Coconut cake

I've had my baking hat on again over the last few days, partly because the weather has been hideous, but also to get some decorating practice done. This weekend I decided to try Planet Cake style decorating, complete with carving and ganaching. Being pretty sick of chocolate cake, I used the following recipe instead. As it turns out, coconut cake makes a very yummy base for a decorated cake.

Yes, it really is a coconut cake in there. 

Coconut cake

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cup caster sugar
4 eggs
1 tspn coconut essence
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
3 cups SR flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 lemon, juiced and zested
1 tspn lemon essence
3/4 cup cream
500g white chocolate


Preheat the oven to 170 Celsius. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the coconut essence and desiccated coconut and mix through. Add one third of the flour and stir well to combine. Add the lemon juice to the milk and stir. Add a third to the cake batter and stir well. Continue adding the flour and milk until combined. Place the batter in a 20cm square tin or 23cm round pan. Bake for an hour, before reducing heat to 155 - 160, and baking until a skewer comes out clean. If necessary, cover the cake with foil to prevent the sugar burning. Allow to cool in pan 10 - 15 minutes before turning out on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely. Meanwhile, heat the cream, lemon essence and zest in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat just before the cream simmers. Add the chocolate and stir until melted. Allow to cool and thicken for around 20 minutes, before whipping with an electric mixer. Slice the cake horizontally in halves or thirds. Spread each layer with whipped ganache. Top with remaining ganache, and decorate or garnish as desired.

Cookbook challenge - spice

So I'm thinking most people hear the word "spice" and instantly think chilli. I am definitely not one of those people. For the most part, I find chilli overpowers other flavours unless used in moderation. Sadly for me, this often means that either Mr Food Hits ends up disappointed through not enough chilli, or I end up giving him half of my food when it's more to his taste than mine. So rather than compromising, I looked for a recipe that emphasised other spices.

Molee, from The Food of India: A Journey for Food Lovers (Food of the World S.) is a creamy fish curry flavoured with turmeric, coriander and cumin, with just the right amount of chilli to suit my palate. It smells divine, and is a great way of getting more fish and less chips on the menu.


1 tsbpn oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 small green chillis, finely chopped
2 tspn ground turmeric
1 tspn ground coriander
1 tspn ground cumin
4 cloves
6 curry leaves
400ml coconut milk
1/2 tspn salt
600g fish fillets, skinned
1 tbspn chopped coriander leaves


Heat the oil in a karhai or deep, heavy based frying pan, add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for another 5 minutes or until the onion has softened and looks trnaslucent. Add the turmeric, coriander, cumin and cloves and stir-fry with the onion for 2 minutes. Stir in the curry leaves, coconut milk and slat and bring to just below boiling point. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Cut each fish fillet into two or three large pieces and add them to the sauce. Bring the sauce back to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes or until the fish is cooked through and flakes easily. Check the seasoning, add more salt if necessary, then stir in the coriander leaves. Garnish with extra curry leaves.

Cupcakes and buttercream

I haven't baked much recently, and as a result, the fridge has been filling up with butter and eggs. So when I found a recipe for French buttercream, I just had to give it a shot. Afterall, the fridge had to be emptied, and I didn't feel like making hollandaise.

So to French buttercream, which has to be the richest thing you can possibly put on top of a cake. Unlike Swiss and Italian buttercream recipes, French buttercream uses egg yolks, not whites. That's right, it adds extra fat to the butter. The result is silky, buttery and delicious, and definitely not something you want to eat every day. It pipes a beautiful swirl, but is so rich you might prefer to spread it thinly.

This cupcake recipe is a great base for the buttercream. They're plain enough for the flavour of the icing to come through, but the vanilla bean paste makes them a little more special than an everyday butter cake or sponge.

Vanilla cupcakes

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tspn vanilla bean paste
1 1/3 plain flour
1 tspn baking powder
1/2 cup milk


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a muffin pan with 12 patty cake cases. Cream the butter at high speed until pale and fluffy. Slowly add the caster sugar, beating well until dissolved. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for at least a minute after each. Add the vanilla and mix through. Sift together the flour and baking powder. Add half to the butter mixture and mix at low speed. Follow with half the milk, then remaining flour and milk, mixing until just combined. Spoon into the patty cake cases and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown and a skewer inserted comes out clean.

French buttercream

6 egg yolks
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup water
500g butter


Using a whisk attachment, whip the egg yolks until very pale and foamy. Meanwhile combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to boil. Remove from heat when the syrup reaches soft ball stage - around 120 degrees Celsius. Remove from heat. If necessary, transfer to a jug or pan with a pouring spout. Add a little to the egg mix, then whip for 30 seconds. Repeat until the syrup is completely incorporated in the egg mixture. Reduce the speed to medium and continue beating with the whisk until the mixture reaches room temperature. Change to a paddle beater and add the butter a little at a time. When all of the butter is combined with the egg and syrup, add flavour and colour as needed.
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