flourless orange and cacao cake with spiced orange syrup. with hippy vic

clseupIt’s just passed three o’clock on Sunday afternoon. I’ve been up for approximately four hours, mostly spent in a sleepy daze whilst sitting in the dappled sun from our balcony window. Ice cubes clink in my water glass, dancing merrily in transparent liquid. Cheerios crunch against my teeth. I’m still a little dazed from the fullness of the Saturday-that-was.

‘Fullness’ is a good descriptive actually, in every sense of the word. We spent twelve hours of our Saturday between three beautiful houses, eating, drinking, laughing and cooking with wonderful friends. Yes. Twelve hours. That’s three meals with a little exercise and driving in-between (emphasis on ‘a little’ as to be honest; we mostly just ate).

beeThis massive day of food was the brainchild of my gorgeous friend Hippy Vic, who was first introduced to you in my Curing Olives post two months ago. Vic has spent the past month organizing a progressive, roving menu between her home and two mutual friends’ houses, all of whom live about 20 minutes north east of the Perth city centre.

wineRegrettably, Aaron and I spent most of the day eating and not taking photographs. However, I can provide the full day’s menu, as follows:

Breakfast by Floss and Simon: Soft-poached eggs with crispy bacon, herbed tomatoes, marinated mushrooms, hash browns and sourdough toast / tea and coffee / fresh orange juice

Lunch by Alex and Merryl: Hot Turkish bread with artichoke dip, extra virgin oil and dukkah / grilled chicken, vegetable and crisp-fried haloumi stacks with lemony crème fraîche foam / homemade vanilla bean ice cream, salted caramel apples, Cointreau, fresh strawberries and sweet hazelnut dukkah / fresh apple, triple sec and Hendrick’s gin cocktail / coffee

Dinner by Vicky and Laura: Slow-roasted lamb shoulder / mint pesto / lemon pistachio tabbouleh /  baba ghannouj with lemon oil / cucumber and cumin yoghurt with smoked sea salt / marinated eggplant with chilli and garlic / pomegranate salad with micro-greens, avocado, pistachio and soft-curd feta / Persian flatbread / flourless orange and cacao cake with spiced orange syrup (recipe to follow) / Grant Burge Cameron Vale Cabernet Sauvignon (2009)

Twelve hours of absolute food indulgence. Both Aaron and I left Vicky and Mark’s house in a state of slightly sleepy, full-bellied bliss.

candlechocNow, without further ado, let me introduce you to Hippy Vic‘s recipe for Flourless Orange and Cacao Cake.

Vicky and I made the cake at around 6:00pm last night. She states that the original recipe was transcribed from her friend Melissa’s recipe book (Mel originally found it in a recipe guide for the Thermomix appliance) but ingredients and quantities have been swapped around in reckless abandon, eventually creating an entirely different version of the original cake.

In flurry of nut meal and cacao, I snapped urgent photos of the cooking process as the last of the afternoon sunlight faded into blackness.

choccinnamonThe cake was eventually served at around 8:30pm, with the last minute addition of a fragrant spiced orange syrup (due to concerns about dreaded cake ‘dryness’ from Vicky… though she needn’t have worried).

I sliced up some home-grown Valencia oranges and threw them into a saucepan with a cinnamon quill, star anise, some raw sugar and fresh orange juice. After the simmering liquid reduced to a syrup consistency, it was poured over the rustic, warm cake and topped with spiced slices of chewy orange rind. It was perfect addition to the dense, dark cake… the rind contrasted beautifully against the chewy, chocolatey crumb.

*I must apologise for some of the poor quality, 60’s-magazine style photographs in this post. The finished cake was shot entirely in artificial light and has a resultant yellowish tinge (oh, it hurts).

straightoutovenFlourless Orange and Cacao Cake

  • 200g finely ground nut meal (we used 160g almond meal, 40g hazelnut meal)
  • 2 whole, unwaxed oranges
  • 2 cinnamon quills
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 6 large, free-range eggs
  • 200g raw caster sugar
  • 40g organic cacao powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100g good-quality dark eating chocolate (at least 70% cocoa), coarsely chopped
  • Optional: 2 tbsp Cointreau or other good-quality Triple Sec

Half-fill a large saucepan with water, then add your oranges. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for about 60-90 minutes or until a knife easily pierces through each fruit (if your water boils down too much, add more as required). Drain fruit and discard cinnamon quills. Leave for 10-15 minutes or until cool enough to handle.

blendmontWhen adequately cooled, slice each orange into pieces and add them into the bowl of a food processor.

Process the fruit until smooth, then tip the blended oranges into a large mixing bowl. Add the ground cinnamon, cacao powder, nut meal, caster sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate, chopped dark chocolate and Cointreau (if using). Mix well.

eggchocPreheat your oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees f). Grease and line a 22cm round springform cake tin (or just shove baking paper in and force it to conform, if you’re Vic!), then set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat your (happy) eggs to soft peaks. Gently fold them into your orange mixture, then pour the lot into the lined cake tin.

stircacaoBake for 30-45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake emerges with only a few moist crumbs attached. Serve as it is, with cream and/or ice cream, or topped with the spiced orange syrup (to follow).

cakesideSpiced Orange Syrup

Makes about 1/4 cup syrup

  • 2 (small) whole, unwaxed oranges
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup raw caster sugar (to taste, we only used about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 1 star anise

Slice your whole oranges into 0.3cm slices, then place into a medium saucepan with the other ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce temperature to a gentle simmer. Simmer for around 20 minutes, or until the orange peels have softened and the liquid has reduced to a syrupy consistency.

orangesRemove your orange slices from the syrup, then set aside. Discard star anise and cinnamon quill. Whilst still in the tin, pierce holes all over the top of your cake with a thin skewer, then pour over the spiced orange syrup. Allow to soak for about 5-10 minutes before removing from the tin and transferring to a serving platter.

Top your cake with the orange slices in a circular pattern. Dust with icing sugar to serve, if desired.

cakechocmontNote: If you’d like a good read, the beautiful Hippy Vic has a couple more posts up on her own site, including her latest post which includes a recipe for Mauritian Goat Curry (from fellow bloggers Alex and Priya, aka Boy Meets Girl Meets Food. Also worth visiting for fantastic recipes and travel posts)

Advertisements

coconut, banana and lime cake with lime syrup and candied carambola

cakesideazIf you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’d be well acquainted with the fact that I’m regularly ‘gifted’ with fresh garden produce by friends, family and acquaintances. Most of the time I view this phenomenon as a huge blessing; for example, I haven’t had to buy fresh limes for over three months.

However, last week’s bounty included four fresh carambola (star fruit), alongside six limes and a whole hand of overripe bananas (the latter were from an overly neglected fruit bowl). Being the headstrong, waste-hating cook that I am, I was determined to use the lot before heading to Margaret River for the weekend.

dropstar2So, early on Saturday morning, I awoke with one task in mind: to create a one-pan, palatable cake incorporating all of the above. As Aaron and I were planning to visit his family on the way to Margaret River, I decided to bake an organic, coconut-based cake for their predominantly healthy taste buds. Below, you’ll find the pleasing end result.

cocbanmontThis cake is dense, fragrant and lime-drenched, gently sweet with coconut sugar and soft, mild banana. I’ve used both coconut and plain flour for a super-moist interior, gently offset by the sweet, tropical candied carambola.

As the cake was topped, dusted and packed for transportation within 30 minutes of leaving the oven, I had little time to take beautiful photographs. It was served immediately in its warm, delicate form, with syrup still dripping from the knife.

Rest assured, there will definitely be a ‘version two’ of this tropical beauty. When that occasion arises, I will take some interior ‘slice’ shots and upload them for your perusal. Until then, please accept my apology… your imagination will have to suffice.

cakesideCoconut, Banana and Lime Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
  • 1 cup coconut flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut sugar (substitute brown sugar)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 large free-range eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup (270mL) coconut cream
  • 3 large, very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup (180g) Nuttelex (substitute Earth Balance or unsalted butter), melted
  • 2 limes, zest and juice (equivalent to 1/2 cup juice)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees f). Grease and line a round 22cm springform tin, then set aside.

Combine dry ingredients and lime zest in a large bowl.

floursugarmontIn a separate bowl, combine your mashed banana, butter, coconut cream, lime juice and lightly beaten eggs. Add your wet ingredients to the dry mixture, then mix well with a wooden spoon or spatula until the mixture is smooth and no patches of flour remain.

batterPour into the lined cake tin. Bake for 40 minutes or until the top is slightly risen, golden and firm to the touch. A skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out with only a few moist crumbs attached.

Set aside to cool slightly whilst you make the syrup.

zestgrnLime Syrup

Makes about 1/2 cup

  • 1/2 cup white caster sugar
  • zest and juice of 2-3 limes (equivalent to 1/2 cup juice)

Combine sugar and lime juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Continue to simmer until the mixture thickens (about 5-10 minutes).

limemontRemove from the heat and add in the lime zest. Allow to steep for five minutes.

Whilst the cake is still warm, poke holes all over it with a wooden skewer. Slowly pour over the still-warm lime syrup in an even drizzle, allowing time for the liquid to penetrate.

soaktopSet aside to soak whilst you make your candied carambola (place a plate underneath your tin to catch any escaping syrup; pour it back over the cake as required).

crossec1Candied Carambola*

  • 2 firm carambola (star fruit)
  • 1 cup white caster sugar
  • 1 cup cold water

Wash your carambola, then slice off the ‘stalk end’ (the end that has an indent and a black spot. The other end should be pointy). Run your knife down the edge of each ‘rib’ to remove any discoloured or fibrous skin (see picture below, left). Slice the carambola into 0.5cm even slices, then remove any seeds with the tip of your knife.

sfmontAdd the sugar and water into a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil over medium heat, then simmer gently until all of the sugar dissolves. Add in the sliced carambola, then allow to simmer for around 20 minutes, or until the liquid reduced and the fruit becomes translucent and glossy. Remove from the heat.

sfpotmontLine a large baking tray with greaseproof paper. Using a fork, carefully remove each piece of candied carambola, allowing excess syrup to drip back into the saucepan. Lay each ‘star’ onto the greaseproof paper to dry (this may take a couple of hours; if you’ve just cooked your cake you can place the tray into the still-warm oven [heat turned off] to accelerate the process).

sfcandiedmontWhen your carambola is ready, it should be slightly dry and sticky to the touch. To finish your cake, dust it gently with icing sugar then lay over your carambola ‘stars’ in a circular pattern, from the centre to the outer rim. If desired, add some extra lime zest or mint to serve.sfsimplesyrup

Notes:

  • This cake is beautiful served at room temperature with a dollop of thick Greek yoghurt or double cream.
  • For a vegan version, subtract the eggs and add in two flax eggs (1 egg = 1 tbsp ground flaxseed simmered in 3 tbsp water) or use an egg replacer such as Ener-G gluten-free egg replacer. Bear in mind that your finished cake may not rise as successfully, leading to a denser result.
  • *Keep the remaining carambola syrup for cocktails… I ended up with about 1/2 – 3/4 cup of residual syrup. It has a fresh, slightly sweet melon flavour and would be wonderful with mint, vodka (or gin), soda water and some extra sliced carambola (with a squeeze of lime if desired).
  • This cake can be frozen, wrapped or stored in an airtight container, for up to two months. I’d recommend storing it after soaking, without the candied carambola (the freezing and thawing process will remove some of its chewy texture).

closeuptexture

orange and almond cake with lavender and rose syrup

cakeside3

I’ve never liked orange and almond cake. Despite being lauded as a ‘healthy’ alternative to calorie-laden treats such as brownies or cheesecake, it’s always tasted a bit like wet, orange-infused sawdust to me.

However, approximately two months ago I began contemplating the design of a ‘healthy cake recipe’ for my mother’s upcoming birthday celebration. Unlike me, she’s managed to completely escape the hereditary sweet tooth (mine is firmly embedded in my jaw) so her desserts of choice are usually fruit, nut or cheese based. If it came to the proverbial crunch, she’d choose carrot over chocolate cake, granola bars over brownies and zucchini bread over an ice-cream sundae. Every. Single. Time.

vbeanmont

So, knowing my mum’s preference for healthy, fruit-and-nut-based cake alternatives, I set to work on writing a recipe for orange and almond cake that both fit her criteria (healthy, not-too-sweet, fruity and nutty) and my criteria (sweet-enough, non-grainy and still-indulgent). Why orange and almond cake? Well, I’ve cooked various carrot cakes, healthy banana bread and honey chia muesli bars as a treat for mum many times before. I’ve also seen her enjoy this cake many times over during mother and daughter coffee-and-cake dates, so I knew it was part of her accepted dessert repertoire.

It seemed to tick all the boxes; except that most versions I’ve tried have been grainy and cloying, with a bitter aftertaste. Cue: paper, pen, laptop, snack (banana with peanut butter and sultanas; yum), drink (milk) and iTunes (see here for one of my favourite bands of the moment). By the next morning, I had a spiced up, Persian-inspired recipe for orange and almond cake in my hot little hands, plus a two-page birthday speech awaiting revision in Microsoft Word. Yikes.

flowersmont

Fast forward two days. A crowd of 20+ friends and family stand in a grassy, tiered backyard under a borrowed beach umbrella. I’m standing next to my beautiful mother, speech in hand and lump in throat. The cake sits on a nearby table; orange, glossy with syrup and speckled with dots of vanilla bean. Beads of condensation run down a tub of cold, creamy mascarpone. Bubbling champagne dances in glasses around deep, dark Wild Hibiscus flowers.

The speech ends. I embrace my mother in a well-practiced hug, my heart swelling with pride, love and gratefulness for the woman she is: brave, strong, wise, intelligent, generous and loving. The crowd claps, mum speaks and then… well, it’s the moment of truth. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Or uh… cake, in this case.

cake

Lucky for me, my untested recipe proved to be quite the success; both by my mother’s taste buds (the most important taste buds, in this case) and by the testimony of her friends and colleagues. I’ve had many requests for the recipe (hence this recipe post) and after a second trial of my scribbled techniques (Mark II was inhaled by my colleagues in a matter of minutes) I can truly say that this cake is easy, delicious and not at all sawdust-like.

rosecrush

The batter for this cake was based on a recipe for flourless orange cake by Yin Tang (via Taste.com.au). I spiced it up with smooth vanilla and the warmth of cinnamon before adding some cornflour for texture and a dense, aromatic floral syrup for moisture and wow-factor. If you’ve always loved orange and almond cakes, you’ll love this amped-up, less grainy version of an old favourite.

If you’ve never liked orange and almond cakes (like me), well… give this recipe a go. It might change your mind.

caketop

Orange and Almond Cake with Lavender and Rose Syrup

Makes one 22cm cake

Cake ingredients:

  • 2 organic, unwaxed oranges
  • 3 whole free-range eggs
  • 215g (1 cup) white caster sugar
  • 300g (3 cups) almond meal (make sure you have a little extra on hand… I’ll explain below)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp cornflour or plain flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Syrup ingredients:

  • 1 organic, unwaxed orange
  • 150g (3/4 cup) white caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 whole vanilla bean
  • 1/2 tsp organic, unsprayed lavender buds
  • 1/4 tsp crumbled organic, unsprayed dried rose petals (plus extra, to decorate)
  • a splash of orange blossom water (optional)

To bake the cake: Preheat your oven to 170 degrees C (338 degrees f). Grease and line a 22cm springform pan (you can use a fixed base pan but it’ll be much harder to remove your cake) then set aside.

boilchopmont

Place the oranges into a medium saucepan, then cover with fresh cold water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Allow to cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the oranges soften. Drain your pot, retaining the oranges. Re-fill the pot with fresh cold water then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for another 10 minutes, or until a knife slides through each orange easily (using a new batch of fresh water for the second boil will reduce the bitterness of the peel).

Drain the oranges, then refresh them under cold water. When they’re cool enough to handle, drain then chop them coarsely. Place your orange pieces and residual juice into the bowl of a medium food processor or blender, making sure to remove any seeds or large chunks of pith.

blendedmont

Process until smooth. Set aside and allow to cool.

Place the eggs and caster sugar into a medium bowl. Whisk with an electronic beater until thick, glossy and pale. Add in your blended orange puree and mix well. Sift in your other ingredients: almond meal, baking powder, cornflour and spices. If there is any residual coarse almond meal left in your sieve, weigh it, and then discard it (you can use the coarse almond meal in homemade granola, muesli bars or other such things; sieving out coarse particles helps give the finished cake achieve a smooth, luscious texture). Replace the discarded meal with an equal quantity of fine, sieved almond meal (repeat above process if necessary).

mealsiftmontGently fold together all of the ingredients until just combined, then pour into your prepared pan. Smooth the surface of your cake, then tap the tin gently on a bench surface to remove any air bubbles.

Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached (not sticky liquid). Set aside for 15 minutes to cool whilst you prepare your syrup, as below.

cakebatter

For the syrup: Use a zester or knife to remove the rind from your orange (I used a knife to remove long, even strips before running the knife blade along each strip to remove the remaining white pith. You can also follow this method with a vegetable peeler; slice your prepared rind into thin strips).

Place the rind into a saucepan with fresh, cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes or until soft and fragrant. Drain well, then return to the saucepan (off the heat).

rindmont

Juice the orange. Add the juice to the saucepan with the prepared rind, adding in the caster sugar, vanilla bean (split the bean with a sharp knife and scrape the seeds out) and dried flowers. Place the pan over low heat and cook, stirring, for 5-10 minutes or until the sugar fully dissolves and the syrup thickens. Remove from the heat and add in a small splash of orange blossom water, if using (taste, then add more if required).

Allow  the syrup to stand for at least five minutes before pouring it over your cake.

beannibs

To soak your cake: Whilst you were making the syrup, your cake will have cooled and slightly sunk. Leaving it in its tin, gently prick holes all over the surface with a thin skewer.

If you’ve used a springform tin, place the tin over a wire rack with a plate or large bowl underneath to catch any syrup that escapes. Spoon over the warm floral syrup, then allow the cake to soak for at least 30 minutes (if using the springform tin and drip-catcher method, pour any syrup that’s dripped out of the tin back on to the surface of the cake).

rosemarycakecnr

To serve: Carefully remove the cake from its tin and transfer it onto a serving plate. Decorate the edges with more crumbled rose petals, some lavender and either fresh, unsprayed lavender leaves or rosemary.

Cut into wedges and serve with a thick dollop of mascarpone, Greek yoghurt or sour cream.

rosemarycake

Notes:

  • Make sure you use good-quality, sweet oranges for this cake as despite the boiling process, some bitterness will end up in your finished cake batter. Poor quality oranges = less flavour in your finished cake. There’s no way around it.
  • Do not compromise with waxed oranges or fruit/flowers that have potentially been sprayed. You’re eating whole fruit and flowers in this cake. Any waxy rind will affect the finished texture and any potential chemicals will end up in your gut (never a good thing).
  • To make this cake completely gluten-free, omit the cornflour and ensure that you’ve purchased gluten-free baking powder. There’s no need to add a flour-replacement unless you really want to, as the cake holds together well. As I’m a gluten-eater, I just enjoy having a little flour in the mix to increase the density and ‘soften’ the texture of the almond meal.
  • Feel free to replace the orange blossom water in the syrup with some fragrant rose water if desired. Both are beautifully fragrant, but make sure that you’re sparing with the amount that you initially add (just a splash). You can always taste the syrup and add more if desired.
  • I’ve also made a version of this cake with simple orange syrup (omit the floral elements, retain the vanilla bean) before topping it with glossy pomegranate seeds, crushed, toasted pistachios and mint. Most classic Middle Eastern dessert flavours work quite well, so feel free to play around… you can even add a 1/4 tsp of ground cardamom to the batter for more of a spicy twist.

cakegone

Cake gone. Me sad (never thought I’d say that about sawdust cake, but… yep, I’m a convert. This will be a regular in our home from now on… I hope you enjoy it as much as we did).

lemon coconut cake with spiced lemon syrup

Childhood memories are funny things. Some fade to a distant recollections, whilst others, seemingly unimportant, remain as vibrant as they day they were splashed upon the canvas of life. When looking back upon my developing years, there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to why I remember one event over another. For instance, I have very vivid memories of the three year old me, sitting on a picnic blanket eating Paddle Pops with my mother in the backyard. It’s a complete memory, flecked with afternoon sun and a grassy scent on the breeze as milky ice cream dripped through my chubby fingers.

What’s made this memory stick, as opposed to other things that I’ve completely forgotten, like moments spent with my paternal great-grandparents on more than one occasion? I’ve got photo evidence of the latter, but yet, even they don’t trigger a response in my brain. Feeble glances across the internet suggest that memory retention is somewhat linked to the hippocampus, GABA and the ‘heterogeneity of synaptic strength’. If this interests you, read on here, but for those of you interested in my in-depth ‘research’ (meaning, I just thought about it for five minutes in the course of writing this blog post) I’ve concluded that in my case, memory retention seems to be linked to the completeness of my sensory experience: sound, smell, sight, taste and a surrounding emotional connection. Like the Paddle Pop example, a small bite of deliciousness enjoyed with my mother in the sun. Either that, or I’m just essentially greedy and my brain retains memories connected to food. Actually, it’s probably a little bit of both.

So, what’s all of this sentimentality got to do with today’s recipe post? A lot, actually. Primarily because a large portion of my archived memories seem to contain a certain baked good that’s steeped in emotion, permeated by the heat of summer and days spent covered in sand by the sea. We’d usually take this treat on holiday to a place called Yanchep, where my mother’s friend owned a beach house filled with reed mats, an old television and plenty of silverfish. We’d play cards by lamplight and eat freshly caught fish with thick mayonnaise, followed by fruit and wedges of this baked delight.

This treat was my mother’s lemon syrup cake, dense with citrus and moist with lemon syrup topping that soaked deep into the cake crumb. Originally passed on to my mother by a friend, this recipe was scrawled on a now-misplaced piece of paper, and we’re still mourning the loss of an old classic.

As the years have gone by, I’ve spent plenty of time trialling variations of this cake from recipe books, magazines, the internet and… well, my own head. All have been good, but I’m yet to find one that taps into the portion of my consciousness from years gone by. I’ve come to think that it’s the same phenomenon you experience when revisiting sweets you loved as a child – with dull adult taste buds, they never seem to be the same. Nevertheless, nothing’s wasted… I’ve now got sour cream, yoghurt, olive oil and butter lemon syrup cakes in my arsenal, and all are beautiful with a dollop of cream for afternoon tea.

For those of you who have eaten at our house lately, you’d probably be aware that I’m going through a bit of a ‘spice’ phase. Everything from chicken to chocolate mousse is being dressed with clouds of cardamom, cumin and cinnamon, therapeutically ground by hand in a mortar and pestle. So, when my husband came home with two bags of lemons earlier this week, an idea formed in my head: spiced lemon syrup cake. I’ve loved the combination of lemon, honey and cardamom for a long time, so the idea of incorporating these into a cake came naturally. With underlying excitement.

I initially scrawled the recipe for this cake onto the back of an envelope, with yoghurt as the moistening ingredient as opposed to coconut cream. However, I discovered that the remnants of my yoghurt pot in the fridge were a little worse for wear, and as I didn’t have any residual sour cream, I needed a substitute. Cue some rummaging in the cupboard for a can of coconut cream. I’d heard of this ingredient being used in vegan cakes and desserts before, and the combination of coconut, spice and honey worked well on my imagined palate.

During the mixing stage, the coconut cream definitely didn’t incorporate as smoothly as dairy based cream would, however everything soon emulsified with the addition of the dry ingredients. The finished cake was beautiful, lightly risen with a pale golden crust and moist crumb. The subtle fragrance of coconut worked beautifully with the warm spiced syrup, and my husband and I polished off a slice very easily with a drizzle of raw honey and a dollop of double cream. I’d definitely recommend trying it, but if you’re not into coconut the cream can easily be replaced with yoghurt, buttermilk or sour cream, with a reduction in the lemon juice to approximately one tablespoon.

It’s not exactly the cake of my childhood, but to my more mature palate, in some ways it tastes even better. Especially on a cold winter’s night with the very best of company.

Lemon Coconut Cake

Makes one 20cm cake.

  • 150g self raising flour
  • 100g plain flour
  • 215g caster sugar
  • 125g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 2 whole free-range eggs
  • 200g coconut cream
  • 3 tbsp lemon rind (about 2 large lemons worth)
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp freshly ground cardamom (seeds only, husks discarded)

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F). Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin, then set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until pale, smooth and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in your coconut cream and lemon juice, beating well until the mixture is thoroughly combined (don’t worry if it still seems a little separated, everything will come together once you add your dry ingredients).

Sift in your flours and spices, then add your lemon rind. Mix well until the mixture is thoroughly combined, thick and creamy (if it seems ‘too thick’, feel free to add a splash of milk. It should be the consistency of muffin batter). Pour into your prepared cake tin, tapping lightly on a flat surface to remove any trapped air bubbles. Bake in the middle shelf of your oven for approximately one hour, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached. The top should be risen, slightly cracked and pale golden.

Whilst your cake is still warm in the tin, prick holes all over the top surface with a skewer. Pour over your strained lemon syrup (recipe below); the holes should allow the gently spiced syrup to seep through into the dense coconut and lemon cake. Allow to cool in the tin.

To serve: I’d recommend eating this cake slightly warmed with a dollop of double cream, fresh mint and a sprinkling of crushed, toasted pistachios. Alternatively, I’ve served mine (in the initial picture) with a mixture of crushed homemade meringue, cinnamon, powdered cardamom, toasted pistachios, mint and lavender flowers. It’s absolutely delicious and echoes the layers in the spiced honey syrup.

Spiced Syrup

  • juice of 1 large lemon
  • 3 tbsp lemon zest (about 2 large lemons worth)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 4 cardamom pods, crushed in a mortar and pestle
  • 2 cinnamon quills, broken in half
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 star anise

Place all ingredients into a medium saucepan. Bring slowly to the boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer, and allow ingredients to infuse until the mixture is slightly thickened and syrupy (you will need roughly one cup of liquid). Cover, and leave the aromatics to infuse further for at least half an hour.

To serve: strain your syrup through a fine sieve into a jug. Squeeze out the aromatics and citrus zest so that the full amount of flavour is extracted. Pour your spiced syrup over the warm cake, ensuring that the surface is evenly covered. The liquid should be fully absorbed. I like to remove some of the candied zest to top the cake. If you want to do the same, make sure that any pieces of cardamom husk or other spice debris are removed.

Notes:

  • Make sure that your cake is fully cooled before you attempt to cut it. I sliced mine when it was semi-warm for the purposes of photography (the sun was going down!) and the edges slightly crumbled. Still delicious, just not quite as ‘presentable’ as it otherwise would be.
  • This cake works best when cooked in a moderate oven, quite slowly. If you have an aggressive fan forced oven I’d probably recommend reducing the temperature to 170 degrees C (338 degrees f). If you’re going to bake cakes regularly, I’d definitely recommend playing around with the shelving racks to learn where the hot and colder spots are, whilst also being aware of where the ‘fan’ directly blows. All of these factors will affect the quality and presentation of your finished cake. When baking, I’m actually not keen on fan forced heat. All of my baked goods are cooked on the centre shelf of an old fashioned gas oven, and I rotate the tin half way through the cooking process. Works every time.
  • As mentioned in the main body of the text, this recipe lends itself well to substitutions. Yoghurt, sour cream and buttermilk all work well in this type of cake as opposed to coconut cream. There will be slight differences in flavour and texture but you can still expect to achieve a dense, moist and delicious result.
  • If you’re vegan, just substitute the dairy butter for olive oil or vegan butter (I haven’t tried the latter, but olive oil or coconut oil normally work very well, maybe try 2/3 cup / 160ml then test your batter for consistency). You can also try egg substitutes like ground flaxseed, if you’re feeling brave. I have not tried this so I have no idea how it would affect the texture or flavour of the cake, but if you get good results, let me know!
  • Half a teaspoon of nutmeg would also be wonderful in this cake, however don’t be tempted to go overboard as the flavour is very dominant. It’s always easier to add more rather than trying to fix a nutmeg-soaked batter.

Other Traditional Lemon Syrup Cake inspirations, if you’d like to revisit memory lane:

Vegan Lemon Cakes that sound absolutely divine:

With The Grains

Whole Grains and Wanderings

Cashew Kitchen

vibrant food. quiet soul. wild at heart.

Brooklyn Homemaker

modern classic recipes, story telling, and a little bit of history. Oh yeah, and schnauzers.

better than a bought one

as homemade should be

My Sweet Precision

Where flour, butter, and sugar collide

Chompchomp

Perth Food Blog | Restaurant Reviews | Food & Travel Blog | Gluten Free

The Veggy Side Of Me

Deliciousy Green...