I have a lovely friend at work called Annette. She’s very kind and generous, has a big soft spot for vintage and all things Cath Kidston but also has a wicked sense of humour so we have a fantastically good laugh at work! Never a dull moment that’s for sure ;). She also has a weakness for all things cake and especially, all things coconut cake. I do like a challenge so with her birthday being last week, I set out to research and develop the perfect coconut birthday cake. So may I present to you, the Chococonut Raspberry Cream Cake…
After consultation with my two friends who are certified “Coco-Nuts”, the two things that apparently are born to go with coconut are chocolate and raspberry. I must admit, not being a lover of the ubiquitous dessicated coconut that floods our British baking aisles (I’ve been spoilt by receiving a bag of “moist coconut flakes” from a friend called Billie who used to live in Australia – it does exactly what it says on the bag!) I’ve steered away from anything coconut. I don’t want my food to cut my mouth and be like dried shards of cardboard, thankyou very much! However, I’ve since discovered that soaking dessicated coconut in something warm to hot makes it a much more yielding and lovely thing. Together with my “blueprint recipe” I use and abuse for a lot of my cake creations (being a basic mix of 200g each of butter, sugar, flour and 4 eggs), an idea was starting to form. Now, the task was to combine all these flavours into one united cake!
What more could a traditional sort of girl as Annette is want than a marble cake? I mean, it’s as classically British to me as my Bero Book of Baking. Except this is a rather rich sponge, permeated with softened coconut and rippled with a fudgy chocolate and coconut batter – I only added the melted choc to a third of the batter so not to overpower the mighty nut!
Now to fill, frost and fancy up this deliciously moist cake! My weapons of choice? Well it had to be Swiss meringue buttercream and fresh raspberries. Ordinary buttercream (lots of sugar and less butter) would have made the already fragrant and sweet cakes, saccharine sweet whereas the Swiss counterpart produces a frosting of unrivalled creaminess and a light, melt in the mouth taste. You really have to taste it to believe it. As for the raspberries, I considered squishing them into a purée but decided against it favouring that zingy burst you get on biting into a whole, bouncy berry. All I needed to do was pipe out simple star shapes on each cake and try to arrange the raspberries artfully on top. A wee garnish of a few cursory flakes of the desiccated stuff and some grated chocolate to give a nod and a wink to what lies beneath and bingo, we have birthday cake!
I dropped this cake off at Annette’s home at 07:40 then by the time she arrived at work for just before 09:00, I’d received a piccie of the cake cut and presumably being divvied up between all the girls (have I said how fantastic they are to feed? They are greedy foodies of the highest order and are more than happy to be willing volunteers to test my experimental bakes!). By lunch time, she’d posted a pic you can find on my Facebook page showing the cake was no more with the comment “it was perfect, the raspberries just gave it that something else” beneath it. Mission accomplished, I would say. Happy Birthday Annette!
- 200g butter
- 200g caster sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 200g self raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 50g dark chocolate, melted
- 100ml thick coconut milk, warmed
- 50g desiccated coconut
- 1 punnet raspberries (about 150g)
- 1/2 quantity Swiss meringue buttercream (see recipe below)
- 3 large egg whites
- Pinch salt
- 200g caster sugar
- 250g butter, very soft
- Seeds from a vanilla pod
- Start by steeping the dessicated coconut in the warmed coconut milk for 30 mins.
- Grease and flour two 20cm/8 inch round cake tins.
- Cream butter and sugar until light, pale and fluffy then add in eggs one at a time, with some flour if needed.
- Mix the baking powder into the flour then gently beat in until almost incorporated than add in the cooled coconut mixture and fold in.
- Take out a third of the batter and fold in the chocolate gently.
- Now plop dollops of the plain batter and the chocolate batter into your cake pans (a big spoonful is my measure!) next to each other so they alternate.
- Marble by briefly (now restrain yourself!) mixing the batters together with a small spatula or flat bladed knife - less is very much more here!
- Bake for 20-25 mins in a 180˚C oven then when firm on top and a cake tester comes out clean, cool on a rack until you can turn them out to cool completely.
- To sandwich either pipe simple star shapes or spread half the buttercream with a palette knife on the first cake then dot with fresh raspberries as you please.
- Pop second cake on top, pipe/spread on the rest of the buttercream and use a little grated chocolate and desiccated coconut on top if wished to decorate.
- Pop the whites, sugar and salt in a heatproof bowl over gently simmering water and whisk until the sugar has fully dissolved - may take several minutes.
- Transfer to he bowl of a stand mixer and whisk until medium-stiff peaks appear and the meringue is glossy and thick.
- Next, turn your mixer down to low and dollop in teaspoons of butter at a time, whisking each in before adding the next.
- Now here's the thing - hold your nerve! Turn your mixer back up to a higher speed and continue to whisk until the mix turns from a soupy mess to the most luxuriously creamy buttercream you've ever made - you may have to walk away for 10 mins of high speed whisking.
- Add in your vanilla seeds just as it approaches the desired consistency.
- Sometimes you need to refrigerate SMBC after its made to firm it up enough to use and especially pipe - fear not, it will firm up and it a dream to use and a delight to eat.
- SMBC freezes rather well - just pop in a plastic bag or tupperware box and freeze upto 1 month.
- Defrost in the fridge for a few hours.
- Cakes filled with SMB need to be kept in the fridge if not ending eaten straight away.