Lemon and thyme poppy seed cake

Lemon and thyme poppy seed cake
Lemon and thyme poppy seed cake
Lemon and thyme poppy seed cake
Lemon and thyme poppy seed cake
Lemon and thyme poppy seed cake

I have been promising to get this cake up on the blog for ages. For those of you who have waited patiently, thank you! I made it for my mother-in-law's birthday and it was a hit! I couldn't share how good it looked when cut into, as I still needed to give it to her. But I guess that will be part of the surprise and the trust that you have with The Truffle Journal. The moment that you cut into the cake will be such a treat. The lemon flavour is perfect and compliments the thyme wonderfully. I made a vanilla buttercream which was delectable and trust me, will leave you wanting more. Just don't make the same mistake I did, which was to have dinner before.

Life is short, have dessert first and in this case, lemon and thyme poppy seed cake! 


For the cake:
420 grams cake flour
400 grams caster sugar
4 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons poppy seeds (soaked in a little warm milk for 15 minutes)
230 grams unsalted butter, room temperature, coarsely chopped
grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon
1 ¼ cups buttermilk
5 egg whites

For the thyme syrup:
50 grams granulated sugar (from the cake sugar)
1/2 cup water
small fist-full of thyme leaves - about 10 sprigs
Juice of 1/2 a lemon 

For the frosting: 
2 vanilla beans, scored and seeds removed
4 cups icing sugar, sifted
250g cream cheese
200 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla paste


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius.
Grease three 20cm round cake pans. 
Line the bottom of each with a round of wax paper and butter the paper. (The batter is sticky so don't miss this step!) 

Combine the flour, 1 ¾ cups (350g) of the sugar, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds (milk strained) in the large bowl of an electric mixer. 
Beat on low speed to blend the ingredients and break up any lumps, about 30 seconds. 
Add the butter, lemon zest and 1 cup of the buttermilk to the flour mixture. Beat on low until completely mixed. 
Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1-2 minutes to lighten and aerate the batter.
In a medium bowl, combine the egg whites with the remaining ¼ cup buttermilk; whisk well. Add this mixture to the batter in 2-3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beating only enough to incorporate. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes.
While the cakes are cooling, make the lemon syrup: in a small saucepan, combine the remaining ¼ cup (50g) of sugar, the lemon juice, thyme and the water. Bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes. 
Turn out the cake layers onto wire racks and generously brush them hot lemon syrup over the warm cakes to moisten evenly. Let cool completely.

For the frosting: 

Using an electric mixer beat the butter and cream cheese together until it is light and fluffy. Add the sugar one cup at a time beating well after each addition. Make sure to scrap the sides down. Add the vanilla and mix well. 

To assemble the cake:

I add a dollop of frosting onto the base before I add my first layer. This ensures it doesn't go slipping and sliding. 
Add a fifth of the icing on the first layer and spread evenly. Add the next layer and repeat. Use the remaining icing to ice the cake. You can do a nude look or fully cover the cake. Garnish with some thyme or flowers! 


Chocolate banana bread with mascarpone frosting and caramel drip

Chocolate banana bread with mascarpone frosting and caramel drip
Chocolate banana bread with mascarpone frosting and caramel drip
Chocolate banana bread with mascarpone frosting and caramel drip
Chocolate banana bread with mascarpone frosting and caramel drip
Chocolate banana bread with mascarpone frosting and caramel drip
Chocolate banana bread with mascarpone frosting and caramel drip

So guess what? I've been asked to be on Telly! Now, this isn't a new thing for me (#tbt to MasterChef), but it has been a while since my first debut. It's nerve-wracking, to say the least, but at the same time super exciting and I cannot wait. Lights! Camera! Action! Wait, Where's the guest? She's suffering an onslaught of nerves behind the cameraman. 
Okay, maybe not that drastic...
It's going to be short and sweet but that's ok, its a lot like me. I'm going to be on the SABC 3 Afternoon Express show around 4 pm local time. 

I've chosen to make a double chocolate banana bread and I had to share it with you guys here on the blog. It's so decadent and delicious. It's all the best of old school banana bread with double the chocolate. Cutting into it, the chocolate chips melt and the mascarpone sits there complimenting the sweetness of the choccie perfectly.  (They are a fine pair believe it or not. Full of compliments for each other)
You get a double hit with the caramel sauce because, well, why not. This sauce is so delectable that you could eat it out of the jar! (Which did happen in my case.)  

So hopefully you guys can tune in but if you miss it, that's ok too because I've shared the recipe right here for you! Just make sure you have people around because you can (and will) polish this off all by yourself, in which case, I might have given you diabetes. 
Apologies in advance.


For the bread:

3 medium-to-large very ripe bananas
1/2 cup (115 grams) butter, melted
3/4 cup (150 grams) brown sugar (I use dark here; either light or dark work)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup (about 180 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

For the rum caramel sauce:

1 1/2 tablespoons rum
2 tablespoons milk
3 ½ tablespoons heavy cream
1/3 cup (75 g) granulated sugar
25 g butter
pinch of salt

For the mascarpone frosting: 

250 g mascarpone
1-2 tbsp powdered sugar (or to taste)
½ cup heavy cream



For the bread:

Heat your oven to 180°C. Butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan (23 x 13 x 6 cm), or spray it with a nonstick baking spray.

Mash bananas in the bottom of a large bowl. (You’ll have a little over 1 cup mashed banana total.) Whisk in melted butter, then brown sugar, egg, and vanilla. Place baking soda, salt, flour and cocoa powder in a sifter or fine-mesh strainer and sift over wet ingredients. Stir dry and wet ingredients with a spoon until just combined. Stir in chocolate chunks or chips along with the walnuts.

Pour into prepared pan and bake 55 to 65 minutes, until a tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out batter-free. (A melted chocolate chip smear is expected, however.) Cool in pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert it out onto a cooling rack. Let cool before frosting. 

For the sauce:

Carefully heat the milk, and cream in a saucepan. It should be hot but not boil.
Meanwhile, put the sugar in another saucepan with a little water and heat until it starts to melt.
Carefully stir sugar with a spoon until all sugar has melted and has become a golden brown color.
Add the butter and stir until melted.
Very carefully add the heated cream mixture.
Stir until smooth, add the salt and pour into a jar to cool. Put in the fridge to become completely cold.

For the mascarpone frosting:

Beat the mascarpone and sugar until smooth. Add cream and beat
until firm.
Generously ice the loaf of banana bread. Drizzle the caramel sauce over and enjoy! 


Coast to City with the Cape Collection

Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection

I have been dying to take a road trip and just get out of town recently. When the offer came up to do one I just had to jump at it!

Taking a trip from city to coast was the theme and my first stop, Hermanus. 
A small town about two hours outside of Cape Town famous for the magnificent Southern Right whales that visit every year. 
The town is quaint and is an absolute must-visit for tourists and locals alike. 

Adorned with sculptures by local artists and look out points at every turn; I couldn't help but keep a look out for a whale (even though I know they only arrive in winter around June/July)

If you find yourself in Hermanus and are looking for luxury accommodation, then One Marine Drive is for you. Part of the Cape Collection, this property boasts several rooms all with arty design elements.

Their immaculate attention to detail is what makes the establishment stand out. The rooms are spacious and come standard with an iPad to browse the internet or listen to music. 
As if that wasn't enough, you are also supplied with a cell phone containing local numbers and emergency numbers in case the need arises.

The staff are wonderfully helpful and assisted with whatever query or need I had. 

They advised on some great walks that I could go on, which places to dine at and always had an anecdote or two to share about their (not-so-little) town. 
The pool is nothing short of inviting and a must visit for a sunny relaxing moment with an ice cold drink in hand. As I enjoyed some R&R time I could feel the stress melting off me! 

I took a long walk along the shoreline with a friend of mine and we did a spot of whale scouting (again they are currently in Antarctica but a girl can dream) 

I stumbled upon a local spot called Dutchies which is great for a light meal and good glass of wine. They are located right near the beach; where you only need to take a short walk through the local forest and pop out right on the B-Spot (that’s the equivalent of the G-spot for a sun worshipper). 
Watching sunset offered me the opportunity for some mindful breathing and introspection...Something I rarely get time for. 

On the itinerary for dinner was Origins. I highly recommend them if you are looking for an elevated five-star dining experience that will leave you more than satisfied.

Make sure you have the pear tart - You can thank me later! 

With a happy heart and my appetite satiated, retreating to my accommodation was a welcome treat.
With a fully stocked tea station, peppermint tea was on the agenda to accompany my current read before a night of sweet sleep. 

After a night at the coast, it was time to return to the city lights. Blackheath Lodge was my destination and in almost every respect, not at all what I expected. 
Upon arrival, I was met with gracious hospitality and a glass of wine. I found my way to the gorgeous swimming pool and enjoyed a quiet break taking in the sound of the flowing water. Blackheath lodge is an oasis. Quiet and peaceful yet close to everything you could need! Tucked away in the city of Cape Town this beautiful house is an old victorian design that has been transformed. With gorgeous wooden floors and high ceilings, the rooms are comfortable and elegant with the same attention to detail as One Marine drive. The Cape Collection has truly thought of everything to offer their guests comfort. 

Book private tours of Cape Town from the comfort of the guest house where the staff is more than willing to talk you through any questions you may have about local attractions. 

I always feel proudly South African when I can hear a foreign couple at the next table talking about how spectacular their stay has been and how the attractions have blown them away. I wasn't surprised when I overheard a British couple at dinner saying that their accommodation was a treat and a true haven of peace and quiet in the city. 
That night, I decided not to venture out of my oasis in search of dinner but rather stay in and try the on-site fare. On the menu was their famous Bobotie (a traditional Cape Malay dish made of curried mince) and for dessert, Malva pudding (a traditional baked dessert of Cape Dutch origins). 
A true taste of local cuisine. 

After a perfect nights sleep and a fresh enlivening breakfast, the time came to say goodbye. 

All in all an incredible two-day road trip experiencing what is on offer with the Cape Collection. 

I’m definitely a fan.


Healthy hotcakes with berry compote

Healthy hotcakes with berry compote

Who remembers having cinnamon sugar pancakes doused in lemon juice when you were young? 

I sure do. 

Back when I was young and wild and free, mostly because I was on a sugar high. What happened to those days?

The days of guilt-free feasting on sugar-laced pancakes? 
We grew up. 

We became adults and with it came, (hopefully) a certain awareness. 
We realised that we couldn't have whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted it and discovered much to our dismay, that refined sugar is a carcinogenic killer and that it is hidden in almost every product that we consume. 
We know that we need to walk more, eat healthier and be aware of what we are putting into our bodies. 
As my good friend Nikita says, it’s time to stop counting calories and to start counting chemicals. 

When last did you actually read the ingredients on a package and not just the kilojoules or carb amount? 
Better yet, when last did you understand what the ingredients were??

I have taken a vow to not eat less but to eat better. 
At the end of the day that is what it comes down to. 
Mindless eating is out and mindful eating is in! 

Personally, I have become slightly obsessed with this new awareness and am pushing myself to learn new ways of having my cake and eating it! 
These hotcakes are delicious and will leave your Sunday mornings all the better for it! 
The best part?

They are (refined) sugar-free and in my opinion, guilt free. 

Now isn't that a relationship we all want with our food? 


For the hotcakes

  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • 1 large green apple, grated
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

For the berry compote

  • 1 cup mixed berries, frozen or fresh
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar


For the hotcakes

In a medium bowl whisk the eggs.

Add the flour, green apple, almond milk, cinnamon, vanilla paste and baking powder to the eggs and whisk until well combined.

In a large frying pan over a medium heat, add one tablespoon of coconut oil.

Spoon the pancake mixture into the pan, about two tablespoons per portion.

Cooking two to three minutes on either side or until golden brown.

For the Compote

In a small frying pan over a medium heat, add the berries and the coconut sugar, allow to simmer or until the berries reach a jam-like consistency.

Top the hotcakes and serve hot!

Health fact: Berries are rich with powerful antioxidants. They assist in neutralizing free radicals or unstable oxygen molecules, that can cause damage to cells which are a major source of disease and aging.




Squash Blossom Frittata

Squash Blossom Frittata

Don't you find conventional breakfasts a little boring? I am going through this phase where I just simply cannot stomach the standard bacon and eggs. I mean, its the most important meal of the day so shouldn't we give it a unique twist where ever we can? 

As my Saturday morning ritual goes I was at the market and found these awesome squash blossoms. I wanted to do the usual, exceptionally delicious version where you stuff them and fry them (which might happen after another visit to the market). However, this time I wanted to do a take on a breakfast classic. 

A frittata is an Italian dish of whisked eggs that have been baked, sort of like a Spanish omelette. Squash blossoms have this sweetness to them which is simply divine. I loved pairing it with the creaminess of the ricotta, which I also got at the market. Organic food simply tastes better, and when I married the two with farm fresh eggs this beautiful dish was born. It is as tasty to eat as it is to look at. The great thing with a frittata is that you aren't limited to the vegetables and meats you would like to put in. If the combos work in an omelette, they will work in a frittata. So give it a try next time you want to make your breakfast a little more interesting. 


1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
4 spring onion chopped
1 leek, washed and chopped
12 fresh eggs, whisked
15-20 squash blossoms
150g fresh ricotta
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper 


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius 

Cut the stems off the squash blossoms and give them a good shake upside down to remove any bugs. Use your fingers to remove the pistils inside. 

In a medium oven-proof skillet over a medium heat add the coconut oil and onion. Fry until translucent. Add the garlic, spring onion and leek. Fry for a further 5 minutes or until soft. Turn down the heat. 

Pour in the eggs and let cook for 1 minute. Add the squash blossoms and ricotta. Making sure space is filled in the pan! I use this as a moment to make my food pretty! Because why not! 
Season the dish to your liking and pop in in the oven for 7 minutes or until the egg has cooked. When ready remove from the oven and cover with butter. 

You can serve this dish hot or cold and it keeps wonderfully in the fridge for those of you who food prep for the week!