I am going to need to go a diet after Australia. I thought New Zealand was Nirvana for cake but when I arrived here, it was as if Australia said “Hold my beer”.
The size (as you’ll soon see), the taste, the variety have just meant that my diet has mostly consisted of cake. Or at least, that’s how it feels.
I’ve done a lot of walking as a result (even more than usual), though that has been challenging when it is too hot to move… which is where air conditioned art galleries and museums all have been necessary.
I leave Australia with a list of cakes to seek recipes for… or an intention to start importing. There will be no chocolate imports however… Whittakers of New Zealand still holds that crown. Australian chocolate has too much stuff added to it.
It’s chocolate not Rocky Road, damn’it.
Peach, Mango and Coconut Muffin, Melbourne
It was a tough decision as this one was in competition with a blueberry, choc chip and macadamia muffin. I realised that it was only the macadamias tempting me to the latter. And maintained my choice.
New Zealand clearly gave me a real taste for coconut based cakes.
There weren’t only flakes of coconut on the top of the muffin. The light and fluffy sponge also benefited from coconut as a pleasing contrast to the sweetness of the pieces of mango and peach.
This was a light midmorning cake stop and highly enjoyable. In no way influenced by the view of the lake in the Botanic Gardens.
Victoria Botanic Gardens Terrace Cafe, Melbourne
Orange and Almond Cake, Melbourne
Pouring with rain, I decided to grab a coffee for shelter and… well, it would have been rude not to have a cake, wouldn’t it?
The orange and almond looked inviting.
I wasn’t expecting such a large slice but I haven’t been defeated by cake since Moscow.
The almond seemed to neutralise any sharpness from the orange though the full flavour was all there. It had the potential to be dry and crumbly, like a bad frangipane, but not at all in this case.
Federal Coffee Palace, Melbourne
Chocolate Lamington, St Helen’s, Tasmania
Can Australia rival New Zealand for lamington taste and texture? Yes it can.
This was just as good as any I had in any Kiwi bakery. God knows which of the countries claims responsibility for this one – they’re arguing over who invited the flat white, which I hate to tell them, is just a milky coffee in my humble opinion.
This may have become one of my favourite cakes… light, fluffy texture, flavoured with coconut covered in a thin layer of chocolate (in this case) embedded with desiccated coconut. Perfect.
I’m going to have to find the recipe for when I get back to the UK. Or import them.
St Helen’s Bakery, Tasmania
Cherry and Almond Tart, Richmond, Tasmania
Controversial inclusion – it’s not a cake but it was good.
On a shortbread creamy, buttery crust the frangipane was light, fluffy and moist. The cherry jam was filled with fruit, rather than just being a syrup. Flavourful and a delicate sharp, without being tart, contrast to the soft almond.
A lovely midmorning snack.
The Richmond Bakery, Tasmania
White Chocolate and Strawberry Cheescake, East Devonport, Tasmania
Home made, individually prepared, with a thick biscuit base which I think is essential rather than a wafer thin, grudging offer that many cheesecakes surf on.
The cheesecake was creamy, thick and the white chocolate didn’t overpower the taste of the strawberry. The heavy (in the right way) topping contrasted nicely with the lightness of the clotted cream.
The dessert was so good, I went back for dinner.
Fifteen Tables, Tasmania
Ginger Crunch, Melbourne
It was the fiery ginger that made this. I love ginger – I love its flavour but I especially love the heat when the spice hasn’t been neutered through preparation/baking processes.
Not a cake – it was a flapjack laced with pistachio, not usually a favourite but this worked well with the ginger.
The flapjack was moist and chewy, rather than dried out and brittle and the generous ginger topping complimented rather than overpowered.
Terror Twilight, Melbourne
Carrot and Pineapple Cake, Sydney
I nearly dropped when this beast arrived.
To be fair, it explained the price, somewhat more expensive than anticipated but the day was baking hot and I needed a break from walking.
With iced coffee, air decided a fruity cake would be a nice contrast and went with the pineapple variation on carrot cake. It was superb.
That thick wedge of frosting did not overpower the moist sponge which, with a hint of cinnamon in there, also reminded me of Christmas cake.
I would normally object to anyone fooling around with carrot cake but the pineapple addition really did work. (Apricot also turns out to work really well too).
The Rocks Cafe, Sydney
Banana and Chocolate Muffin, Sydney
This was outstanding – a light and moist banana muffin with melting pieces of chocolate, fresh from the oven.
I have nothing else to say.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney Verdict: 10/10
Fererro Nutella Chocolate Toast, Sydney
I had another food ordering disaster.
I was meeting a friend for coffee and he suggested this spot. I thought it was a little pricey but decided to order.
It rapidly became clear that it wasn’t expensive, it was a dessert for two. Or possibly four.
My friend was running late. “Hurry,” I texted him. “The desserts are huge!“
“LOL,” he replied… somewhat unhelpful and when he arrived he continued laughing.
There was enough here for two hungry people.
It was a soft doughnut batter in the shape of two large and chunky slices of toast, topped with chocolate icecream, nutella, whipped cream and Ferrero Rocher plus some dubious looking pink hair which I suspect may have been candy floss.
Delicious but utterly overwhelming. Halving the size of the doughnut would have worked.
Old Garden Kaffee, Sydney Verdict: 7/10
Apple Cheesecake, Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia
Fetch me the crampons and climbing gear… in a German settled town… some of the finest cakes known to woman, well, this woman. I like German desserts.
And this one was stunningly good… apple cheesecake – tartly sweet diced apple in sauce layered between a cheese mixture where the cheese could actually be tasted and cream layered with broken walnuts.
A slightly thicker biscuit base would have meant this rivaling the cheesecake I had in Tasmania but this was fabulous.
Haus Inn, Hahndorf, outside Adelaide Verdict: 10/10
Raspberry and Coconut Slice, Alice Springs
I’ve noticed a definite veering away from actual cake with regard to the last few ‘cakes’ considered and this one doesn’t make it any better, it’s another slice.
However, I am definitely becoming a fan of the coconut based dessert.
The raspberry was sweetly tart while the coconut offered a fresh contrast, though I was picking pieces of desiccated coconut out of my teeth for hours afterwards.
The pastry base was a little too thick, the thickness of the topping was greatly exaggerated as it had actually slid down the side of the pastry.
Base Cafe (nextdoor to the Flying Doctors Museum), Alice Springs Verdict: 7/10
Almond Croissant, Darwin
I’m not a fan of croissants. (That’s it, stoke an international incident with France). I just don’t see the point.
However, add a few almonds to it and fill it with an almond custard and I could begin to be won around.
This was the last cake/pastry left in the display cabinet at The Rabbit Hole and I was intrigued after the manager described it to me after I twisted my lip.
Light rather than dry pastry and the almonds added crunch and flavour. With an iced coffee, it went down a treat.
The Rabbit Hole, Darwin Verdict: 7/10
And the winner? It has got to be the Lamington… whoever invented it. Australia and New Zealand can continue to dispute ownership of this one because I don’t care.