coconut-lover's cake

© Lydia,

It's that time of year again - plethora-of-birthdays-February (and commercialised-day-of-amore), and so it's giant cake time again. Nick loves coconut, beyond reasonable limits in my opinion, and when asked "what sort of cake do you fancy this year?", "coconut" was the response. He's a massive fan of bounty bars ("mounds" candy bars in the States, coconut ice topped with chocolate), which got me planning a bounty-bar-inspired cake with coconut ice and chocolate ganache.

This is a fussy, fussy cake, with many stages, and requires a fair amount of time to make (I'd allow 4-5 hours), but if this doesn't say "I love you" to the coconut-lover in your life (or, alternatively, "leave me the hell alone for 5 hours"), then maybe it's time to give up.

© Lydia,

Lydia's Coconut-Lover's Cake
Cake batter
220g (8oz) plain flour
300g (10 ½oz) caster sugar
1tsp baking powder
60g (2oz) dessicated (grated) coconut, unsweetened
115g (4 oz creamed coconut) + another 120ml (½ cup) coconut milk OR if you can't find creamed coconut (it comes in a rectangular block and is solid) 115g (4 oz) vegetable oil will do the trick
8 small-medium eggs, separated (if you want to be super-precise, it's 110g (4oz) egg yolks and 220g (8oz) egg whites)
140ml (halfway between ½ and 2/3 cup) coconut milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp cream of tartar

Coconut Ice layer
200g (7oz) condensed milk
170g (6oz confectioner's) icing sugar
170g (6oz) dessicated coconut (unsweetened)

Chocolate ganache
565g (20oz) plain / dark chocolate
410ml (1 2/3 cup) double/heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 170°C (375°F, Gas Mark 3-4).

© Lydia,
melting creamed coconut
For the cake:
If using creamed coconut rather than vegetable oil, prepare it by grating the creamed coconut into a saucepan and add the coconut milk, heat gently stirring until all the creamed coconut has dissolved - it will be the consistency of soft butter, but slightly "sandy". As soon as it is done, take it off the heat to minimise liquid evaporation.

In a very clean mixing bowl and with a very clean whisk (I run boiling water over both just before using) combine the egg whites, 100g (2 ½oz) of the sugar and the cream of tartar, and whisk quickly to a medium peak consistency.

Whip the remaining wet ingredients together in a separate bowl, slowly add the sifted remaining dry ingredients (minus the grated coconut) while mixing. At this stage it should be a thick dripping cake batter consistency if it's stiffer then add water a teaspoon at a time until you're happy you can fold in the egg whites without losing too much air. Fold in the egg whites in three batches (the first addition will help to loosen the mixture a little so you keep more air in the 2nd and 3rd batches, and help prevent the overmixing and separating that adding the whites all in one go can cause) until just combined and there are no streaks, and gently fold in the grated coconut (if using) in about 8-10 strokes.

Deposit into two 8 inch cake pans (without liner or grease / flour - as a lot of rise comes from the air you've beaten into it, it needs to adhere to the pan to maintain it's height and not collapse) and bake for 40-50 minutes (mine took 45 mins) until done (springy, an inserted skewer comes out clean, and you can hear a slight fizzing sound. It should also smell like cake!). Cool for about 10 minutes in the tin, inverted, on a wire rack, then remove the sides and finish cooling (inverted) on the rack. This should ensure a flat top. When completely cool, gently remove the base using a flexible spatula or similar.

While the cakes are baking, prepare the ganache that will be whipped and used like a buttercream between the cake layers and as a smoothing coating on the outside of the cake underneath the smooth, poured ganache. Grate/shave/very finely chop 340g (12oz) of the chocolate and set aside in a bowl (you can also roughly chop it and pulse it in a food processor until fine, being careful not to let it melt by processing for too long). Heat 250ml (1 cup) of the cream in a heavy-bottomed pan over a medium heat, stirring to prevent burning, until it starts boiling. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let stand for a minute, then stir until smooth. Chill in the fridge until it thickens up, but not solidifies, about 30 minutes. Whip until it resembles mousse (if it's not whipping up then it probably needs to chill a little longer) then keep at room temperature until the cakes are cooled and ready to be assembled. Whip it briefly again just before use to loosen it up a bit.

Once the cakes are out of the tins, line the bottom of the tins with come baking parchment/greaseproof paper and prepare the coconut ice layers. Mix the condensed milk with the icing sugar and stir in the grated coconut. You'll need either the paddle attachment on a standing mixer, or a wooden spoon, as it's a VERY stiff mixture. Deposit half into each of the prepared tins and push down first with your fingers, then with the back of a metal spoon, wetted to prevent sticking. Keep in the tin until ready to use.

To assemble the cakes, cut each cake layer in two so you will have 4 layers, and trim the tops if they are domed so you end up with 4 even layers.

Place the top of the first cake upside-down on your surface (plate/chopping board or serving plate if you're not worried about it getting messy) - the top of one cake is now your base and the base of the other cake will be the top of your finished cake.

Smooth a thin layer of whipped ganache onto the sponge, release the coconut ice from the pan and place, inverted, on top of the cake layer, peel off the paper and smooth another thin layer of ganache on top of the coconut ice.

Place the other half of the first cake on top, and cover with a slightly more generous (~½ cm thick) layer of ganache.

Repeat the process with the other cake, and then smooth the remaining whipped ganache around the side of the cake to form a smooth surface.

Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Prepare the pouring ganache the same way as before, using the remaining 225g (8oz) chocolate and 160ml (2/3 cup) cream, and while runny, pour over the cake and smooth with a palette knife, covering all surfaces. Allow to set slightly at room temperature before serving.

© Lydia,

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