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Anyway, now for Coconut Cake!
So, the weather was fine, it was just before Good Friday and my other mum and her partner had just got engaged. A quick phone call to my sister, KJB, soon confirmed what I already knew; A & T both love Coconut Cake. What better way to celebrate a new diamond ring than with cake?
Decisions, decisions – how do I impart a beautiful, yet subtle, coconut flavour into a dreamy sponge? Would it be better plain and then iced with buttercream and dessicated/roasted coconut? But then I wanted a crisp, clean finish, so I’d already settled on Royal Icing. (Anyone would have thought the Queen was coming for tea, what-what-honk?!) This cake had to be special. I’d seen a great photograph (can’t recall where and despite having looked for the image again and again, I’ve never found this picture again…) of a cake iced with Royal Icing, but instead of a super-clean plasterer’s type finish, this cake had been ‘paddled’ to create a lovely, layered look.
This would be my first attempt at Royal Icing – it looked easy enough, what could go wrong?!! Haha – famous last words!
Eventually, I settled on a recipe. Adapted from The Joy of Baking (Coconut Layer Cake), I swapped and changed some of the recipe to suit my needs.
I baked the cake two days before Good Friday. It cake came out beautifully. I double wrapped it in baking parchment once it had cooled, then added a layer of tin foil and stored it in a cake tin. It stayed there for two days before needing to be iced.
The icing was a triple quantity of Royal Icing, the recipe taken from Mich Turner’s great book – Spectacular Cakes.
In truly professional style, I made up the icing, layered the cake and on went the first coat (the crumb coat). OMG, what a disaster! Bits of the cake came off the edges in chunks so I had to ‘glue’ them back on with even more icing! I hope A and KJB don’t read this – I want the enigma to remain that it was ‘a piece of cake’! Eventually, once I had painstakingly iced, as gently as possible, the first coat and it had dried the second coat went on well and, as they say, nothing else mattered. (Cue Metallica).
Let’s just say this is one recipe that’s staying in my repertoire – DELISH! Super-delish. Yum yum in my tum. We had it as part of a (slightly hung-over) ‘High Tea’ – How VERRRy British.
6 large eggs
325 g (2 & 1/2 cups) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
170g (3/4 cup) very lightly salted butter
350g (1 & 3/4 cups) caster sugar (divided into 300g and 50g [1&1/4 cups and 1/4 cup)
Extract of half a vanilla pod OR 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
100ml (1/3 cup & 1 tbsp) buttermilk
300ml (1 & 1/4 cup) coconut cream
20 ml (1 tbsp) plain yoghurt
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
Jar of lemon curd
3 large egg whites
1 kg icing sugar
Juice of 1.5 lemons
2 tsps glycerine
* Grease and line two 8" sandwich tins. Preheat the oven to 177 degrees C / 350 degrees F.
* Separate the eggs.
* Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda.
* In a separate bowl (or an electric mixer, or with a hand whisk) beat the butter until it is soft.
* Gradually add in 300g (1 & 1/2 cups) sugar and cream until very soft, pale and fluffy. (I find my hand whisk much better for this).
* Add egg yolks, one at a time. Always scrape down between each addition. If it seems to be curdling, add a tbsp of flour. Add the vanilla.
* In a jug, combine the coconut cream, buttermilk and yoghurt. Whisk together.
* With the mixer on a very low speed, add the flour and the buttermilk/coconut milk/yoghurt mixture alternately. Do this in 3 additions. Always begin with the flour and finish with the flour.
* In a clean bowl, beat/whisk the egg whites until foamy, then add the cream of tartar. Gradually add the 50g sugar (1/4 cup) and continue to beat/whisk until stiff peaks form.
* Gradually fold the egg whites into the batter. This will lighten up your batter)
* Divide the batter into your tins and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
* Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes then turn out onto wire racks. Cool completely before filling and frosting.
* Spread lemon curd over one of the cakes and then sandwich the two cakes together.
* Place egg whites in a clean bowl and whisk into soft peaks. Add the icing sugar slowly (Use the collar, if you have a KMix!), then once it's all mixed together, whisk on high speed for 1 minute. Add lemon juice and glycerine and whisk for another minute.
* Coat the cake with a thin layer of royal icing. You WILL get crumbs in it - don't worry at this stage. Leave that coat to dry for an hour. Add the next coat more thickly. This time, it should go on with no crumbs! They will have set into your first layer (crumb coat). Paddle it on to push the air bubbles from it, get it even, then with a palette knife, slowly run it around the cake at the bottom in a ribbon. Then, repeat, overlapping slightly, but move the opposite way. You will create an almost 'fabric' like look - repeat up to the top. The idea is that it won't be even, which is great for beginners to royal icing like myself. Paddle across the top. Leave to set for a couple of hours.
* Ice a 10" drum using a side scraper, or for a smooth finish, use sugarpaste.
* Add the cake to the board and serve on a chintzy cake stand.
Et Voila! Le Gateaux! Fin!