Cardamom & Coconut Cake

Is there anything more comforting than the smell of freshly ground cardamom? Maybe a freshly baked cake or pastry, where the buttery baked smell combines with hot sugar and fresh, floral, spicy sweetness?

Niki Segnit, author of the one of my most-referenced food books, The Flavour Thesaurus, says that cardamom and coconut, especially in Indian rice puddings and barfi is so delicious that it is “not to be trusted”, tricking you into eating far more than you should… That’s an easy thing to do with this cake, which goes as well with coffee at elevenses as it does with tea late afternoon. Just have to bake another one!

Ingredients:

  • 200g butter, softened
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 10 cardamom pods
  • 1 tbsp coconut cream (instructions on this later)

For the coconut filling:

  • 3 tbsp coconut cream
  • 2 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar

For the syrup:

  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence (or vanilla bean paste)
  • 5 cardamom pods

Method:

  1. To make coconut cream, put a can of full-fat coconut milk in fridge for a few hours. DO NOT SHAKE IT. When you open it, the cream should have risen to the top.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease and line a 23cm, 9 inch deep cake tin.
  3. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add in the eggs one at a time, along with a tablespoon of the flour with each and beat well. Repeat with rest of the eggs, beating well in between. 
  5. Using a pestle and mortar, bash the cardamom pods to split them open, then scrape out the seeds. Discard the husks and grind the seeds into powder. (Or you could bash the pods with a rolling pin or similar and grind the seeds in a clean coffee or spice grinder). 
  6. Add to the mixture, along with the tablespoon of coconut cream and stir to combine. 
  7. Add the remaining flour in thirds, folding in lightly in between.
  8. Dollop into the tin, smooth over the top and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden and risen, and a skewer inserted comes out clean. 

The filling:

  1. Scoop the coconut cream into a clean bowl.
  2. Add the icing sugar and desiccated coconut and mix together. 
  3. Cover and place in the fridge until ready to use.

The syrup:

  1. Bash the cardamom pods open and grind in the same way as before. 
  2. Place in a small saucepan, along with the caster sugar, vanilla and 5 tablespoons of hot water. 
  3. Bring to a simmer and reduce over a medium heat until the consistency thickens. BE CAREFUL because hot sugar is HOT. 
  4. When the cake is out of the oven, prick holes all over the surface with a skewer and spoon on the sugar syrup so that it all soaks in. Leave for a few minutes before turning out of the tin and leaving to cool on a wire rack. 
  5. When completely cool, carefully cut the cake in two. 
  6. Spoon the coconut filling onto the bottom half, spreading out to the edge, then sandwich the other half back on top. 
  7. Decorate with icing sugar and try not to eat too many slices at once…

This recipe was first featured on the Domestic Sluttery newsletter.

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