On Tuesday I had an overwhelming urge to eat cake. Most of the time, savoury food is my go to dish but on that day I just had to have cake. Partly due to the fact that baking soothes me, relaxes my mind and gives me a feel good lift. There is something so nice about making a fluffy, light and tasty new cake for the first time. My coconut cake was also the effect of my Monday tidy up in the kitchen. Realising just how many bags of desiccated coconut I had (6 large packets for the record), I realised I must try to use them up. Hence this cake was born.
Four months ago, three amazingly wonderful and unsuspecting couples suffered and shared in the horrific loss of their first-born children. Before January, we didn’t know each other. We lived our lives, wandering through the streets of Dublin, working on our careers and enjoying life, never having met. By the end of January, we had shared in the biggest heartbreak, loss and sadness possibly imaginable. But by some miracle we found each other. These people have become some of the closest and dearest friends in my life. Our children, where ever they are, I believe they have found each other too. Playing together and keeping a watchful eye on their mummies and daddies.
If for no other reason, baking and eating cake makes me feel like a mummy. And I can think of three perfect little reasons to eat cake this week… Elena, Max and Seán.
COCONUT AND RASPBERRY CAKE WITH VANILLA BUTTERCREAM
For the cake:
- 5 eggs, separated
- 250 g caster sugar
- 280 g plain flour
- 115 g butter
- 125 ml coconut oil
- 125 ml greek yogurt
- 125 ml milk
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or good vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 160 g desiccated coconut, plus extra for decoration
- 2 tbsp raspberry jam
- a handful of frozen raspberries
For the icing:
- 225 g unsalted butter
- 300 – 400 g icing sugar (depending on how sweet you like it), sifted
- 1 tsp vanilla bean extract
- 1-2 tbsp milk
Measure out all your ingredients and put turn the oven on 160 C fan oven (170 C non fan). Line 2, 9 inch (23cm) cake tins with baking paper.
To get the best bake from your eggs, they should be at room temperature. So if you store your eggs in the fridge, once you have separated the yolk and white, place the egg whites in a stand mixer or large bowl and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
In another large bowl, beat sugar, butter and oil until well blended. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. After all 5 yolks have been added, beat in the vanilla and almond extracts.
In a small bowl, mix the greek yogurt with the milk to make a smooth and creamy blend. Sieve the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Add to the creamed butter mixture alternating with yogurt and milk mixture (starting and finishing with the flour) beating well after each addition. Stir in the coconut.
With clean beaters, beat the egg whites on medium until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the batter in editions of one-third.
Transfer to the prepared cake tins. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to fully cool in the tins.
To make the icing, beat the butter until soft. Add the icing sugar a little at a time and beat. When all the icing sugar is added, add the vanilla and 1 tbsp milk. Mix. If you need more milk to reach a soft smooth icing then add another 1 tbsp.
To decorate the cake, place one half of the cake onto a plate or serving board.
Take 1/3 of icing and spread over the top of the first layer. Add the jam on top and take the frozen raspberries and crush and crumble them over the cake. I didn’t want big lumps of raspberries, just little hits of their sweetness. But you can keep them whole if you like.
Top with the remaining cake layer and use the remaining icing to cover the top and sides. Sprinkle with coconut.