Hummingbird Cupcakes


Wow! It has been a while, but now I’m back. I am absolutely consumed by my MSc, but more about that another time. What is important is my return to the kitchen. What better way to inject life into my passion for food and baking than experimenting with yummy Hummingbird cake recipes. My wonderful friends Ali n Ali bought me the cookbook for Christmas quite conveniently a little before Mrs Ali’s 30th birthday celebrations 😛 . A great excuse it was too to make some gorgeous red velvet cupcakes and chocolate ginger cupcakes topped off with cream cheese frosting (mmm…yeah… I know they don’t fit into the whole healthy cooking theme I have going here, but it was for a 30th birthday after all). Anyway…My first attempt didn’t go quite to plan, possibly due my uncontrollable need to change every recipe I try out. However, take 2 and 3 were actually not too bad, maybe not as beautiful as those by the experts in Hummingbird bakery, but they did taste pretty good (well, Andy and I thought so anyway).

Chocolate and Ginger


  • 100g plain flour
  • 2og cocoa powder
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 40g unsalted powder
  • 120g whole milk
  • 1 tblsp ginger preserve (this was my addition 😛 – I really couldn’t resist)

Directions: pre-heat oven to 170 degrees C (325 degrees F) Gas 3

  1. put the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a free standing electric mixer with a paddel attachment and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.
  2. Whisk the milk, egg and vanilla extract together in a jug, then slowly pour out about half into the flour mixture, beat to combine and turn the mixer up to high speed to get rid of any lumps.
  3. Turn the mixer down to a slower speed and slowly pour in the remaining milk mixture (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Continue mixing for a couple more minutes until the mixture is smooth. Do not overmix.
  4. spoon the mixture into paper cases until 2/3 full bake in a pre-heated oven for 20 -25 min (if using large muffin cases) 15 min (if using small fairy cake cases). Leave cakes to cool on a wire rack then decorate as you please.

Red Velvet

Ingredients: MAKES 12

  • 60g unsalted butter at room temp.
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 10g cocoa powder
  • 20 ml red food colouring
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 120 ml butter milk
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar

Directions: pre-heat oven to 170 degrees C (325 degrees F) Gas 3

  1. Put the butter and the sugar in a free standing electric mixer with a paddle attachment and beat on medium until well incorporated
  2. in a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, red food colouring and vanilla extract to make a thick, dark paste. Add to the butter mixture and mix thoroughly until evenly combined and coloured. (scrape mixture from the sides of the bowl). Turn the mixer down to slow speed and slowly pour in half of the buttermilk. Beat until everything is well incorporated. Repeat the process until all the buttermilk and flour have been added. Turn the mixer to high and beat until you have a smooth, even mixture. Turn the mixer to a low speed and add the salt, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar. Beat until well mixed, then turn up the speed again and beat for a coupe more minutes
  3. Spoon the mixture into paper cases until 2/3 full and bake in a pre-heated oven for 20 – 25mins (LARGE) 15 min (small)

And the best part, not just a 30th b’day party, but a fancy dress party!! 😀


♡ Chilli Chocolate Slices ♡

White chocolate is marketed by confectioners a...

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Chocolate is my vice, especially on days like these when you have to study.  I will do anything to put me into a mindset to open a 700 page textbook.  Luckily I don’t have to look too far.  A bar of 75% chocolate is all it takes for me.

My morning net search took me to my new favourite food blog ‘My Darling lemon Thyme’ where I found a scrumptious looking chilli chocolate slice recipe.  I can’t wait to try out more of her mouth watering recipes.  Take a look, I’m sure you will all agree.

Like any recipe I want to try out without pre-planning, there are always ingredients you never have.   In this case, I had already finished off the last of my blueberries over breaky so I used some dried fruit, and I have also never bought tapioca flour before so I used 1 1/2 tablespoons of corn flour.  There seems to always be substitutions on hand so the baking commenced and the results were just as I had expected, utterly satisfying.  Now where is that textbook of mine?

Information and image taken directly from My Darling Lemon Thyme’s blog;

chocolate, chilli and blueberry slice
This recipe is gluten-free and can easily be dairy-free by using margarine in place of butter and by making sure you use a good quality dark chocolate that’s dairy-free. I used trade aid dark chocolate. As I’ve mentioned before, get to know your chillies. I used 1 whole long chilli, but you may want to go for less or more depending on how hot you chillies are and how hot you want the end result. If you eat wheat, substitute the rice and tapioca flours for 3/4 cup plain flour or spelt flour.  Makes about 20 slices

  • 200 g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 125 g butter/ margarine
  • 1/2 cup muscovado sugar (or use soft brown sugar)
  • 1 long red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen/ fresh blueberries
  • 3/4 cup almond meal/ ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour (white rice flour is fine)
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • cocoa powder for dusting

Preheat your oven to 15o degrees/ 275-300 f. Grease yourself a slice pan about 20 x 20 cm. Line the base and sides with baking paper and make sure about 2cm of paper extends up and over the edges of the pan.
Melt chocolate, butter, sugar and chilli together in a small saucepan over low heat. Pour into a large bowl and set aside for 10 mins to cool slightly. Gently stir in flours, almond meal and eggs until combined. Fold through blueberries. Pour mixture into prepared pan and smooth off the top with the back of your spoon/ spatula.
Bake 35-45 mins or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Leave to cool in the pan before cutting into small squares, dusting with cocoa powder and devouring! Or if you have some serious restraint, hold off eating till tomorrow.
NB If using fresh berries I’d say they would take about 30-35 mins. If using Frozen like I did, allow a little longer – mine took 45 mins to cook.
Heavily adapted from a little women’s day cookbook called “Family favourites – easy biscuits and slices”.

Manly Banana Cinnamon Cupcakes

Here you will find my yummy banana loaf recipe in the shape of little manly style cupcakes.  I was going make a traditional cup cake recipe with all the frills and a variety of flavours, but I didn’t!   Instead, I settled on, in my opinion, the perfect sponge.  They are like mini banana loaf buns, however, this time I topped them with a chocolate & cinnamon cream cheese frosting for added naughtiness.  They do look a little manlier than your usual cup cake, don’t they?  So that’s who I made them for, a newly turned 30-year-old man. Welcome to my world!

Happy Birthday Tom!!


  • 113g butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup sugar (granulated, caster, or mix in some demerara, whatever you have to hand)
  • 1 cup self raising flour (I couldn’t find self raising here in Japan so used all purpose)
  • [1.5 tsp baking powder & 1/2 tsp salt] – if you use all purpose
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 medium, very ripe bananas
  • Handful crushed walnuts
  • 1 tsp heaped cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp clove powder
  • 1 tsp nutmeg powder
  • 1 bar of chocolate (broken into small pieces)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 130 degrees
  2. Grease a muffin tray with butter or marg
  3. Mash the bananas with a sturdy fork or blend in a blender
  4. Cream the butter and sugar together and mix in the eggs
  5. Mix together the mushy bananas.
  6. Mix in the sieved flour and spices
  7. Mix in the chocolate raisins and crushed walnuts.
  8. divide evenly between muffin holes and bake for 40 minutes
  9. check for they’re by piercing the center of a cup cake. If it comes out clean, cool at room temperature then decorate as desired.

Chocolate Orange Tofu Mousse

Success, I wasn’t tempted or distracted to buy anything from the supermarket that wasn’t necessary or overly indulgent.   I also remembered to pick up some oranges for this particular post.

So here we have it, the Chocolate Orange Mousse I’ve been meaning to make!

I have to admit, the other mousse I have made in the past, in particular the strawberry one, there was a hint of tofu taste I wasn’t overly happy about.  The taste doesn’t bother me, but I guess it may put some people off and sway them away from the power and versatility of the wonderful stuff.

But here, however, no one will be able to guess the full ingredients.

After making deserts, I can’t resist testing the batter or in this case, completely cleaning the entire blender of any trace of chocolate orange mousse with my spoon.  This one is a pleaser.  I’m never so confident about my food until I have had at least one other person try it, but this one is an absolute exception.

My pouring/presentation skills have a little to be desired, but I am a learner after all.

What really matters is the pure deliciousness of the content.

I assure you it’s a good one and extremely easy to make.

Ingredients: (serves 2)

  • 100g 70% Coco Chocolate
  • A knob of butter
  • The juice and zest of 1 small orange or 1/2 Med/Large Orange
  • 150g Firm tofu
  • 1/2 tsp Ginger Powder
  • 1 tbsp Pure Natural honey or Brown Sugar


  1. 1st melt the chocolate in a double boiler, when it is melting nicely add the nob of butter and honey/sugar
  2. In a blender add all the other ingredients and blend until smooth
  3. When the chocolate has melted fold in the tofu slowly mixing until the colour is even
  4. There with be remains of tofu mixture on the blender, so transfer the chocolate tofu to the blender and blend together scraping the white from the sides to create an even colour.
  5. Pour into small serving dishes, cover and chill until you are ready to serve, one hour + is best.
  6. Garnish with a slice of orange and serve.

Yuzu Chocolate Cake

It feels great to be free from 9 to 5 for a fortnight, especially when spring arrives.  My most favourite season here in Japan.
The end of term is always the busiest and most exciting.  Everyone is in good spirits to later indulge in more with all the celebrations and good bye parties.
There is always an abundance of amazingly delicious food for the season, from sashimi, salad, noodles, to cakes and home made confectionary.  It’s so exciting.
Most of my students in a private class I teach, own small farms or have friends who do, meaning I am continually indulged with any fruit or vegetable in season.   I love it!
This time I was gifted with a jar of home made yuzu marmalade.   Something which is enjoyed here as a hot or cold drink, spread on toast or used as a marinade/dressing for meat, fish, tofu and salad.
Yuzu is a citrus fruit with a flavour not too dissimilar to orange and lemon combined.  This fruit has a really distinct flavour but refreshing.  Difficult to find in the west as a fresh fruit, but you can find it dry or in bottles from asian markets or stores.
Yesterday I had a very empty fridge, but really wanted to bake something.  I was craving banana cake (surprise surprise), but had no bananas.
I knew I needed a vegetable or fruit to moisten my cake, but the only thing I had close was the Yuzu marmalade.
Here is what I came up with:

It looks like a big cookie, ehe?
Cakes are far too easy to make, but even easier in the rice cooker.  No need to feel compromised in the kitchen ever again.


  • 2 cups Flour
  • 2 tablespoons coco powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs (separated and COLD)
  • 100g butter (softened but not oily)
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 1/2 cup Yuzu marmalade
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 100g Chocolate bar or choc chips.


  1. Grease rice cooker bowl, set to 50mins and press start.
  2. Sift the flour 3x to lighten. On the 3rd sift add the baking powder, soda      powder, salt, cinnamon and coco powder.
  3. In a separate bowl cream together the butter and sugar then mix in the lightly mixed egg YOLKS finally adding YUZU and SOY MILK.
  4. Mix the creamy mixture into the flour etc. When combined, whisk the egg WHITES to a soft peak then fold into the batter.
  5. Transfer the batter to the rice cooker bowl, by this time the setting will probably be down to 40 mins.
  6. break the chocolate into smallish pieces and sprinkle/place on top of the cake batter.
  7. Close the cooker and check for doneness when the timer goes. If the chopstick doesn’t come out clean set the cooker for a further 5 – 10 mins.
  8. When done allow to cool, cut then stuff the faces of the ones you want to fatten up with your love.

Chick Pea Chocolate Cake

mmm…chocolate 🙂 and good for you

High in protein and very nutritious

This is how my Sunday began.  I woke up at stupid o’clock, 6.30am, and couldn’t get back to sleep for the life of me.  This possibly has a lot to do with the fact that my weekend wasn’t active and neither was I. hhmmm I have also had no exercise for a month…I really should get back on track.

However exercise was the last thing I wanted to do on a day where the only thing on my mind was to try out a new cake recipe.  I love secret ingredients and especially if they are healthy.  I had a few cans of chick peas I was dying to find a yummy recipe for so this it what I used.

I didn’t hold many hopes for this one working as the batter was pretty runny and lacking in volume.  It was also just too easy to put together.  However, I bunged what I had into the rice cooker and the results, well…actually pretty good.  I wish I had a tub of creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream to go with this one.  The consistency was similar to a chocolate fudge cake, but a little dryer and very nutty.  Next time I’m gonna mix in some chopped dates to add more moisture or perhaps a banana…hmmm…maybe both.

I love how this is healthy naughtiness.  It makes me feel a little less bad about not exercising.

I will post the recipe later, but for now here is a lovely find….This is the diamond in the rough and it goes by the name, “Graffiti”

Beautiful little gallery cafe in Kochi city, very fresh and bright with funky style.  The cherry on the cake was the free wireless.  Now I can spend all day here, blogging, studying Japanese and planning lessons.

A perfect Sunday afternoon.

Ok so now for the recipe to this protein rich gluten free cake.


  • 1 tin of chick peas (garbanzo beans) drained.
  • 1 cup dark chocolate (I used 70% greens organic)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 20g Butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder

1.  melt the chocolate
2.  Mix the butter, sugar and baking powder to a paste
3.  mix the sugar mixture into the melted chocolate
4.  Put the beans and the eggs into the blender and blend until smooth
5.  Pour in the chocolate and blend together ( the smoother the better to avoid the cake to crumble when cooked)
6.  Add the raisins and pulse a few times
7.  Add batter to the rice cooker then set to the cake setting and cook for 45mins.
8.  When the timer has timed out, check the cake with a chopstick.  If it comes out clean transfer the cake to a wire rack and allow to cool before cutting and serving.

Dress the cake however you please.  For me, a cup of green tea works just fine, but for others a spoonful of creme fraiche or double cream.

Banana Birthday

For this cake I used a recipe I googled:  ‘Banana Cake’

That one is pretty much what I made but instead of the oven, I cooked it in my rice cooker. I also added some chocolate chunks, walnuts and raisins…mmm…with a tsp here and there of cinnamon, powdered cloves and nutmeg.
Here is the picture of the finished result. Unfortunately I can’t talk about the outcome yet as I made it for Andy’s birthday weekend up in Iya valley. Not your typical birthday cake, but I think it looks pretty good and it smells even better. The recipe I took it from has so many amazing reviews, so I think that speaks volumes.
I’m just pretty impressed I made a cake in the rice cooker 🙂

Note: If you substitute the self raising flour (as stated in the recipe) for all purpose flour, remember to add 1.5 tsp of baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt.


  • 113g butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup sugar (granulated, caster, or mix in some demerara, whatever you have to hand)
  • 1 cup self raising flour (I couldn’t find self raising here in Japan so used all purpose)
  • [1.5 tsp baking powder & 1/2 tsp salt] – if you use all purpose
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 medium, very ripe bananas
  • Handful crushed walnuts
  • 1 tsp heaped cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp clove powder
  • 1 tsp nutmeg powder
  • 1 bar of chocolate (broken into small pieces)


1. Grease the rice cooker bowl/pan with butter or marg
2. Mash the bananas with a sturdy fork or blend in a blender
3. Cream the butter and sugar together and mix in the eggs
4. Mix together the mushy bananas.
5. Mix in the sieved flour and spices
6. Mix in the chocolate raisins and crushed walnuts.
7. Scrape into the rice cooker and bake for 60 minutes on the cake function. If you don’t have that function switch to on then check the mixture when the setting finishes with a chop stick.

8. If it comes out clean you are in the clear and can let it cool on a rack then eat.

Remember not to peek in the cooker to see how its going.  Doing that will let all the steam out (this steam is what cooks the cake) 🙂

Update – Sep 23
*****!!! This one was super delicious and will be made again this week.
It was devoured within seconds which gives me a clear sign that everyone who tried it felt the same.

Let the cooking begin!!

From having lived in Asia for three years now I feel I am slowly getting to grips with various different foods we rarely eat in the west. Some foods have opened my eyes to a new way of cooking.

Here in Japan, ovens in homes/apartments are very few and far between. The Japanese depend entirely on their rice cookers to provide the staple of their every meal, rice.

I have always enjoyed oven baked dishes from casseroles, roasted vegetables, home made granola and having the opportunity to bake a cake for the occasional treat or take around to friends homes. As soon as this option is taken away from you, you really do begin to realise how dependent you are on certain items.

It has taken me a while to settle into not having an oven to make whatever I feel like. Being solely dependent on my two gas hobs to provide the dinners delights has had it’s ups and downs. Constantly trying to find a new dish or combinations of ingredients to make each meal different from the next has been quite taxing at times. Not only that, but cooking in a shoe box size kitchen has forced me to re-think my organisational skills.

I have always been interested in healthy nutritious foods, which are low in calories and provide me with enough energy to see through the day without wanting to snack on sugary treats. mmmm…treats, one of my down falls in staying healthy!! Who doesn’t love the odd bar of chocolate or cake and coffee set?? If you can say ‘whatever’, to this, then I envy you!!

I love food and love eating out, but your wallet and waist line will hate you before you know it!! This is why I’m constantly on the search for new ideas to use new interesting nutritious and tasty ingredients.

Recently, I bought my very first rice cooker. Not only for the reason to save me time and space in the kitchen, but to experiment cooking a variety of dishes and cakes…
This new wonderful machine not only has a simple rice cooking function, but also cake, porridge and risotto settings to name a few. Actually, that’s all I understand for now, the rest will have to be translated for me as my Japanese reading skills are still very limited. 🙂

So far I have made a fruit cake, similar to Scottish clootie dumpling, and a risotto in this wonderful machine and both, to my surprise surpassed all of my expectations and were a complete hit!! Success!!

This is where this blog begins!! I have been truly inspired now and intend to make life in the kitchen easier with less work and cleaning up and more sharing, eating and enjoyment.

In this blog I will be posting my new success recipes along with an ingredient of the month, where I will give a variety of uses for it and explain to you why I love this particular ingredient with a few useful facts, which may interest you.

I would love it if you could post your thoughts on the recipes I add to this blog. If you ever decide to make them, feel free to make any suggestions for improvement. Also, if you have any ideas of your own that have been a success and would like to share, please mail me and I will try them out and add them to the blog.

Happy cooking!!

Oh, I almost forgot “bendi” as it sounds or “benri” as written in romaji, means useful in English. 🙂