The Musette: Choco-coconut dream cake

I made my crack cake tasting team a danish cake called “drømmekage” which means dream cake which is famous for its baked caramelised coconut topping atop a rich vanilla sponge. It’s delicious and decadent and was well received but I wondered whether I could make a healthier more cyclist friendly version. I decided to go all bounty bar on it and combine cocoa with coconut.

After some trial and error, and important feedback from my willing volunteers, I adjusted the sweetness of the batter with an extra banana to come up with a cake that’s free of gluten, dairy and refined sugar. Plus, it tastes deliciously dreamy!

The cake is baked in two steps, first the base cake, and then you add the topping to finish it. You will NOT be disappointed with this recipe.

Ingredients (makes 12 large cup cakes)

Cake

  • 300g (1 1/2 cups) baked sweet potato
  • 2 medium ripe bananas
  • 4 large organic eggs
  • 45g (1/2 cup) rolled oats
  • 7 dates (pitted)
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup (or honey)
  • 100 ml (just under half a cup) almond milk
  • 75g (3/4 cup) dutch cocoa powder (any unsweetened cocoa will do)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 heaped tsp espresso coffee powder
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 100g (1/2 cup, less 1 tbsp) melted coconut oil

Topping

  • 100g (1 1/2 cup) unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 50g (1/4 cup, less 1 tbsp) melted coconut oil
  • 75g (1/4 cup, less 1 tbsp) maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan/gas mark 4 (350ºF/320ºF fan) and bake whole sweet potatoes on a baking tray with the skin on until they are completely tender. Cool them down before step 2.

2. Blend all the cake ingredients EXCEPT for the coconut oil until smooth. Then add in the cool melted coconut oil whilst blending at low-medium speed.

3. Grease and line your cake or muffin tins. Pour the batter into the tin(s).

4. Bake for 20 minutes turning the cakes twice during the baking time to ensure an even bake.

5. Heat up all the topping ingredients in a saucepan and simmer for about 2-3 minutes.

6. Take the cake(s) out of the oven and spread the hot coconut topping evenly on the top, then bake it for another 10 minutes until the coconut is toasted golden. Watch it so it doesn’t burn.

7. Remove the cake(s) from the oven and cool on a rack – you don’t need to wait until it’s completely cool – because it tastes sooooo good when it’s still warm.

8. The cake keeps for up to five days in the fridge, that is if you haven’t eaten it all by day two.

9. It also freezes well, however the topping may fall off once defrosted. If it does, just put it back on the cake, slap a dollop of cream on the top and pretend like nothing happened.

The Musette: tangerine and almond cake (gluten-free)

This gluten-free tangerine and almond cake is simply sensational! Moist, nutty and with a strong tangerine flavour this cake is also flourless, dairy and oil free. Serve simply with coffee or with whipped cream for an indulgent dessert.

I’ve come across various iterations of this recipe on numerous occasions. This particular cake is generally known as Passover dessert across the Mediterranean.

One very popular thing about this cake is its use of entire citrus fruits (skin and all) which are boiled until soft and then pureed in their entirety. Most of the recipes I’ve come across don’t use any regular flour or fat (oil, butter) at all which makes this lovely cake naturally gluten and dairy free and with no added fat – a bonus for my cycling friends.

This cake (or my take on it) has been very popular with a number of celebrity chefs including Nigella whose recipe for Clementine Cake can be found in her book How to Eat. My recipe more closely resembles that of Claudia Roden’s in The Essential Guide to Middle Eastern Cooking.

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • 450g/3 large organic tangerines, (choose ones with unblemished skins as the whole fruit is used in this recipe)
  • 250g (approx. 5 large) organic eggs
  • 250g (1 1/4 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 250g (2 1/2 cup) ground almonds
  • 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • 1 tbsp Cointreau or other orange flavoured liquer (optional)
  • icing (confectioner’s) sugar to serve

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan/gas mark 4 (350ºF/320ºF fan). Grease and line the base of a 2-ltr (1 lb) loaf tin.

2. Place the tangerines in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer, covered, for about an hour, ensuring that they remain covered with water. Drain and cool.

3. Cut the tangerines into quarters, discard any seeds, then place the chunks into a blender and puree until smooth.

4. Beat the eggs with the sugar until thick, the whisk should leave ribbons. then add the orange puree, ground almonds, liquer and baking powder and mix well.

5. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for an hour. Leave the cake to firm up in the pan for 20 minutes then turn out, remove the baking paper and turn over to finish cooling right way up.

This cake definitely mellows with a little time and can be prepared well in advance.

6. To serve, sift icing sugar on top and add a dllop of whatever your heart desires: chantilly cream, Greek yoghurt, creme fraiche, orange flavoured whipped cream.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. All ingredients should be at room temperature.

2. When I’m baking I always use a timer as it’s so easy to lose track of time. Once you’ve put the cake in the oven, put the timer on for 5-10 minutes less than it should take to cook and then check regularly.

3. You can use any citrus fruit, blood orange would be terrific, but something like grapefruit will require much longer cooking in water to sufficiently soften.

4. You can make these as cupcakes in which case they’d need around 40-45 minutes cooking time.

5. While this cake is perfect as is you could sprinkle on some toasted almond flakes.

6. The cake can be also prepared in advance as it keeps really well when chilled in the fridge, for up to 3 days.

7. Rather than boiling the citrus fruits, you could  do this quicker by using a microwave. Simply pierce your fruit a  few times with a fork (to prevent them from bursting) and put them in a large microwavable bowl with a little bit of water. Microwave on high for approx 10 minutes et voila!

8. To freeze, make sure your cake is completely cool before wrapping in clingfilm and then aluminium foil. Make sure to label it too if you don’t want to play “Freezer Roulette” later! Pop it in the freeze for up to 3 months. To defrost simply leave out on the kitchen worktop (counter) and once defrosted decorate as you wish.

The Musette: hazelnut torta

This is a wonderfully easy cake to make, redolent with the flavours and scents for which Piedmont in Italy is famous – think Nutella! Hazelnuts are called tonda gentile delle Langhe – the ‘sweet round nut of the Langhe’ – and with a bit of chocolate, you have the match made famous in Turin – gianduja. This torte is a classically moist, rich dessert. The darker the chocolate you use, the more intense the flavour. I prefer snappy dark 70% chocolate, though you could use less or even more. The hazelnuts give the cake a wonderfully toasty flavour, while the vanilla and hint of coffee balances all those dark chocolate chunks.

It’s also a very versatile dessert. Serve it simply dredged in icing sugar or with decadent whipped cream on the side or flanked with a scoop of chocolate hazelnut ice cream or a drizzle of warm chocolate sauce. In Piedmont, they often serve the cake with a coffee zabaglione.

A fair few ingredients but the end result is worth it

Ingredients (serves ten)

  • 90g (1½ cups) hazelnuts, toasted, skins rubbed off in a tea towel and reduced to rubble in a food processor. (
  • 180g (1½ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • 160g (1 cup + 1 tbsp) caster sugar
  • 85g (6 tbsp) unsalted butter
  • 3 large organic eggs, approx weight without shells 45g (1⅔oz) each
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp espresso coffee powder
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 250ml (1 cup) buttermilk, dairy milk, or plant milk
  • 60g (4 tbsp) dark chocolate chips

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan/gas mark 4 (350ºF/320ºF fan).

2. Lightly butter and flour a 23cm (9-inch) round spring-form cake tin.

3. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, and add the chopped hazelnuts and the chopped chocolate.

2. In the mixer, cream the sugar and butter together until light, smooth, fluffy and white. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Incorporate the eggs one by one along with the olive oil and vanilla extract at slow speed, scraping the bowl then beating at high speed for a couple of minutes to lighten.

3. On a slow speed, incorporate the dry ingredients and buttermilk/milk/plant milk alternately, starting and finishing with the dry.

4. Scrape the batter into the cake pan – it should have a soft-dropping consistency – and smooth the top. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. The top should be lightly browned and just spring back to a light touch.

5. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes or so, remove the side ring of the spring-form and let the cake cool completely.

6. The torte will keep in the refrigerator for a week, well wrapped in cling film (plastic wrap) or for a month in the freezer.

Equally nice on its onw as with.............

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. All ingredients should be at room temperature.

2. When I’m baking I always use a timer as it’s so easy to lose track of time. Once you’ve put the cake in the oven, put the timer on for 5-10 minutes less than the cake should take to cook and then check regularly.

3. If you think the cake is browning too quickly, particularly at the edges, cover it with an aluminium foil tent.

4. You’ll note from the picture that I’ve baked mine in a square rather than the recommended round one. The two pieces on the plate will become four and the cake will be sliced and distributed at one of our many cycle club events. It’s always easier to bake cakes for events in square or rectangular tins. Whereas if you’re going to serve it as a dessert, circular looks nicer from a presentation perspective (as shown above).

5. I have also served the cake as a dessert smothered in hazelnut chocolate ganache. Toast 60g (2oz) hazelnuts in a dry frying pan shaking them around frequently for about five minutes, or until they are lightly browned, then allow them to cool completely. If the nuts have skins, put them in clean tea towel after toasting and rub them around – this will remove most of the skins. Cut them in half. Chop 120g (4oz) 70% dark (bitter-sweet) chocolate and put in a saucepan with 125ml (½ cup) of double (heavy) cream over a medium-low heat. Once the chocolate has melted, whisk to combine and then add 1 tbsp of Frangelico hazelnut liquor (optional), then leave to cool. Pour cooled ganache over the cake, spreading lightly to create a smooth, shiny surface, and stud all over with hazelnuts.

6. This cake is at its best when served at room temperature.