I love baking and eating cake. What’s not to love? I think baking is a hobby for all seasons and every moods, yet I find myself baking more when I’m preoccupied. I find the act of baking therapeutic, and the gentle whir of the KitchenAid relaxing. As I’m weighing out the ingredients, the comforting hum of the oven is both heart-warming and reassuring in equal measure.
As we’re officially into autumn, I find myself scouring recipe books that reflect the season change. The weather these past few days has been sunny yet cool, and I really wanted to bake a cake that celebrated erratic weather. Now, I love summer, and I will try my hardest to cling onto this season. Which is why I found myself choosing a summery ingredient of coconut as a key flavour.
As I fleshed out the recipe, I couldn’t ignore the firm insistence of autumn, proclaiming its stubborn existence. When I think of autumn, I think of groups huddled round a blazing campfire toasting marshmallows. Sugar and spice and all things nice also come to mind, such as cinnamon, spicy cloves and warming liquors including brandy and whisky. I know these flavours encroach into the festive season, but I see autumn as a transitional month, where you eventually, somewhat reluctantly, kiss summer goodbye.
Back to the recipe, and for some reason, the idea of toast stuck in my mind, which is why I went all out and based the cake on different layers of “toastiness”. Here I present to you my creation of coconut cream cake with toasted coconut flakes and marshmallow ermine frosting.
The frosting was made using toasted marshmallow flavoured icing sugar, which added an extra dimension to the flavour profile. You can just use frosting mixture as the filling; however, to mix it up, I added generous dollops of strawberry conserve baked into the sponge.
Conserves are always more viscous and have a better texture than regular jam, and when baked, acquire a gorgeously fudgy quality. You can spread the conserve onto a baked sponge (like you would in a Victoria sandwich), however I’m a big fan of baking it, because it’s different, and if you didn’t know, I like to be different (I once wore banana yellow shoes to primary school because I hated being part of the crowd – but that’s a story for another day).
Good tins are hard to find. I used this gorgeous solid round tin by Silverwood. The loose bottom tin is really helpful when extricating the sponge from the tin which in my case, popped right out, and the heat spread technology ensures an even bake. I love the depth of this tin. I will be using it for a Christmas cake recipe (coming soon, so keep your eyes peeled), and it’s also great if you don’t want to use two tins and prefer one large, singular yet very substantial cake.
- 8x3inch round cake tin
- Hand mixer or KitchenAid
- Balloon whisk
- Greaseproof paper (I use re-useable parchment)
- 210g self-raising flour
- 40g coconut flour
- 250g room temperature butter
- 250g caster sugar
- 4 medium eggs
- ¾ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 10 tbsp milk (add milk in incremental tablespoons to achieve batter of thick, dropping consistency. Full-fat milk is recommended, however I have tried with soya milk and that works fine too.)
- 12 tbsp raspberry conserve
- 5 tbsp flour
- 225g toasted marshmallow flavoured icing sugar (I the Sugar & Crumbs’ version)
- 240ml full-fat milk
- 225g room temperature butter
- 100g coconut flakes
- Mix flour and icing sugar together. Pour milk into a saucepan, heat over a medium heat and pour the flour-sugar mix into the milk.
- Grab your balloon whisk and whisk continuously until simmering. Do not boil; once a simmer has been reached, look out for the texture to change, from liquid to a thick custard consistency. The transition from liquid to thick custard should take around four minutes.
- Pour hot mixture into a bowl, put clingfilm on the top to avoid a skin forming and shove in the fridge. (Note: the flour base has to cool until it’s like Samuel L Jackson i.e. totally chilled, to avoid melting the butter.)
- Beat butter until pale and fluffy, gradually adding the cool flour base until the mixture feels light and airy in texture.
- Grease tin and line with parchment.
- Preheat oven 160° fan.
- Beat the heck out of the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, which should take around four minutes. (If you’ve had a bad day at the office and just want to punch someone, right now is a good time to take out your frustrations. Told you that baking was therapeutic.)
- Lightly break the eggs into a bowl, adding vanilla extract.
- Add the vanilla-eggs slowly to the butter-sugar mixture.
- Sift both flours and baking powder together from height to incorporate the most air, and gently fold into the butter-sugar-egg mixture.
- Check that the batter is soft enough to drop from a spoon in circa three seconds. If too thick, add milk until you get the right consistency. Note: coconut flour absorbs a lot of liquid, so more liquid than just eggs are needed to make this a lighter sponge.
- Pour half the batter into the tin. Place tablespoons of conserve onto the sponge.
- Pour the remaining half of the batter on top, covering the conserve dollops and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Whilst the cake is baking, get a saucepan with a large surface area (I used my chappati tava, which is ginormous) and place on a medium heat.
- Tip the raw coconut flakes and heat until the tips turn golden brown. Do not leave unattended as the flakes are very delicate and will easily burn.
- Once the cake and coconut flakes are completely cooled, ice with the frosting. Don’t worry about making it look too neat, as the flakes will cover any glaring errors.
- Grab a fork, cut a generous wedge, but a “Do Not Disturb” sign up, and enjoy.
- Do ahead: make the frosting the day before to save time, as chilling the flour base can take up to three hours. The final frosting will keep for four days in the fridge and can also be frozen. To defrost, leave in your fridge overnight, then whip for a few seconds so that it returns to its original state.
- Do ahead: toast the coconut flakes the day before too. The edges can be very fine and will retain heat for some time. The flakes need to be totally cool before making contact with the iced cake to avoid the melting buttercream.
Thank you Silverwood for gifting me this gorgeous, sturdy tin.