Old fashioned favourites

Recipes for cakes are always in demand. My recipe folder is literally bulging with them. According to Nigella, in “How to be a domestic goddess”, the rewards of baking are exponentially higher than the effort required. The satisfaction derived from this simple task provides welcome relief from our busy lives. It is entirely separate from everyday cooking, although that’s not to say that you can’t bake everyday.

The following cakes have been in my recipe folder for many years and I’m happy to share them with you. Tap into your own domestic god/goddess, whip up one of these treats, sit back and bask in the warmth of this simple pleasure.

Lumberjack cake


lumberjack cake photo Marina Oliphant


With a quirky name, this delicious cake will become a favourite. It’s filled with apples and dates, then topped with crunchy caramelised coconut.

2 medium granny smith apples

185g dates

1 tsp bicarb soda

1 cup boiling water

125g butter, plus extra for greasing cake tin

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 ½ (one and ahalf) cups plain flour

½ (half) tsp salt


½ (half) cup brown sugar

60g butter

1/3 (one third) cup milk

60g shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 180C.

Butter and line a loaf tin (14cm x 24cm).

Peel, core and cut apples into small pieces.

Chop dates and mix with the apples and bicarb soda. Pour the boiling water over the top and leave to cool until luke warm.

Cream butter and sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat well.

Sift flour into the creamed mixture alternately with the apple mixture.

Pour into tin and bake for 1 hour or until cooked when tested with a skewer.

To make the topping, mix sugar with butter, milk and coconut in a small saucepan over a low heat.

Spread over the cooked cake.

Return cake to oven and bake for another 15 minutes until topping is golden brown and crunchy.

Lemon poppy seed cake


lemon poppyseed cake photo Marina Oliphant


A light lemony cake with the delightful crunch of poppy seeds.


125g butter, plus extra for greasing cake tin

1 ¼ (one and a quarter) cup caster sugar

2 tbsp poppy seeds

grated rind 1 lemon

3 tbsp lemon juice

2 eggs, beaten

1 ¼ (one and a quarter) cup plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/3 (one third) cup milk


zest and juice of 1 lemon

225g icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180C.

Butter and line a 17cm round cake tin.

Cream butter with sugar in an electric mixer until it is light and fluffy.

Add poppy seeds, lemon rind and juice and mix well.

Add eggs and mix well.

Sift flour and baking powder and add, alternately with the milk.

Pour mixture into tin and smooth the top.

Bake for 10 minutes, then turn oven down to 170C and cook for a further 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Remove and cool on cake rack.

To make icing, mix lemon juice and zest with icing sugar until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cake.

Hummingbird cake


hummingbird cake photo Marina Oliphant

I have made this cake in a large brioche tin, but you can just as easily use a round, square or loaf tin. You will need to adjust the cooking times, as they will be slightly different according to tin shapes.


1 ½  (one and a half) cups plain flour

½ (half) tsp bicarb soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup sugar

½ (half) cup canola oil

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla essence

½ (half) cup tinned crushed pineapple in juice (undrained)

2 medium mashed or sliced banana

½ (half) cup roughly chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)


250g cream cheese

125g butter

300g icing sugar

2 passionfruit

Preheat oven to 180C.

Butter and line a 17cm round cake tin (or 2 x 16cm fluted brioche tins).

Sift flour, bicarb soda and cinnamon in a large bowl, add sugar and stir.

Whisk eggs with oil and vanilla, then add to flour mixture and gently mix.

Add banana, pineapple, nuts and fold through.

Pour into cake tin, place in oven and bake for approximately 70 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer.

Remove from oven and allow to cool.

To make icing, beat cream cheese, butter and icing sugar until creamy and smooth. Scoop out the pulp of the passionfruit and fold through the icing.

Spread over cooled cake.

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