Hayley McKee is not only one of the rising stars of the cake world, but surely one of the most original. Who else would have dreamt of and succeeded in making flavour combos like beetroot rose truffle, lavender bay leaf, pumpkin bourbon crunch, and porcini caramel and chestnut cake?

Hayley has because she is not only an amazing baker but also an avid gardener. She grew up in the Perth hills after all, where growing your own food is not a trend but a way of life. Her baked creations taste of nature, featuring ingredients from her edible garden or local producers that share her food ethos. Her flavours may be unexpected but they are from ingredients that are familiar, maybe just not in cakes.
Hayley Mckee, author of Sticky Fingers, Green Thumb 

Hayley’s earthy, soulful, and seasonal baking style landed her on the the cover of the Epicure/Good Food Guide in 2016 when she was ranked no. 1 for wedding cakes in Melbourne. She bakes out of her popular Sticky Fingers Bakery in Collingwood, Victoria.

This porcini caramel and chestnut cake recipe is an edited extract from her debut cookbook Sticky Fingers, Green Thumb. The book is published by Hardie Grant Books and is available in stores nationally for $29.99.

Have a chat with Hayley over coffee at Kitchen Warehouse Midland for her only book signing in Perth. Tickets only $5. Book here.

Velvety and rustic, this is an autumnal cake filled with foraged ingredients. With its creamy, butterscotch vibe complete with a whisper of mushroom, the porcini caramel is one of my favourite surprises, while the chestnut flour gives the cake a nutty, fudgy texture. The cake’s flavours seem to deepen when eaten a day later–try topping it with juicy figs and a spray of field flowers.



Chestnut cake

  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 440g (2 cups) sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 250g (1 cup) sour cream
  • 250ml (1 cup) mushroom cream (see below)
  • 300g (2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 90g (1 cup) chestnut flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bi-carb soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Figs to serve

Mushroom cream

  • 10g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 625 ml (2 ½ cups) thick (double/heavy) cream

Porcini caramel

  • 110 g (½ cup) sugar
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 60ml (¼ cup) water
  • 185ml (¾ cup) mushroom cream (see above)


  1. 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.
  2. Strain into a container, pressing down gently on the porcini with a fork to extract the last of the liquid. Discard the porcini.
  3. 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/candy 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 (¾ 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.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Lightly grease and line a 22cm (9in) square cake tin with baking paper.
  5. 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 250ml (1 cup) of the mushroom cream. Fold in the flours and the other dry ingredients and mix together gently to combine.
  6. Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  7. 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.

Photographer: © Tara Pearce

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Sef Gaspar

Sef is a writer, mum, and Kitchen Warehouse's content manager. She loves storytelling and cooking, which makes this blog the perfect playground.

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