The best cake

30 March 2009

I spent a lovely weekend here with Hanno. Not much happened, there were a few phone calls and little else. Hanno worked on the garden, cleaned out the chook house, Lucy-proofed the garden fence and mowed. I spent most of my time either writing or cooking and a couple of times we sat together on the front porch with our tea, talked and just enjoyed the weather and the scenery. It's been raining on and off most of the weekend, so it was just the right weather for baking. I've been experimenting with a tablespoon of boiling water in my cakes lately and I have to tell you it works a treat, giving a moist cake that will last quite well. Today's recipe is for the best cake I've ever made.

Really - it's THE best cake I've ever made. I baked it last weekend, we ate it on Sunday and during the week, having the last piece on Friday. It was still moist and delicious. This is a must try recipe.

The only change I made was to use eight bananas - but they were our little Lady Finger bananas, which would have been the equivalent of the three large bananas, mashed, in the recipe. Please try it and let me know.

The boiling water trick works in other cakes too - just add it after your cake is mixed and stir in. It gives a moistness you won't have otherwise.

I baked breadrolls on Saturday and Sunday but made the dough for both on Saturday morning. I wanted four rolls on each day, so I made up the recipe below, threw it all in the breadmaker, flour first then everything else on top.

I set the machine to the dough setting and when it's done kneading, I divided the dough in two equal portions, placed one in a plastic bag in the fridge. On Saturday our topping was polenta.

Can you see the small strand of bread attaching one roll to the next. That the sign of a good dough. And here it is again the following day on our Sunday rolls.

The dough needs to return to room temperature before it will do its second rise. I removed the dough from the fridge at 6 am and it was just ready to bake at 11.30am. On Sunday I topped the rolls with oatmeal.

You will notice in the photo of the uncooked rolls, I'm using a silicone baking mat. I've been using this, on and off, for about 18 months now and it's still working well. It's non-stick, reusable and easy to clean. This is not an advert, I have no idea what brand mine is, but I want you to know there are alternatives to parchment paper that can be reused many times.

Bread roll recipe

2 level teaspoons dry yeast, proved in ½ cup warm water + 1 teaspoon sugar or honey
4 cups bakers flour
1 teaspoon cooking salt (or kosher salt)
1 tablespoon soft butter
2 tablespoons milk powder (optional)
enough water to make a good dough - about 2 cups

The amount of water you add will depend on your flour and the weather. If it's humid you'll use less. Learn the feel of good dough. You should feel EVERY dough you make between your fingers. Aim for a moist dough that holds together well, has no areas of dry flour, but is not wet. When you know the feel, you'll be able to judge the amount of water in the dough by the feel of it.

Thank you all for the comments and good wishes yesterday. Both Hanno and I read them all. I also want to thank my dear friend Sharon who has worked on Down to Earth with me for a long time now. She just offered her help one day and that was that, we are firm friends now. Sharon is the reason the swaps are still going, she organises them along with Rose now, and Lorraine in the past. Thank you all, ladies. I appreciate your help, it is a real pleasure for me to work with you.


  1. Rhonda, my husband Brent wants to know how did you keep the oats on the bread...he put oats on ours this weekend and they did not stick real well..

  2. Hello Renee dear. Tell Brent he needs to moisten the top of the bread - I just do it with a wettish hand but you could also use a brush. Anything will glue on then, either oats or seeds.

  3. Oh Rhonda, you are making me sooo hungry!! That cake looks delicious!! I also wanted to add a congratulations on yesterdays post. I have learned so much from this blog and it has given me the incentive to stop my job by the end of this year. I love that you are so honest & genuine. Thank you for letting me be a part of you & Hanno's life. You have become a "friend" and I look forward to checking in daily! I will be giving that cake a try this week!

    Thanks again!!!
    Central Illinois

  4. Good morning Rhonda,

    I'll have to try that hint with the water in the cake mixture. I need all the help I can get as my oven has a very hot side and my cakes are sometimes burnt on one side.
    Just a couple of quick questions about the bread rolls. Mine where rather heavy when I cooked them. Any hints on how to lighten them up? Also how do you get a crusty top?
    Its so nice to sit together at least once a day for a cuppa. The big fellow and I do most of our planning and dreaming then. Another nice time is our washing up time together, as one washes the other dries and puts away. Great chats then too.
    Have a great day.

    Blessings Gail

  5. I have wanted a bread maker for ages.. but am a little hesitant to buy one as I can't eat wheat. I wonder how it would go if I used other types of flour.
    Oh and thanks for the Aldi inspiration. I went there on the weekend and found organic soy milk that is 70c cheaper than other organic brands !!! - will certainly try the tblsp of water in the cake. I love moist cakes.

    congratulations on the book! praying that it won't stop your wonderful blog which has become part of my reading life.
    (can't wait to join in the next swap)

  6. Rhonda, I can cook many things but cannot get my bread to rise. Itt's like a curse...but I'll give your recipe a go. I love your blog and have been reading it daily. With two kids under 3, I don't get to many projects other than the essentials... butI love to dream that I will one of these days!

    Thanks for living an inspiring life and sharing it with us.


  7. hi Debbie, thanks for your lovely comment.

    Gail, to lighten your dough you could add a teaspoon of gluten flour to each cup of flour. Or allow them to rise longer on the second rise - the one just before you bake them. Wetting the dough a bit on the top will give you a crispier crust but a home oven generally doesn't get hot enough to give you that crusty crust bakers get.

  8. Glad your weekend was peaceful & relaxing Rhonda. Your breadrolls look deliciously yummy. My post today is how my chooks managed to destroy 6 dozen seedlings in under 10mins. Oh well chicken for dinner tonight!!(joke)

  9. I can't wait to try the cake! My family loves bananas and I think this will be a hit! Congratulations on your 1,000,000th post! I find you very inspiring!


  10. Those bread rolls look wonderful! I'm going to try your recipe. Could you make hot cross buns for Easter with this recipe? Have you ever tried that? Anyways, they look great, as does the cake. Blessings to you and your family, Alexis

  11. Good morning Rhonda. In the baking arena: I made your chocolate sour cream cake yesterday and it was a great hit. As a rule I don't use low-fat or other altered products but I do with dairy and the cake was excellent.

    I have not been able to locate gluten flour in any of the big chain shops, my local organic shop or PDF style stores. I've looked online and can see some interstate possibilities. Do you have an online recommendation for bakery products? Or does anyone else who may be reading this? TIA.

  12. Hi Rhonda,

    Thanks for sharing the tip about the hot water, what a simple idea! I must try the cake for dad next time I go home for a visit. He loves anyone cooking treats for him and because I'm such a great daughter, I love to do it for him ;)

    How is your knitting going?

    Chantel from Ashfield

  13. Thanks so much Rhonda Jean for the idea of the silicone baking mat. I have a been trying to reduce "one" use items in my home and I use a lot of baking paper when I bake. I will also try adding the boiling water in the cake next time. Thanks so much for sharing!


  14. Rhonda, thank you so much for this blog. I normally don't buy books "new", but the moment yours is released over here in the US, it will become a resource for our new life. Thanks to this economy I left our family business and went to work at a hospital and strangely enough being away from home all day has slowed me down! I am no working 80 hours a week, and have been able to slowly convince my husband to rethink how much is enough. His goal is now to work the family business part time and by us living simply "earn" the rest of the money by saving it.
    In the stress of radically changing our lives, your blog has been a quiet inspiration, as well as a great education on gardening.

    North Eastern Maryland, USA

  15. It all looks lovely! Do you think the banana cake would be good without the nuts. We are not able to have nuts in the house.

    The rolls look wonderful!

  16. Oooh Rhonda that cake and those rolls look sooo good..I will be trying this for sure. I didn't know about the hot water in the cake..will give it a try.

  17. Rhonda, the cake looks mouth watering delicious!
    I do have a question
    Do you have advice for those of us (just)learning how to make a decent pie crust?
    That is my mission for the seasons to use local fruit and hopefully make a perfect pie.
    Any and all suggestions would be appreciated

  18. How clever you are. I have one of those silicon mats that I use for biscuits but it never occurred to me to use it for bread and other things that I use baking paper for - how dim am I. I was only thinking yesterday how I should really be cutting out the baking paper.Thanks.

  19. Hello, you have such a lovely garden! And much life experience! I am on your blog almost every day to see how are you. I wish you the best Rhonda!

    Marilena from Romania

  20. You can't beat a really good banana cake recipe. Thank you for sharing your own favourite.

    Cooking and sharing the results is so rewarding.Twice in the past week I took along homemade crackers to gatherings. Two completely different flavours yet both times they all disappeared really fast.

    And thank you for all you share, plus congratualtions on one million visits! Dear Rhonda you are so encouraging,

    sending care and huggles, Michelle in Wellington

  21. I am sure you have heard it a thousand times, but I wanted to say I so love to read your blog, it is such an inspiration and I love to try your suggestions.. thank you for sharing your wisdom..

  22. Congradulations on your millionth post. I really enjoy reading them, and the pictures are awesome too.

    Grace & Peace to you,

  23. Hi Rhonda
    I thought your bread rolls looked fabulous so I had a go myself and they are wonderful.
    I am from the UK and have only recently found your website but I have learnt so much already
    thankyou x

  24. it all looks so delicious! I'm going to try both those recipes, so thanks very much for posting them.

    I adore banana cake, and I'm going to start baking bread on a daily basis, so I'm in the process of collecting recipes.

  25. Congratulations on the over 1000000 million hits. A few are mine. Where do you find a counter for the blog? I'd love to put one on mine. I use blogspot. Thanks for the help. I'm new to blogging inspired by you and many others.

  26. Andrea if you type in "blog counter" to a search engine, you should some up with some nice ones to choose from. Once you've copied the code they give you, go to Layout in your blog, click Add A Gadget, then pick one that can take html.
    Rhonda, this cake recipe is so delicious, thank you for sharing it. I made it today with freshly ground wheat, rapadura and honey, and it has turned out so beautifully! I can hardly wait for my children to come home from school to try a piece.

  27. Your baking of bread has inspired me to begin to attempt breads. I thought the rolls looked like something that I wanted to try. What temperature did you bake them at and for how long?

    The Village Gardener in Ohio

  28. Hi Rhonda Jean, love your site,really love it! was just wondering what you do with your leftover bread,you say you bake bread every day,you and Hanno would'nt eat the whole loaf surely!

  29. Hey Rhonda, those rolls look so good I'm going to try making them this weekend. Would you mind letting me know at what temperature you bake them and for how long? In stitches . . .


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