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Recipe: Lemon myrtle cake

Recipes

Young Australian chef Matt Stone seeks to open people’s eyes to local ingredients, such as the lemon myrtle used in this cake recipe handed down from his aunt.

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Stone, who had his first head chef role at just 22 at sustainability advocate Joost Bakker’s eco-restaurant in Perth, is now head chef of Oakridge winery in Victoria and co-star of the National Geographic food show Recipes that Rock.

The recipe he shares below comes from his new cookbook The Natural Cook, which promotes zero-waste cooking and ethical food.

“For as long as I can remember, my Auntie Susan has baked the most amazing cakes,” Stone writes in the book.

“For years I tried to get her to give me a book with all her recipes. Though I’m still waiting for that book, she shares my passion for native foods and has developed this recipe for me. It’s a super simple cake packed with flavour.”

Auntie Susan’s Lemon Myrtle Cake

The Natural Cook: Maximum Taste, Zero Waste, by Matt Cook, published by Murdoch Books, $39.99

The Natural Cook: Maximum Taste, Zero Waste, by Matt Cook, published by Murdoch Books, $39.99

Ingredients

155g (1 cup) macadamia nuts
180g butter
150g sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
300g (2 cups) freshly milled flour
185ml (¾ cup) buttermilk
2 teaspoons dried lemon myrtle
edible flowers, to decorate (optional)

Icing

3 egg whites
210g caster (superfine) sugar
210g butter
2 teaspoons dried lemon myrtle

Note: Most supermarkets stock lemon myrtle, and it’s a cinch to order online. You can also use lemon myrtle teabags – just remove the leaves from the bag and grind them to a fine consistency. This icing can be used for any cake or muffin. Substitute lemon myrtle with any flavour you like.

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 160C. Grease a 20cm round cake tin and line the base and side with baking paper.

Spread the macadamia nuts evenly on a baking tray and roast for 12 minutes, or until golden brown, then set aside to cool. Turn the oven up to 170C.

Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and cream the two ingredients for 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add 1 egg at a time, making sure the previous one is incorporated before adding the next. Beat for a further 5 minutes.

In a food processor, blitz the macadamia nuts to form a rough breadcrumb consistency. Add the remaining ingredients, except the edible flowers, and the nuts to the butter mixture and beat until smooth.

Pour into the cake tin and bake for 40–45 minutes, or until lightly golden. Gently press on the top of the cake – if it bounces back, it’s ready. Remove from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool further.

To make the icing, fill a medium saucepan one-third full of water and place over medium heat. Bring to a light simmer. Put the egg whites and sugar into a stainless-steel bowl. Using a whisk, briefly mix until the sugar has been incorporated. Place the bowl over the simmering water to create a double boiler and, stirring constantly, heat the mixture until the sugar has dissolved.

Using an electric mixer or hand-held electric beaters, whisk the egg mixture at high speed for 10–12 minutes; it will become white, glossy and thick. Keep whisking until the mixture is cool.

Switch to a paddle attachment if you have one, then mix on medium speed, adding the butter in four batches. Beat until thick and creamy, then add the lemon myrtle and stir until combined. Spatula onto the cake with enthusiasm and decorate with edible flowers, if using.

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