Engelbert Hummingbirdinck Cake

Baking, Cake, Dessert, Snack, Sweets

After the debacle of catching up with my frenemy, the worst winner of Drag Race and – my honest opinion only – all around garbage person Tyra Sanchez, it was so nice to spend time with my kind friend Engelbert Humperdinck.

Kind, warm, funny, charming and best of all, kind and open with his fans … friend.

Unlike Tyra.

Anyway, I first met the Dinck and his – well, you know – back in the ‘60s when he was still getting his career off the ground. My dear friend Tom Jones’ manager was his former roommate and one night while we were out partying, we decided his name was holding him back. Ten minutes later Engelbert was born and Arnold was no more.

With that, I earned his complete and unequivocal trust, shaping his career ever since. Well until yesterday, when he tragically declined my offer to coach him to another Eurovision berth. Which no doubt would have been more successful.

While I was upset he didn’t trust me, I respect his wishes like a friend – unlike say, Tyra would – and we instead focused on reconnecting and havin’ a laff. Though that is kind of the go to reaction to splitting an Engelbert Hummingbirdinck Cake between two best friends.



Moist, sweet and perfectly spiced, hummingbird cake is like a carrot cake on crack. In all the right ways. Add in some cream cheese icing and my shorts are creamed, culinarily speaking obvi.




Engelbert Hummingbirdinck Cake
Serves: 12.

1 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
pinch of nutmeg
1 cup, muscovado sugar
½ cup desiccated coconut
½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped, plus extra to garnish
2 ripe bananas, mashed
450g crushed pineapple (in juice), drained with juice reserved
2 eggs, lightly whisked
¾ cup sunflower oil, plus extra to grease
250g cream cheese, at room temperature
3 cups icing sugar mixture

Preheat oven to 160°C and grease 2 x 25cm cake tins.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and soda, and spices in a large bowl. Fold through the muscovado sugar, coconut and walnuts. In another bowl, combine the banana, pineapple, eggs, oil and ⅓ of the pineapple juice. While stirring pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and continue to fold until just combined.

Divide the mixture between the lined tins, transfer to the oven and bake for 40 minutes, checking after half an hour. You want it golden brown on the outside and an inserted skewer to just come out clean. Allow to cool for five minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cakes are cooling, beat the cream cheese and icing sugar until it is light, fluffy and just combined. Don’t overbeat as the icing will become too soft.

To assemble, smear a third of the icing on top of one of the cakes. Top with the second cake, and smear the rest of the icing on top and around the edges. Press the remaining walnuts into the icing and transfer to the fridge to set for an hour or so, removing ten minutes before serving … and devouring.


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The Last Waltz

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

If there are two things I love in the world, they are old people and Eurovision. And thankfully my dear friend Engelbert Humperdinck is hella old and was a contestant in the greatest song competition in the universe.

I mean, sure, he bombed pretty horrifically in the final but against all odds, I stuck by him and vowed to rehab his career.

What says, I think you’re almost ready for a second go at the crown? Almost.

Image source: Unknown.


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Céline Dijon Chicken

Main, Poultry

Oy Céline, the way you break my heart (serious Toni, unbreak it for me)!

It was the first time I’ve seen Céls since René’s funeral and the way she is powering through is just so inspirational. We had had a decade long estrangement in the lead up to his passing after I sold a story about them to the tabloids in 2001 but thankfully her kind heart knew that he deserved closure before his death and she reached out to help us clear the air and reconnect.

I first met Céline in the early 80s while competing against each other – and Bryan Adams, but that is another story for another time – in the 1982 Yamaha World Popular Song Festival. Against type, I never held her superior performance against her … because I knew that it was smarter to buckle in and ride her coattails to fame.

Thankfully Céllo recognised the  talent I possessed and we went on to enjoy a successful period of co-writing songs, culminating in her 1988 Eurovision Song Contest winning song Ne partez pas sans moi – if only my fellow Brisbane girl Dami had taken me up when I offered to write her song!

After winning such a prestigious competition, I went off to Hollywood to diversify my portfolio (to open up some options to snag my EGOT) while Céllo returned home to Canada to commence work on her first English language album. Obviously her album was a success, so when Jim asked if I knew of anyone that could sing vocals on my song for his film Titanic – oh yeah, I’m friends with Jim Cameron – I knew she was perfect!

Sadly she didn’t listen to my fashion advice on Oscar night … and James Horner had my name struck from the song’s credit!

Despite the fact that she is such a trooper, we stayed up most of the night – while the wind was so cold – talking while I helped her work through her grief, process all the turmoil that started her year and plan the next steps of her career.

Given how much we achieved together, you just know we had to have eaten something substantial, comforting and invigorating – yep, I made my famous Céline Dijon Chicken!




As a good ole Quebec girl, Céline loves herself some delightfully French dijon (culminating in us snorting it together like a party drug in Tokyo in 82)! After the mustard started to wear away my septum, I knew I had to come up with a healthier way for us to indulge our addiction so I added in some chicken, brandy and mushrooms, and that mustard really started to sing.

Beautifully! Like Céline – enjoy!




Céline Dijon Chicken
Serves: 4.

olive oil
4 chicken breasts, with skin
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 onion, sliced
200g mushrooms, sliced
3 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
500ml white wine
splash of brandy

In a pan, heat a lug of olive oil in a large pan over high – when as hot as CD’s career, reduce heat to medium-low. Season the chicken breasts and fry, skin-side down, for about 5 or until golden and crisp. Turn over and seal the meat for a minute or two. Remove from the pan and leave to rest.

Sweat the garlic and onion to the pan and cook until soft. Add the mushrooms and fry until they are soft and silky. Stir in the mustard, tarragon, white wine and a splash of brandy, then reduce for 2 minutes.

Reduce heat to low, add the chicken, skin-side up, cover and simmer/steam for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and cook, uncovered, for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is your desired consistency.

Slice the chicken and serve on a bed of fresh, creamy mash, lashings of the sauce and garnish with some fresh tarragon leaves.

Enjoy the new day that has come … in your mouth.


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