Tag Archives: cake

Coconut Cake

My dear dad celebrated his 71st Birthday recently, and apart from Amazon vouchers his only request was to have a coconut cake made for him, which I duly did. My Gran would always have this honour and I have to admit nothing compares to her masterpiece. She was an excellent cake maker, although I remember her being incredibly self critical about practically every item she made; ‘it’s a little dry; it’s not quite right this time; the oven is playing up’ etc. From coffee and walnut cake to chocolate fairy cakes with melted chocolate and a smartie on top, to gooey meringues to her light coconut cake, they all tasted heavenly to us.

Gran never appeared to use recipes and unfortunately the secrets of her baking died with her. So it was quite a tall order for me to find a recipe that would do her coconut cake justice. She would add glacé cherries and angelica to her coconut cake, however dad obviously wasn’t particularly keen on them and asked for them to be omitted. I found plenty of recipes for coconut cake with lime (which is divine!) or lemon or even banana, but I wanted to start with just a basic coconut recipe. I was recommended the following recipe which is taken from the lovely Nigella’s ‘How To Be A Domestic Goddess’. As my dad isn’t keen on icing I didn’t use any on top but sprinkled the cake with icing sugar instead. I also think this cut down on the sweetness.

For the cake:

225g unsalted butter, softened
225g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 eggs
200g self-raising flour
25g cornflour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
50g desiccated coconut, soaked in 150ml boiling water

For the coconut buttercream within:
25g dessicated coconut
75g soft unsalted butter
150g icing sugar, sieved
1 tablespoon Malibu

For the icing on top:
2-4 tablespoons Malibu
125g instant royal icing (which may be labelled ‘royal icing sugar’)
Preheat the oven to 180°C and butter and line two 21cm sandwich tins.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat into the mixture. Beat in the vanilla.
Add the flour, cornflour and baking powder, and fold until it’s all combined. Stir the soaked coconut in its boiling water and then tip the lot into the batter. Alternatively, blitz everything bar the coconut in the processor until you have a smooth batter, then whizz in the coconut at the end.
Pour into the waiting sandwich tins, and cook for between 25-30 minutes. A skewer should come out more or less clean. Leave to cool in the tins for ten minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool fully.
While the cakes are cooking, toast the 25g coconut for the buttercream in a dry pan, shaking it now and then, until it is nicely golden. Tip it onto a plate to stop it toasting further, and allow it to get completely cold before you make the buttercream.
To make the buttercream, cream together the butter and icing sugar. When you have a smooth paste, beat in the Malibu and then the cold toasted coconut. Spread onto the bottom cake, then place the other cake on top, pushing down gently.
For the topping icing if using – beat together two tablespoons of the Malibu with the instant royal icing. Pour the icing onto the centre of the cake, and allow it to spread out. Let the icing set before serving the cake.

I must admit, the cake smelt delicious as it came out the oven and was very light and slightly moist. As for my toughest coconut cake critic? A big thumbs up!


Rhubarb and Custard Cake

With the rain lashing down and the wind blowing a gail, I took our dog out on his daily walk. Soggy jeans and the 80’s windswept hair look doesn’t invoke images of summer, however this is how our July appears to be evolving this year. To take my mind off the grey dreariness of the trudge through muddy puddles I reminisced of bygone summers that really did feel as though they’d last forever. Sweltering heat, hosepipes left on purely for the benefit of the squealing children dashing across the lawn, ice-cream soda’s and tingling sun-kissed skin. Oh how things are different this year!

Summer produce that always makes this season complete for me, come rain or shine, are juicy fat strawberries, plump raspberries and tart rhubarb. I am in a privileged position of being kept in constant supply of the beautiful champagne rhubarb, by my daughters Grandfather. He has been growing it in his garden since I have known him, and every year without fail he provides me with bags full of the pink and green delight. My latest delivery was put to good use in our family favourite – Rhubarb and Custard Cake.

I’ve tried a few variations of this, but I do keep coming back to this one by Jane Hornby. Drizzling the custard on the cake before baking, along with mixing it with the batter, seems to give a better balance of custard and rhubarb. Other recipes I’ve tried omit baking the custard and use the custard as an optional extra when serving. Baking the custard ensures you get the best of both in one bite, even if you’re taking the cake in a packed lunch.

Rhubarb and Custard Cake

To start with you need to roast your rhubarb:

Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Rinse 400g rhubarb and shake off excess water. Trim the ends, then cut into little-finger-size pieces. Put in a shallow dish or a baking tray, tip over 50g caster sugar, toss together, then shuffle rhubarb so it’s in a single layer. Cover with foil, then roast for 15 mins. Remove foil. Give everything a little shake, roast for 5 mins more or until tender and the juices are syrupy. Allow to cool.

1 quantity roasted rhubarb
250g pack butter , softened, plus extra for greasing
150g pot ready-made custard (not the chilled kind; I used Ambrosia)
250g self-raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g golden caster sugar
icing sugar , for dusting

Butter and line a 23cm loose-bottomed or springform cake tin. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.
Reserve 3 tbsp of the custard in a bowl. Beat the rest of the custard together with the butter, flour, baking powder, eggs, vanilla and sugar until creamy and smooth. Spoon one-third of the mix into the tin, add some of the rhubarb, then dot with one-third more cake mix and spread it out as well as you can. Top with some more rhubarb, then spoon over the remaining cake mix, leaving it in rough mounds and dips rather than being too neat about it. Scatter the rest of the rhubarb over the batter, then dot the remaining custard over. Bake for 40 mins until risen and golden, then cover with foil and bake for 15-20 mins more. It’s ready when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool in the tin, then dredge with icing sugar when cool.


Peanut Butter Cake

I first saw this recipe back in 2009 in the Good Food Magazine, but it’s only been this week that I’ve eventually got round to making it after stumbling across it on a Good Food Cakes App. It was surprisingly easy to make and although I haven’t eaten any (still battling with the bingo wings and thunder thighs, not to mention being wheat intolerant) but from what little is left in the cake tin, and going from the ‘mmmmm’s’ and ‘yuuuuumy’s’ coming from the family whilst they sampled the delight, I’m guessing this was a big hit.

The cake is gloriously calorific and laden with peanut butter and dulce de leche, which seem to work beautifully together. The roasted salted peanuts which were caramelised and scattered on the top gave balance to the sweetness of the cake, just enough so it wasn’t sickly.

200g butter , softened, plus extra for greasing
3 tbsp smooth peanut butter , plus 2 tbsp for the middle (or more if you like)
4 large eggs
200g golden caster sugar
150g pot natural yogurt
200g self-raising flour
50g salted roasted peanuts
1 tbsp icing sugar
100g milk chocolate , roughly chopped
2 tbsp milk
3 tbsp dulce de leche (or carnation caramel)

Butter 2 x 20cm non-stick sandwich tins and line with circles of baking paper. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Using electric hand beaters, beat the butter, 3 tbsp peanut butter, eggs, sugar and yogurt together until smooth and creamy. Fold in the flour, then split the mix between the tins, using a spatula to get every last bit. Bake for 30 mins until risen and golden.
Meanwhile, toss the salted peanuts and icing sugar with ½ tsp water until well coated and claggy. Spread over a non-stick baking sheet. When the cakes are ready, leave them to cool for 5 mins in the tin, then turn onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Turn the oven up to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6, then roast the nuts for 10 mins, tossing them a couple of times until golden and coated in a shiny caramel. Tip onto a lightly buttered plate. Make the topping while you wait: melt the chocolate and milk together in a pan over simmering water or microwave on High for 1 min, then stir to melt. Leave to cool.
Put one of the sponges onto a plate, spread with 2 tbsp peanut butter (or more), then dot with the dulce de leche and spread with a palette knife. Sandwich the second sponge on top, then spread with the chocolate topping. Scatter with the caramelised peanuts to serve.

This is definitely one to do again, and again, and again!