Mon, 14 May, 2018
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.
coconut loafServings: one loaf cakeTime: 1 hour 20 minutes
- 310g (2½ cup) plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp fine salt
- 200g (1 cup) caster sugar
- 150g (1½ cup) coconut flakes
- 75g (6 tbsp.) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 eggs
- 300ml (1¼ cup) milk
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Butter and flour a loaf cake tin, 23 x 13cm Stir together the flour, baking powder, coconut, salt and sugar in a large bowl.
2. In another bowl or a jug stir together the eggs, milk and vanilla; whisk in melted butter. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and fold them together with four or five strokes of a spatula, just until incorporated and no dry flour is visible.
3. Pour it into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour – 1 hour 10 until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in the tin on a wire rack.
4. Serve slices lightly toasted and buttered.