Coconut cake

Coconut cake

 I tend to see an ingredient and, with a childish impulsivity, get excited about it and feel compelled to buy it. Then later when I get home, think about what it might be used for. This is worse with spices and dried ingredients where I set off looking for something more conventional like peppercorns or salt then become tempted by row upon row of exotic foods: marrons glaces, clover honey, dried rose petals; all wonderful, but not exactly necessary. Then I get home and, since they aren’t going to go moldy or go off their best in the immediate future, stash them away somewhere in a dark, lonely cupboard. This does mean though that I end up having quite a few ingredients in the store cupboard and when the time does come for them to be used, I’m already prepared.

Coconut cake
Although some people use coconut on a regular basis, aside from the occasional coconut macaroon, I rarely use it, so it seemed quite a novelty to use coconut cream, milk and desiccated coconut in one dessert – in fact I went quite coconutty (sorry) for it. Coconut’s sweet nutty flavor can be quite subtle and I debated whether to fill the cake with a lime curd or soak the sponge in a rum syrup but I’ve decided to let the coconut speak for itself simply.

Coconut cake

 Makes one, 8 inch cake

Coconut cake -
200 ml coconut milk
75g desicated coconut
250g unsalted butter
250g caster sugar
3 eggs
250g self-rising flour

Coconut butter cream -
135g granulated sugar
1 tablespoons water
3 egg whites
375g butter, softened and cut into small cubes.
2 teaspoons coconut extract
100 ml coconut cream
150g white chocolate.

1. For the cake, bring the coconut milk to a boil (or to the point when it begins to bubble volcanically) then pour over the desicated coconut and leave to steep, leaving to cool to room temperature - it should absorb most of the coconut milk.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg whites a little at a time until all combined (if it curdles don't worry to much about it).

3. Whisk in the coconut mixture then sift and fold in the flour.

4. Preheat the oven to 180C. Divide the mixture between 3 parchment lined and greased 8 inch cake tins. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cakes spring back when pressed lightly.

5. For the buttercream, bring the sugar and water to a boil, cook until the sugar reaches 118C (soft-ball stage). When the sugar reaches 90C, start whisking the egg whites then once the sugar reaches 118C, pour the syrup onto the egg whites. Continue whisking the meringue until it reaches room temperature and is cool to the touch - it should be stiff and glossy.  Beat in the butter into the meringue a piece at a time, it may curdle at one point but keep on whisking and it should come together nicely. Finally whisk in the coconut extract.

6. Chop the white chocolate. In a bain marie, heat the chocolate and coconut cream until the chocolate is smooth and has completely melted. Leave the chocolate mixture to cool then beat into the buttercrean.

7. To assemble, fill the cake layers with the buttercream then spread the sides with the remaining buttercream. Serve.

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