Monday, 17 October 2011

Cream of Coconut Cake

Part 2 of this fortnight's Parental Birthday Cake Trifecta and the request this time was for coconut - less than popular with my husband, who objects to all forms of nut and to coconut in particular, but the Birthday Boy's favourite and therefore non-negotiable. Now normally, coconut cake would be a simple matter of adding desiccated coconut to a vanilla sponge - in Jamie Oliver's words, bish bash bosh, job done and how's your father - but not this time. This time, we were breaking out the big guns.

This ludicrous looking bottle was a present from my sister and contains squeezy cream of coconut! No, I had never heard of it before either, but apparently it's designed for the kind of cocktails that come with little paper umbrellas (see illustration). More importantly, it comes in such a tacky bottle that I couldn't resist trying it. May I add that I'm particularly pleased with how photoshopped this picture looks? Considering that it's called "COCO REAL", I like that the photo has come out so artificial. 

My sister pointed me towards a recipe using this stuff on a blog which she, I and my mum are all a bit obsessed with - the Caked Crusader. Very excitingly, my sister actually knows someone who knows someone who knows this mythical superhero, and my sister had tried out this particular cake only last week with great success. Inspired by her exploits, and duly warned to double the coconut quantities, I found the recipe and got started.

At this point, I would like to sing a paean of praise to the food processor. As I've banged on about incessantly, we are currently staying with family so I'm using their kitchen while we await our dream house as soon as someone puts their bloody house on the market (ahem, not that we're bitter). Obviously I took the opportunity to experiment with making a cake all in one in the food processor and oh my god, it was a revelation. It was done in about three minutes. No splashing, no sore hand, no cake-related blister and very little muss or fuss. Incredible! I cannot blooming WAIT until we have a kitchen of our own and can unpack our wedding present food processor.

As for the cake it made, this was an exemplary sponge - moist, crumbly and light, delicately flavoured with coconut and perfect with a creamy, fruity filling. Even my nut-hating husband loved it, so much so that he actually went back for seconds, claiming that it was the absence of desiccated coconut which had made all the difference. Something about the off-putting texture, apparently. Don't ask me, I'm not the one making up all these flimsy excuses to get more cake.

The Birthday Boy was suitably pleased, the cake disappeared with gratifying speed, and even the restaurant staff (who couldn't work the tupperware, but did provide candles) said that it looked very nice. I'll be honest, I thought it looked pretty ropey but it tasted lovely and as we tell all 72 year-olds, it's what's on the inside that counts. Well, apparently.

Cream of Coconut Cake
Adapted from the Caked Crusader

For the cake
- 175g soft unsalted butter
- 175g caster sugar (she recommends golden caster sugar but I only had plain. The world did not end)
- 175g self raising flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 3 eggs
- 4 tablespoons of coconut cream (she says 2, but I doubled it because I'd skipped the desiccated coconut. If you did want to use it, she says 50g).

For the icing
- 280g icing sugar
- 100g soft unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons of coconut cream (to be exact, I just gave it three or four long squeezes and tasted until it was coconutty enough)

- 5 tablespoons of raspberry or strawberry jam (she says rasp, I only had strawberry. I reckon any red jam will do, to be honest. In fact, cherry could be delicious! Try it)

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a couple of 8inch tins with baking parchment. Although I only had 9inch ones, so my cakes were slightly thinner and flatter than hers.

If you have a food processor, this is going to be incredibly quick. Just chuck the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and eggs into the processor and blitz until smoothly combined, then add the coconut cream and pulse to combine.

(If you don't have a food processor - and I don't normally, although I definitely made the most of the one in the kitchen I'm currently using - then cream together the butter and sugar, then add eggs, then flour and baking powder, then coconut cream. Yawn. The food processor is so much more fun and a hell of a lot quicker).

Pour into the prepared tins, try to level the top then bake for around 25 minutes or until risen, golden, shrinking away from the sides and a tester in the middle comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

To make the icing, just zizz it all in the food processor until smooth and creamy. I always do the icing sugar on its own first to get rid of the lumps, but that's because I'm too lazy to wash up the sieve.

To finish the cake, plonk one cake on the serving plate (or tupperware base if you're taking it to a restaurant like we did), top down to give a flat surface for stacking. Spread over half of the icing, then the jam, and top with the other cake. We actually did it jam then icing, and it slid about all over the place, so I reckon icing then jam will be more structurally stable. Spread the rest of the icing over the top of the cake, trying to smooth it with the spatula, then stick candles on top and sing embarrassingly. 

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