in the recipe).

I converted the recipe from an 8” cake to a 9” cake. There would be 13 of us for lunch and I thought the 8” cake wouldn’t go the distance.

Baking the cakeI cooked the cakes on fan forced with the temperature reduced because a fan oven is hotter. I had the cakes on two racks. While they looked to be baking beautifully, in the final 10 minutes they caved, one was worse than the other. I posted photos on my Facebook page but I didn’t take any photos using the dSLR camera.

I continued preparing food for Christmas day all the time being really uncomfortable with the cakes. I had to torte both of them to get a 4 layer cake, and I could see that I’d end up with donuts because the cakes sunk so much that if I torted them in half (based on the outside height) then the middle would be hollow.

Eventually I did what I wanted to do, I made another cake. This time on bake and in the middle of the oven. And you know what? It still dipped, but not as bad, but still enough that on the day once I’d cut a slice you could see the middle of the cake was caving in.

Lemon curd

Assembling the cake was easy. The lemon syrup was lovely and it soaks through nicely, but keep the cut side up as it soaks much quicker that way rather than with the bottom of the cake up (as I did for one layer).

I weighed the filling and then placed the cake onto the scales and scooped an equal third on each of the 3 layers. I like them to be even and the same thickness. Applying the meringue was simple. It was sort of like crumb coating a cake. With one HUGE difference. This time I had to deliberately make peaks and an uneven texture. I didn’t want smooth. And I think I might have spent a fair amount of time trying to get nice peaks all the way around and on top. Baking the meringue worked nicely on the top but the sides were a bit faint, or had no browning at all. My guess is the photo of the cake in dish was having used one of those torches, or they have a way better oven with even heating all around.

Assembling the cakeDid the cake taste good? Yes.

Was the cake easy to make? Yes.

And will I make it again? I’m not sure. If I do, I’ll change the method for making the cake batter. I think the “throw the lot in” was probably a way to speed things up and simplify the recipe, but I think it was also setting it up to fail/flop.

I’ve never had Ricotta cheese in a sweet thing before, only with the Lasagne roll ups, so I was a little apprehensive but it worked well, and I expected it would.

Ricotta Lemon Curd fillingThere ended up being loads of cake left over. Enough even on Boxing Day to have more left over. Though we were slicing the slice in half, that is having just 2 of the 4 layers per person. The cake was a monster!

The meringue was still looking quite good on Boxing Day, but it had begun to seep a little around the base.

MeringueI also think that I’d make an Italian Meringue. Given there’s very little baking of the meringue, and using raw egg whites, the Italian Meringue would be safest.

This is one cake that bugs me (the caving) so I suspect I’ll make it again just to see if I can resolve that problem. Some things I have trouble letting go of 🙂

If you like lemon, then definitely give this cake a crack, but you’ll have to buy the magazine (or ask nicely ontotheplate@gmail.com) to get the recipe.

I’ve just found a photo I took from my phone’s camera after we cut a few slices. This demonstrates the problem of having a softer filling when a layer of cake doesn’t have the same thickness all the way through (where the cake caved in those last minutes of baking and cooling).

2013-12-25 13.56.38



Double Ginger Cake

I can’t help myself. I love baking and the holiday unit we’re in has a fully equipped kitchen. When I say fully equipped, it doesn’t come with a cake mixer, not even a hand held set of egg beaters, but it has a microwave and an oven and a set of bowls.

I bought a whisk, measuring cups and spoons and yes, the kitchen scales. We also packed a small kitchen knife (we’ve learnt from experience that the knives don’t get sharpened, it is after all, a holiday home.) and I grabbed a number of pantry items like Cinnamon (shh, don’t tell Mr Fussy), Brown Sugar, a ziplock bag with Sultanas and Raisins and the pourable Golden Syrup bottle. Oh, and the package of yeast sachets. You never know.

Root Ginger

We arrived a little after 4pm Saturday, and before dinner I’d made Lemon Curd. At home I was rummaging around the freezer for pork and came across a big ziplock bag of lemon juice and 4 yolks. Perfect, I could make lemon curd. Then as we were unpacking Mr Fussy asked if I’d spotted the lemon trees. Bonus! Which came in handy because the big ziplock bag of lemon juice had a small tear on the seam and a good portion of it had leaked into the chilly bin.

Simple Syrup

There is a point to harping on about the lemon curd. The original recipe I barely adapted (just the proportions), goes on to say it would be good with Ginger pudding.

Before heading out for a run this morning I made pancake batter and whipped some cream. It took an age to whisk which is why there’ll be no pav or anything that requires whipping. I mixed some curd with the whipped cream and was all set for “breakfast”. Having made a double batch of lemon curd I was pretty intent to make a ginger cake. I knew Mr Fussy would be more than happy to accommodate my baking needs.

Stem Ginger

I wanted to pop along to the Library (for books on Peony Roses, Ranunculas and Magnolias) so took a quick peek at some recipe books. I came across a recipe by Nigel Slater for Double Ginger Cake. Even though I took a photo and followed it, I later found the recipe online, so I’ve included a link to that, below.

Another pantry item I brought with us was Self Raising Flour. It was all falling into place for the recipe. The Muscavado (I did bring brown sugar) sugar I bought as I did for the Ginger and Baking Soda. I grabbed a piece of root ginger from the supermarket after failing to find any Stem Ginger. Actually I didn’t know what Stem Ginger was.

Preserved Ginger

Stem ginger is the bit of ginger that’s underground, if my Google search, and memory, can be relied upon. I made do with the root ginger which I’ve described in the “My Notes” section below.

The syrup that was made while the ginger was simmering away really packed a punch. Only a few tablespoons were used in the recipe. Mr Fussy was very pleased with the flavours of the syrup.

The recipe has both Ginger spice, the chopped up “Stem Ginger” and the syrup made during the “preserving” of the ginger.

Cake batter

What I didn’t drag with me is my tripod. Turns out I take very shaky photos and with the light fading I needed even more to be able to keep the camera still. No chance. So now we get to some photos taken with my phone camera.

I also didn’t bring along any baking paper, but like I used to do when I was a much younger girl, I used the wrapping from the block of butter. How old school is that?

The recipe calls for a couple of good tablespoons of sultanas. I tried to encourage Mr Fussy to separate out the raisins from the sultanas but he took one look at the bag I packed and protested saying it wouldn’t matter if there were some raisins. And I agree. On the whole I’d have to say you could flag the fruit altogether. I don’t think it really added anything to the cake.

Double Ginger Cake by Nigel Slater



    1. Line the bottom of  20cm square cake tin.
    2. Heat the oven to 180C. Sift the flour with the ground ginger, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
    3. In a small saucepan pour in the golden syrup and ginger syrup. Cut up the butter into smallish chunks and place that also into the saucepan. Warm the ingredients over a low heat.

    4. Dice the stem ginger finely, then add it to the pan with the sultanas and muscavado sugar. Let the mixture bubble gently for a minute, giving it the occasional stir to stop the fruit sticking on the bottom.
    4. Break the eggs into a bowl, pour in the milk and beat gently to break up the egg and mix it into the milk.
    5. Pour the butter and sugar mixture into the bowl with the flour. With a large metal spoon, stir the liquid into the dry ingredients until smooth. Mix in the milk and eggs. The mixture should be sloppy, with no trace of flour.
    6. Pour the mixture into the lined cake tin and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Unless you are serving it warm, leave the cake in its tin to cool, then tip it out on to a sheet of greaseproof paper. Wrap it up in foil and, if you can, leave it to mature for a day or two before eating.

My Notes:

    For the preserved ginger: Peel an slice root ginger into even chunks. Blanch the ginger pieces 3 times in boiling water letting the ginger it for around 10 seconds at a time. In a small pot measure 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of sugar. Place the blanched ginger pieces into the pot and bring the syrup to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes. Allow the syrup to cool for an hour before placing into a jar which is stored into the fridge. When the syrup had cooled to warm I then used the syrup and cut up the pieces finely for the cake recipe.

    I had a fairly shallow 20cm cake tin and was worried the batter would raise and spill over the sides so I poured some of the batter into a glass loaf tin. If you use a 22cm square baking tin you’ll likely get all the batter into the tin.

    Double Ginger Cakes

We had half of the loaf pan cake with some Lime and Cream Cheese frosting I dragged from the freezer just moments before leaving home. I’m not sure if that sort of ruined it or not. The frosting was lovely, but there wasn’t as much ginger flavour as I had expected. The cake had such a lovely texture, a quite light cake for a ginger cake. It wasn’t dense or heavy.

I’m looking forward to it in a couple of days. Just perfect for my birthday. Though I fully expect before then we’ll have polished off the remainder of the other half of the loaf pan baked cake. There’s still the lemon curd, and if I can muster the strength, more cream to be whipped. I think we’ve got pudding sorted, with a few serving variations, for the first half of the week.

Sultanas hiding


Perfect Party Cake for Dad’s 70th Birthday

I made Dad a birthday cake using a recipe I’ve used before. I made this Dorie Greenspan Perfect Party Cake with the New Zealand/Waitangi Day Cake this February.

Since then my cake decorating skills have improved a little. I’m not ready to gloat yet, but if you were to compare the two cakes you’ll see that I’m making progress in the right direction.

Fondant message

This is what the finished cake looked like, but that came after me trying to use a fondant flower I’d made on the Saturday night, the first that I was actually pleased with. I really wanted to use it. But it made Dad’s cake too pretty. So let’s get that photo over with. And an apology if I flick between the two looks. It’s just at the different times I took photos.

Unused flower

I hadn’t totally settled on what I would make for Dad’s cake during our stay in Melbourne, but on the flight home, on the back of a sick bag, the design took place.

For the cake I knew it couldn’t be chocolate. Dad is not a fan of chocolate baked goods. He loves fruit cake, but I knew Ruth would probably make him a fruit cake. And when I think of fruit cake I think of almond and white fondant and then it starts to become a Christmas cake.

Then the idea came to me to use the Perfect Party Cake recipe again. But I’d fill the layers with Raspberry filling. Dad loves his raspberries.

I also knew the cake would be 8” in size. Since I was having my sister and her family over for an afternoon tea along with Dad and Ruth, I needed a cake that would comfortably serve 10 people.

Birthday Celebration Cake

The Friday night before the afternoon tea I made the raspberry filling. I used the same filling recipe as per the Double Chocolate Layer Cake. I wasn’t really sure it would stretch to 2 layers of filling. I had originally been thinking 3 layers. On Saturday I made Lemon Curd and changed plan to torting the 3 cakes and having 5 layers where I’d alternate between layers of Lemon Curd and Raspberry Filling, and using slightly less filling between the layers.

near perfect layers

I torted the 3 cake layers following the tip that I got from the Craftsy free video, Modern Buttercream. Joshua John Russell instructed to tuck your elbow tight into your side and not move it while you cut around the side of the cake, cutting slightly deeper each turn until you finally reach the middle and have cut through the entire cake. I think I did not too bad really.

Then to each layer I piped a little dam of frosting using the Wilton 12 tip, and then filled the layer with either the raspberry filling or lemon curd.


One of the other tips I picked up was using a simple sugar syrup. I’ve used this before on layered cakes. Its use is to keep the layers moist since they can dry out when you’ve got lots of layers due to the amount of time the cake is out, with cut sides, and also the fridge can dry a cake out as well. I saw that Joshua had his syrup in a squeeze bottle. That seemed like a brilliant idea, and he certainly made it look sensible. I suspect he’s been using this method for a long time and is used to the angle at which he points it at the cake before squeezing. I on the other hand ended up with the syrup squirting beyond the cake where I was trying to start at the edge. In the  got the hang of it.

6 layers

In my planning of the cake (on the plane) I had assumed the cake would be 10cm in height. And I knew when I had the cakes cooled and measured the height that it wasn’t going to be close to it (another reason I went for 6 layers, using filling to bolster the height). The change in height meant my original design would need to change. I was going for 4 layers of fondant stripes. The plan was for graduating depths of colour creating a sort of ombre effect, as well as larger to smaller strips of fondant as we went bottom to top of the cake, with a gap equal to the size of the fondant before starting with the next colour/strip.

Ready for decorations

There was one other thing I forgot to do using another tip in the video. I should have put the pastry scraper into a pot that contained boiled water, let the heat penetrate the scraper, dry off the scraper and then scrape the side and top of the cake to help smooth everything out nicely. It was smooth but there were some imperfections which you could see. The heat from the scraper should have smoothed it out a bit.

I was expecting to use some of the texture sheets I bought from Bake Boss in Melbourne for the strips but decided at the last minute to use one of the fondant strip cutters (also purchased from Bake Boss, but available here in NZ). That was on the bottom layer. I pulled out a little fondant wheel I bought on eBay for the middle layer (1cm) but it was useless at actually cutting through the fondant. And it’s not like the fondant was hard, it’s just the edge wouldn’t cut nicely. In the end the middle layer is cut using a pasta cutter I have.

Fondant strips

The top layer I did use one of the texture sheets. This actually a fish scale. It wasn’t too bad trying to join the pattern but not dead easy, and I could spot where the sheet started and finished and the next began.

I had measured the circumference of the cake and knew I’d end up having to make two stripes for each because a single long strip would be too difficult to hold and try to place with the weight of the rest.

I used another tip I had come across and that was to roll the strip so that in my hand I had a coil and then I uncoiled it as I pressed it against the side of the cake.

I also used a Wilton tool that marks the cake. This gave me my guide as to where I’d be placing each strip. Unfortunately the Guide is in inches and I needed the impressions around the cake at 4 and 7cm. With not having the correct position I then had to decide where the strip would lay, would the guide be in the middle of the strip, or just above the bottom, or just below the top. You can imagine that this got a bit fiddly to get the strip even all the way around.

I had cut out a 7 and 0 from the fondant cutter set I bought, but the size was too insignificant for the cake.

I used my new craft cutter (like a scalpel) to hand cut out the numbers. The 0 was more or less an O which I then squished a little to elongate it, but the size was still a little bigger than the 7. And I placed them too close to the edge of the cake.

first slice

Don’t expect that when you cut into a cake that’s got strips of fondant (or some other type of strip) that they will stay put as you cut through it. We nudged them back into place for the photo, but I can tell you categorically they will drag down from where you’d carefully placed them.

And one last note, I had wanted to have a white frosted cake, but with so much butter in the doctored Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe I downloaded from the Craftsy video, I just couldn’t get white, despite putting some Bright White food gel in it.

The colour palette I was using called for blue (100) with equal parts of yellow (40) and black. (40) I have kept hold of this colour guide.

I needed more blue, more than twice the amount of yellow of the butter, and then some black. I didn’t add any yellow obviously, that came from the butter.

I was thrilled that the colour I got was so close to the lightest coloured fondant strip. While it’s not what I had envisaged, it was still a pretty decent cake. And I can say that I’m happy with all the new techniques and tips I’ve picked up over the months and that I made a cake that looked good, but best of all, it tasted so SO good.

We ended up with 4 slices left, sadly Mr Fussy came down with an awful gastro bug which has seen him off work all week. He couldn’t eat anything Sunday, but he had a mouthful of one of the slices left over, on Tuesday. The cake still  had that beautiful fresh flavour. The Lemon Curd offsetting the sweetness of the cake and frosting.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream – slightly adapted from Joshua


  • 10 egg whites (I used 30gm egg albumen and 300ml warm water)
  • 280gm castor sugar
  • 843gm Butter or Kremelta (or a mix of the two as I did) – room temperature, chopped into 1 Tbls pieces
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbls vanilla extract


  • Bring a small pot of water to the boil. The pot needs to be suitable for sitting a bowl on top, where the bowl does not touch the water.
  • Turn the heat down to keep the water at a steady simmer.
  • Place the egg whites (or the egg albumen and warm water), sugar and salt into a heat proof bowl. Place the bowl over the pot of water.
  • Use a whisk to keep the egg white and sugar moving. You don’t want to leave it sitting or you’ll end up cooking scrambled egg.
  • From time to time put your finger into the mixture to check if the sugar has dissolved. As soon as it’s fully dissolved take the bowl off the simmering water.
  • Using a mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg white/sugar mix until you reach stiff peaks. At this time the bowl should have come back to room temperature.
  • Begin to add the butter, the meringue mixture will deflate a bit as you add more and more butter. You can keep adding butter before the previous has been added.
  • As you add more butter the colour of the meringue will change and it may begin to look curdled. Keep mixing, it will come together. You will probably hear the sound of your mixer change as the texture of the buttercream changes. I didn’t add all of the butter/kremelta before the texture changed to buttercream. Don’t be alarmed if you don’t need all the butter. In fact I ended up with over 200gm unused. The temperature of your kitchen, and the amount of kremelta used (if used) will have an impact on how much butter is needed to reach the right consistency for buttercream.
  • If you’re wanting to colour the buttercream now is when you should add the gel.
  • Add in the icing sugar and vanilla essence and mix on slow until the icing sugar has been fully incorporated.
  • Continue to whisk until light and fluffy.
  • If you’re not using the buttercream straight away, cover the buttercream and either leave it on the bench (for a day) or in the fridge. If you leave it in the fridge you’ll need to bring the buttercream back to room temperature.
  • Put the buttercream back in the mixer using the paddle attachment and beat it until you reach a soft fluffy texture.

I really recommend watching Joshua’s free Craftsy video so you can see how to make this buttercream. It’s great if you’re a visual person. Joshua’s recipe, which you can download uses 8 egg whites, and less icing sugar. I preferred a slightly sweeter frosting. The extra icing sugar also changes the consistency a bit too, it’s not quite so slippery, but it’s still silky.

I had too much buttercream than was needed, I think even if I had filled the cake with the buttercream I’d still end up with a little too much, but I didn’t want to risk have too little, especially since I had coloured it.

The remainder buttercream is in the freezer and will last 3 months.

If you’re using frozen buttercream, bring it back to room temperature before mixing.

Perfect Party Cake

The one thing that makes me screw up my nose when I look at the cake is the frosting that was used to create a dam. It would have been wonderful not to have seen this bit of buttercream in the side of the cake.

It’s still a great cake, and I would make it again, without a doubt.


I haven’t abandoned the blog

It’s been a very busy, but enjoyable, couple of weeks. First we had a week in Melbourne, comprising two weekends. No baking!  But there was the Baked Lemon Chicken Pasta dish I made and wrote up. Always a bit tricky when cooking/entertaining in someone else’s home.

And then since we’ve been home, I’ve been busy with two birthday cakes. I promise I will write them up, but not tonight.

First is the Angry Birds birthday cake I made for a friend’s son’s 9th birthday.

Ready for a party

As you can imagine, this cake, well not the cake itself, took a fair amount of time to make. The Angry Birds characters were made over a couple of evenings.

And then Saturday after Jo and Riley collected the cake I got stuck into making Dad’s 70th birthday cake. He didn’t know I was going to make a cake. I just wanted to. Then the Christchurch family arrived today for an afternoon tea in his honour.

Happy Birthday

And this is what it looked like on the inside.  Dad loves raspberries, which are not in season at the moment in New Zealand. So it was frozen raspberries. The layers are Lemon Curd and Raspberry filling. I used my trusty Lemon Curd recipe, but I added one more egg yolk than the recipe called for. And I can tell you that it did alter the taste. It was so so so good.

A perfect slice of birthday cake

And to balance things out, I made up a quick batch of savour muffins. These are Parmesan, Pesto and Pinenut. Very tasty, nice and light, full of flavour. I’ll also write that recipe up too.

Little savoury morsels

Leave a comment

Not looking forward to the power bill

Our last power bill arrived on Friday. It’s the highest bill we’ve ever had. And it’s not yet Winter.

But did that stop me from using the oven this week?  No.

I’ve got so much to share. It’s almost frightening all the things that have happened this weekend I want to jot down and share on my blog.

Thank goodness this time next week we’ll be in Melbourne and I’ll have a week of shopping, relaxing, and catching up on my posts.

But in the meantime here’s a preview of what I’ve got tucked away ready to give a blow by blow account of.

Let’s start at the very beginning. That would be Friday. This is a progression of the weekend from start to finish.


I first made Lemon Curd because I wanted to have the lemon curd with soft whipped cream on the waffles I was making.

So following the curd came making the waffle recipe which used yeast and had an overnight rest.

We had waffles for breakfast both Saturday and today.

Start to finish - Waffles

This morning I more of less had dessert rather than breakfast. I used the caramel sauce I made a few weekends ago with chopped up banana. Oh my goodness. What a terrific way to start off the day!

But we’re not yet finished with Friday.

If there was one thing I really wanted to put to bed this weekend it was finding out if I could make an Angry Bird fondant topper. But to begin with I needed to make the cake balls. I used a 9” strawberry cake layer I had in the freezer with some left over strawberry frosting and I was good to get rolling.

Cake balls

Alastair at work, one of our Account Managers, was kind enough to buy me some liquid egg whites which he’d seen on one of his many trips to Wellington. What he’s doing in the supermarket I’m unsure of, I must ask. Anyway the egg whites were best by 1 June and we’re away so there’ll be no baking being done for a week. What intrigued me was the note on the back of the packet saying “not suitable for whipping”. So I had to experiment, right?

Liquid Egg Meringues

These actually might have been great had I not burnt them. I gave the best to my sister with a bottle of cream and some frozen berries and suggested she crumble them up and serve it for pudding.

Ok, Friday done and dusted.


Other than the waffles for breakfast, that was it until mid afternoon. I was off to Mercato, meeting mum there, to learn about tempering chocolate, making ganache and understanding all sorts of things about chocolate. I had a thoroughly good time, learnt a ton of new information, sampled everything that was made (and there was a lot!) and handed around (cocoa nibs, and all sorts of Valrhona goodies). I then proceeded to buy a bunch of stuff in preparation for home made pizzas for Sunday.

I had a late start arriving home after 3pm but got onto a Lemon Meringue Tart. I got the recipe from a French blog, but the lemon cream is the same I have previously made. Both the dough and the lemon cream needed to be made a day ahead.

Stages of a Lemon Meringue Tart

And tonight I made Italian Meringue. I’ve never made it before. And I learnt heaps.

Made Saturday, and completed Sunday. I started the day with more or less dessert, and ended the day the same way.

I’m not yet done with Saturday, because I decided to get cracking and try to make an Angry Bird character.

The first Angry Bird I made wasn’t particularly “angry” looking. So with a bit of feedback from Facebook I re-made the red bird on Sunday. Oops, I just realised I deleted all the photos I took of it because it wasn’t right.

Here’s a few photos I took on my phone.

Red bird, first attempt

To round out the evening I made yet another batch of meringues. This was using rehydrated egg albumen. I was almost certain it wouldn’t work and secretly glad that I would be able to just wash the bowl and sit down. But oh no. It actually worked. Not wanting to over cook the meringues this time I turned the temperature down and checked the meringues every 10 minutes from 40 minutes on. And guess what, they seemed dry at around 80 minutes and this morning when I touched them, they’re tacky. Geez.

Egg Albumen Meringues


Well there was a repeat of Waffles. They were so light and crisp.

Then it was onto rolling the dough for the tart, letting it sit in the fridge for 3 hour before baking, then filling it an hour before adding the meringue. And as I mentioned, making an Italian meringue. It’s the type of meringue you make for a Bombe Alaska. It’s cooked when the boiling liquid syrup is slowly added to the egg whites. But it’s not all that attractive stark white. And without a little butane torch I popped it under the grill for to brown.

During the morning I made 2 other characters from Angry Birds and repeated the red bird. I reckon I proved I can make these, well at least these 3 characters.

Angry Bird characters

I made a quick lunch using puff pasty filled with a nice Cranberry chutney, shaved ham and Cheshire cheese. It’s a recipe I used before and have blogged about in the past. Really simple, quick and easy and full of flavour and texture.

Following lunch I made a quick batch of Mr Fussy’s Vanilla cookies. He almost begged me not to make cupcakes. He’s over them. And I don’t blame him at all. So am I, but I didn’t have any last week, and only 1 the week before. It’s been left to Mr Fussy to eat them ALL. But he loves his Vanilla cookies and they’re a breeze to make.

So along with the cookies I made the pizza dough. This is a recipe I’ve made several times now and love. This time I used Wholewheat flour as the original recipe calls for but in the past I’ve used Semolina flour instead.

V Cookies and Pizza Dough

Then I had just enough time to prep pumpkin and kumara for roasting, along with another clove of garlic and get all the meat and other veggies cut ready for making pizzas. There’s quite a lot of work to do all that.

I found a little bit of time to tend to my worm farm, fold laundry and trim some trees before getting properly stuck into making dinner, and that meringue.

So I owe anyone here reading a few detailed posts about all of this, and for me too. I refer back to my own recipes when I want to remake something.


It’s been a very adventurous weekend, I’m exhausted but I have thoroughly enjoyed myself. Thank goodness there’s just one week of work before a holiday. At this pace I’m going to wear myself (and the oven) out.


Let’s have cake, a layered, lemon curd, New Zealand themed cake!

New Zealand Cake

Don’t look closely at the piped icing. I know you’ve noticed the icing almost about to topple off the cake, and let’s not talk about the various ways the stars are facing.

I was using my Wilton turntable. I’ve never used one before and I was feeling a little clumsy moving it around, piping at the same time and not having to move my hand. My brain was having trouble grasping this new concept.

It was only Friday evening that I settled on a cake recipe. I’m not a big fan of chocolate cake, and continuing on with the black/white theme (for Waitangi Day) I wanted a white cake, but not just a plain white cake.

I found a recipe for Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake. It’s from her book Baking: From My Home To Yours. The cake recipe is one picked by a blogger and shared on their blog. I was sold on the cake, but not on the way it was decorated. The layers had raspberry filling topped with a buttercream frosting. I’m not much of a fan of berry fruits. The pips really annoy me. Too much effort for the flavour. Having decided on the cake I Google’d the name of the cake to see how other people had used the recipe. I came across this blog post where lemon curd was used instead of the berry filling. I was enthused enough to jump out of my seat a few minutes after 10pm to whip up another batch of Lemon Curd and use that instead of the original raspberry filling.  The frosting I’d already decided on, and I knew how I was going to “decorate” the top, with the New Zealand Map.

When I look at the cake, I’m pretty sure Dorie Greenspan would be horrified. Imagine covering a beautiful layered cake with BLACK icing.

New Zealand Map

Oh well, the damage is done Smile

My New Zealand Cake using Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake Recipe



  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • Filling and frosting
  • 1 batch of lemon curd
  • 1/2 batch of white chocolate buttercream
  • 1 batch of chocolate buttercream


  • Heat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius
  • Spray two 9″ cake pans with cooking spray.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Whisk together the milk and eggs in a small bowl.
  • In a large bowl, pour in the sugar and sprinkle in the lemon zest.
  • Rub the lemon zest in the sugar until the sugar becomes moist and fragrant.
  • Add in the butter and beat on medium speed until crumbly.
  • Beat in the extract.
  • Beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture and then half of the egg mixture. Then, add in the rest of the egg mixture and the rest of the flour mixture, beating until well-combined.
  • Divide the batter between the two cake pans and bake 30-35 minutes or until a knife inserted into the centres of the cakes comes out clean.
  • Let cool for about 5 minutes before inverting to remove from the pans.
  • When the cakes have cooled, slice each cake through the middle to create two layers.

My Notes:

  • I don’t have Cake flour. For each cup of flour put 3 Tbs of cornflour into the measuring cup and then fill with flour to make a cup. For the 1/4 cup I added 1 Tbs of cornflour.
  • Sift the cornflour and flour mix 5 times.
  • My egg whites were from whites I froze pre-Christmas. I find frozen egg whites no different to fresh egg whites.
  • I used an offset spatula to smooth the tops of the cakes, and make a small hollow expecting the cakes to bake from the middle, threatening to dome.
  • My oven isn’t wide enough to take both cake tins on one oven tray. I had the oven on fan forced with a tray in the bottom and top 1/3 of the oven.
  • My cakes were cooked in 23 minutes. Yes, 23 minutes of 30-35 minutes. So watch carefully. As you can see in the following photos the cakes came away from the side of the tins, a great indicator of “doneness”.
  • The white chocolate buttercream had also been frozen. I’d made a Devil’s Food Cake for Christmas Day and frosted it with the frosting. The 6” cake only required half of the frosting.
  • I put the white chocolate buttercream in the fridge the night before, then when I was ready to use it, put it in the mixer and let it whip up again for a minute or so.
  • I tried to use my Wilton cake slicer to make the layers, again it refused to cut. I had read about using dental floss but it wouldn’t cut through either. Using the indentation the floss had left I make a small cut all the way around and then used the floss and it worked perfectly to slice through the cakes. Just wrap the floss around the middle of the cake and cross over the ends and pull. The floss will end up meeting the opposite side in the middle of the cake. Brilliant.
  • I had read spreading frosting over the (lemon curd) filling proved difficult. I concur. Being a quick study (cough) I spread frosting on the bottom of the next cake layer and then placed that next layer on top of the lemon curd so the frosting sat on the curd.
  • Even with the piped edge (forming a “trench”) the white chocolate frosting and curd wanted to seep out a little. This made crumb coating a little fiddly as on occasion I got a little of the white chocolate frosting mixed with the black, but knowing it was a crumb coat I didn’t panic.
  • The top layer of the cake sort of moved about as I swept the frosting over it. That was a little annoying and I had to keep manipulating it back into place with the offset spatula.
  • I used 4 strips of waxed paper over the top of the doily (which was over the top of a 10” cake board) to protect the doily from the frosting. When I was done frosting the side I slowly slid the waxed strips out from under the cake and then proceeded to pipe frosting around the base of the cake.
  • Having the cake on a cake board made it very easy to maneuverer the cake into the fridge and back onto the cake stand. And then transfer the cake from one cake stand to another (for transporting).

And now for a barrage of photos:

Making 9inch layer cakes

I was so thankful the cakes didn’t dome so that I didn’t have to trim them.


Assembling a 4 layer cake

You can see in the photo bottom left the difficulty I had trying to frost on top of the lemon curd. The next photo of the set shows the frosting on the bottom of the next layer. That next layer being flipped so the frosting sat on the curd.

And ready to crumb coat:

Ready to crumb coat

I used the offset spatula and scrape off the excess white chocolate frosting before crumb coating with black frosting.

And we have a New Zealand cake!

Kiwi As Bro

Thanks to Natalie an Caitlin who stayed and talked through various options and scenarios when I came across a small blip in the road assembling and icing of the cake. And to Logan who kept Mr Fussy company out in the garden (yes, he was in the garden!!)

I used a strip of waxed paper to “practice” piping the icing. When Logan came inside he was happy to scrape it clean. Of course he had a black mouth and tongue which was hard to miss.

Inside the cake

The lemon curd makes the cake seem as if it was quite yellow but it wasn’t (lack of camera skills are really to blame). You can see how the bottom layer, the one that confirmed smoothing frosting over curd was complete madness, looks a bit more oozy than the other layers. And you can see how that top layer is being a little disobedient and not wanting to sit directly on top. Oh the joys of layered cakes.

Eat a slice of cake

Even though the black frosting had cocoa in it (to give the black a head start), it wasn’t detectable with the cake. There was no disguising the chocolate flavour when eating the frosting on it’s own though. The lemon curd was delightful. I love lemon curd though. You will have a little bit left over from the filling. Such a shame Winking smile

Eating a slice of cake

This one slice was shared among four of us.

Or should I say fought over?

Fight for a tastes of cake

I told Caitlin (first of the “hand/arm” photos) that I wouldn’t end up using the photos with arms in it. But I LIED! Obviously.

Actually I’m pretty sure Natalie was trying to keep that top layer from slipping off the cake altogether as Logan took a forkful. She was quite concerned the top layer was messing up the photos.

So there we have it. A lovely cake filled with glorious lemon curd (my favourite) and white chocolate frosting and then covered with black (chocolate) frosting.

The map of New Zealand is a cookie cutter I used on white fondant. It looks pretty good, for such a cheats way of “decorating”.

Natalie insisted that I keep a piece for Mr Fussy and my MIL and then she took off with the rest for her work team.

Mr Fussy said it was really nice. Though I’m not sure he would dare say anything else when I sit there staring at him waiting impatiently for his verdict. My MIL also said it was lovely, and that had I not said the black frosting had cocoa in it, she wouldn’t have been able to tell.

So for those not wanting a chocolate black frosting, it seems that if you use a cake with a strong flavour you’re most likely not going to be able to tell.

New Zealand Layer Cake

UPDATE: The trip to Natalie’s was so hot, and the cake was covered with a Perspex type cover, sort of creating a mini hot house. So the piped frosting curled over the edges and slopped down the sides, and with a wedge cut out of the cake, the top layer was well and truly on the move. It was not looking its best. The cake never made it to Natalie’s work. Instead family had it for dessert, with enough for tonight too.

I don’t mind who the recipients are, so long as it’s enjoyed.


Lemon Curd Muffins


Let’s overlook that these muffins are glazed. Okay, you can’t really overlook that. Let’s not talk about the humble muffin, that little sweet/healthy  snack that seems to be getting closer and closer to a cupcake and further from a healthy snack.

Good. So we can continue on.

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of lemon. Of all citrus. Well maybe not so much on Grapefruit.

It was time to make a lemon muffin. But not just a simple muffin. I didn’t want a sugar/lemon zest topping. The past two muffins have each had something similar on top.

I got to thinking about the Lemon Muffins at Muffin Break. They have a really thick gooey dollop of lemon “something” in the middle. That’s what I was aiming for.

I made the lemon curd that I’ve had in the past. That was Friday night. The curd was easy and quick to make, especially if you’ve got lots of frozen packs of lemon juice tucked away.

I’d found a recipe which was “the best”. It was for Blueberries but I figured it should work for lemon too.


I was looking forward to this recipe since it used both buttermilk and oil. One of my favourite types of recipes.

The recipe was specifically written for a muffin so I didn’t go wrong like last week’s Rhubarb Crumb Top muffin recipe which I adapted from a cake recipe and mistakenly creamed the butter and sugar.


As is expected when you’re not over mixing, the batter is still a bit lumpy, and there’s evidence of some flour not quite mixed in completely.

I was expecting 12 muffins but got 15. So the extra 3 from my muffin tin I decided to play around with. I not only added a dollop of lemon curd into the centre, but I also put another dollop on top and then swirled this in. I almost expected that I’d be disturbing the middle dollop.


When I put the top bit of batter on I sort of did it in such a way as to lay it over the tp by starting from one side then moving the spoon to the other. This seemed to work well but I still had to check that they were “sealed” and there wasn’t any curd poking out the side.

The photo below was one of the last 3 where I added the extra dollop on top and swirled it into the batter.


There’s not nearly as much curd “blob” as I wanted. Boo.

That doesn’t mean to say these are no good. But they’re not “the best” of anything like I had in my mind. The muffin still tastes like lemon, but it’s quite subtle, and given I rather more than less, it is a little disappointing. But that’s just my preference. There’s no reason not to make this recipe. And I wonder if it works better with the blueberries that it was originally for.

So onto the recipe then?

Lemon Curd Muffins adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe: The Best Blueberry Muffins


  • 240gm sugar
    2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
    2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 large eggs
    57gm butter, melted and cooled slightly
    1/4 cup oil (vegetable or canola)
    1 cup buttermilk
    1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Lemon Curd
  • Glaze
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cream (or milk)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice


  • Heat the oven to 190deg Celsius.
  • Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.
  • Whisk sugar and eggs together in a medium bowl until thick, about 45 seconds.
  • Slowly whisk in the butter and oil until combined.
  • Whisk in the buttermilk and lemon juice until combined.
  • Using a rubber spatula, fold egg mixture into flour mixture until just moistened. The batter will be lumpy with a few dry spots of flour – don’t overmix. This is the key to moist and tender muffins.
  • Spoon enough batter to cover the bottom of the muffin case.
  • Place a small teaspoon of lemon curd into the centre of the batter.
  • Cover the lemon curd with enough muffin batter to fill the case 2/3rds full.
  • Bake until a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs, about 12-15 minutes.
  • Cool muffins in the muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool.
  • Make the glaze by mixing together the icing sugar, cream (or milk) and lemon juice.
  • Dip the tops of the muffins in the glaze.
  • Leave the muffins for an hour or so to let the glaze set.


The 45 seconds whisking the egg and sugar felt like forever. I’ve got a new whisk having recently busted my previous one with one of the metal loops having come out of place. The new whisk (a KitchenAid) has a shorter handle. I’m not sure if that was a contributing factor, or my weak shoulder from surgery and my lack of strength exercise. But you can see how thick I got the eggs and sugar.


Despite a few dribbles of glaze, these have in fact set. And I’ve put them in the freezer already glazed. I can confirm that they defrost fine and you wouldn’t know the glaze had been done ahead of the freezing.

Of course you don’t have to glaze them all. Or you could double dip them if you want a thicker cover. I had glaze left over. I’ve frozen that in a zip lock bag. Who knows when I’ll find a use for them. I’m thinking cinnamon rolls or something along those lines.