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Try as I might, I can’t trace the origin of lumberjack cake or why it is called thus. I can only think that – at a push – the shredded coconut on the topping is supposed to look vaguely like wood chips on top of a tree stump. That’s a large push.
I pushed it even further. My topping didn’t want to stay pale because, embarrassingly, it turns out that I’m an ignorant and don’t know the difference between desiccated and shredded coconut. So it serves me damn right that my cake a/ not only doesn’t know where it originates from but /b does not fulfill my pushed lumberjack-ey criterion either.
The difference is in the thickness of the flakes (and of course that’s another form of coconut flesh) – using larger bits would stop my cake topping from getting all brown. But I have never come across shredded coconut in stores – only desiccated. Having looked it up, several coconutty sites firmly advised I could use the other in recipes that call for one. Isn’t there’s an awful lot of rubbish information out there?
So I did, so it turned out to be the one exception, so the topping turned all brown. But it also turned caramelized, gooey and delightful so I’m not in the end convinced I did it so very wrong.
And what if doesn’t resemble a freshly felled tree stump; who cares? Not a lumberjack – he’s okay!
lumberjack cakeServings: 12-16Time: a couple of hours
- 250g (9oz.) pitted dates, chopped
- a handful of raisins (optional)
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 250ml (1 cup) boiling water
- 2 large eating apples (175–200g each), such as Cox’s or Russets
- 125g (1 stick and 1 tbsp.) butter, softened
- 175g (¾ cup and 1 tbsp.) light soft brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 150g (1 heaped cup) plain flour
- ½ tsp fine salt
- a pinch of ground cloves
- For the topping:
- 75g (5 tbsp.) butter
- 75g (2/3 cup) soft dark brown sugar
- 60g (¾ cup) desiccated or shredded coconut
- 75g (¼ cup) cream
1. Peel, core and coarsely grate the apples; place them in a bowl with the dates and raisins, if using. Sprinkle over the bicarbonate of soda and pour over boiling water. Leave for 30 minutes.
2. In the meantime preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Butter and line with parchment a round 20cm (8in) cake tin.
3. Beat the butter with the sugar until pale and fluffy, beat in the egg. Stir in the date and apple mix until combined. Stir the salt and cloves into flour and fold into the cake batter. Pour it into the prepared tin and transfer to the oven for 45 minutes until the surface looks firm.
4. Prepare the topping while the cake is baking: bring all the topping ingredients to the boil in a small pan and simmer for a minute until melted.
5. Remove the care carefully from the oven and pour the topping over it. Return to the oven for 20 minutes until the topping has bubbled up, subsided and turned dark golden brown.
6. Cool completely in the tin before cutting. Keep for 3 days at room temperature and up to a week in the fridge.