Piece of cake (+recipes)

By Amanda Laird

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Today it is time for a return to the basics with a proud Kiwi tradition - some good old baking. It's a satisfying way to spend an hour or two and fills the house with the most comforting of smells. Plus, it feels so good to be able to offer a gorgeous slice of cake on a lovely plate with a dollop of softly whipped cream instead of ripping open a packet of store-bought biscuits, when friends pop round.

Three different cakes today. My mother's carrot cake, which is the best in the world - crushed pineapple making it incredibly moist along with toasted coconut and generous dashes of nutmeg and cinnamon for extra flavour. It's topped with lemony cream cheese icing - of course. So delicious.

Sultana cake with the fruit soaked in Earl Grey tea has a lovely old-fashioned taste to it. Incorporating slices of crystallised ginger adds another flavour while still being reminiscent of another time. Slightly warmed slices with runny cream and a wee glass of brandy, it makes for a charming dessert.

Banana cake had never been top of my list. I could never understand using chocolate icing. But then I had the pleasure of tasting the most simple version, sliced in half and filled with whipped cream and slices of fresh banana, then dusted with icing sugar.

The husband, who fancies himself as a bit of a cake baker, introduced me to the delight of adding ground almonds - and I was away !

Chef's tip

Grease and/or line tins before starting the recipe. Have the butter and cream cheese at room temperature so they mix more easily. Also, don't over-mix ingredients, just combined is the idea for a lighter cake with more volume.

- NZ Herald

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