Sunday, May 20, 2012

Coconut Ice Cakes

What story do I tell you that doesn't begin with some experience I had as a kid? Coconut Ice is no different - it was "some kind of wonderful" that would turn up on the tables of school fetes, usually costing 20 cents for a few pieces. I was always charmed by the beauty of the delicate pink hue next to the pure white, and the way the two were layered to form a dreamy coconut partnership.

When we got our first food processor in the 80s, the book that came with it included a recipe for coconut ice based on condensed milk. This was a good flavour, but it wasn't quite like the coconut ice of my childhood. Around this time Darrell

Lea, the chocolatiers, began making slabs of coconut ice. Also not like the coconut ice of my childhood, but since it was readily available, I didn't care.

Skip forward to circa 2000 and I was having a pre-Christmas cup of tea at a friend's mum's place, who had just taken delivery of some Christmas treats. And there it was sitting on the plate - coconut ice just like I used to get at the school fete. I begged for the recipe and was very fortunate to be given it. Imagine my surprise when I found it contained one raw egg white? I'll share that recipe with you some time, but for now, I want to show you what I've made for World Baking Day.

Coconut Ice Cakes. I was dreaming of a gorgeous loaf cake with swirls of icing along the top, trimmed with shredded coconut and little pieces of coconut ice marooned on the icing mounds. But my cake stuck to the tin and I just couldn't bake another. So I decided to put my inventor's cap on and came up with these little morsels, which would sit perfectly on any high tea menu. Enjoy!

250g butter
2 cups caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence
4 eggs
2 1/2 cups self raising flour
1/2 cup desicated coconut
1/3 cups butter milk

1. Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees celcius. Grease and line a deep bar tin.
2. Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of your Kitchenaid. Combine on first gear then stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to sixth gear and beat for three minutes.
3. Pour half the mixture into the prepared tin. Colour the remaining mixture with 1/4 teaspoon of pink food colouring. It needs to be quite dark to come out pink after cooking.
4. Bake in the oven for one hour. Test with a skewer if you are not sure it's cooked through. If the skewer comes out of the cake clean, it's cooked.
5. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
6. At this point, if you want my original idea, go to the icing instructions. If you want the little morsels in the photo, continue from here!
7. Slice the cake into 1.5cm thick slices. Use a bread knife for this task and be very careful to catch each slice before it breaks.
8. Lay each slice flat on a chopping board and use a 4cm heart cutter to cut a heart shape out of the middle of the cake. You should get about 14 hearts. Set the off cuts aside (and scoff them plain with coffee later).

100g butter
500g pure icing sugar
4 tblsp full cream milk
a good squeeze of Wilton icing white
1/4 cup shredded coconut
14 pieces of store bought coconut ice

1. Combine all the ingredients in the large bowl of your Kitchenaid. Mix on first gear to combine, then increase speed to sixth gear and beat until white and fluffy. Make sure there are no butter lumps.
2. Fit a piping bag with a closed star piping tube then fill the bage with the icing.
3. Pipe a strip of icing around the heart shape, finishing with a squeeze in the middle.
4. Sprinkle with shredded coconut then decorate with a small piece of coconut ice.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mocha & Chocolate Layer Cake

I have been thinking about making a layer cake for quite some time now, but I just haven't had a good reason to get into it. Since it was Mother's Day today, I thought I would indulge myself - my excuse being that I wanted a piece of chocolate cake, and I should just make my own so as to avoid disappointment!

Everyone has been making layer cakes lately with ribbons of icing piped up the sides of the cake. I am really glad I avoided this as it would have applied too much icing to what is already a sweet cake. Instead I went for a classic cake with a coffee twist. See what you think.

2 cups water
250g butter
3 cups caster sugar
2/3 cup cocoa
1 tsp bicarb soda
4 eggs
3 cups self raising flour

1. Combine the water, butter, sugar, cocoa and bicarb soda in the biggest pot you've got. It needs to be at least four litres.
2. Stir until the butter is melted and the ingredients are combined, then bring to the boil. Do not take your eyes off the mix as it will boil up and over the sides of the pot, creating a shocking mess on your stove. Boil for five minutes - the more this mix boils, the darker your cake will be.
3. Pour the chocolate syrup into a glass bowl and set aside to cool until it is stone cold.
4. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celcius. Line two eight inch cakes tins with baking paper on the bottom and the sides.
5. Pour the chocolate syrup into the bowl of your Kitchenaid. Add the eggs and flour then mix to combine on first gear.
6. Increase the speed to sixth gear and beat the mixture for three minutes or until it becomes thick and pale.
7. Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until the cakes spring back when touched. If in doubt, insert a skewer in the middle - if it comes out clean, the cakes are cooked.
8. Turn the cakes out of the tins, remove the baking paper, and allow to cool completely.

1 kg pure icing sugar
175g butter
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp instant coffee powder.
150ml full cream milk
4 tsp hot water

1. Combine all the ingredients for the icing in the bowl of your Kitchenaid and mix on first gear to combine. Increase the speed to sixth gear and beat until all ingredients are combined.


1. Measure the cakes to check the height - these cakes usually end up 5cm high for me. Insert tooth picks around the circumference of one cake at the 5cm high mark. Then carefully cut the dome of the cake off to level it. The split the cake at 2.5cm high.
2. Insert toothpicks around the circumference of the second cake at 2.5cam high and then split the second cake, retaining the domed top.
3. Place the bottom of one cake on a cake board or turntable. Spread a good amount of the mocha icing over the cake then place the flat top over the icing. Repeat until the cake is fully stacked. Try to use the icing sparingly as you sandwich the layers together - too much icing can over power the beautiful flavour of the cake. Reserve at least a quarter of the icing for finishing.
4. Refrigerate the layer cake to set the icing.
5. Spread the remaining icing over the top and sides of the layer cake, smoothing with a long palette knife to get is as consistent as you can.
6. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream

Makes 12 serves.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Raspberry Kermakakku

There are many different sweets the people of Finland enjoy, but when it comes to birthdays one of my colleagues, who hails from that part of the world has told me, no celebration is complete without a kermakakku. ‘Kerma’ means cream and ‘kakku’ means cake. Together they mean cream cake – a layered sponge cake decorated with lashings of whipped cream and favourite fruits found in Finland. Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, lingon berries and cloudberries are all common flavours for this indulgent dessert cake.

I wanted to try making such a cake last year, and decided my birthday was a suitable occassion. The sponge cake was very easy to make (although when my colleague sampled mine he said the Finnish version was much more dry, thanks to their use of potato flour amongst other things). I worried this would be a cream heavy cake, but the piped cream up the sides was deceiving. My son and his friend scoffed this cake in minutes. And there was more than half a cake left over to take to work to share the next day.

Note: I've adjusted the ingredients in this recipe today as I made this cake for my mum yesterday and I wasn't satisfied with the proportions of the sponge cake. I think your sponge needs to be thick and fluffy. If you try this recipe please let me know how it works for you so I can make any further adjustments if necessary.

4 large eggs
2/3 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup plain flour
1/3 cup self raising flour
1/3 cup corn flour
800ml thickened cream
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp white sugar
1 ½ cup raspberries
¼ cup raspberry syrup

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease two 20cm (8 inch) round cake pans and line the bottom and sides with baking paper. It makes a big difference lining the sides of the tin as this helps the cake rise neatly up the sides.
2. Crack the eggs into the large bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on high for one minute. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating for 10 minutes.
3. Place all three flours in a bowl and mix with a spoon to combine. Drop flour into a triple layer sieve and sift one third into the egg mix. Gently fold the flour through the egg mix, being careful not to over mix. Repeat two more times until all the flour is combined. Divide the sponge mix between the two prepared cake pans and place them in the middle shelf of the oven to cook for 20 minutes. Test they are cooked by inserting a tooth pick into the middle of one. If it comes out clean the sponge is cooked.
4. Turn the cakes out onto a wire rack and carefully peel the baking paper off the sides and bottom. Leave to cool completely.
5. Pour the cream, vanilla and sugar in the large bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on high until the cream is thick and will hold a peak. Be very carefully not to over mix the cream.
6. Spread one third of the whipped cream on the top of one sponge. Cover with raspberries, reserving 12 of the best looking berries to decorate the top.
7. Place the second sponge on top of the raspberries. Press lightly to secure. Use a knife to spread a thin layer of whipper cream over the top of the second sponge.
8. Fit a star-shaped piping tube to a large piping bag and fill the bag with the rest of the cream. Pipe strips of cream up the sides of the cake to completely cover it. Pipe decorative swirls of whipped cream around the top edge of the cake.
9. Carefully pour the raspberry syrup onto the middle of the top of cake. Gently tilt the cake to spread the syrup to the edge of the cream.
10. Place the 12 reserved raspberries on the cream around the top of the cake and serve.

Note: as an added extra, it's really nice to spread a layer of lemon curd through the middle of the sponge before you add the cream and raspberries.

Serves 10.