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Kūmara Cake with Orange Toffee Sauce

Serves 12

© by Christall Lowe

This recipe is from Christall Lowe’s cookbook Kai. The kūmara one of the most significant crops for Māori, the indigenous people of New Zealand. It is a variety of sweet potato, with either red, purple or orange flesh. North American sweet potato is a fine substitute. Combined with oranges it makes a moist, luscious cake, delicious on its own or served with toffee sauce and ice cream. Says Christall, “As a one-bowl, easy-mix cake, you’ll be whipping this up often!”


  • All-Purpose Flour 1 cup
  • Wholemeal Flour 1 cup
  • Baking Soda 2 tsp
  • Mixed Spice 2 tsp
  • Brown Sugar ½ cup, firmly packed
  • White Sugar ½ cup
  • Orange Kūmara peeled, grated, 2 cups (approx. 2 medium)
  • Eggs 4
  • Canola or Rice Bran Oil 1 cup
  • Seedless Oranges 2 medium, peeled and blended to a purée (leave the skin on ½ an orange for a more zesty flavour)

Orange Toffee Sauce

  • Caster Sugar 1 cup
  • Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice 1/3 cup
  • Cream 1/3 cup

Cook It

  1. Heat the oven to 160°C. Grease and line a medium rectangular cake tin (approx. 23 x 33cm).
  2. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients, including kūmara, aerating with your hands.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to dry and mix with an electric beater on low for 1 minute.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin, and bake for 45 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched.
  5. While the cake cooks, make the orange toffee sauce. Place the sugar and orange juice in a medium saucepan and stir to combine. Cook the mixture over a medium heat, without stirring, swirling the pan every now and then, until a light caramel colour, about 8 minutes.
  6. Remove from the heat and carefully add cream (take care here as the mixture will bubble vigorously), then return to low heat and stir until smooth.
  7. When the cake is cooked, leave to rest in the tin for 10 minutes before slicing and serving warm, smothered in orange toffee sauce and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.


Recipes reproduced with permission from Kai: Food stories and recipes from my family table, by Christall Lowe, photography by Christall Lowe, published by Bateman Books.