Baking with Khoo

by nike, April 19, 2015

2015-04-05 13.22.50-1Those of you who know me, will know I have a bit of a celebrity chef crush on the lovely Miss Rachel Khoo. It all started with her cooking show, The Little Paris Kitchen. There are many things that I enjoyed about Rachel’s program, but perhaps one the key things was that the kitchen she worked in was tiny. One of the tiniest kitchens you can imagine. And, because it was so small, she had a minimum of equipment with which she nevertheless produced wondrously delicious meals.

[Boo just walked in and saw the title of this work-in-progress blog post. “Baking with KHOO!” she declared. “I’ve been replaced! That harlot!” Said, I’m sure, with love.]

Rachel’s most recent publication is called Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook. Boo and I are working our way through its cornucopia of delights, but of course we started with cake. Recently, it was one of my best friend’s birthdays: what better excuse for a bit of cake-baking!

We decided on the Pistachio and Pomegranate Cake, which was so scrumptious it made a repeat appearance at home a week later.

You can find the original recipe online here.

A few note on baking this cake! First of all, for some mysterious reason, Rachel gives lots of the ingredient amounts in multiples of 150g yoghurt pots. Maybe she was camping–who knows!

A revised list of ingredients for the sponge, using standard cup measurements, looks like this:

2015-04-04 18.27.20For the sponge:

  • 1 + 1/3 cups natural yoghurt
  • 2/3 cup pistachio kernels
  • 2/3 cup sunflower oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 + 1/3 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt


We used a mortar and pestle to crush the pistachios into a meal, which I think was a good choice. It meant we had mostly meal, but a few delicious, very small pistachio chunks in the final cake.

The recipe says the cake will take 50 minutes in a fan-forced oven pre-heated to 160°C. We found it needed an extra 10 minutes before the skewer came out clean.

As you can see from the pics, using the pomegranate juice we’d reserved while removing the seeds from the fruit did not result in the pretty petal-shaped in the cookbook recipe the first time we tried it: the juice ran down the gentle slope of the cake’s top. Next time, I reduced the juice with a little sugar so it was both a little darker and slightly thicker. You can then use an eye-dropper or a skewer to dot the droplets of pink onto the yoghurt icing.

Getting the pomegranate seeds onto the side of the cake was the toughest part! We found it work best to put the cake on the cake plate once the icing was cool, and do the seed decorating in situ.

Variations on a Theme

I love pistachios–they look and taste like heaven–so I think you could have pistachios share the limelight both visually and in terms of taste. One variation on this cake is to replace the yoghurt icing with a lime syrup*, pour that over the cooled cake, and then decorate with a mixture of chopped pistachios and pomegranate seeds. Less party-pretty, more shabby-delicious.


* To make lime syrup, place 90g of caster sugar and about 1/2 cup lime juice in a pan and stir over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. You can add a handful of roughly chopped pistachios to the syrup and bring to the boil, or just pour the syrup over the cake and then add the pistachios.

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