Festively Tropical Coconut and Lime Cake

To fit in with October’s tropical trend, Germarie asked me to bake something equally tropical.  So I did a little research and, combining ideas from a few recipes, this Tropical Coconut and Lime Cake came to be!  It incidentally doubled as my birthday cake, and I have to admit: it was divine.  Almost as good as a holiday on a tropical island somewhere!

coconut cake with limes

When I do this again (not if, but when!) I’ll go for a simpler, but equally light and creamy buttercream frosting instead, perhaps also flavoured with coconut.  I’ve made Italian Meringue frosting before (and absolutely LOVE the toasty marshmallowness of it) but I don’t think it’s worth going to all the effort of making the deliciously light meringue if you’re going to weigh it down by adding butter.  BUT:  To all the baking experts out there… this is only my opinion!  As one of my favourite teachers at school used to say: “Everyone’s entitled to their own ridiculous opinion.”

YOU WILL NEED

Equipment: An electric mixer/food processor with paddle and whisk attachments, sieve, additional heat-proof bowl, 3 x 20cm cake tins (or as preferred), greaseproof/baking paper, Bake Even strips*, sugar thermometer, piping bag

INGREDIENTS

For the Coconut Cake:

225g butter, softened
400g granulated sugar
6 egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract (substitute: coconut oil)
360g cake flour
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
125ml milk
250ml canned coconut milk

For the Lime-Coconut Ganache:

100ml cream**
160g dark chocolate – finely chopped
15ml granulated sugar
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup shredded coconut, toasted

For the Italian Meringue Buttercream:

250g granulated sugar
158ml water
Pinch of cream of tartar
1tsp vanilla extract
5 egg whites
450g butter (soft, but not melted)

To finish:

Fresh coconut (shaved)
Lime-coloured piping icing 

coconut cake with coconut shavings on top

METHOD

For the Coconut Cake:

Pre-heat oven to 175ºC (150ºC Fan / Gas Mark 3) and prepare your cake tins by lining with baking paper and wrapping in Bake Even Strips.

  • Sift dry ingredients and set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter with a paddle attachment until smooth. Add in the sugar and beat on medium-high until fluffy and pale in colour.
  • Turn the mixer down to medium-low and gradually add in the egg yolks and extracts.
  • Starting and ending with the dry ingredients, alternate adding in the flour mixture and the milk. Be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl between additions.
  • Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for about 20 minutes or until done.

For the Lime-Coconut Ganache:

  • Toast shredded coconut in a frying pan over medium heat.  Toss to prevent from burning.
  • In a small saucepan, heat the cream and zest until it boils (be careful not to let it boil over!).
  • Place the chopped chocolate in the heat-proof bowl and pour the hot cream over it.
  • Allow to stand for 5 – 10 mins to allow the hot cream to melt the chocolate.
  • Now for the whisking: start slowly, then increase your speed, whisking the mixture in one direction until smooth and creamy. This may take a little while, the ingredients may initially look like they don’t want to mix, but just carry on whisking until you get that lovely thick, rich texture everyone loves about ganache.
  • Finally, stir in the toasted coconut.  Allow the mixture to cool down to room temperature before using.

For the Italian Meringue Buttercream:

  • Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and place on your stovetop, and stir gently until the sugar is dissolved. Heat on high until the mixture comes to a boil.
  • Using a sugar thermometer (this is a must), heat the sugar syrup until it reaches 114°C or softball stage.
  • Meanwhile, place egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and whisk on low until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and beat on medium-high until stiff but not dry; do not overbeat.
  • With the mixer running, add the sugar syrup to the egg whites in a steady stream, beating on high speed until all combined – about 3 minutes. Add butter bit by bit, beating until spreadable (3 to 5 minutes) then beat in vanilla.
  • If the frosting curdles, just keep beating – it WILL come together!

For the Coconut Shavings:

  • Open the coconut and drain the coconut water. If like me, you’ve never done this before, you’ll find many instruction videos on YouTube.
  • Remove long chunks of the white flesh from the shell and, using a vegetable peeler, shave slices off sideways along the curve – you get the best long shavings that way.
  • Using your frying pan once again, gently toast your shavings until light brown, then set aside to cool.

anélle meiring

To assemble:

  • Place your first layer of cake on your chosen plate.
  • Using the chocolate ganache, sandwich your 1st two layers together, then repeat for the 3rd layer.
  • Take a small amount of frosting and colour it lime green, then fill a small piping bag and set aside.
  • Proceed with covering all sides of the stacked cake in the plain white buttercream frosting.
  • Using the lime green, pipe your desired pattern along the sides of the cake.
  • Finish off by scattering your beautifully toasted coconut shavings on top!

coconut and lime cake with limes

Go ahead – escape to your own imaginary tropical island while creating your coconut cake. Please do let me know how yours turn out. Happy baking!

Cook’s notes:
* Bake Even strips help achieve level cakes with minimal doming.  If you don’t have proper Bake Even strips, you can use dampened tea towels or strips cut from old towels.  Simply fasten them around your tin with paper clips.
**The chocolate and cream quantities used in this recipe make for a lovely glossy ganache that sets quite firmly, but not so much so that it cracks when you cut it.  By adding more or less cream, you can make yours runnier or more firm according to your preference.

 

The Best Chocolate Cake Ever – For Mother’s Day

We all have our favourite recipes – the ones we know will never fail us.  Today’s recipe is one such staple: my Ultimate Go-To Chocolate Cake.  This recipe has been halved, doubled, cupcake-d, tray-baked or a combination of the lot.  The oil in it makes it incredibly moist, staying fresh for up to a week (honestly – try it!!!) and it has the added bonus of being egg and dairy free. This three-tiered naked beauty was made, on this occasion, for my lovely Mom’s 69th birthday.  Why don’t you give it a try for Mother’s Day?  Get as creative as you like with the decorations… please let me know how it turns out!

best chocolate cake

YOU WILL NEED

Equipment: An electric mixer/food processor, sieve, additional heat-proof bowl, cake tins as preferred*, greaseproof/baking paper, Bake Even strips**, plastic straws (if using flowers, to facilitate safe placement of flower stems)

 

INGREDIENTS

For the chocolate cake:

3 (4½) cups cake flour

4 (6) teaspoons baking powder

1 (1½) teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

150 (225) ml cocoa (the darkest you can find)

2 (3) cups sugar

Pinch of salt

2 (3) cups boiled water

1 (1½) cup oil

50 (75) ml vinegar

2 (3) teaspoons vanilla essence

best chocolate cake

Just enough vanilla frosting for the naked look:

200g butter, VERY soft but not melted

400g icing sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

To finish:

Flowers or other decorations of your choice (we used begonia and eucalyptus)

 

METHOD

Pre-heat oven to 180ºC and prepare your baking tins by lining with greaseproof paper (or cupcake wrappers if you’re opting for cupcakes and wrapping in Bake Even strips.

Instructions for the cake:

  • Sift & mix all the dry ingredients in your mixer bowl.
  • Combine all the wet ingredients in your heat-proof bowl.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and mix on low until well combined.
  • Pour the mixture into your prepared tins/cupcake wrappers, making sure they’re about equal depth.

Note: If you’re using different sized tins as I did, the cakes will obviously bake at different speeds.  I decided it would be less disruptive to the baking process to quickly add the smaller cakes to the oven mid-bake than it would be to test them and have to possibly put them back.  This worked well for me.

Baking times:

  • Put the largest tins in the oven first and bake for 25 minutes.
  • Once 25 minutes has passed, quickly add the smaller tins to the oven and bake for another 25 minutes.
  • After this time, check all by inserting a skewer or sharp knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. If any of the cakes need a little longer, extend the bake by 5 minutes at a time until done.
  • Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Instructions for the frosting:

  • Combine all the ingredients in your electric mixer and mix very well. The more you beat the frosting, the lighter it will become!

To assemble:

  • Start by levelling cakes where necessary, then sandwiching the two large cakes with a little frosting.

  • Place a blob of frosting in the middle of the top tier and spread to cover an area roughly the size of the next cake, then position the mid-size tier.
  • Again, create an area of frosting roughly the size of the smallest tier and position your final cake on top.
  • Once all the tiers are assembled, proceed to apply a very thin coat of frosting all over. You may, like me, find this counter-intuitive… I’m so used to always trying to cover a cake impeccably.

  • Decorate to your liking.

If you choose to add flowers to your cake, here are a few tips!

best chocolate cake

  • Choose flowers that are safe to come into contact with food. Things like roses are perfect, or other edible flowers.
  • Just to be safe, use straws to keep the stems away from the cake. Burn the ends of the straws and pinch it to create a closed tube.
  • To ensure that the flowers stay fresh and pretty, decorate the cake just before serving.

best chocolate cake

best chocolate cake

best chocolate cake

Cook’s notes:

* I made the recipe up 1½ times (see quantities in brackets) and I used two 21cm cake tins, one 15cm cake tin and a 10cm tin. My large tins have loose bottoms, so I didn’t line their sides, but I seriously recommend lining the sides of any tin without a loose bottom.

** Bake Even strips help achieve level cakes with minimal doming.  If you don’t have proper Bake Even strips, you can use dampened tea towels or strips cut from old towels.  Simply fasten them around your tin with paper clips.  I actually did this for my two smaller pans as I only have two strips… it worked a charm!

*** For this “naked finish”, I used a simple vanilla frosting, but I’m including the chocolate frosting recipe for you anyway as that’s what I normally use.  The recipe, made up once, will make one tray-bake or a decent twin layered round cake using 21cm tins, or it yields 48 cupcakes.  To make enough chocolate frosting for a 2-tiered round cake, combine 400g butter (VERY soft but not melted), 800g icing sugar (sifted) and 80ml cocoa.  Mix very well as per vanilla frosting instructions above.

best chocolate cake

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

How To Make This Fabulous Melting Ice Cream Cake

You know the lovely long summer holiday you’ve been looking forward to for ages?  Well, don’t look now, but it’s all over!  Is it just me, or does it feel like that flew by quicker than you can say “flip-flops”?  But, fear not… school starting doesn’t mean the summer has gone!  I’ve got the perfect bake for a lovely hot January… a fab, funky Melting Ice Cream Cake with a surprisingly speckled inside! I baked this for a friend’s little girl – adapting the recipe & instructions from a similar cake on Pinterest.

YOU WILL NEED

EQUIPMENT

An electric mixer, 3 disposable foil trays (or equal sized baking tins if you have them) two piping bags, an icing scraper (or similar tool) and a long wooden / bamboo skewer

 INGREDIENTS

For the cake:

  • 350g self-raising flour
  • 3tsp baking powder
  • 350g soft unsalted butter
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 6 large free range eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Up to 65ml milk – any kind
  • 120g Icing-based sprinkles of your choice (normal sugar-based sprinkles like vermicelli or 100’s & 1000’s will melt away during the baking process, but icing-based ones retain their shape & colour)

For the frosting:

  • 200g butter, VERY soft but not melted
  • 250g medium fat cream cheese
  • +- 800g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1tbsp lemon juice
  • Purple gel colour

For the “melting ice cream” pink ganache:

  • 200g white cooking chocolate (large blocks, chopped up, work better than chocolate chips)
  • 85ml cream
  • Pink powder colour
  • Sprinkles to decorate

For the ice cream cone:

  • One sugar cone
  • 1 cup Rice Krispies

METHOD

Preheat oven to gas mark 4/170ºC/360 ºF

Prepare your disposable foil tins by spraying with Spray & Cook and cutting a circle of baking paper for each one

 

Instructions for the cake:

  • Cream your butter and sugar until combined, light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs one at a time.
  • In a separate bowl, mix baking powder & flour, then add little by little and mix well (with the mixer now on slow).
  • Add vanilla extract.
  • If your batter is a little thick as mine was, add up to 65ml of milk – adding a tablespoon at a time and stopping when you get to a consistency that you’re happy with.
  • Add your chosen sprinkles to the batter and mix well.
  • Using a spatula, divide your batter equally between the disposable tins. Use the back of a spoon to smooth down each cake – this will help them to bake flat.
  • Pop them into the oven and keep a close eye on them – you don’t want them to get browned. Take them out as soon as a skewer to the centre comes out clean (25-30 min depending on your oven).
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
  • Once cool, level the tops of all 3 layers, reserving the scraps for later use.

Instructions for the frosting:

  • Mix the butter and cream cheese
  • Add icing sugar gradually and mix well
  • Add lemon juice
  • Refrigerate to firm if necessary, or add up to 60ml hot water if too firm
  • Remove ⅔ of the white frosting from the mixing bowl and transfer to a separate bowl – cover with a damp towel to prevent the frosting from drying out.
  • Tint the remaining frosting, with the purple gel food colour, using a few drops at a time.
  • Transfer the purple frosting to a piping bag with a 12mm round tip. (If, like me, you don’t have the widest selection of piping tips, just using the coupler on its own works equally well! You could even just snip the tip off a disposable piping bag.)
  • Fill the second frosting bag with white frosting.

To assemble:

Use the remaining white frosting to sandwich the cake layers (I prefer to assemble my cakes directly on to a flat cake plate) and cover the entire cake in a thin crumb coat. You will have a little frosting left over and this should be reserved for later use.

After the crumb coat has been applied, use the piping bags with white and purple frostings to apply alternating lines of frosting around the sides of the cake, making them as even as possible. Using a cake turntable is recommended here, as it makes the job much easier.

 

Place your icing scraper vertically to the side of the frosted cake and carefully scrape away some of the frosting in a single motion until stripes are revealed. You may need to make several passes before the frosting is completely even – wipe excess frosting away from the scraper after each go. Set the cake aside while you prepare the ganache. (*See note below)

 

Instructions for the ganache:

  • Heat the cream until it’s about to boil, then add the chopped chocolate.
  • Allow to stand for 2 minutes, then stir until the chocolate has fully melted into the cream.
  • Whisk until smooth and glossy. When you start to stir it, you think it won’t come together, but it will.
  • Add pink powder colour, little by little, until the desired hue is achieved.
  • Allow to cool slightly to a pourable consistency.
  • Using a spoon, drizzle some of the ganache onto the centre of the cake, then gently push the pooled ganache over the edges of the cake to create a drip effect. Reserve the unused ganache.

 

Instructions for the ice cream cone:

  • Crumble the reserved cake scraps into a bowl and add 2 tablespoons of the remaining buttercream.
  • Mix until thoroughly combined and firm enough to pack into a ball. Roll the ball as smooth as possible, then set aside.
  • In another bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of icing with the Rice Krispies. Pack this mixture into the sugar cone and insert the bamboo skewer into the centre.
  • Thread the ball onto the skewer and press it on to the top of the sugar cone.
  • Use a spoon to cover the ball with the leftover pink ganache. If the ganache is too firm, reheat at 10-second intervals in the microwave until smooth and pourable. Allow the excess ganache to drip back into the bowl.
  • Turn the ice cream pop upside down and insert it into the cake at a slight angle.
  • Pour more ganache over the ball portion, if needed.
  • Cover the ice cream ball and pink ganache with sprinkles.

*The Pinterest post called for refrigerating the cake at this stage, which I did, but I found it made the smooth application of the ganache more difficult as it tended to set too quickly.  It was, therefore, difficult to spread/smooth it, so I wouldn’t recommend it. Luckily I had my little blowtorch handy so I could heat & blend some of the messier bits!

Happy baking!

 

 

Have your Rainbow Mandala Cake this Heritage Day and Eat It!

Every year we celebrate Heritage Day with a braai. In fact, National Braai Day, as its known, is a true South African way of saying that we should put our differences aside and eat together. I am not much of braaier myself – I leave that to my husband. But recently when my sister Anélle made this incredible rainbow mandala cake I thought, what a better way to celebrate our rich South African heritage than with this gorgeous and intricately decorated deliciousness? We are the Rainbow Nation after all! So after you’ve had your braai – and the compulsory nap that follows – have some coffee and rainbow cake and be proud to be a Saffer. To read more about this very talented baker and maker, click here!

rainbow mandala cake

Heritage Day Rainbow Mandala Cake

Prep time: 60 mins

Cook time: 15 – 20 mins

rainbow mandala cake

YOU WILL NEED:

Equipment: Mixer, spatula, disposable foil tins, disposable piping bags

For the cake you will need:

  • 350g self-raising flour
  • 3tsp baking powder
  • 350g soft unsalted butter
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 6 large free range eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • up to 40ml milk – any kind

For the frosting you will need:

  • 300g butter, VERY soft but not melted
  • 250g medium fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • +- 800g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1tbsp lemon juice

Method:

Preheat oven to gas mark 4/170ºC/360 ºF

Prepare your disposable tin foil tins by spraying with Spray & Cook and cutting a circle of baking paper for each one

 Instructions for the cake:

rainbow mandala cake

  • Cream your butter and sugar until combined and light and fluffy – a couple of minutes of beating on high speed in a stand mixer.
  • Add eggs one at a time
  • In a separate bowl, mix baking powder & flour, then add little by little and mix well (with the mixer now on slow)
  • Add vanilla extract.
  • If your mix is a little thick as mine was, add up to 65ml of milk – adding a tablespoon at a time and stopping when you get to a consistency that you’re happy with.
  • Divide your mix into 6 bowls (including your original bowl) to do your colours. Add only a few drops of gel at a time and mix well.
  • Use a spatula to scoop all of the batter into a disposable tin. Use the back of a spoon to smooth down each cake – this will help them to bake flat.
  • Pop them into the oven and keep a close eye on them – you don’t want them to get browned. Take them out as soon as a skewer to the center came out clean (15-20 min depending on your oven)
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before stacking.

 Instructions for the frosting:

  1. Mix the butter and cream cheese
  2. Add icing sugar gradually and mix well
  3. Add lemon juice
  4. Refrigerate to firm if necessary, or add up to 60ml hot water if too firm

 To assemble:

rainbow mandala cake

  1. Put your first layer onto the center of the plate, and then frost and put on the next layer.
  2. Continue stacking the cake, taking care to position the layers as evenly as possible, so that the sides of the cake are as straight as they can be.
  3. Apply a crumb coat of frosting to the cake, filling any gaps between layers. The colours of the cake will be very apparent, but don’t worry! Chill the assembled cake for 20min.
  4. Apply a second coat of frosting. Chill for 20min.
  5. Apply a third coat of frosting. Chill until set.
  6. Divide remaining icing into bowls, one for each colour piping icing required.
  7. Colour icing by using only a drop of gel at a time. Scoop into disposable piping bags, then pipe away to your heart’s content!

A bit about mandalas

rainbow mandala cake

A mandala is a symbol that represents the universe in all its complexity and beauty. Start with a center point and then visually divide the cake into 4 quarters. Work your way around and make sure that you do exactly the same thing in each quarter. It’s very therapeutic! There is no right or wrong way and every mandala will be completely unique – just go with it! Here are some mandala images via Shutterstock to get you in the mood!

rainbow mandala cake

rainbow mandala cake

rainbow mandala cake

Happy Heritage Day!