The baking world observed a minute’s silence when Nat Paull turned the lights out at her North Melbourne cake shop, Beatrix, for the last time nearly two years ago. But her legacy would live on: in the hearts and minds of Melburnians who queued for her sweets, in the fabulous menu she designed for the 2023 World’s Longest Brunch, and in the recipes published in her two terrific books, the second of which, Another Slice, sending a wave of cocoa sour cream layer cakes through the homes of Australia when it hit the shelves just recently.

In Another Slice, you’ll find irresistible cookies and tray bakes, cakes, tarts, pies (and a strudel), doughs and epic day-off baking projects to fill your weekend – plus some of the signature bakes that didn’t make it into her first book – all served in Nat’s signature style: warm, encouraging and firm when required.

The inspiration for Another Slice was that there were new cakes, tarts and more bakes in my ‘mind kitchen’ that needed to be shared. And there were some glaring omissions from the first book like the cocoa sour cream layer cake and lemon tart that I was being delightfully hounded to share. The first book was scant on cookies and I really wanted to fill that jar, too. 

I was also in a liminal space with work. I had decelerated the shop because it was kinda hard running a small business and keeping the creativity flames burning bright and strong. I was baking more at home and finding a lot of peace with that. Just waking up with the idea of something sweet and delicious, putting feet to the floor and turning the oven on. I wanted to share those scoopable sweet recipes alongside the easy-to-box shop cakes. 

The single most useful thing I can tell you about baking is, apart from making digital scales your KFF (kitchen friend forever), use a digital thermometer to ascertain if your cake is cooked. A reading of 95ºC internal (with 3ºC either side) means your cake is fully cooked. This will give you a restful, worryless time between baking and trimming the layers to ice. A gummy, underbaked centre is a dessert downer. My pleasure to help ya! 

If you’ve never baked a cake, Another Slice will hold your hand every step of the way, except for when you need them both to knead some dough or line a cake tin. There are visual cues or specifics like above for cake and doughnut doneness. You can even bake a tart with a liquid filling with my step-by-step, peril-avoiding guide. I am your security blanket and back-up plan all in one peachy cover. 

If you’ve baked a lot of cakes, you’ll know that sometimes things can go wrong. It is inevitable. No matter how perfect we aspire to be, things can get mucked up – omitting an ingredient because of a little brain fog, under-baking because we are suddenly cautious. There is usually a solution so you can still serve a slice of cake. All is never lost. 

There’s lots more in the book than just cakes, of course… A blueprint for low-sugar jamming when the seasonal glut overwhelms, earl grey tea-spiked digestive biscuits, my homage to the fried custard-filled Catalan pastry: the xuixo. There are honey at pretzels and a little about my past hula hooping escapades. 

The easiest recipe in the book is the jammy crumble crostata. It’s inspired by the sbrisolona from Mantua, and is simply: mix dough by hand, grate it, smear jam on top, grate more dough and bake. Then eat. There is a brownie in there too – it uses an electric mixer but it’s an easy peasy tray bake. 

And if you like to challenge yourself, you might try the fresh strawberry buttersponge with mascarpone mousse and strawberry sherbet cake. You have to get the timing right so the mascarpone mousse is still pourable. And it has few components to build to have everything for assembly. Very, very worth it. 

Nothing says “let’s celebrate” like the baking of a walnut la marjolaine. I baked this cake for my wedding. I have baked them for so many celebrations. Layers of nutty meringue, ganache, crème fraîche and praline buttercream. Topped with glossy sweet-sour simmered cumquat jewels. The flavours and textures unfold like a story as you eat it; every chew is a discovery. 

And when it’s time to commiserate, maybe go for the buttermilk chiffon for grieving as it’s light and gentle on the nausea that accompanies deep emotional distress. For general malaise, I use Nicole Rucker’s lime pie as medicine. A slice of that puckery pie gets sunshine coursing through my body and my mood upright and ready for a new day. 

And if you’re into, say, cookies, you might just buy the book for the ridiculously big white chocolate and macadamia chonky beast cookies. They are a world away from the ersatz mass-produced, individually wrapped WCM cookies you get at airports. No cookie does it better and the weight per cookie is no typo. Go chonky or go home! (Please note that they are a little gasp-inducing on the cost of ingredients, so when the macs are on sale, buy up big and bake!)

If you could take one thing away from Another Slice, I hope it is that everyone can bake. I just know it. That baking is a powerful force to spread and grow joy within and without. That a sprankle of salt and a smidge of sour brings balance in the sweet cosmos.  

Beatrix Bakes: Another Slice (RRP $50) is out now through Hardie Grant Books, and available at good local bookstores like Readings, Books for Cooks, Paperback Bookshop and Hill of Content.