Recipe: Cherie’s Quince Hummingbird Cake with Tahini Caramel




Nothing beats country fare for taste and delicious, wholesome freshness. And it is even better when the dishes are are vegetarian, healthy and good for you.  A Plant Based Farmhouse by Cherie Hausler (Murdoch Books) dishes up a range of whole food recipes from her colourful country kitchen. Here she tells about her wonderful  Quince Hummingbird Cake.

A surprising story accompanies this cake. I was flown to Japan by a large food company that has many bakery brands under its banner, to make this cake and three other recipes, after one of their senior executives saw my Instagram. Crazy but true. It wasn’t as simple as that single step, but evolved over many emails, phone calls and even a visit from the Tokyo team to our farmhouse, where we wandered through our vegie garden drinking homemade kombucha and talking about all the different flowers and foliage I love using on my cakes.

Quite surreal to go from our garden on the hill to a commercial bakery in the middle of Tokyo. I loved every minute of it — except those minutes that were spent trying to figure out why none of my recipes were working… before we realised Australian cup measurements are different from Japanese cups! I have been an advocate of measuring ingredients by weight ever since. Especially when you have to do a presentation to 30 division heads of a company waiting to taste your cakes, it’s these little measurement details that really come into play. Heck. Thank goodness for scales.

Everyone on the tasting team loved this version of the classic hummingbird cake, chosen because I knew — after testing it time and again for different occasions at home — that it would cut well and remain lovely and moist for days.

This recipe includes cooked quince. Knowing there are so many different ways to do that, I’ll leave it to you to choose a favourite method. I like poaching a big batch of quinces when they’re in season by simply packing them in a large pan with sugar, water and a vanilla bean, and cooking slowly for an hour or so, until they’re tender all the way through and beautifully deep in colour (page 235). I cut the pieces of quince from the core once they’re cooked, then freeze any leftovers for future cakes, or to serve over granola. Do keep the poaching liquid for this recipe, too.

The fragrance of a quince is something I would happily wear as a perfume, it’s so intoxicating. I know you’ll enjoy having that beautiful aroma filling up your kitchen as you’re baking this cake.


Cherie Hausler


Makes a 26 cm (10 ½ in) bundt cake, or 6 baby bundt cakes

375 g (13 oz) plain (all-purpose) white spelt flour, plus extra for dusting

390 g (13 ¾ oz) rapadura sugar

10 g (1 ½ teaspoons) bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

7 g (1 ¾ teaspoons) baking powder

5 g (1 teaspoon) salt

6 g (2 teaspoons) ground cinnamon

480 g (1 lb 1 oz) mashed banana (from about 3 bananas)

110 ml (3 ¾ fl oz) extra virgin olive oil

180 ml (6 fl oz) quince poaching liquid, at room temperature

8 g (2 teaspoons) vanilla bean paste

60 ml (2 fl oz) Apple Cider Vinegar (page.178)

150 g (5 ½ oz) poached quince, chopped into 1–2 cm (½ – ¾ in) pieces

75 g (2 ½ oz) pecans, chopped

Tahini Caramel

75 g (2 ½ oz) maple syrup

35 g (1 ¼ oz) tahini

35 g (1 ¼ oz) extra virgin coconut oil

3 g (¾ teaspoon) vanilla bean paste


Preheat your oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Grease a 26 cm (10 ½ in) bundt (ring) tin (or six baby bundt tins) with olive oil and lightly dust with flour.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon to blend well.

In small bowl, whisk the banana, quince poaching liquid, olive oil and vanilla paste together to blend well, then whisk into the flour mixture until completely mixed through, with no dry pockets of flour.

Whisk in the vinegar until bubbles form. Mix in the quince pieces and pecans.

Transfer the cake batter to the cake tin/s. Bake the baby bundt cakes for 30–35 minutes, or the large bundt cake for 40–50 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin/s for 10 minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack.

Meanwhile, melt all the tahini caramel ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat until completely emulsified. (I make the same amount of tahini caramel, whether I’m baking one large bundt cake or six smaller cakes.) Remove from the heat. Depending on how hot the weather is, you may need to let the caramel sit for 5–10 minutes to get the right consistency for drizzling. You want the caramel to run — but not sprint! It should be similar to runny honey.

When the cake/s are completely cool, drizzle the tahini caramel over the top to run down the sides. Decorate with flowers or foliage of your choice and serve immediately.

Any leftover cake will keep in an airtight container for 2–3 days.



Images and text from A Plant-Based Farmhouse by Cherie Hausler, photography by Lean Timms. Murdoch Books RRP $49.99

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