Recipe: Porcini caramel and chestnut cake, from ‘Sticky Fingers, Green Thumb’

At her Sticky Fingers Bakery pop-up in Melbourne, Hayley McKee creates remarkable cakes and desserts utilising ingredients not commonly associated with sweet things. Vegetables, herbs, edible flowers and Australian native ingredients are all part of her diverse culinary palette, such as this recipe from the book, using dried porcini mushrooms to flavour a rich caramel.

In her first book, Sticky Fingers, Green Thumb, Hayley provides not only the recipes for many of her favourite creations, but tips on growing the necessary ingredients at home.

Thanks to Hardie Grant Books we have three copies of this beautiful book to giveaway.

To enter, simply email your name, postal address and a contact number to and answer the following question:

Which unusual The Essential Ingredient ingredient would you love to try in a cake recipe?

Entries close Sunday 18 March, 2018 (full Terms and Conditions below).


Serves 10-12
200g unsalted butter
440g sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract View
4 eggs
250g sour cream
10g dried porcini mushrooms View
625mL thick (double/heavy cream)
300g plain (all-purpose) flour
90g chestnut flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt View
Figs, to serve
110g sugar (extra)
2 tbsp light corn syrup View
60mL water

To make the mushroom cream, add the porcini mushrooms and cream to a saucepan and bring to a gentle, frothy boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, until slightly reduced and deeply fragrant. Strain into a container, pressing down gently on the porcini with a fork to extract the last of the liquid. Discard the porcini.

For the porcini caramel, carefully stir the sugar, corn syrup and water together in a small, high-sided saucepan set over a medium–high heat. Using a sugar thermometer to check, bring the mixture to a temperature of 180°C (350°F), then remove from the heat and leave to rest for 1 minute. Using a metal whisk, slowly stir 185 ml (6 fl oz/3⁄4 cup) of the mushroom cream into the hot syrup mixture (the remainder will be used in the cake so don’t throw it away or drink it) for 2–3 minutes until the caramel settles. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Lightly grease and line a 22 cm (9 in) square cake tin with baking paper.

Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla together in a large bowl for 10 minutes until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the sour cream and 250 ml (81⁄2 fl oz/1 cup) of the mushroom cream. Fold in the flours and the other dry ingredients and mix together gently to combine.

Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool slightly in the tin for 5 minutes, then carefully turn out onto a wire rack. While still warm, smother the cake in the porcini caramel and leave to set before serving.

Extract from Sticky Fingers, Green Thumb by Hayley McKee, photography Tara Pearce and Tim Hillier, styling by Brigid Wald. 


Terms and Conditions:

Three winners will be chosen randomly from correctly submitted entries. Only one entry per individual will be entered into the draw. Entries must be submitted by 12:01am on Sunday 18 March 2018. Winners will be selected by The Essential Ingredient and will be notified via email. Entrants must be residents of Australia and must be 18 years of age or older. Entry is not open to employees of The Essential Ingredient or their families. Each prize is valued at AUD$39.99. The Essential Ingredient retains the right to publish the winner’s name. Prize is not transferable or exchangeable.

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