Cookbook 25: Bake: Celebrating the time-honoured tradition of home baking

I had a busy weekend, and so thought I’d do some baking, and I was bought a wonderful bench mixer by a fantastic group of people who love me, so I couldn’t not use it because that would be rude.  I chose to cook from the Australian Women’s Weekly, Bake: Celebrating the time-honoured tradition of home baking.  Again I bought this book for significantly under the RRP on sale, because as much as I love great cookbooks, I don’t know if I would have spent the full RRP on the book.

It is a GREAT book though.  It covers a wide range of cakes, biscuits, slices, bread, fancy cakes, tarts, pies, scones, allergy-free baking, etc.  It has small sections on various techniques – handling chocolate, presentation of cooked goods, gift wrapping, layering cakes, scone basics, etc.  I also love that many of the recipes have notes from the editor, Pamela Clarke, who has been in the Women’s Weekly Kitchen since sometime in the 1970s, so they’re good notes.

I made shortbread from this book, and for the first time in my life, the shortbread worked without me having to add more butter.  This really impressed me.  But now onto the recipes.

Chocolate banana cake


  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 150g butter, softened
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 cup mashed banana
  • 100g dark eating chocolate

Creaming choc frosting:

  • 200g dark eating chocolate, chopped coarsley
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream


  1. Preheat oven to 170C/150C fan forced.  Grease deep 22cm round cake pan; line base with baking paper
  2. Combine milk and juice in a small jug; stand 10 minutes
  3. Meanwhile, beat butter and sugar in small bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Transfer mixture to a large bowl; stir in sifted flour and soda, banana, chocolate and milk mixture.  Spread mixture into pan.
  4. Bake cake about 1 hour 10 minutes.  Stand cake in pan 5 minutes; turn, top-side up, onto wire rack to cool.
  5. Meanwhile, make creamy choc frosting; spread cold cake with frosting.

Creamy choc frosting:

Melt chocolate in medium heatproof bowl over medium saucepan of simmering water; gradually stir in sugar and sour cream.

Notes on this recipe:

  • From the book itself: It is important to use overripe well-mashed banana in cakes.  The natural sugar in the ripe fruit contributes to the correct balance of the ingredients
  • This was amazing, but the frosting was too sweet.  Next time I’d use icing mixture instead of icing sugar, as it is a little less sweet (as it’s cut with cornflour) and will dial back the sweetness quite a lot.
  • Make sure you grate the chocolate before you start – I only just managed to do it in the 10 minute window while the milk was souring.

Scottish shortbread


  • 250g butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 2 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 150C/130 fan-forced.  Grease two oven trays.
  2. Beat butter and caster sugar in medium bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy; stir in sifted flours, in two batches.  Knead on floured surface until smooth.
  3. Divide mixture in half; shape into two 20cm rounds on oven trays.  Mark each round into eight wedges, price with fork, pinch edges with fingers.  Spring with white sugar.
  4. Bake about 40 minutes.  Stand 5 minutes then, using sharp knife, cut shortbread into wedges along marked lines; cool on trays.

Notes on this recipe:

  • From the book itself: We found – after much testing and tasting – that by using half regular (salted) and half unsalted butter in shortbread recipes we acheived the taste we liked best.  Shortbread should be quite pale in colour after it’s cooked.  The rice flour (ground rice) is the ingredient that makes shortbread “short” – a particular hard-to-describe kind of mouth-feel.
  • This is the first ever shortbread recipe that I have made that has been 100% successful from the get go.
  • It will also kill you, if you eat all of it, and nothing else… all that butter… so good

Raspberry coconut slice


  • 90g butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup self-raising flour
  • 2/3 cup plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon custard powder
  • 2/3 cup raspberry jam

Coconut topping

  • 2 cups desiccated coconut
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten lightly


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan-forced.  Grease 20cm x 30cm lamington pan; line base with baking paper, extending paper 2 cm over long sides.
  2. Beat butter, sugar and egg in a small bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Transfer mixture to medium bowl; stir in sifted flours and custard powder.  Spread into pan; spread with jam.
  3. Combine ingredients for topping in a small bowl; sprinkle over jam.
  4. Bake slice about 40 minutes; cool in pan before cutting.

Notes on this recipe:

  • Note from the book itself: Here’s an old favourite, I’m sure all makes of this slice have their own favourite variation.  From a change try this one: replace the raspberry jam with marmalade. For the topping, combine 1 1/2 cups desiccated coconut, 1/2 cup finely chopped pistachios, 1/4 cup caster sugar, 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon finely grated orange rind in small bowl.
  • This recipe was simple and quick to make.  The biggest issue was attempting to get the slice away from the paper as the jam and the baking paper were having a party that I was clearly not invited to.
  • My husband thought this was the most amazing thing he’d eaten all day when he had his first piece.  Needless to say, it didn’t last long in my house.
  • I used shredded coconut instead of desiccated coconut because I like it more.