Our lovely receptionist, Kate, finishes up this week to live in London - half her luck! She is always cheerful and helpful, so I wanted to make her a cake as a good luck parting gift. I also made a second identical cake for the troops (because it is less effort to make two the same ;)).
I made no prior preparations as far as buying special ingredients for this project, because I had been house-sitting last weekend and had not done the grocery shopping. Accordingly, my challenge was to make Kate a special cake using whatever ingredients I already had around the house.
Recently, I acquired Leslie Mackie's Macrina Bakery & Cafe Cookbook, containing recipes from the Seattle bakery of the same name (and where of course I have never been, living as I do on the other side of the world), and Sky High Irresistable Triple-Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne, so I naturally turned to these for inspiration. These books are both terrific, although they are very different books.
The Macrina Bakery & Cafe Cookbook has very few photographs, and those that are there are small and black and white. However, one glance at the titles of the recipes, and I was sold. There are lots of wonderful sounding sweet and savoury dishes in this book. I chose to make a coconut cake, as I happened to have coconut milk left over from another cooking venture, and this seemed like a perfect way to use it up. However, the raspberries, lemon cream and white chocolate frosting complementing the original version required ingredients beyond the boundaries of my pantry cupboard, so I turned elsewhere for inspiration to fill and decorate the cake.
Sky High Irresistable Triple-Layer Cakes is chockers with delicious, unusual and stunning cakes, with beautiful colour photographs of most of the completed cakes. On this occasion, given my limited resources and the fact that it was the middle of the night, I chose to simply make the lemon curd recipe used as the filling for one of the cakes, because it allowed me to use up the egg yolks left over from the coconut cake in the filling:
Still on a mission to use up leftovers, I decorated the cake pictured at the top of this post, which was the coconut cake for the troops, with leftover buttercream from my Crabapple Bakeshop Tribute Cupcakes and the canned frosting left over from my Dali-esque sunflower cupcakes. I finished it off with toasted coconut and topped it with a glace cherry, for no reason other than the cake looked weird without its red "belly button". Kate's cake, pictured at the foot of this post, was iced with a simple glace icing, with piping in canned frosting and dotted with store-bought sugar flowers ('cause at midnight , I wasn't making any :)). I only had a very limited quantity of icing sugar, so I only iced the top of the cake.
So where did the ligonberry jam come in? Well, I''m glad you asked:
I took an idea for colouring part of the batter with jam and swirling it through the white batter to give a marbled look from a lovely lemon blueberry cake in Sky High Irresistable Triple-Layer Cakes. In my case, I coloured part of the cake batter with a couple of tablespoons of ligonberry jam from Ikea, of all places!
This cake was absolutely delicious, despite my fears arising because (a) I'd never made this cake before; and (b) I made it when tired in the middle of the night. It was light, moist and tender, especially in the jammy bits, and the tartness of the curd balanced the sweetness of the cake and frosting.
The recipe is for one triple layer cake - I made two double layer cakes instead, and varied the baking time accordingly:
Coconut Cake (from Macrina Bakery & Cafe Cookbook)
1 cup coconut (shredded or dessicated)
1 cup coconut milk (I used the light version)
5 egg whites
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 3/4 cups white sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
175g butter, softened
2 tablespoons jam of your choice (I used Ikea's ligonberry jam)
Preheat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Grease and line a 9 inch caketin.
Toast the coconut by spreading it out evenly on an oven tray, and placing it in the oven for 3 minutes, then stirring it around and placing it back in the oven for another 3 minutes. Remove the coconut from the oven and set aside.
Whisk the coconut milk, egg whites, almond and vanilla extract together in a bowl and set aside.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, and add the sugar and toasted coconut. Stir until well combined. Cut the butter into small pieces, distribute over the top of the dry ingredients, and mix with an electric mixer on low speed until there is no visible butter and the mixture is crumbly. Add half the coconut milk mixture to the crumble and mix with an electric mixer for 30 seconds, before adding the rest of the coconut milk mixture nd mixing until combined.
Pour two thirds of the batter into the prepared cake tin. Mix the jam through the remaining batter, drop spoonfuls of the jammy batter on top of the white batter, and using a knife or a skewer, swirl the coloured batter through the white batter to create marbling, being careful not to overmix (otherwise the whole cake will be coloured). Smooth over the top of the cake, and bake for one hour or until cooked through. (Two cakes took around 40 minutes in my oven.)
Cool the cake in the tin on a wire rack for an hour before demoulding and cutting into three equal layers (or, for two cakes, cutting each cake into two layers). I found that the top layer of cake was very fragile, so be careful when cutting and flip the top layer face down onto a piece of parchment paper for easy handling.
Lemon curd (from the recipe for Toasted Almond Tea Cake in Sky High Irresistable Triple-Layer Cakes)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornflour
1/2 cup lemon juice
4 egg yolks (I used all 5 left over from the coconut cake)
2 tablespoons butter
Grated zest of one lemon
Blend the sugar and cornflour together in a small saucepan. Add the egg yolks and lemon juice and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Bring the mixture to the boil on the stovetop, whisking all the time, then boil for a minute.
Remove the mixture from the heat, and strain into a small bowl. Whisk in the butter and lemon zest, then press cling film against the surface of the curd to stop a skin from forming before placing the curd in the fridge to cool and set (for ~ 1 hour).
Spread the bottom layer of the cooled, cut cake with the lemon curd, then cover with the top layer of the cake. Decorate as desired.