Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Lemon and Coconut Cakes...FINALLY!!

A big hello and welcome back to the world of I'd Much Rather BakeThan... With this being my first post in such a long time I feel I owe you all some sort of explanation. I found I wasn't able to keep this up when my second year of my Chemistry degree started but I've been missing writing about my baking adventures since September. Now that the exams are over and I'm just waiting for results day *worried face* I really, truly want to get this back up and running at full speed. So, my aim is to use  this space not only to write about my own recipes but also to sort of review others that I have tackled/messed around with. That way I'll have more opportunities to gabble on and hopefully keep you interested. I do so love baking that I want to tell the world. Indeed, the long suffering people on my course have heard me talk about pretty much nothing else for the past year. I think they see it as their burden to bare for the times when I take goodies into lectures. 

My other bit of news is that I have found myself a fantastic placement for my third year. The whole placement hunting thing got rather hairy at one point but as I always say, things always work out and I got the ideal placement for me in the end. I'll be working with one of the teachers at my university conducting research into the polysaccharides (long chains of sugars) found in certain members of the squash family. So yes, foodie based chemistry!! Admittedly I'm not sure what my supervisor will make of me writing about the placement on here, but I'm so looking forward to it despite being incredibly scared. Yep, terrified. But I'll be fine. I always am. It'll be fun and when my dear brothers start asking me what I've been doing and they listen for all of three seconds before telling me to 'bore off' then I know they are pleased for me really. 

So onto the recipe. This one came about because I have been fancying combining coconut and lemon for some time now, and I didn't want to do a standard Vicky sponge mix. I was toying with the idea of making it into a sandwich cake, with lemon curd and lemon buttercream in the middle and lemon buttercream on top. Maybe even some lemon curd swirled through the top buttercream. When decorating these cakes I did wonder if they should have some toasted coconut sprinkled on top but I was a bit concerned they would just look like burned flecks of something strange instead. So I decided to play it safe, though thinking of it now, maybe a sprinkling of yellow edible glitter would be nice. I'm sure Marian Keyes would agree. In her recipe book, 'Saved by Cake' glitter and sprinkles are added at every opportunity and life does need a bit of sparkle now and again. 

I was pretty much making this recipe up as I went along. After the last exam, a few people asked me what I was planning on doing during the summer (summer? Ha! It's chucking it down at the minute) and before I could even answer they would follow up with 'apart from baking I mean'. These were the first things I made after arriving home and my mum didn't even bother to ask what I was doing, even with me saying she might not like it. I really enjoyed making, and eating, them and what made it extra nice was that I could experiment to my hearts content without being disturbed by the thought that I should be revising. I hope you have as much fun making these as I did!

125g butter, softened
175g caster sugar
3 large eggs
1 small pot of yoghurt (I used a 120g pot of Activia vanilla intensely creamy)
50ml ish milk
150g plain flour
1 rounded tsp baking powder
50g dessicated coconut
finely grated zest of 2 unwaxed lemons
75g butter, softened
175g ish icing sugar
lemon juice

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C/170fan then cream the 125g lot of butter with the caster sugar until pale and fluffy, this will take a good 5 mins with a handheld electric mixer.
  2. In a jug, mix the eggs, yoghurt and milk to combine then add in small batches to the butter/sugar mixture, beating well in between each addition and periodically scraping down the sides of the bowl. If the mixture looks like it is starting to curdle (separate) then add a dollop of the flour.
  3. Carefully fold in the flour, zest, coconut and baking powder with  a metal spoon or spatula. Do this gently so that you keep in as much air as possible. Do the baking powder near the end so that it is in contact with the wet ingredients for as little time as possible - this makes sure it doesn't start to work before you want it to. If the mixture is too stiff, add in a bit more milk a little at the time. 
  4. Spoon the mixture into muffin or cupcake cases (fairy cake cases are too small unless you want to make lots) making them about 3/4 full and pop these into a muffin tray. You should make 12 ish.Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 mins is. If your oven has a hotspot, you'll need to rotate the tray after 18-20 mins. When they are risen, golden and a cake tester or skewer comes out of the centre clean then remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 5 mins before taking the cakes out of the tray to finish cooling before icing.
  5. To make the buttercream, beat the 75g lot of butter in a bowl until creamy then gradually beat in the icing sugar and lemon juice. You can add the sugar and juice to get the taste and consistency you want, just remember that it needs to be soft enough to pipe without being slop. Carry on beating until the buttercream is fluffy but try not to check it too often or else you will discover you have eaten so much to make more.
  6. Transfer the buttercream to a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and pipe swirls or whatever else you fancy onto the cakes.
  7. Serve and enjoy. They go lovely with a cup of tea and a good book or chat. Let me know what you think!