Sticky Fingers and Green Thumbs

By Freya Ensbey.  

"For me baking and gardening go hand in hand. Let me show you how to connect your garden to your kitchen with soulful, seasonal baked desserts.” ~ Hayley McKee. 

Tactile people who love getting their hands dirty with any artisan activity will all agree that there is nothing more satisfying than reaping the benefits of what you have created yourself; be it a flourishing garden bed or a tasty cake cooked to perfection and admired by the family. 

For many home gardeners, it is a natural progression to end up experimenting with their produce in the home kitchen, as was the case for Hayley McKee. 

McKee is a self taught baker, and owner of Sticky Fingers Bakery, a made to order cake business, with a reputation for inventive cake flavours made with vegetables, homegrown herbs, edible flowers and Australian native ingredients. However, McKee admits that it has been a long road travelled for her business to reflect where her passions truly lay. 

Opening Sticky Fingers Bakery during the boom of the cup cake craze, she recalls using store bought ingredients to create fluorescent and artificial morsels of sweetness. A breakthrough came when McKee realised the difference in the meals she would cook for herself at home, which were all based around whole foods and real, plant based ingredients. 

"By turning to the plant world, I eventually arrived where I belonged, baking sweets that tasted of nature,” says McKee. 

By using this ethos within her professional kitchen, Sticky Fingers bakery began creating baked goods with familiar ingredients, genuine colourings and unmasked flavours. 

"Soulful, earthy and seasonal baking became my true direction and, ultimately, my signature style.” 

McKee celebrates her culinary journey through sixty recipes in her latest cookbook, Sticky Fingers, Green Thumb. Alongside these inventive recipes for cakes, tarts, cookies, brownies or muffins, you will find gardening tips on how to grow the key ingredients in your own bakers garden. 

For a truly remarkable cake recipe like no other, flick to page 64 to find Porcini, Caramel and Chestnut. This recipe incorporates a hint of foraged mushrooms for a unique flavour, while the chestnut flour gives the cake a nutty, fudge like texture. McKee recommends leaving this cake to develop its depth of flavours overnight and serve topped with juicy figs or seasonal fruit found in your area. 

Nothing will win you as many brownie points with Mum this Mother’s Day than serving up the heart shaped Smoked Tarragon Locket on page 108 for morning tea with a hot cuppa. McKee fondly recalls her grandmother, Lucy Locket, who gifted her this recipe for ‘the ultimate chocolate cake,’ adding her own touch to evolve the recipe by smoking the flour and cocoa with home dried tarragon to give the cake subtle notes of liquorice, tobacco and vanilla. 

Take a tropical holiday without leaving the kitchen with these Hibiscus and Cherry Brownies with Coconut Caramel. These indulgent squares won’t last long after they are drizzled in sticky caramel sauce with hints of coconut, so be sure to double the batch and freeze if you want to enjoy a little alone time decadence later on.   

Making the ideal gift for any Mum who loves getting her hands dirty with flour or soil, Sticky Fingers, Green Thumb is guaranteed to be a cherished cookbook for years to come. 

Sticky Fingers, Green Thumb by Hayley McKee is now available for purchase Australia wide.