When it comes to baking, there is definitely an art of precision and skill required…something I recently discovered! Being a confident cook myself, I rarely go off recipes in the kitchen, and enjoy the knack of making dishes purely from taste and a little bit from a whim! However, I recently discovered it is a totally different story when it comes to baking! I guess I could blame it on being a “Gen Y,” having grown up with the pre-made cake mixes, where you add an egg and water and a cake appears!

When an opportunity arose recently, to organise a birthday cake, I thought I would seize my renewed energy from the New Year, and expand my love for cooking into the realm of baking! Let’s just say, I now have a new found appreciation for those bakers out there.

Being fully aware that taking on a birthday cake was going to be a challenge for a non-baker like myself, I went straight to one of our favourite cookbooks here, Jude Blureau’s “Wholefoods for Children” (yes I was cooking for adults but kids always have the best cakes!). I flipped through the book and found a “Banana, Pineapple and Coconut cake with cream cheese frosting”….must I say anymore, yum! 

Apart from the delicious combination of flavours, there were a few key points which made this recipe appealing to an inexperienced baker. 

1. The ingredients list was not too daunting…always a positive when you can understand ALL of the ingredients and they are easily accessible…I bought all ingredients from ONE place!

2. Easy to follow steps… Jude is really great at making the steps look extremely easy, as well as often giving you alternative ingredients to use!

3. Interesting tips…on the sides of each recipe, Jude always includes some fantastic tips & tricks!

The making of the cake went rather well, with only a couple of very small glitches…

  • The recipe calls for Organic Coconut Oil, which you blend in with some other wet ingredients such as eggs. As I began mixing in the coconut oil, it started to turn hard! This crisis was soon averted, as I was able to mix it well enough so that it wasn’t too lumpy and I figured that it would all melt again anyway when I baked the cake, which it did!
  • When it was time to place the final finishes on the cake, the experimental cook in me must have come out…
  • The recipe called for Coconut Milk, but as I’m not a big fan, I just used half full cream milk, half coconut oil.
  • Luckily I had listened to a tip from a Team Goodness staff member, and made my cake the night before icing it & it spread on perfectly. Apparently this minimises the chance of taking the top layer of the cake off & the cake was no longer warm so the icing didn’t melt!
  • Organic Banana, Pineapple & Coconut Cake I finished off my cake with Jude’s suggestion of some Organic Desiccated Coconut mixed with Cinnamon.

The verdict… It was a hit at the party with compliments on the cake’s delicious flavour combination, and the frosting was definitely the “icing on the cake”, as some may say! We asked Jude what she thought & she was very kind, but commented it was a little flat & looking at it, maybe it is! However it was yummy.

I think I may have slightly undercooked the cake, as it was quite dense with the Coconut Oil and tinned pineapple, I would have liked to have cooked it for an extra 10 minutes.

Although a fun experience altogether, I think I might leave the baking to the experts and stick with what I know for now…I take my hat off to the baker’s out there who make it look easy!

Our blog is always a great place to share your cooking experiences, questions or recipes. Post any comments below and hopefully we can help each other out!

A few comments from Jude Blureau on my 1st attempt…

“The recipe says melted coconut oil or butter, which is calling for it in a liquid form. But a lot depends on the weather – baking is such an art, with so many variables (hence my new book which I started last week on baking) because it’s just fraught with variables. Coconut oil once melted will harden if it hits ingredients too cold – but you can’t use it too hot either or it will cook the eggs, but adding the eggs, rapadura and melted, slightly cooled coconut oil should be fine, and whip up nicely when using electric beaters.”

“It sounds to me that maybe the weather was cold, if the coconut oil hardened as it hit the ingredients it was too cold to start with, but even if it started to chill slightly, it should have beaten up fine. If it’s a very cold day, that makes a huge impact.”

“Cooking time is a HUGE VARIABLE – it may well have needed extra time, as every single oven on the earth is different, and as soon as you substitute one ingredient, you change the chemistry. Using Coconut Oil will also give the cake a slightly different texture to butter.”

Icing: “I wouldn’t have used coconut oil in the icing – it needs to be just so, so consistency wise to beat to a nice creamy base.”

Thanks Jude – can’t wait for your new book, I think I need it!

Do you have any questions or comments about any of your baking experiences? If so post them here & hopefully someone can help!