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Coconut, rose & pistachio cake

After weeks of watching GBBO I finally managed to scratch my baking itch, by taking one of my favourite cake recipes –Hummingbird Bakery Coconut Layer Cake – and adding my own twist.

It’s definitely a naughty cake, but like all naughty things, it’s divine. The rose water added to the light coconut sponge adds a deliciously delicate floral note, which combined with the vanilla custard frosting (I like to use vanilla pods as well as essence) creates a god damn gorgeous result (if I don’t say so myself!).

I’ve popped the original recipe below, highlighting my own changes. Enjoy!

Serves: 12

Preparation time: 1 ½ hours

Cooking time: 20 minutes

For the sponge: 120g unsalted butter, softened 400g caster sugar 360g plain flour 1½ tbsp baking powder 40g desiccated coconut ¼ tsp salt 3 large eggs 260ml coconut milk 100ml whole milk

My additions:

X1 teaspoon of Rose Water – try Nielsen Massey Rose Water, it’s got a beautiful taste.

1/2 Vanilla pod

X1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

For the filling and frosting:

500ml coconut milk

250ml whole milk 1 tsp vanilla essence 7 egg yolks 300g caster sugar 40g plain flour 40g cornflour 200ml double cream

My additions:

1/2 Vanilla pod

70g of crushed unsalted pistachios

50g grapes, gooseberries or blueberries (or all three), quartered


Preheat the oven to 170°C/Gas mark 3, and line the tins with baking parchment.

Using a hand-held electric whisk or a freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, desiccated coconut and salt together on a low-speed until sandy in consistency.

Place the eggs in a jug with the coconut milk and whole milk, and mix together by hand. With the electric whisk or mixer running on a low speed, pour the liquid ingredients into the dry mixture and beat together until all the ingredients are combined.

Divide the cake batter equally between the three prepared cake tins, then place in the oven and bake for 20–25 minutes or until the sponges are golden brown and springy to the touch. Allow to cool a little in the tins before turning out on to a wire rack, then leave to cool completely before you assemble the cake.

While the sponges are cooking, make the custard cream for filling and frosting the cake. Pour the coconut milk, seeds from half of the vanilla pod, whole milk and vanilla essence into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Meanwhile, put the egg yolks in a bowl, along with the sugar, flour and cornflour, and mix together to form a thick paste. If it is too dry to come together, add one tablespoon of the milk mixture to loosen it up.

Once the milk mixture has come to the boil, add four to five tablespoons to the paste and stir until the paste has become a thick liquid. Pour this into the pan with the remaining milk mixture and, stirring constantly, bring the custard back to the boil and allow to thicken. It should boil for at least one minute to allow the flour and cornflour to cook.

Pour the custard on to a baking tray, then cover with cling film to stop a skin from forming, and leave to cool completely for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, whip the cream, either by hand or using the electric whisk, until it forms soft peaks

Place the cooled custard in a separate bowl, mixing it to break it up, as it will have set while in the tray. Keep stirring until the custard is smooth, then fold the whipped cream into the custard and leave in the fridge for 20–30 minutes to chill and set slightly.

Once the sponges have cooled, you can assemble the cake. Place the first layer on a plate or cake card and top with three to four tablespoons of the coconut custard cream. Smooth it out using a palette knife, adding a little more if needed.

Continue this process, adding the second layer of sponge and topping it with frosting, followed by the third layer. Using the remainder of the custard cream, frost the sides and top of the cake, covering it completely so that no sponge is visible.

To finish, crush up the pistachios using a pestle and mortar and sprinkle all over the top and sides, then add the quartered blueberries, gooseberries and grapes.

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