In an English Country Garden! Clandestine Cake Club – Lavender and Coconut Madeira Cake

Following on from my disastrous Lavender and Coconut Bibingka Cake attempt I had  one evening left before the Clandestine Cake Club to create a new and English Country Garden themed cake… I toyed with the idea of a rose flavoured bundt and earl grey tea and then fell upon the idea of a Lavender and Coconut Madeira Cake instead! Normally a citrusy based sponge cake I reckoned I could substitute some ingredients and make my own recipe… Dangerous and experimental with a very short time limit? Sounds good to me!

Emergency Lavender and Coconut Madeira Cake

Unfortunately I can’t count this towards my aroundtheworldin80bakes challenge as I have already baked SO much from England. Despite it’s continental name, Madeira Cake is actually from England. It’s a typical afternoon tea type of sponge cake and one of my favourites! The sponge in the Lamingtons that I made earlier is very similar to a madeira sponge. I love it’s moistness and I think (shock horror) I prefer it to a Victoria Sponge which (when I make it) can be a bit on the dry side.

Funnily enough Madeira cake and Madelines seemed to be very popular when I was in China. I ate rather a lot with my green tea!

Lavender and Coconut Madeira Cake (I can’t spell Madeira in this picture and this was my fourth attempt!)

I used a basic Marguerite Patten recipe and adapted it, replacing the lemon and orange zests with lavender sugar. I used the leftover lavender infused sugar (as mentioned in my last post) to add the lavender to the madeira recipe. I also substituted the milk for coconut milk and steeped some dried lavender in the milk for good measure while I whisked the butter and sugar together.

Beating the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy

I think the key to a maderia cake is to keep beating the butter and sugar until it becomes a lighter yellow colour and then add in one egg at a time. Whisk it all together until you think it’s ready and then beat it a bit more!

Whisking the eggs and coconut milk

Whisking the eggs and milk into the beaten butter and sugar

Fold in the sifted flour

All baked in my lovely new leak proof and non stick tin (no lining required!)

Unfortunately I got a bit carried away with the generous sprinkling of lavender sugar on the top of the cake and it dried out in the oven and cracked. I hadn’t intended on icing it at all, but the top layer crumbled away so on with the buttercream! (and no one will know the difference!)

Naked Madeira – pre cracked top

I usually enjoy my madeira cake plain with a cup of tea, especially as the edges a little more crunchy and sugary. However emergency butter cream was required and I whisked it up with another experimental addition. Coconut powder, icing sugar, blue food colouring, a little red food colouring and vanilla essence! This made the fluffiest icing that I have ever made! It was a bit touch and go for a while as my colourings ended up at grey rather than purple, so I kept adding blue until I got to lavender blue colour instead.

Lavender blue (and a sprinkle of glitter, coconut and lavender petals)

I didn’t have time for fancy piping so I plopped the icing on the cake with my palette knife and smoothed it round. Rustic looking, with a sprinkle of coconut and lavender, as Mary Berry suggests, to use a little of what’s inside the cake, on top of the cake to decorate it. I also couldn’t resist a sprinkle of glitter too…

The Cakes arriving at Cladestine Cake Club

All I had to do, was store it in the fridge over night. Then run home to collect it after work. The Clandestine Cake Club was held in the Garden Kitchen in Eldon Gardens this month. It was a fantastic venue, so light and airy!

So many gorgeous cakes to try!

The cakes were fantastic! I managed to sample, (almost) all of the cakes this time round. There were 20 bakers at this club with a guest each. I think I tried about 15 cakes! As most of them had fruit (and vegetables) in them they were quite light. I really enjoyed the English Country Garden theme.

Orange Blossom and Pistachio

I loved meeting lots of new faces at the CCC too and catching up with fellow bakers and bloggers Nelly  and Lisa (who organised the Newcastle CCC, it’s definitely worth checking out her blog!). Thankfully my cake seemed to be well received and there wasn’t a piece left at the end of the night! No one seemed to notice the cracked top that the buttercream was hiding too. I even took along my Bibingka Cake, just in case anyone wanted to try it, but there were far too many other lovely cakes to choose from, so I’m not surprised I ended up taking it home with me again!

Real Strawberries were hidden inside the giant carved cake strawberry! Delicious!

I’m looking forward to the next CCC event in July, where I will be baking something from the 18th Century for the EAT Festival! (I have no idea what I will be baking yet as google hasn’t offered many suitable recipes at the moment… all ideas are very welcome!)

 

Things I used to make Lavender and Coconut Madeira Cake…

Madeira Sponge

  • 6 0z of margarine (stork)
  • 7 oz caster sugar (infused with lavender petals)
  • 3 eggs
  • 8 oz plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • about 1 tablespoon of dried lavender petals (for the sugar infusion)
  • 2 tablespoons of light coconut milk (you can use normal milk if you prefer)
  • about 1 tsp of dried lavender petals to infuse in the coconut milk

Coconut Buttercream

  • approximately 250g stork margarine
  • as much icing sugar as required to achieve smooth pale fluffy and thick consistency (approximately 200g)
  • a splash of vanilla extract
  • a generous 1-2 tbp powdered coconut milk
  • a sprinkle of dried lavender petals and desiccated coconut (and glitter)
  • blue food colouring (add as much as desired)

* This recipe was lovingly adapted from Marguerite Patten’s Luxury Madeira Cake Recipe, Everyday Food Cookbook

13. Lovely Lamingtons – Australia – Lord Lamington’s Finest

As a surprise birthday treat, I decided to bake Chris his favourite Australian treat, Lamingtons. We ate Lamingtons the size of house bricks when visiting Australia. One particular Lamington stands out from our visit this year when we drove the Great Ocean Road and stayed in the seaside towns of Lorne and Apollo Bay to take in the sights (and the cakes and pies too).

Look at this little fella! Spotted on the Great Ocean Road

Somewhere over the rainbow…

I spotted a Lamington recipe in Marguerite Patton’s Everyday Cookbook and planned it all well in advance, purchasing an industrial sized bag of desiccated coconut, only for Chris to then ask for Lamingtons (and a Chocolate Roulade) for his birthday! My plan was discovered, but then again I’m not very good at keeping surprises secret and our tiny Tyneside flat doesn’t leave much to the imagination anyway…

Lamingtons. The classic Australian ones

I googled Lamingtons as they caused a bit of debate in the office. Many of us remember eating these chocolate, coconut, jam, sponge cubes as children, although others remember a pink version. They are also known by different names, such as Madelines, or pink Lamingtons. Some Australian Counsellor put me right. Apparently an Australian Lord loved cake. His maid  accidently dropped his cake into chocolate. Despite being a Lord he didn’t want to waste his cake (Don’t blame him!). So he told her to roll it in coconut so he wouldn’t get messy fingers. Et voila! Lamingtons were born and Australians are very proud of their 100 year recipe. (Check out the Australian Lamington official blog for evidence of the City Counsellor of Queensland shovelling Lamingtons into his mouth and the record breaking Lamington).

Celebrating 100 years of the Australian Lamington

Counsellor Paul Tullly enjoying Lamingtons – Courtesy of australianlamingtons.blogspot.com

I was a bit worried about how technical this recipe was and I didn’t actually own a square tin. I made a quick trip to visit my mam to borrow her tin. I’ve never baked one cake and sliced it in half before. It seems a bit dangerous. Is it difficult? What if I slip with the knife and ruin the entire cake?!

Sponge time

The sponge itself was pretty simple to make. A basic vanilla batter, which smelled gorgeous and tasted rather like a dense madeira cake.

Smells so good

I had to leave it to cool overnight and the next day chopped off the slightly domed top to create a flat surface instead. This was nerve wracking too as the last time I attempted this I cut my hand. I managed and kept all my fingers intact. This meant that I got a sneak preview and ate the lid before work. Hurrah! It was delicious!

Off with it’s dome

I set about creating the chocolate soup, from cocoa powder and icing sugar. I carefully sliced the cake through the middle widthways and had two perfect halves!!

Chocolate Soup?

The recipe was supposed to make 16 portions… I was a bit worried that this dinky square cake just wasn’t enough for the Australian cakes that we were accustomed too. So I baked another one. This time in a big roasting tin to make one flat cake, remembering this time to leave a bit of a dint in the top (pushing more mixture to the edges) so I didn’t get a dome finish.

The second sponge… (please ignore the cat food in the background)

Our guests were arriving for fish and chips and Lamingtons so I didn’t have much time for mistakes. I threw almost a full jar of strawberry jam onto the sponges and rubbed it in with the back of a spoon. (Excessive? Me?)

JAM

Then plonked one half on top of the other and decided that 4 big cakes were better than 16 little ones. I used the sharpest knife I could find and cut the sponge into quarters. Although they still didn’t look that ‘Australian sized’ to me.

That’s more like it

The recipe suggests you use a skewer to pierce the cake and dip gentily into the chocolate soup before lovingly rolling it in desiccated coconut. Who has time for these things? I picked the cakes up with my bare hands and within 2 seconds was up to my eyes in chocolate and coconut. Everything stuck to me! My messy yet effective method.

Step one. Dunk yourself in chocolate

Step two. Roll around in coconut (Do not try to a. answer the phone b. push your hair out of your face c.  say hello to the cat until hands can be throughly washed.)

The cakes needed about an hour to ‘set’. I definitely used more coconut than suggested as the chocolate from my fingers kept leaking onto the pristine white finish and ruining the effect slightly.

The Setting Process

When piled onto my new vintage cake plate, topped with candles, lit and then carried through the beaded curtain from the kitchen to the living room. (No fires were caused in the making of these cakes, don’t worry), They suddenly transformed into magnificent brick like beasts. I had made giant cakes. One cake was more than enough for two people and I still had an entire sponge cake left to assemble!

Happy Birthday Chris!

Happy Birthday Chris! I loved these cakes and was so impressed with how they turned out. The sponge doesn’t need to be the perfect shape, the coconut makes up for any inconsistencies and they are so very moreish.

My Half

I attempted some pink Lamingtons (or English Madelines as Nigel Slater informs me in his ‘Eating for England’ book) especially for Caroline at work as they were her favourite, using powdered jelly. Bizarre stuff but apparently they tasted excatly like the ones she had when she was little. Success!

Pink Jelly Soup

One flat sponge cake goes a long way…

Things that I used to make Lovely Lamingtons…

Sponge cake

  • 5 oz butter
  • 7 oz caster sugar
  • splash of vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 10 oz self raising flour
  • 4 tablespoons of milk

Filling

  • strawberry/raspberry jam

Coating

  • 7 oz icing sugar
  • 1 oz cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons of boiling water

Decoration

  • 6 oz desiccated coconut (or as much as you need to coat the lamingtons liberally!)

Method

  1. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla essence together
  2. add the eggs gradually
  3. fold in the sieved flour alternatively with the milk
  4. spread the mixture into a baking tin (8 inch square)
  5. bake for 50-60 mins at 350 degrees F/gas mark 4
  6. cool the sponge and store in an airtight container over night
  7. carefully slice the sponge through the centre to create 2 square sponges
  8. spread with jam
  9. sandwich the two sponges together
  10. mix the icing sugar and cocoa powder together in a shallow bowl adding the boiling water gradually to create your chocolate soup. Add more sugar/water as required.
  11. chop the sponge into equal sized squares (4 if you want big pieces or 16 smaller ones)
  12. dip each piece into the chocolate soup and then into a shallow bowl of desiccated coconut
  13. leave on a cooling rack to harden
  14. eat with a big cup of tea!

* Recipe lovingly adapated from Marguerite Patten’s Everyday Cookbook