Monday, 18 February 2008

Baking Day! (February)

The Baking Day resolution was made too late for starting in January, and to be honest there had been plenty of indulgence already (see cupcakes and mousse!), so the institution of our new decedent day of indulgence began on February 2nd.

I wanted the inaugural Baking Day to be done in style. Since the following Tuesday would be pancake day, but N and I would both be out and thus unable to indulge in pancakes together, what better way to begin Baking Day proceedings than with American-style blueberry breakfast pancakes.

They were delicious and well worth the effort (despite the fact that they took slightly longer to cook than I anticipated and so I missed the first Arsenal goal in the match!) I served them with additional blackberries and blueberries and cream whipped with maple syrup and plenty of maple syrup on the side. Decedent, indulgent and true to the spirit of Baking Day!

It just so happened that the first Saturday of February was not only Baking Day, but also a Dungeons and Dragons evening to be held in Kent. Knowing that it was quite likely that the evening would be a very long one, stretching into the early hours and involving not insignificant amounts of beer, I thought that making a nice big cake for everyone to share would help keep those of us on a hard night's slaying going (and to help soak up some of that alcohol).

It wasn't difficult to decide what to make. The previous weekend N and I had been out and bought a new bookcase for the flat, and then lots more lovely books to put on it, one of which was Delia Smith's "Vegetarian Collection." A really nice book not only because of the large format and beautiful pictures, but also because it includes baking and desert recipes as well as main courses. In it I had found a fresh coconut cake and low and behold in our Abel and Cole box on the Wednesday before Baking Day we coincidently received a coconut. Now if that's not an omen for making a fresh coconut cake I don't know what is!

So, whilst N put together the final touches for the D&D campaign I frantically cooked, cooled, iced and decorated a cake. Ta da!

As it happened, during the recipe I had problems with the scales, and as a result I think the cake had far more butter in it than called for. This meant that it wasn't as solid as I would have liked, and so instead of being a four layer cake make from two 8" tins cut in half, I had to make do with just using the 8" tins as they were. However, I think this worked out well in the end as the mascarpone filling and coating was just enough and probably wouldn't have stretched for more layers. The crumbly nature of the cake also meant it didn't come out from the tins as cleanly as I needed, and in fact not only left a lot of itself behind, but actually came apart whilst being moved onto a plate. A rather stressful moment I must admit especially knowing we were a bit pushed for time and needed to get everything into the car and go. All I can say is thank goodness for coated cakes, as once I slapped the icing and grated coconut on I don't think anyone noticed!

As usual I adapted the recipe (I just couldn't resist, I never can) and added the zest of one lime to the batter and then when it was too dry added the lime juice instead of water. I then topped the cake with the zest of another lime. This was a great addition to the flavour and in my opinion made it more interesting.

On the whole it went down very well at 2am with a cup of tea whilst trying to work out how on earth to kill a bunch of magical scorpions. It was a very moist cake because of the freshness of the coconut and addition on the lime, which meant it also kept well for a sneaky second slice the following day!

May all Baking Day treats be this tasty (and less crumbly and stressful!)

Now for the recipes...

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes

The mix made four pancakes each with batter to spare, and believe me four was more than enough!

2 cups plain flour
1/4 cup caster sugar
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
2 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup fresh blueberries
Extra unsalted butter to fry the pancakes

1. Mix together dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, bicarb soda)

2. Mix together wet ingredients (eggs, buttermilk, melted butter)

3. Combine wet and dry ingredients and carefully mix till just combined (do NOT overmix - the batter should be slightly lumpy)

4. Heat a frying pan and melt 1-2 tbsp butter at a time over a low heat. Once the butter has melted, spoon roughly 1/3 cup of batter into the frying pan and lightly spread into a circular shape of even thickness. (I actually used a heart shaped mould courtesy of the Queen of Posting)

5. Sprinkle some berries over the uncooked surface and push them into the batter.

6. Fry for about 2-3 minutes or till the sides have started to colour and the bottom is slightly crispy and nicely browned. Carefully flip over and fry the other side till equally cooked through.

7. Serve with more berries and maple syrup.

Fresh Coconut Cake (Adapted from Delia Smith)

For the cake:
75g fresh grated coconut (have big strong man on hand for help grating as there's more to come!)
175g Self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 large eggs (room temp)
175g soft unsalted butter
175g golden caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 lime (zest and juice)

Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Add all other ingredients apart from the coconut, whisk and combine everything (actually I just stirred like mad with a wooden spoon). After about 1min the mixture should be smooth at which point add the coconut, mix again and divide the mixture between two 8" cake tins.

Bake for 30-35 mins until the sponge springs back when touched. Remove from the oven and leave to cool (Delia says for 5mins, but I think the longer the better in my experience of this crumbly cake).

Filling and coating:

40g grated coconut
250g marscapone
200ml fromage frais (I think 150 is enough actually and gives a slightly creamer less tart flavour)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 dsp golder caster sugar

50 grated coconut for coating
1 Lime (zest for topping)

whisk all ingredients together. Use about half in between the two cake layers, spreading a thick but even layer. The use the rest to coat the outside of the cakes. Then cover with the final 50g of coconut and zest the lime over the top in the centre.

Serve with a nice cup of tea for optimum cake enjoyment!


  1. Thanks for the coconut cake recipe - do you think I could get away with using dessicated? I have a bag in the cupboard.......and would really rather not buy fresh and then have to grate all that !!! Especially as D doesn't like coconut!

    (second thoughts maybe I shouldn't even contemplate making a cake that I will have to eat all of myself!)

  2. I think dessicated would give you a drier cake and a much sweeter flavour. You could make it as a smaller cake, or as muffins, that way you're not left with a mammoth cake that doesn't taste right. It is much larger than you think with that mix. You could make half for muffins and top them with the marscapone and coconut perhaps?