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: courgette and lemon drizzle cake

My brother-in-law has an allotment and every year he has a glut of courgettes (zucchini) many of which my sister turns into courgette loaf using her tried and trusted Mary Berry recipe. In case you didn’t know, Mary is the doyenne of British baking and was one of the original judges on the Great British Bake Off. She’s as close to British royalty as you can get without being royal.

I took the recipe and played around with it – sacré bleu! Don’t tell my sister, or indeed Mary, but I found it a little on the heavy side. Indeed, my sister always serves it buttered. I think I’ve come up with a much moister cake by combining it with everyone’s favourite lemon drizzle cake. This way the flavour of the courgette fades away beneath the zingy lemon, while leaving pretty decorative flecks of green. What’s more, the courgettes provide one of your 5-a-day! What could be better? I usually make this as a loaf cake but during confinement I made large muffins so I could more easily share the spoils with my elderly neighbours who were isolating.

Ingredients (makes 12 large cup cakes)

  • 350g (3 cups) courgette (zucchini) raw, grated
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) vegetable oil
  • 2 organic eggs, approx. weight without shells 125g
  • 100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 4 tbsp fresh organic lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp freshly grated organic lemon zest
  • 300g (2 1/2 cups) plain (all purpose) flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • ½tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • ½ tsp sea salt

Lemon glaze

  • 85g (3/4 cup) powdered icing sugar
  • 1tbsp fresh organic lemon juice
  • organic lemon zest to decorate (optional)

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan/gas mark 4 (350ºF/320ºF fan). Grease and line a  2-ltr (1 lb) loaf tin or 12 muffin sized baking tray.

2. Coarsely grate the unpeeled raw courgettes (zucchini) (in a box grater or food processor). Tightly squeeze the gratings in a clean tea towel to remove much of the moisture.

3. In a large bowl, whisk the oil, eggs, sugar, zest and juice together until smooth, then stir in the courgette. Sift in the flour, bicarbonate, baking powder and salt, and gently combine.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared tin(s) and bake for 75 minutes (large cake)/30 minutes (muffin sized cake), or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

5. Leave to cool in the tin completely.

6. Mix the lemon juice and icing sugar together until smooth. Drizzle over the cooled cake and sprinkle with the lemon zest.

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(s) 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 cakes are browning too quickly, particularly at the edges, cover them with an aluminium-foil tent.

4. Don’t skip the step to remove moisture from the grated courgette. Otherwise the cake will be soggy!

5. No need to peel the raw courgette – a lot of goodness is in the green skin.

6. This cake itself has a reduced amount of sugar on account of the lemon drizzle topping.

7. Swap the lemon for lime for a totally different flavour. I’ve also made these cakes with the addition of a couple of tablespoons of chopped basil.

8. Make it gluten-free by using gluten-free flour and baking powder.

9. Make it vegan: swap eggs for flax or chia eggs (2 tbsp of ground flax or chia seeds stirred into 6 tbsp of water and allow to stand for 5 minutes to become gelatinous).

10. This is a dairy-free courgette cake.

The Musette: gluten-free chocolate cupcakes

My beloved expressed a desire for some chocolate cake and I decided to make a gluten and dairy-free version with some cooked basmati rice that I had in the fridge, using the same-weight method that one uses for pound cakes. I recall reading somewhere that you could substitute moist, cooked rice for butter.

Please note it makes a very liquid batter which you pour into the baking tin(s). This is what you need for cakes made with cocoa rather than melted chocolate otherwise they tend to be too dry. I speak from experience, bitter experience!  My beloved judged the cake(s) a success and this recipe will make a great addition to my arsenal of cyclist-friendly cakes.

Ingredients (makes 8 – 10 muffin-sized cakes or one loaf tin)

  • 250g (1 cup) cooked brown basmati rice, still nice and moist
  • 250g (1 cup) raw cane sugar
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 6 medium-sized organic eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g (2 cups) ground almonds
  • 50g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder
  • 2tsp powered espresso coffee
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Chocolate ganache

  • 100g (4 oz) dark (bitter-sweet) chocolate 70% cocoa
  • 100ml (7 tbsp) double cream or plant-based cream to keep it dairy free

Method

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

2. Grease the base and sides of a baking tin. I typically use a disposable tin-foil one measuring 18cm x 23cm x  5cm (6” x 9” x 2″) – they’re great for storing the cakes in the freezer – which I line with a couple of strips of greaseproof paper to make it easier to remove the cake. In addition, I find it’s an easy size and shape to slice into fingers for serving. The French prefer to have a small taste of everything on offer! But, as these were for home consumption, I made muffin-sized cup cakes.

3. Combine and mix all the dry ingredients: ground almonds, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and coffee powder.

4. Combine and mix all the wet ingredients: eggs, vanilla extract and maple syrup.

5. Put the rice and sugar into the food processor and process until totally smooth.

6. Add all the wet and dry ingredients and process again until everything is incorporated and the batter smooth. Remember, this cake has no gluten, so it won’t get tough.

7. Pour batter into cake tin or cupcake/muffin papers (3/4 full) and bake for 40-45 minutes for cupcakes/ 60 minutes for cake until a skewer or tooth pick comes out clean. Leave the cake(s) to cool.

8. Heat the cream in a small saucepan or a jug in the microwave until warm but not boiling. Take off the heat and add the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate melts. Once the cakes have cooled, spread the ganache over them and leave it to harden slightly – if you can wait that long – before eating.

9. These can be stored for a couple of days in an airtight container but they rarely last that long…………They’ll happily keep in the freezer for a couple of months without the ganache.

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(s) in the oven, put the timer on for 5-10 minutes less than they should take to cook and then check regularly.

3. You can use any type of rice (excl. wild rice), just so long as it’s still moist. If not, increase the amount of maple syrup, or equivalent.

4. For an even richer treat, spread a layer of salted caramel on the cake(s) before the ganache! This tends to work better on one large cake rather than the cupcakes.