All entries for Wednesday 05 January 2011
January 05, 2011
It has been really cold outside - freezing in fact. In Aberdeen, I experienced a very rare Christmas of it reaching -15°C. I think that I was the only one who was delighted that it was so cold and guaranteed a white christmas. I didn't quite appreciate that the cold snap just hadn't snapped for 5 weeks in Aberdeen and they were tired of being cooped up by the snow.
I find that when it is that cold it's hard to remember how it could ever be warm enough, that you don't need mittens for a start... or a coat... or thermals (did I go too far with the thermals bit? is that just me?). Does the UK really have a t-shirt and flip flops season? But now that temperatures are above freezing. Well, it feels positively balmy. 'Let's put on those bikinis and do some sunbathing'. Okay - so maybe it's not quite reached that temperature yet.
So, this recipe is dedicated to all of you who would like to be reminded of some sunshine. A taste of hope that seasons do come and change.
How apt. As I write, I realise that on the two occasions that I have baked this cake, they were to celebrate significant milestones in my sister's life.
Milestone #2. (Nope, this isn't a typo, I'm milestoning this chronologically)
Back in November, my mum came to visit me en route to my sister's graduation. Quite a considerable detour since my sister, Ee-Reh, lives in Huddersfield! Bless her - my mum told me later that her main intent on visiting me was to unpack whatever boxes remained from my various moves over the summer. Instead, it was really nice to show her that her eldest daughter had finally seen the light about unpacking everything and was trying to keep her flat tidy.
The following morning, whilst my mum acted on an urge to do my ironing (I love her!), I wanted a taste of sunshine. So, I baked a cake for my mum to take as my sister's graduation present.
Unfortunately the graduation ceremony was called off due to the severe weather conditions.
I first made this cake for my sister's wedding in September, along with Ee-Reh's request for my lemon drizzle and dark chocolate cake. My sister had asked several of her guests to contribute cakes. These two were my favourites. The Carrot Cake is decorated with a picture of the swing in the garden where my sister had the wedding ceremony. Then this Bumble Bee Cake, with flying bees. Aren't they fantastic?
And, yes. That's my sister up in the tree. On the morning of her wedding. Hanging up the decorations. She's incredible!
I've been wanting to experiment with lime, coconut and chilli since I visited Cambodia in March. Ahhhh... those flavours bring back memories. Cocktails of freshly squeezed limes + sugar syrup + soda water, refreshing chicken and lemongrass soup, steamed spring rolls and deep-fried beetles - what fun! I really enjoyed Cambodian cooking. But it was the sunshine... the sunshine that I desperately wanted to taste.
Honestly, honestly, honestly. The first lime drizzle and coconut cake, the one that I took to my sister's wedding, was dry. Even with the lime drizzle moistening it up. I now have a theory that dessicated coconut sucks up the moisture in a cake: this also happened when I made kentish cake, another cake recipe that asks for dessicated coconut. Hmmm... so, in true Han-Na style, I did some googling for other coconut cake recipes to give me some ideas on how to liven up this recipe and discovered the addition of coconut milk and rum in cakes. Rum, hey? A real taste of sunshine then :) And thank you to my blessed colleague for lending me her lime rum.
A quick note about the ingredients: 1. Coconut milk - Buy some powdered mix stuff for this recipe and others. It's cheaper and more flexible store cupboard ingredient than a tin of coconut milk. You can vary the quantity of coconut milk really easily. I used Maggi's.
2. My colleague lent me her bottle of Lime Malibu and most supermarkets will carry it. However, if you're adverse to alcohol, the rum is an optional ingredient.
Ingredients for a Taste of Sunshine: Coconut and Lime Drizzle Cake
- 125g/4.5oz unsalted butter
- 75g/2.5oz caster sugar
- grated zest of two limes - or one depending on how much limey zestiness you'd like.
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 150g/6oz self-raising flour
- 1tsp baking powder
- 50g/2oz dessicated coconut
- 125ml/4floz coconut milk
- 1 tbsp lime rum or normal white rum (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and line a 2lb loaf tin.
2. Put the butter and the sugar together in a bowl and whisk them together with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy. Alternatively, if like me, you don't have an electric whisk and the butter isn't softening quickly enough (even when you have left it out on the side to soften) then cheat by zapping the butter in the microwave - see top tip.
Top Tip: I don't have an electric whisk and I'm not always so organised to leave the butter out on the side to soften. As you can guess, this results in the butter being too firm to hand whisk with ease. So, I cut the butter into small size chunks (about 3 cm cubes) and zap them in the microwave for just under a minute (the time will vary depending on the power of your microwave) in order to ease the whisking process. I try and do it so that the butter hasn't melted, just softened. In all honesty, I normally end up with a not-entirely-but-pretty-much-melted butter consistency. I guess that it affects the chemistry of the baking in some way but the cakes turn out fine.
3. Add the lime zest and eggs and keep whisking so that the mixture is combined well. I almost forgot to add in the eggs at this stage. The addition of the coconut milk makes it quite a runny mixture so it was easy to forget. I remembered just at the end of the mixing, so I don't think that the order of adding the eggs at the end affected the baking chemistry too much. But I'm going to say - add them in at this stage, so that you don't forget.
4. Thoroughly mix in the flour, baking powder, dessicated coconut.
5. Stir in the coconut milk and lime rum. The mixture will be very gloopy now.
6. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the cake tester/knife comes out clean.
7. As the cake is baking in the oven, now prepare the sunshine lime drizzle. Oh, I can almost hear the waves crashing on the beach as I write this up. Where is that bikini?
I normally use golden caster sugar for drizzle. However, this time I tried using icing sugar because i didn't want the snowy sugary crust on top. No reminders of the snow please! And it worked well. I try to reduce the amount of sugar that I use in recipes so remember to add a bit more sugar if you prefer it sweeter.
Ingredients for Sunshine Lime Drizzle
- 35g icing sugar (you can substitute it with golden caster sugar if you want)
- juice of 3 limes
- 1.5 tbsp lime rum (more if you want to)
8. Mix the lime juice, icing sugar and lime rum. Don't worry about the lime pulp, I think that the pulp adds personality to the cake when you pour it on.
9. When the cake is baked, make some holes in the cake to ease the journey of the drizzle through the cake. My weapon of choice is a metal chopstick. A cocktail stick will do the job just fine and is easier to source. Pour the drizzle on while the cake is still hot. I find it helpful to use a teaspoon towards the end to make sure that every inch of cake has been covered with drizzle. Ta Da.
The verdict? It's a simple cake to make. I made a double batch and gave the second one away to some of my friends who travelled to Cambodia with me. My sister commented, "the cake was very yummy. All who ate it said so. Jennie especially liked how moist it was. I thought, for a lime-lover, it could have been more zesty. However, equally, this could put off those who do not appreciate the lovely greeny limey goodness."