Hummingbird layer cake with lemon curd, honeycomb and chamomile

Sunshine on a plate: Hummingbird cake stacked with lemon curd and cream cheese icing, and topped with golden-hued ...
Sunshine on a plate: Hummingbird cake stacked with lemon curd and cream cheese icing, and topped with golden-hued decorations if you're feeling 'extra'. Photo: Katrina Meynink

Because we all need a little sunshine this spring. Before you roll your eyes and say, 'I'm not making that', this is the easiest cake batter you will turn your hand to. You dump everything in one bowl. No mixer, no creaming of butter and sugar. It's a dump and stir situation, the greatest effort is the lemon curd and guess what – if you don't have time or energy for it, simply leave it out. Ditto all the toppings. You will need three 22cm loose-bottom round cake tins.

Ingredients

Wet ingredients

125ml Greek-style yoghurt

235ml vegetable oil

3 large eggs

3 large slightly overripe bananas, mashed

3 tsp vanilla bean extract

500g peeled fresh pineapple, diced into 1cm cubes

Dry ingredients

375g plain flour

½ tbsp baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

pinch salt

250g caster sugar

150g brown sugar

¾ cup pistachio kernels, roughly chopped

1 cup shredded coconut

Lemon curd

¾ cup caster sugar

⅓ cup (80g) unsalted butter, cut into cubes

juice and zest of 2 lemons

2 tsp vanilla bean extract

2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks

Cream cheese icing

500g cream cheese, softened to mixing consistency

¾ cup icing sugar (or more to taste)

2 tsp vanilla bean extract

To serve (optional)

1 cup honeycomb pieces

4-5 dried pineapple pieces

1-2 tsp chamomile flowers (you can buy loose leaf tea flowers from health food stores)

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 170C fan-forced (190C conventional) and grease and line three 22cm round cake tins.

2. For the cake, add all the wet ingredients in a large bowl and mix with a wooden spoon. Add the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. The key is making sure all the ingredients have amalgamated into a chunky cake-like batter but that you don't overwork it.

3. Divide the batter into your three tins. Pop in the oven for 30 minutes or until lightly golden on top. The usual cake skewer test doesn't work here as there is banana and pineapple all through the cake, and you might get a false result. The key is to wobble the cakes to ensure no movement, and when you press down on the centre of the sponge, it should bounce back to the touch; while not entirely foolproof this is a great guide for checking the doneness of this style of cake. Allow to cakes to cool completely in the tins.

4. While the cake is baking, prepare the lemon curd. Whisk the sugar, butter, lemon juice and zest, and vanilla in a saucepan over low to medium heat. Once incorporated, turn the heat to low and whisk in the whole eggs and yolks. Whisk continually until thickened and the curd coats the back of a spoon. Strain through a sieve and store in a jar until ready to use. (Any leftovers will last up to two weeks in the fridge.)

5. For the cream cheese icing, add the ingredients to a bowl and use a whisk or fork to combine – you want it to be a lovely malleable consistency.

6. To assemble, add about ¼ cup of lemon curd and one third of the icing between each cake layer, finishing with just the cream cheese icing on the top. Add the dried pineapple pieces, honeycomb and dried chamomile, if using, before serving.

Tips: This cake tastes better with time so if you bake it the day before serving it will be bursting with flavour. Store the cakes tightly-covered in the fridge overnight, and assemble the layers just before serving.

To make your own dried pineapple decorations, see Helen Goh's recipe.