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Monday, 8 May 2017

Mother's day is upon us. To spoil my mom I will bake her a cake - even though she is far away in Klerksdorp. My husband and I and my mom in law will flatten the cake in two ticks. For us, a Sunday without cake is like a curry without spices. The story of the cake and the recipe will be my mom's gift in the end. She will bake the cake herself and tell me all about it in return. The same cake will be baked for her friends and those happy stories I will also hear. That is why I love my mom so so very much.

I had in my fridge an alarming amount of egg yolks patiently waiting to be put to good use. This, after too many macarons, pavlovas, Swiss meringue butter cream and Italian Meringue was made in The Hunt House Kitchen recently. I remembered reading about a golden cake in my old treasured Betty Crocker recipe book and thought combining this recipe with a custard filling should get rid of a good few lonely yolks.

Of course I tweaked the recipe a bit, as I always do, and I was quite impressed with end result. I am an almond nut - if you are not - use the almond essence very sparingly or simply use vanilla in stead.

The sponge baked perfectly as usual in my Lofra oven
 Use the thermofan setting. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius.

The cake
125g unsalted butter, softened and at room temperature
300g castor sugar
5 jumbo egg yolks (100g)
5ml almond essence (2,5ml possibly also good enough)
300g self raising flour
5ml salt
250ml milk, at room temperature

  1. Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the egg yolks one by one. Whisk well after each addition and continue whisking to dissolve most of the sugar or all if possible. Also add the almond essence.
  2. Sift the flour and salt 4 times.
  3. Fold the dry ingredients alternately with the milk into the egg mixture. Mix lightly until just combined and lump-free.
  4. Divide the mixture between  the two prepared tins.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes. Test and remove to cool completely before removing cakes from the tins.
For the filling
500ml full cream milk
5 jumbo egg yolks (100g)
50g castor sugar
25g corn flour
25g cake flour
A good pinch salt
flavour to taste, in this case a drop or two of almond essence
375ml cream
50ml icing sugar
5ml vanilla
100g ground almonds, roasted lightly

  1. I first bring the milk to boiling point. Use a thick bottomed pot.
  2. Then, in a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, corn flour, cake flour and salt.
  3. Whisk in the hot milk and return to the stove. Cook the custard on medium heat. Taste and flavour.
  4. Refrigerate to cool or cool in an ice bath. It should be a really thick custard when cold.
  5. Whisk cream till soft peaks, sweeten with icing sugar and flavour to taste. Fold the cream into the cold custard custard.
  6. Cut each layer of cake in half and layer with custard cream and dusted liberally with roasted almond dust.

Recipe and styling: Kanya Hunt
Photography: Jaun Haas Photography

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

The Simnel cake is a light fruit cake with marzipan baked in the middle of the cake and used as decoration on top. It often has 11 round balls on top referring to the 11 true Apostles.

The essence of this light fruit festive cake is the quality of the marzipan. Use divine home made marzipan proudly. Make this a day or so in advance, wrap and store refrigerated until required. For the Simnel cake I prefer a simple recipe using some egg yolks to bind the marzipan for colour and keeping it all together seeing as the marzipan is baked into the cake.

Proper marzipan could make this cake very expensive too as a lot of almonds are required. I hate saying this but shop bought Persipan can also be used if you have to.

Marzipan made the old way
Yields about 600g of marzipan
300g finely ground almonds
150g castor sugar
150g icing sugar
2 egg yolks
Start with 5ml almond essence
Extra icing sugar on hand if necessary and to dust surface when rolling
Extra simple syrup or glucose if the paste is too dry
  1. Make sure the almonds are really finely ground. The finer the smoother the marzipan.
  2. In a food processor pulse the ground almonds, castor sugar and icing sugar together. Add the yolks to bind and flavour with almond essence to taste.
  3. Add more icing sugar if necessary to get the marzipan to rolling consistency. This is where I start playing...adding a bit more icing sugar sometimes to have a smoother paste, sometimes adding some glucose too and so on and so on.
  4. Use no less than 300g to shape the first disc to be baked into the Simnel cake.
  5. The rest will be used for the top disc and 11 balls.
  6. When rolling the marzipan, use icing sugar to dust the work surface. 
 The Simnel cake
 Makes one 20cm cake

500g dried fruit cake mix (raisins, sultanas and currants)
125g glacé cherries, washed and quartered
50g mixed cut peel
50ml boiling hot water
50ml good brandy and some...
250g cake flour
7,5ml baking powder
2,5ml salt
5ml mixed spice
5ml ground cinnamon
175g butter, at room temperature
175g castor sugar
4 jumbo eggs
50g ground almonds
Zest of 1 lemon
About 25-30ml freshly squeezed lemon juice

With any fruit cake I like to plump up my fruit mix. I do not always plan well ahead but if you are a planner, do so a week before. If not, the night before will do. It is quite something to get into the festive spirit early on. It starts for me when I start doctoring my fruit. Splash dried fruit mix with water and brandy. Warm in the microwave for a minute, stir well, cover and let it stand overnight. I often can't help sampling the fruit regularly and find the urge to add some more brandy always too strong to resist. Let your urge lead the way...

  1. Prepare a 20cm cake tin by lining the bottom with baking paper. You can also line the sides but I find this unnecessary. The cake will bake longer than normal. Best to protect the sides of the cake tin with a wrap of corrugated card board. I also have a foil lid on stand by just in case. This I use during the latter part of baking if I think the top of the cake is browning a little too much. I must admit, usually for the latter hour of baking as my cake often bakes for 2hrs.
  2. Measure and sift all the dry ingredients 4 times.
  3. Make sure the butter is nice and soft. Soften it more if you have to in the microwave for a few seconds. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy using your creaming paddle attachment or as I prefer, the whisk attachment.
  4. Add each whole egg one by one and continue beating to incorporate all of the egg before adding the next. Important, break each egg into a saucer before adding it to your butter mix. I have had many agonizing moments fishing out egg shells due to laziness and "it will not happen to me" moments of false wisdom. Trust me on the saucer...
  5. By the 3rd egg addition your mixture will start splitting. Add the almond flour and continue beating. Then add the last egg. Continue whisking for anther minute or two.
  6. Add the lemon zest and juice and don't worry too much about the mixture splitting at this point.
  7. Fold the sifted dry ingredients into the butter and egg mixture. Don't over mix. An excellent tip is to keep about 25g of the flour mix aside to sprinkle over the fruit. Mix this into the fruit mix very  lightly before folding the fruit into the cake batter.
  8. Have your 1cm thick cut disc of marzipan ready. Spoon half of the cake mixture into the prepared tin. Place the marzipan disc on top and smooth out any air bubbles lightly. Spoon the rest of the cake mixture on top.
  9. Bake on the thermofan setting on your Lofra oven. Pre-heat the oven to 160*C. Baking time is rather long at 1hr 30minutes. Assess if the cake is baked through. Don't be misled by molten marzipan. In this case a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake will not reveal the whole truth and nothing but the truth. You will have to trust your instincts here. If in doubt, return the cake to the oven, cover the top if needed with the foil lid and bake for another 15 minutes. Repeat if necessary.
  10. Allow the cake to cool in the tin before removing it to cool completely on a wire rack. I like to give the cake some cooling down therapy with an extra 50ml of good brandy to soften the outside crust a little. Wrap in cling foil overnight. Perhaps a useful thought: this is a light fruit cake and does not require maturing time but what harm can time do to a fruit cake? I think some curing time with regular splashes of good brandy could but only improve this cake.
To decorate:
  1. Roll 11 marzipan balls. Best way to ensure that they are all more or less the same size is to roll about 125g of marzipan into a thickish sausage. Cut into 11 portions and roll.
  2. Roll all the remaining marzipan on a well dusted surface into a round disc of 20cm in diameter and 1cm thick more or less.
  3. Wet the top of the cake with either simple syrup or warmed smooth apricot jam - just enough for the marzipan disc to stick.
  4. Cover the top with the marzipan disc. Smooth the top and ease the edges in to get a perfect fit. I went one step further and crimped the outside edges to finish the cake off all vintage like. Decorate the top of the cake with the 11 marzipan balls. Dust well with icing.
  5. Brûlée the top and decorate with festive ribbons and other Easter or bunny like paraphernalia if you have. 
Copy, styling and pics: Kanya Hunt

Tuesday, 14 February 2017


Makes 36 medium sized hearts or fluted rounds of 7cm diameter
a 24cm diameter single tart cut into 16 slices

I simply adore shortbread. It is all about the butter and that lasting buttery memory. Apart from that I think it is probably one of the most versatile pastries for biscuit making there is and it is suitable to any occasion or feast from Christmas (which seems like yesterday!) right through to Valentine’s day. Stick to the traditional plain round disc, or play with flavours such as lavender, coffee, chocolate, rosemary, caramel and more and more.

Making the pastry is similar as to making any other pastry. I often use my food processor instead of my mixer. The butter and sugar mix will cream better in a mixer though I think.

Characteristically shortbread should always be pale to a very light golden  colour hence the slightly lower baking temperature.

My new Lofra oven baked them perfectly!

You will need:
250g butter, unsalted
125g castor sugar
250g cake flour
125g corn flour
1ml salt
Flavour variations
·      6 lavender flower heads, chopped
·      10g - 20g (30ml-60ml) coffee beans, freshly ground, depending on taste and strength of the bean
·      5ml vanilla essence
·      100g any nut, chopped, my favorites: pecan, pistachio, hazel, macadamia
·      Chopped fragrant rose petals, a few drops of rose extract and Pistachio should make a wonderful biscuit
·      Citrus zest to taste
Depending on the look: extra castor sugar to dredge or chocolate to dip

1. Pre-heat the oven on only when biscuits are chilling to 160°C.
2. Cream the butter on its own first till very light. Add the castor sugar slowly and continue beating until mixture is light and fluffy.
3. Sift together the flour, corn flour and salt. I do this 3-4 times to ensure that all are mixed in proper.
4. Add your flavour component to the butter mix first and mix well. Then add the dry ingredients. Rub or cut the pastry to form a soft dough that lightly can be pressed together in a loose-bottomed tart pan or in a ball if you are to be making shortbread thins or biscuits.
5. If making a whole round, simply press down, smooth and prick with a fork or some other funky sharp object - a toothpick could be that. Pre-cut the wedges. Bake for 45-60 minutes till crisp but still pale in colour. Cool, re-cut and dredge with castor sugar.
6. For biscuits or thins, flatten the dough and wrap in plastic film. Allow the dough to rest for at least 30 minutes to an hour. Lightly dust a cold surface, granite is super, and roll to a thickness of 5mm. Cut in shapes. Carefully transfer to a lined baking sheet and chill for 30 minutes before baking at 160 for 15-20 minutes. Remove and cool a bit before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely. Decorate, dredge, or dip with pleasure.

Photography and styling: Heléne Venter 
Copy and styling: Kanya Hunt

Friday, 30 January 2015

When things calm down in our kitchen over the colder months of the year, our creative juices flow and I thought I'd experiment more with shocked chocolate work this past winter. The process involves perfectly tempered chocolate, working on a slab of frozen marble or granite and literally seconds exposure time of the chocolate to the ice cold slab. You have to work fast and with confidence, as you should with most chocolate work. The colder room temperature we experience during our mild winters is perfect for this kind of work, but you should be able to do this in summer as well. In winter the chocolate will stay harder longer and might even be too hard to pleat at first and you will have to try a few times before you get the feel for it. In summer the chocolate will go limp much faster, even to the extent that it almost melts again. Simply lay it down on the granite slab to set a bit until it is ready to pleat. Again you'll have to experiment and get your own feel for when the chocolate is ready to obey your orders.

The beauty of these pure chocolate drapes are that they make the cakes look beautifully formal and classical yet there is a rusticity and looseness about them as the drapes cannot be perfect as what sugarpaste drapes are because you simply do not have long enough time at your disposal to fiddle with them.

Here follows some illustration and notes as to the process. I hope you are inspired!

Firstly, make sure the frozen slab is clean and dry.Condensation might cause ice crystals to form on the surface. Scrape these off and dry well.
Work fast and with confidence. As soon as you have ladled the chocolate on top start spreading.
 Now is not the time to hesitate or think twice. Spread!
The chocolate will set almost immediately because of the ultra low temperature of the surface.  Carefully lift the one end and pull it off the surface.
In winter I like to place the shocked chocolate sheet on a wooden surface and in summer back onto a granite surface at room temperature. You'll notice the chocolate go limp as it is exposed to the room temperature. It is then that you will have a few seconds to mould it into a drape or flowers. Good luck!

Here we even managed to make a bow - but this is a tricky one and I think I need a bit more practice before my next attempt.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Andreas Hauke invited us to take part in a Christmas charity for children of the Langa Orphanage, Ikhaya le Langa,  and community. We sponsored our special chocolate buttercream cupcakes and although we could not be there on the day, we were there in spirit. Albeit in chocolate cupcake spirit.

This special day captured by Duwayne and  http://www.lvstar.co.za/ as well as the video Andre and his team made, will nestle somewhere deep in your hearts I'm sure.

Please click on the link below to join in the fun:

This is my absolute favourite image of the day:

And here are our cupcakes:

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

I always ask my couples who will be doing their wedding pics and get very excited with them when certain photographer's names are mentioned. Christine Meintjes is one such photographer. I have known Christine for a while now and have kept a close, very admirable eye on her work since she started in the wedding photography market. And all I can say is "wow", what a talented woman she is! Her work is trendsetting and always inspiring.

Jhandré and Sarah were privileged to have her capture their love story, in fact, I think they chose their wedding date based on Christine's schedule. I know of many more couples that are doing this...just to have her as their photographer!

Here is a link to her post on this wedding: Jhandré and Sarah: 21 June 2014, Zorgvliet

I asked Christine to share more cake pics and here they are. I thought it best to showcase them all because I simply could not choose and the more I can share of Christine's work the better for everyone.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Cake set-up is an extremely personal event for me. I get to see the most beautiful venues, get to meet and work with the most wonderful coordinating teams and have the opportunity to say goodbye to my cake children in a very personal way by capturing the cake images as best I can. Often  my lack of expertise behind the camera and the fact that the indoor lighting is not ideal leads to my images being pretty mediocre. I followed up with Inecke photography for pics of Soné and Chris's wedding cake and received these absolutely priceless images that tell a true wedding cake love story. I just could not choose nad decided to treat you to all of them.

Kanya Hunt © 2013