Lemon Ricotta and Almond Cake

Lemon and Almond Ricotta Cake || cityhippyfarmgirl

Lemon Almond and Ricotta Cake || cityhippyfarmgirl

If I’m lucky enough to get to 85 years old I’ll probably eat cake for breakfast.

Straight up. A big chunk of cake on my favourite plate and a extra large cup of chai on the side.

I was certainly encouraging for my grandmother to eat cake for breakfast on her birthday recently. Not just any cake but this one that I made for her. It’s got almonds, ricotta and low in sugar, with some careful thinking I would say this cake ticks quite a few boxes for a slight woman in her eighties and the first meal of the day.

It also happily ticked a few birthday cake boxes. The requirements were gluten free, low sugar, not chocolatey and not ‘eggy’. With the satisfying soft scent of lemon billowing done the hall, I’d say this simple cake was done and dusted, (and dusted with icing sugar that is.)

Lemon Almond Ricotta Cake || cityhippyfarmgirl

Lemon Almond and Ricotta Cake

150g softened butter

2/3 cup sugar

3 beaten eggs

zest of two lemons

200g almond meal

250g ricotta

icing sugar

Cream butter and sugar together. Add beaten eggs and zest of two lemons. Fold through almond meal and ricotta. Pour into a greased and lined springform pan. Bake at 180C for about 45-50 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

Star Cake

star lamington cake with condensed milk || cityhippyfarmgirl

Some birthdays are show stoppers with meaningful presents and surprises that are so happy they bring a tear to the eye. Some birthdays, just slowly sort of slip on by. A tiny reprieve in a normal week. It’s never meant like that, but occasionally that’s just how things fall, (well for the big people anyway.)

Not for this birthday though for him. No, no. For this birthday I was jumping out of my skin with excitement on giving a little piece of paper.

No flashy expensive pieces to gather dust on a mantel. No clothing vouchers and stiff napkined dinners, because seriously it’s not our style.

star lamington cake with condensed milk || cityhippyfarmgirl

What he did have was an afternoon and evenings trek up a mountain to watch a sunset with a lunar eclipse. Followed by a little star gazing. An opportunity to take an obscene amount of photos and maybe, just maybe throw a birthday wish on a shooting star.

And in the mean time, we had cake…well, there will always, (always) be cake.

star lamington cake with condensed milk || cityhippyfarmgirl The Lamington Cake was revisited…and yes sticky fingers, VERY sticky fingers. The temptation was a little too much for her.

Lamington Cake

125g butter

3 eggs

150g (2/3 cup) sugar

2 tsp vanilla

225g (1 1/2 cups) s/r flour

50g (1/2 cup) desiccated coconut

125mls (1/2 cup) milk


1 can condensed milk

50g cocoa

Cream butter and sugar. Add in vanilla, beaten eggs, and milk together than fold in dry ingredients. Bake in a greased and lined spring form pan (approx 23cm) at 180C for about 35-40 minutes. Bake until golden in colour.

While cake is still hot, leave it in the cake tin, prick it all over with a skewer or fork then pour on the condensed milk mixture. (Whisk together in a bowl, condensed milk and cocoa together beforehand.)

Leave cake to soak up mixture, occasionally bringing the condensed milk back to the centre to soak in at the top a little more. Once room temperature, pop into the fridge for a couple of hours (or over night- you want as much of the condensed milk soaked in as possible.) Take the cake out of the tin and cover in desiccated coconut.

Blueberry Cake and how did two happen?

blueberry cake recipe || cityhippyfarmgirl helping || cityhippyfarmgirl

There is a little lump in my throat this week,

she turned two, and I’m not sure how that happened.

Feels like nothing since I birthed that baby bundle in a pool by the dining table windows-

I still think of the afternoon light and the peaceful way she swam into this world.

Turning two meant there was birthday cake with her favourite, favourite “blues”.

She helped me make it, but we had to be quick-

one blueberry in the mouth and one for the cake.

There was a doll- the most beautiful doll you ever did see.

And after that, she will be two and one day, then two days and so it continues,


lady || cityhippyfarmgirl a little vintage doll || cityhippyfarmgirl

A Little Vintage Store, is where the lovely doll is from. Beautifully handmade by Jennie in Brisbane, Australia- I’m in awe I really am. Love, love, love that this birthday present didn’t come from a department store with a ‘made in china’ tag.

cake || cityhippyfarmgirl

Blueberry Cake 

300g softened butter

300g sugar

4 tsp vanilla

zest of one lemon

4 beaten eggs

600g self raising flour

125mls milk

approximately 300g blueberries or enough to cover the cake surface

Cream the butter and sugar together, add vanilla, eggs, lemon zest and milk. Then fold through flour. Into a greased and lined tin and arrange blueberries.

Bake until golden at 180C.

(Depending on your cake tin size, this recipes bake time will differ. Cooked as I did, it took forever (23cm)- but I wanted it tall. Baking it in a much wider cake tin will ensure a shorter cook time…or half the recipe, (but where’s the fun in that.)

little soft sweet white peaks of cloud

lemon meringue

lemon meringue

My grandmother once told me she used to make a sponge cake each year for her own birthday cake when her kids were young. That’s what they all loved to eat, so that’s what she would make, she said over a pot of tea one day. Kind and generous yes, and certainly in keeping with a birthday spirit. But… my 83 year old grandmother doesn’t like sponge cake. She never has.

It was probably never going to be a problem that I would have. Committed to my kids taste buds, of course. I frequently catered to their often under ripe taste buds. But committed enough to make them (me) a sponge cake? Oh hell no, (I don’t like them either.)

Several people offered to make me a birthday cake this year. I said that was so very kind, and then politely declined though. You see, I love making my own cake (or tart as the case may be.) It’s the one time of the year, I can make something exactly to my own taste buds. No chocolate, no lollies, no cream… no sponge cake.

For this years birthday I had lemon meringue pie on my mind, and I’d been planning it ever since the last time I had made it, (with added blueberries for good measure.)

“…but it’s not a proper birthday if there isn’t cake,” declared an unsure little voice.

 “Piffle,” I said confidently, “How exciting will the little soft sweet white peaks of cloud like meringue look in amongst a few candles.” Birthday’s can be anything you want it to be, that’s the wonderful thing about birthdays.” 

I kept that close in mind when I decided I would like wholemeal spelt pancakes, blueberries, mangoes, crackers and cheese for dinner as well…anything I want it to be, right?

lemon meringue


And as my still fairly recent tradition of making something meringue-y for my birthday continues, so does my recipe list.

Lemon Meringue Pie 2013

Blue Cherry Meringue Tart 2012

Berry Meringue Tart 2011

A Rather Tall Birthday Cake 2010

lessons in chocolate cake

chocolate cakechocolate cake

When the lovely Mariana posted her family recipe for chocolate cake recently I decided I needed to give it a crack. Me and chocolate cake still aren’t particularly firm friends. I had fiddled about last year with my sourdough starter chocolate cake (Number Five Chocolate Cake.) I had also mentioned in this post my head start into baking a dry old chocolate cake recipe as a teen.

Being more of a Lemon Meringue Pie kinda gal, it’s hard to get good perspective in such very important matters such as chocolate cake. However, for the sake of my chocolate cake inhaling young family I would do it. I would make the cake, (as everyone needs to have a chocolate cake recipe up there sleeves right?)

Lessons learnt in Chocolate Cake

1. Chocolate cake baked in a square tin sounded like a good idea at the time but when it came time to present it on a plate I slowly realised- out of all my missed matched plates, not one of them were square. Round tin it is next time.

2. Fold that flour into the mixture, don’t over beat it. I know this, and yet I still have moments of forgetting. This was one of those moments.

3. Chocolate cake doesn’t need to have 250g of dark chocolate in it to be a chocolate cake, (hooray for that actually!)

4. When making a stove top icing, ensure the tea towel being used in order not to burn yourself doesn’t catch fire as it rests casually in the flames. (For the record, burnt tea towel smells a bit funny.)

5. When the recipe says “move fairly quickly” when pouring on the icing, do so. It’s said for a reason. If you don’t, it leads to an unsatisfying ‘scratchy’ looking top. Followed by a little high pitched squeal, tiny foot stomp and mutterings of…oh please be smoooooth again.

6. Plopping small squares of chocolate in the middle doesn’t really hide the unsatisfying scratchy looking icing.

7. And finally, really… Not a single other person really cares whether- a) the icing was smooth, b) the cake mixture slightly over beaten, and c) that there wasn’t an appropriate square plate to go with the square cake*. It was gobbled up and declared the best chocolate cake ever. So dear Mariana, I think it’s a hit.

* There was however a slight voiced concerned and furrowed brow with the burnt tea towel incident, (for safety reasons of course.) But I say, who doesn’t like a little excitement in the kitchen now and then.

Mariana’s Forever Chocolate Cake Recipe 

chocolate cake

Passionfruit Cake

passionfruit cake

Chocolate cake with coffee icing.

It’s the cake I would make for mum each and every birthday when I was a teenager. The chocolate cake recipe was an ever reliable one from a Women’s Weekly Cookbook and the instant coffee icing would more often than not be dotted with a few stale old walnut halves to decorate. For years I never strayed from that recipe, (dry old thing it was.)

One year it was extra special, I forgot the eggs (or I think that’s what happened.) I gently tipped the cake out and splat. The whole thing landed on the cake rack in a thousand chocolatey bread crumbs. No one else was home, it was supposed to be a surprise. What on earth was I going to do?

In tears I tried to salvage the crumbs and somehow press them into a cake shape, (you see cake pops hadn’t been invented yet.) I pressed and pressed and then covered the whole thing with a thick coffee icing, trying to ignore the big wet salty tears that still occasionally landed on top. Mum got home and I offered up the lumpy shaped dome with the tear smudged icing…Happy Birthday Mum, I whispered with a slightly quivered bottom lip.

A crumbly chocolate cake with coffee icing this isn’t. If my mum wasn’t currently kicking up her heals at the moment in Europe I think I would have made this Passionfruit Cake for her instead. There is nothing fancy about it, just a simple cake that’s moist, not crazy sweet, really easy to make and not remotely like that dry old chocolate cake I used to make.

passionfruit cake

Passionfruit Cake

150g softened butter

150g caster sugar

3 beaten eggs

pulp of five passionfruit

225g self raising flour

Cream butter and sugar together until pale, then add eggs. Next add passionfruit pulp and flour. Bake in a greased and lined spring form tin at 180C for approximately 40 minutes.

Passionfruit Icing

25g softened butter

icing sugar

pulp from 1 passionfruit

juice from 1/2 a lemon

Rocky Road birthday cake


DSC_0038 copy

I let The Monkeys decorate the cake.

It’s all yours I said… make it look beautiful.

They were enthusiastic

very, enthusiastic.

Will Mr Chocolate remember what his birthday cake looked like for ever and ever and ever and ever?

I think he just might

as they certainly made it with a lot of love…

(and peanuts)

Thanks for helping boys.


cowboy, racing car, rocket…


Nine months ago he had started talking about his next birthday. Nine months notice to organise a cowboy-racing car-rocket birthday. I couldn’t really say no, after being given so much warning now could I?

Cowboy outfit

– local shop ordered in a kids cowboy hat for me

– opshop shirt (thrifted and still new)

– bandana from a stash at home

– cowboy pants and vest made by my mum

Racing car

Playforever car


– vanilla cake, strawberry jam and vanilla mascarpone inside.

– A chocolate ganache for the outside.

– Rocket made from sugar paste and colouring.

Honestly, birthdays make me just a touch nervous. I adore birthdays, love the fact that we are slowly creating our own traditions for our little people, forming hopefully wonderful memories, while also having had many beautiful birthday memories of my own.

So why would they make me a little nervous? It’s the overload possibility factor. An overload of “things.” I don’t generally feel that comfortable stipulating what people can and can not buy for my kids. I don’t want to sound like a poop, but I really don’t want people to purchase things just because they feel they have to. Environmentally, living in a small space and the fact that The Monkeys really don’t need much are also factors. So each year, I suggest certain family members contribute towards something bigger, (or something they really do need). A combined gift that can be enjoyed for a long time and later can be passed on, instead of a quick gratification, breaking and ending up in landfill.

For friends this year I’ve also said that no gifts were necessary. If they would like to draw a card, Little Monkey would love that. Otherwise just them being there and getting to share a cupcake at the park is super exciting for the little fella. I’m aware that I may not be able to do this forever. Perhaps in years to come, if one of the boys has a party and there is an envelope there to put in a dollar or two and then that money can go towards something of his choosing? How would people feel about that?

A friend of mine gets people to donate to a charity of her choosing and close to her heart instead of bringing a gift. This is a wonderful idea but apparently people still want to bring a gift as well. Who wouldn’t, a lot of people love giving gifts…I love giving gifts!

Then there is hand made gifts. If someone goes to the trouble of making something by hand or even purchased from someone who in turn had  hand made something…. oh I’m over the moon, but hang on, I said no gifts!

Aaahh, you see… this is why it makes me a little nervous each year.

Anyway, a lovely day was had. Little Monkey loved every minute of it and now gets to be a cowboy any day of the week that he chooses, (and it looks like it well may be every day this week.)

 links for people that may like a few little-people gift ideas.

Playforever car- these cars will last FOREVER. Beautifully made, they look awesome and would appeal to any sex or age (Mr Chocolate wants one now.)

Tiger Tribe car boxset- everything packs inside its own box. Handy, compact, well made and fun.

If you are in Australia I bought both of them through this company.


What’s been your favourite gift? To be given or to give?

This is my go to cake at the moment for a basic cake recipe. Simple and can easily be used for mini cupcakes or scaled up to a larger cake.

Vanilla Birthday Cake

150g softened butter

150g caster sugar

2 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

80mls milk (1/4 cup)

2 tbls natural yogurt

225g s/r flour (1 1/2 cups)

In a mixer, cream butter and sugar until changes colour to a white shade, then add vanilla, eggs, and milk/yogurt. Fold through flour.

Bake at 180C for approximately 10-15 minutes for smaller cupcakes, and obviously longer for bigger cakes.


1 tbls softened butter

1 1/2 cups icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla

For the icing you can switch the tastes round to basically anything you feel like. Lemon juice instead of vanilla, with some lemon zest through the cupcakes, amaretto, a little chocolate. Lots of possibilities…

Raspberry Chocolate Layer Cake- let’s just look at the pretty pictures




Ah this week, you’ve been a funny one

up, down and turned it all around

big ups

big downs

a Monkey Boy Birthday

a Monkey Boy hospital visit

some Monkey Boy hives

a mama virus straight from hell


happy baking

a gathering

lots of laughs and smiles

 the big storm ending Sunday evening



What’s been happening in your week?

Vanilla Cake

Raspberry Jam

150g raspberries

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 lime squeezed

Chocolate layer

150g melted chocolate (50%)

250g mascarpone

50g icing sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

Vanilla Cream

300mls cream

50g icing sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla


extra raspberries

birthday thinking and a berry meringue tart

I’ve just celebrated another birthday rolling around. Time spent with lovely people, delicious food and lots of happy moments.

I’ve also been thinking of another that is no longer here.

Thinking of my grandfather who left me with a head full of happy memories, that I frequently bring out and go through. Flicking through those memories like a well worn scrap book, with mental scribbles, loved pictures and happy moments.

Ours was a shared birthday. It was always such a special feeling knowing that our birthday was on the same day. Giving me a loving connection with the grandfather I adored.

A man, who to me always smelt like smoked apple wood, and occasionally raw onions as he loved them on sandwiches.

He had a sweet tooth for certain things, introducing me to sugar coated jubes that would get soft and squishy in the car. There were scoops of vanilla icecream with spoonfuls of his home made jam on top. He also knew answers to more trivia questions than I could ever hope to know in a lifetime. Answers would roll off his tongue like a well rehearsed dialogue. No pause for thought as the reply seemed so easily retrieved.

Big boxes of locally grown apples would be brought by him when ever he came to visit, followed by bulging jars of loose change to be carefully counted and divided amongst the grandchildren. Counting was always my job, as I was the eldest. Every cent was divided up and then we could spend it in any way we wanted.

He was there when I first rode my bike. He was also there, teaching me to dive in the pool during summer. Tuck the feet in, tuck the feet in…

We would go to visit and on his arriving home after a long day, we would hear the sounds of his footsteps coming up the stairs.

Clomp, clomp, clomp

The stairs always lasted forever as he continued stepping on the same few top stairs, making it sound like they were ten stories high. Building up the excitement, my siblings and I giggling with anticipation of him being so close. Long squashed hugs would follow, as we would all scramble for his attention.

In his last year, while he was sick, I got to tell him that I had met the man I was going to marry. This comforts me in a funny kind of way. Even though he didn’t get to be at my wedding or get to know any of his great grandchildren, he at least got a glimpse of the path I was about to head down. A path, I think that would have made him incredibly happy.

As long as I have these special memories and a hundred others, he will always be with me. Not mourned over for his loss, or the unfairness of a life taken away too soon but celebrating in the life that he did have. A life that I got to share a little part of, which I’m incredibly grateful for those years, and those birthdays we did get to share together.


…and I also think he would have quite liked a slice of this birthday berry tart.

Drawing from  my last years ‘a rather tall birthday cake‘ and also inspired by a gorgeous recipe from Jamie Oliver’s ‘Jamie does…cookbook‘. This little number was the result.

Berry Meringue Tart

Pastry (recipe here) base can be cooked the day before. Pastry pricked all over and then baked blind for 20 minutes at 180C in a greased tart pan (the kind that pops out is good) and then a further 10 minutes uncovered. Pastry should be crisp and golden.

Meringue (recipe here) clusters baked on a tray at 130C until crisp all over, this will take an hour plus. (I used 4 egg whites/220g sugar.)

Mascarpone vanilla bean cream. Whip 300mls cream to soft peaks, then add 1/2 cup icing sugar and one scraped vanilla bean pod. Add 250g mascarpone and gently whip again until mixed through.

Berries- strawberries, blueberries and cherries.

Smooth out several spoonfuls of the mascarpone mixture on to the base of the cooked pastry. This will help the meringue stick a little. Break the meringue up and build a decent sized layer, Spoon the remainder of the mascarpone mixture all over, filling in any meringue holes and then cover with your favourite berries. Dust with a little icing sugar.

strawberries and cream birthday cake

He had said he wanted strawberries on it…and cream. Oh, and licorice.

Anything else little fella? 

Strawberries, cream and licorice cake please!

It was Little Monkey’s birthday and the food requests had come in. The other food to be eaten were minor details, the cake was where it was at.

Happy to oblige, I had an image in my head, and just hoped that I could cut the picture out of my mind and transpose it to a cake plate.

Basic cake recipe I used the same as the Pink Cupcakes, but doubled the recipe and baked it in a large spring form pan. The yogurt in it, really does give the cake a lasting quality, that seems to only taste better in the next few days, not going stale at all.

Cake was then sliced in half when cold, spreading bottom layer with some Summer Loving Jam, and half half mixture of home made vanilla bean mascarpone, and whipped cream.

Top layer on, and a thin crumb layer of the mascarpone mixture goes over all the cake, then smoothing over the final layer. Place strips of licorice and line up  strawberries.

Next, candles lit and birthday presents safely clutched in small fingers. Line up birthday diners, for an enthusiastic chorus of Happy Birthday.

Happy Birthday Little Monkey.