You're right, I have been a bit remiss on the old baking front for the past few months. I think I lost my baking mojo to be quite honest as the day job has been a bit manic and has sapped my energy. I do have a very highly developed sense of guilt and when one of my new colleagues remarked that she had never eaten anything I had made, the guilt went into overdrive. Ever since, I've had ideas whirling around in my head of things to bake. Should it be biscuits, should it be a tart, should it be muffins? By chatting to her, I discovered that she loves coconut and lemons so it was time to bake something she'd really enjoy. Karen, this cake is for you! What sealed the deal for me was a trip into Fallon & Byrne last week where I found the most amazing unwaxed lemons with leaves and stalks still attached. Little Sis used to bring me home smuggled lemons straight from the tree when she returned from trips to Spain, and one of my happiest memories of our trip to Napa Valley was picking limes from a tree in a sunny courtyard and using them the same evening to brighten up some Vietnamese takeout food and Mexican beer. As it happens, I have some limes in my fridge, so added the zest to the mix.
I think the secret to this cake is the toasted coconut topping which gives the cake added texture and flavour to balance out the citrus zing. Toasting coconut is really easy - you need a big non-stick frying pan, a low heat and an eagle eye. Pour enough dessicated coconut into to pan so it forms a single layer. Any more means the coconut won't toast evenly. Put the pan onto a low heat and stay there. No wandering off to do something else. Coconut browns more quickly than you think and once you spy it changing colour, give the pan a gentle swirl to move the coconut around. Not a giant swirl otherwise your coconut will fly out of the pan and all over the hob!. Keep doing this for 5-6 minutes until it's evenly browned. Transfer to a dish and let it cool for at least an hour before use. In fact, do this before you make the cake and the icing.
Oh, Karen had this for her breakfast this morning...
Citrus Coconut Sponge Cake
400g Caster Sugar
4 large Eggs, at room temperature
300g Plain Flour, sifted
2 tsp Baking Powder
180ml Oil (vegetable or rapeseed, not olive)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
100g Dessicated Coconut
Zest of 1 Lemon & 1 Lime
Preheat your oven to 180c/Gas Mark 4 and line the base of two 8-inch round cake tins with baking paper.
Beat the eggs and sugar together for about 3-4 minutes until pale and thick.
Add the rest of the ingredients & mix until well combined.
Pour the mixture into the cake tins and bake for 30-40 minutes until golden and a skewer comes out clean.
Remove from the oven & allow to rest in the tins for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire cooking rack.
When completely cold, sandwich together with 1/3 of the citrus buttercream & use the rest to cover the sides and top of the cake. Liberally coat the cake in the toasted coconut and cut yourself a giant slice.
300g Butter, very soft
150g Icing Sugar
Juice of 1 Lime
Stick it all in a huge bowl and beat it until smooth. Alternatively, throw it into the bowl of your food mixer & beat it for 2 mins. Easy...