This must be the quickest cake in the world. I wish I could say it is also the finest but the two things rarely go hand in hand.
It’s not the number of ingredients on the list: meringue is egg whites and sugar. Soufflé is eggs and air. Crème brulée is custard plus flame. But trying to make one of them at home is no mean trick; even meringues take some beating (heh).
Desserts, more than starters and mains, are about harmoniously or strikingly combining textures and flavours. Why do we love apple pie so much? Because it’s flaky, plain crust hiding sweet and tender fruit. Eclairs are creamy explosions. Carrot cake has that crunch of the grated vegetable. Tiramisu – the coffee-soaked sponge amongst the smoothest mascarpone. If it wasn’t about the complex taste experience, we could shovel up sugar by the spoonful at the end of a meal.
Producing those fine concoctions takes skill and time; you can’t just whip up a croquembouche in half an hour while your guests are on the main course. Of course it’s arguable whether complex always means better than simple, but that’s why I started off with ‘the finest’ rather than ‘the best’.
Still, there’s time for everything and ‘the finest’ won’t do when you desperately need a quick cake fix and don’t we all ever so often. That’s when this simple coconut loaf by Bill Granger comes into its own. Bish: dump the dry ingredients into a bucket. Bash: stir the wet ones together. Bosh: mix together and pour into a tin. It bakes for a while but then keeps for ever and guess what – the soft sponge interspersed with chewy flaked coconut makes a really interesting texture.