Banana Slice


A health blog that I read recently described the excitement of finding browning bananas in the grocery shop. Perfect for making smoothies the author explained. I fully comprehend this excitement. This weekend I discovered 10 browning bananas that had been thrown in the quick sale pile for a bargain $1.50. A little ‘eeek’ escaped my lips. However not at the prospect of protein smoothies. I was dreaming of banana baked goods. I snatched them up and cradled them home. I put one aside to cook with and the others were prepared for me to use later.

I have found the best way to save bananas is to peel them, slice them and then freeze them. But I’m always open to improving my method! So if anyone has suggestions please let me know.

PicMonkey Collage2

And what was to be the fate of the remaining banana? Banana Slice!
This recipe is a perfect example of many of the recipes in Nana’s books. The ingredients were not in order of use – very confusing for someone who doesn’t read ahead! There is also very little detail given. These days recipes tend to guide us through every minute step. The old recipes however, assume that you can cook. You need to trust yourself and  your instincts. Thankfully I did just this, well, mostly.

Ok, you will need: (don’t make my mistake – read ahead)
– 1 cup self raising flour
– 1/4 teaspoon bi-carb soda (cough cough, if you have any, cough cough – go out and buy some if you don’t!)
– 1/4 cup milk
– 1 beaten egg
– 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (definitely didn’t put this in – I’m 2 down already)
– 3/4 cup sugar (I initially forgot this, but realised when the batter had no sweetness. I also only added 1/2 cup which was a perfect amount!)
– 60g butter
– 1/3 cup of mashed banana
– 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and nutmeg

For the icing:
– The recipe asks for lemon icing. So I combined 3/4 cup soft icing sugar, 3/4 cup pure icing sugar (both sifted), 15g of softened butter and just under 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. This just covered the slice. So, if you like to lick the bowl, like your icing thick, or are not the sort of person to test how far your petrol will get you, you could make more icing.

Nothing left over to lick off the spoon!

Nothing left over to lick off the spoon!

Please do this:
– Sift dry ingredients together. This includes the spices and sugar. I failed to do this until the end. Learn from my mistake.
– Melt butter, add to dry ingredients with the banana, egg and milk.
– Spread into a greased lamington tin. Say what? A lamington tin? I looked at my 20x30cm lamington tin and decided it was too big. Best go with it’s smaller 16x26cm cousin. This was a good move.
– Bake in a moderate oven (180 degrees) for 25-30 minutes. Mine was ready in 20 minutes.
– When cool, top with lemon icing.


The verdict:
– I was a little disappointed when the slice came out because it hadn’t risen as much as I had hoped (most likely due to the omitted ingredients – get your act together Kate!). But it really didn’t matter. The slice was still great. Not too sweet, still nice and light, and worked perfectly with the lemon icing.

Judging from the empty cake stand, this slice is a real winner! If you try with all the ingredients let me know!


Kath and Kate xx

Posted in Cakes and Slices | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A Dessert Not To Be Trifled With

Don’t cry over failed sponge.  Make trifle.


The aftermath of the Great Sponge Saga was an extra sponge, sadly sitting on the bench looking very rejected. Anyone who knows me well knows that I cannot bear food to be wasted. I would rather stress myself out, pull a late night, and make something delicious. Or just eat it. This time I chose the former. That rejected sponge turned into my first scrumptious trifle. Nana had lots of trifle recipes. In traditional fashion, I decided that they should all be melded together. I’m getting further away from the brief. Must reign myself in. I will. I promise. Anyway, this is what I did:

You will need:
– 1 failed sponge (or a bought sponge roll, or a slightly stale sponge or some sponge fingers)
– 1 punnet strawberries
– 1 packet jelly crystals (I chose port wine)
– sherry (ok this was my addition – I like my trifles boozy)
– 1 tablespoon raspberry jam
– 1 carton thickened cream
– 1 carton custard (go on, tell me how easy it is. I couldn’t face it making it myself. I feel like Nana would not judge harshly for this, she was a busy woman)
– A little dark chocolate to decorate (I used dark chocolate Tim Tam shards)

Do this (if you want):
1) Cut the sponge into small slices (about 1cm, but don’t be too fussy)
2) Arrange them in a fancy bowl. Spread them with jam and a little (or a lot) of sherry
3) Make jelly according to the directions on the packet and let it cool (but not set completely)
4) Hull the strawberries and place most over the sponge cake
5) Pour jelly over the cake a refrigerate for 30 minutes
6) Carefully spoon over the custard and let it set in the fridge
7) Whip the cream and dollop on the trifle
8) Place a few hulled strawberries on the top along with grated dark chocolate or some crumbled dark Tim Tam
9) Cross your fingers that I remembered what I did correctly

Hopefully I did, because my first go and trifle was a success. The family loved it. It’s coming up to trifle season and I’ve eyed off a few Christmas trifles. So keep your eyes peeled. I might even make my own custard.


Kath and Kate xxx

Posted in Cakes and Slices | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

The Sponge Saga

What cake do you bake for someone turning 90? This is the question I asked Mother Dearest. It’s a lot of pressure, they have a life time of cakes to compare yours to. Mother Dearest answered ‘a sponge. Pop loves a sponge’.  I both expected and dreaded this answer. Expected, because well who doesn’t love sponge cake. Dreaded, because Nana made a darn good sponge cake and sponge cakes are darn difficult! Apart from Nana’s famous Rum Balls, this is the dish that most reminds me of my Nana. I can picture her in her kitchen gently tapping the sieve to make sure that all the flour was lovely and light, and so very gently folding the mixture. That is also how I remember my Nana, so very gentle. Unlike me. . . a bull in a china shop. I had assumed that everyone in the family also remembered Nana for her sponges, but ask each person and they all have a different memory. . . Jelly Slice! Golden Syrup Pudding! Nut and Date Loaf!

Mother Dearest, Pop, Me

Mother Dearest, Pop, Me

I jotted down Nana Bawden’s Never Fail Ginger Sponge recipe down a few years ago. She did not have it written down, but told me from memory. I’ve always been too scared to give it a go. Which seems ridiculous, scared of a sponge cake!

So begins the sponge cake saga.  I start a week early.  We need to practise right? So I whip up one for the lovely ladies at work. It’s not a complete flop, but it’s really not that great. I’m immediately concerned that this might be the first time that Nana’s Bawden’s Never Fail Ginger Sponge has indeed failed.

Given the previous failure, the day before the party I enlist Mother Dearest to help me make the sponge. Mother Dearest gets a little distracted and I’m left to my own devices. Sponge comes out. . . sponge looks sad. I recount to Mother Dearest what I had done and show her the recipe. Mother Dearest reports that Nana did not do that, that or that. She would have done it like this, this and this. It is starting to dawn on me that perhaps my carefully handwritten notes are not all that accurate. Time is ticking. Is there time to make another? Yes, we will not be beaten.

Mother Dearest is very attentive during this bake. She shows me what Nana did and things are looking excellent. Batter is being poured into the pans. And then I remember. . . I forgot the darn baking soda! We attempt to rectify this and cross our fingers as the sponges go in.

They come out looking acceptable. I plan to decorate the best two in the morning. Which I do. This is not completely successful. In an attempt to hide the shabby looking sponge I go for passionfruit cream for the middle and passionfruit glaze for the top. This was not a sensible choice given that we had a 3 hour drive ahead of us. Keep it simple people! All it needed was a dusting of icing sugar.


Mother Dearest, Aunty Judy and Aunty Debbie have an idea to put Pop’s candles in the form of Roman numerals for 90. They giggled uncontrollably as they pockmarked the top of the sponge with failed formations and were finally saved by my cousin’s young daughter.

PicMonkey Collage

We sing happy birthday to Pop. All of his great grandchildren help him blow out the candles. . . again, and again, and again. And guess what, Pop eats the cake and he likes it. And that is really all that matters really. A smile after eating the sponge was all I could ask for. I haven’t included the recipe. I’m going to search to see if she has written it down anywhere!


Flops are often far more interesting than successes, and they give everyone something to giggle about, which is pretty important too.  Next time I’ll tell you what to do with failed sponge cake. Happy Birthday Pop!

Kath and Kate x

Posted in Cakes and Slices | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Simplicity Chocolate Cake

So that pretty special get together I mentioned in the last blog. It was my Pop’s 90th. 90 years, not bad going hey. Pop got the royal sponge cake treatment…more on this, and him, later. It was also my cousin Jacinda’s birthday, and while it’s hard to compete with a 90 year old legend, she’s also pretty darn great and definitely deserved a birthday cake of her own.

In steps Simplicity Chocolate Cake. The name pops up numerous times throughout Nana’s books. I googled it and there are about a billion google entries that come up. Turns out everyone has the same thoughts about this cake. . . it’s so simple, yet so delicious. . . and I couldn’t agree more. This is exactly the kind of recipe that I needed after the trials and tribulations of the Sponge Cake (yes, I promise, more on that later).


You will need:

  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups self raising flour
  • 3 levels tablespoons cocoa
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

Do this:

Place the sugar, sifted flour, cocoa which has been dissolved in the boiling water, melted butter and milk in a bowl.  Beat on an electric mixer or with a wooden spoon until well blended.  Add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.

Line the base of a 20cm ring tin with paper (I can already hear my mother muttering that this should be the first thing I do – after clearing my bench of course) and grease the tin.  Spoon in the mixture.  Bake at 180C for 35 minutes.  Cool a minute or two then turn on to a wire rack.

When cold, ice with chocolate icing.  I couldn’t resist sprinkling some desiccated coconut on top – Nana would have appreciated this touch.

Looking through Nana's recipe books

Looking through Nana’s recipe books

Oh and the cake one more time

Oh and the cake one more time

Love Kath and Kate xx

Posted in Cakes and Slices | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

But wait, there’s more…

. . .remember me? It’s been a while. But I’m back. Back with exciting news!

Over the weekend the whole family congregated together for a pretty special celebration.  While there (just when I thought I might be through Nana’s recipes by the time I’m ready for retirement) I discovered there are more of her books! My cousin Damian and his wife Jacki had also picked up some of Nana’s recipe books.  And boy are they gems. Real gems. Beautiful little notebooks full of recipes written in Nana’s famous script (she really did have the most wonderful handwriting).

We all gathered around the books to see if our favourites were in there.  Jacinda was desperate to find the Golden Syrup dumplings that Nana would make for Christmas.  I scrambled to find her famous Sponge Cake. Judy mentioned the Lemon Slice she used to make. Mum got excited for the Sausage Rolls. There is Chocolate Marshmallow Slice, Powder Puffs, Peanut Butter Caramel Slice, Pavlova, Nut Loaf, Bread Pudding. . . Are you salivating yet? There are even recipes from my Pop’s mum as well as a recipe from my Dad’s mum scrawled onto the letter head of my Granddad’s old dental surgery note paper.  So much history in one book.

Now, where to start….


Posted in Cakes and Slices, Main Course | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

A Lesson on Reading Recipes

A lesson on reading recipes.
Tip #1 Read them.
Tip #2 See tip #1.

I have left the blog as it was originally written for reasons you will see.

Caramel Cornflake Biscuits

A quick and easy Sunday afternoon treat.

You will need:

  • 125g butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup castor sugar (as I write this I realise that I didn’t put this in!!!!!! Live drama here folks. Ok, I will persist with what I DID do)
  • 1/2 cup coconut
  • 3 cups cornflakes
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped mixed nuts (I added almonds and pecans)

Ok, so the recipe told me to:

Melt the butter over low heat, add sugar(s)…This should have been a clue. Stir until well combined.
Add coconut, lightly crushed cornflakes, lightly beaten egg and nuts: Mix well.

Place teaspoonfuls (oh not again…so I read tablespoons – a lot is making sense now) of mixture on lightly greased oven trays, press mixture together with fingers. Bake in moderate oven for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Leave for a few minutes, remove with a spatula, cool on wire rack.

Makes about 30 biscuits.

PicMonkey Collage

This is what I did:

Forgot the castor sugar. Hmmm, this mixture looks a little runny. Add more coconut. Put tablespoonfuls on tray. Press mixture together a little. Watch them cook. Why are they not spreading? Take them out of oven. I was not expecting them to look like this. Taste one. Mmmmm, delicious. Not too sweet. Not remotely caramelly.

Ok, so these are not the ones that Nana made. But they’re mine, and when they first came out of the oven they were pretty delicious actually. A day later though, they were a soggy mess. Perhaps next week I will attempt to make these as they were intended!  Watch this space.

Read the recipe people! Please!

Kath and Kate x

Posted in Cakes and Slices | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Curried Pumpkin Soup


I love pumpkin soup.  Like. Seriously. Love. Pumpkin. Soup. I live off the stuff about 6 months of the year.

But it turns out that I have been making life more difficult for myself than it need be.  You see, I have been lovingly roasting my pumpkins for roast pumpkin soup all these years. Not once, have I tried the unroasted variety of pumpkin soup. Not once. Until now.  What a revelation!  Making pumpkin soup need not take up half my evening!  Our old friend Keen’s Curry Powder makes another appearance – couldn’t leave it too long without another hit.  He is quickly growing on me and I now consider us good friends.

You will need:
– 500g pumpkin
– 1 large potato
– 4 cups of water
– 4 chicken stock cubes
– 2 onions, finely chopped (I omitted these. Onions are not my friends)
– 4 tablespoons butter (I just added a little to the mix)
– 2 teaspoons curry powder
– milk or cream to mix

I did not add milk or cream to my soup, so to make it a little less runny just put in enough stock to cover the pumpkin.  This recipe is easy to make a big batch of.  Triple it and freeze some for later.

Do this:

Chop and cook pumpkin and potato in water with chicken stock cubes. Cook onions in butter until soft, stir in curry powder and cook for 2 minutes (I omitted this step, instead putting a little butter and the curry powder into the bubbling brew). Add onion mixture to pumpkin mixture, combining well. Blend until smooth, adding milk or cream to bring to the right consistency. I also didn’t add milk or cream, however I did add a nice dollop of natural yoghurt on the top of my soup. The tang went beautifully with the sweet, spicy pumpkin.

Tip: Don’t throw out you pumpkin seeds! I save mine, toss them in a little oil, with some salt and paprika and roast them in the oven.  I scatter them on top of the soup or eat them for a tasty snack!


I won’t be giving up on my favourite roast pumpkin soup, it has deeper flavour. But I will be cooking this more often. Thanks again Keen’s.

Kath & Kate x

Posted in Main Course | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Date Coconut Balls

‘Bliss Balls’, ‘Power Balls’, ‘Paleo Balls’, ‘Raw Balls’.  If you’ve been living under a rock, or perhaps not trawling instagram each night in an attempt to ensure you don’t sleep, these incr-‘edibly’ trendy spheres may have escaped your notice.  Let me explain.  These ‘it’ balls are made up of various concoctions of seeds, nuts, protein powder, dates, nut butter, coconut oil etc etc.  Type bliss ball into your search engine and you will be inundated with recipes.  Go to any trendy cafe and I can guarantee there will be some on offer.

The truth is this new trend is not new at all.  Simply a modern twist on a formula that has been working well for yonks.  Nana’s books are chock full of variations on this theme.  Rum Balls, Gingernut Bites, Apricot Balls, Coconut Balls, Apricot-Coconut Balls…we could be here a while (I will be trying them all out I promise!). No they are probably not as healthy as the newer versions, but most include dates and coconut that are so common in the modern recipes.  It seems Nana was unknowingly ahead of her time with these ‘super’ foods.  These were something quick and easy then, and guess what, they still are.  Which bring me to today’s Date Coconut Balls.

You will need:
– 1 and a half cups chopped dates
– 1 cup desiccated coconut
– 1 cup crushed biscuit crumbs (I used our old faithful Marie biscuits)
– 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk


Do this:
– Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and blend well, adding a little orange juice if the mixture is too stiff. (I just mixed mine with a spoon, so the dates were chunky, but I’m sure you could blend them all)
– Shape into small balls and roll in coconut.
– Place in the fridge until set.


That’s it! They look and taste a treat!

Posted in Cakes and Slices | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fragrant Carrot Soup

And so we say farewell to the annual birthday silly season.  A month of food.  A month of wine.  A month long celebration.  So how will I mark the end of the festivities? How will I start to repair my body? Could be nothing but Carrot Soup. This soup is laughably easy, really tasty and feels like it’s good for you.

You will need:
– 750g carrot, grated
– 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
– 1 onion, finely chopped (I left this out and didn’t miss it)
– 1 potato
– 6 cups chicken stock
– 1 teaspoon ground cumin
– 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

Do this:
Simmer vegetables in stock for 20-30 minutes.
Add cumin, parsley, serve piping hot.

No more steps. It’s that easy.
You could blend the soup for a smoother texture, but I like mine a little chunky.


Posted in Main Course | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Chocolate Rum Cake

What would birthday month be without birthday cake?  The pressure was on this year.  The bar had been set high with last year’s maple bacon cake.  How could you not love a cake that had bacon in it. Anyway, Nana had the answer.  Chocolate Rum Cake.  And what a marvellous way to use up some of the gigantic bottle of ‘bundy’ left over from Nana’s famous Rum Balls.

You will need:
– 4 oz butter softened (about 120 grams)
– 1 cup sugar
– 1/2 cup lukewarm milk
– 2 eggs
– 1 1/2 cups s.r. flour
– pinch salt
– 2 tablespoons cocoa
– 1 dessertspoon rum (ok so I was a little more generous than this)

Do this:

Put butter, sugar and milk into a bowl and let stand for a few minutes. Add eggs, flour, salt and cocoa, sifted together, and beat well for 5 minutes. Add rum and mix well. Turn into a greased and lined 8 inch deep-sided round tin and bake in a moderate oven (180 degrees) for 40-45 minutes. When cold, ice with rum flavoured chocolate icing.

For the icing:

For the icing I used 1 and a half cups of soft icing sugar, 3 tablespoons of butter, 2 tablespoons of rum, 2 tablespoons of cocoa and a dash of vanilla. I beat these all together until the mixture was light and fluffy. I then proceeded to add more rum – this may have been a little too much, but add as much or as little as you want. I felt I had been a little too keen, so to cut through the rum I sprinkled the cake with cacao nibs.  These worked perfectly.

It looked really lovely and definitely held it’s own against maple bacon cake.

Kath & Kate x

Posted in Cakes and Slices | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment