Baking · Cake · Nation Cake Challenge · North America

Hawaii: Pineapple, Coconut and Blueberry Upside-Down Cake

As an American state slap-bang in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii is a complete contrast to the rest of mainland America (My lack of geographical knowledge in my younger years becomes painfully evident when discussing the Pacific – until I was 11 I thought that Hawaii was somewhere in the Caribbean!). This tropical paradise (Paradise incidently being one of the archepeligo’s nicknames) enjoys ideal conditions for people from sun-seeking tourists to thrill-seeking surfers and volcanologists. Sadly it has one major issue, in that it is about as far as Britain as possible, therefore making a holiday rather impractical.

I plan to visit Hawaii at some point during my life, and at present the dreams of this island make the grey British January weather rather more bearable. When I walk down the cold, dark roads, I picture myself in Hawaii, eating pineapples (the island’s biggest crop), swimming in the warm sea and generally getting the sun I can’t seem to find at the moment!

pineapple upside down cake

The main aspect of this delicious cake, the pineapple is a major export of Hawaii. Whilst it originated in South America, it was introduced to the islands in the early 1990’s, quickly gaining massive popularity. The two largest pineapple companies (Dole and Del Monte) first started their companies on Oahu (the largest albums) and Hawaiian pineapple is still a massive corner of the market to this day. Combined in this delectable cake is the intensely tropical coconut and some added rum and blueberries to give some extra colour and intensity. Eat this cake and you will forever forget the pineapple upside down cakes of yesteryear.

The recipe was taken from  London Bakes (here)

Pineapple, Coconut and Blueberry Upside-Down Cake

Ingredients:

  • 500g fresh pineapple (canned will do at a push, but fresh is so much better!)
  • 20g fresh blueberries
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 100ml coconut milk
  • 50g dessicated coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 30ml rum
  • 165g unsalted butter, softened plus more for the tin
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 185g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 175F.  Line a tin with parchment paper and grease well with butter. Don’t use a springform tin unless you want to spill hot syrup all over yourself…

In a saucepan, heat the coconut milk until boiling, before taking off the heat and stir in the dessicated coconut, vanilla and rum.  Leave to cool whilst you prepare the pineapple.

Cut the pineapple into thin slices (if using canned, then just drain the slices slightly).  Melt the butter and sugar in a frying pan and, when hot, add the pineapple slices and caramelize on each side (this will take about 3 minutes on each side). Remove from the heat, allow to cool and place the pineapple in a layer at the bottom of the cake tin.  Pour over the syrup from the pan.  Add the blueberries to the gaps between the pineapple slices.

To make the cake, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs one at a time until combined and then fold in the flour, baking powder and coconut mixture. Pour into the tin and bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean and the top is golden brown. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack, carefully peeling off the parchment paper to expose the fruit topping.

Serve with ice cream or cream.

Baking · Cupcakes · Nation Cake Challenge · South America

Bolivia: Chocolate and Coconut Cupcakes

English: State flag of Bolivia, from the xrmap...

Back to the country cakes, today we are moving continents, over to South America. Two very important ingredients in Bolivian Cuisine are chocolate and coconut, and as these make a brilliant duo, it seemed to be a easy combination to do. Therefore these chocolate coconut cupcakes were born. They are very quick to make and really hit the spot when you just need that chocolate fix!

Coconut Chocolate Cupcakes

To be really authentic, these cupcakes should be made with top quality chocolate and coconut, and the best cocoa powder you can afford. However, it will also taste good when made with good quality chocolate and dessicated coconut, so whatever you have will do!

Chocolate and Coconut Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 8oz butter
  • 8oz caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 8oz self raising flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2oz dessicated coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 300g dark chocolate
  • 300g double cream
  • 2 tbsp dessicated coconut, to decorate.

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 and line a cupcake tray. Cream together the butter and sugar before adding in the eggs and mixing well. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and beat well, before finally mixing in the vanilla essence. Spoon in the cupcake liners and bake for 30 minutes until risen and firm. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before removing the cupcakes. Allow them to cool completely on a wire rack.

Make the chocolate ganache by melting the chocolate in a bain-marie and then stirring in the double cream. Once completely combined, leave to cool in the fridge for at least 30 minutes until thickened.

Spoon a small amount of ganache onto each cupcake, and swirl slightly with the spoon. Sprinkle the top of each cupcake with extra dessicated coconut. Store in the refrigerator once iced and eat within 3 days.

Cake · Central America · Cupcakes · Nation Cake Challenge

Puerto Rico: Pina Colada Cupcakes

The Pina Colada cocktail was invented by a Puerto Rican bartender in 1952, a drink to showcase the new coconut cream. His position of bartender at the the Caribe Hilton in Puerto Rico gave him an unprecidented opportunity for his new drink – as the first luxury hotel to open in the San Juan area, he had many rich and famous clients who duly spread the work of this new cocktail throughout the world.

pina colada cupcakes

This delicious cocktail is full of tropical flavours which work especially well as a cupcake. The cake is a pineapple coconut cake, which is then drenched in a rum drizzle, before being topped with a coconut buttercream, and toasted coconut. The cupcakes could also be decorated with a dried pineapple flower if wished. The recipe for the flowers can be found here, and is extremely simple to complete, thus being well worth the effort.

pina colada cupcakes 2

Pina Colada Cupcakes

Recipe adapted from Baked Perfection

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup crushed pineapple in juice
Pina Colada Frosting
  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2  1/2 tablespoons coconut milk
  • Dried pineapple flowers (see here) and dessicated coconut
Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 350ºF/Gas Mark 4 and line a 12 hole cupcake tin with liners.
Cream together the butter and sugar, before adding the eggs, beating after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix well. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the batter, alternating with spoonfuls of coconut milk and pineapple until all ingredients have been combined. Spoon the mixture into the cupcake liners and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch.
To make the frosting, beat together the butter and powdered sugar until thick and creamy, adding the coconut milk in gradually to create a thick frosting. Spoon onto the cupcakes, before topping with toasted coconut and a dried pineapple flower.
Baking · Cupcakes

Raspberry and Coconut Muffins

More summery muffins? Check. Raspberries and coconut. That’s right. One of my favourite combinations makes up these beautiful muffins – a coconut cake, filled with raspberry compote and topped with a raspberry buttercream. If you liked the coconut dream cake, you’ll love these!

Raspberry and Coconut Muffins

Raspberry and Coconut Muffins

Ingredients:

Cake

  • 8oz butter
  • 8oz caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 4oz plain flour
  • 4oz dessicated coconut
  • 3 tsp baking powder

Filling:

  • 2 punnets of raspberries
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar

Buttercream Topping

  • 160g butter
  • 500g icing sugar
  • 40ml milk
  • Fresh raspberries, to decorate
  • Dessicated coconut, to decorate
  • Other decorations as required.

Instructions: Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5 and line a 12-hole cupcake tray with liners. Cream together the butter and sugar before beating in the eggs and vanilla essence. Stir in the baking powder, plain flour and desiccated coconut and mix until well combined. Spoon into the cupcake liners and bake for 30 minutes until form and golden brown. Remove, place on a wire rack and leave to cool. Make the raspberry compote by placing the raspberries and sugar in a pan, and gently cooking until thick and the raspberries have broken down. Leave the mixture to cool. Use a cupcake corer or sharp knife to make a small hole in the cupcake before filling with the raspberry compote (or jam), retaining half the mixture. Make the buttercream by beating the butter, sugar and milk until thick and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add in the reserved raspberry compote and beat until well combined. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a star-shaped nozzle and pipe onto the cupcakes. Decorate with the raspberries, coconut and other decorations.

Desserts · Vegan

Vegan Coconut and Vanilla Panna Cotta, Macadamia Tuille and Pineapple

Over the next few posts we are going on a slight diversion from the cake-based goodness you are used to, and instead will be talking about dessert. Specifically, vegan desserts, and I will be giving you the recipes for two that I tried recently. This was a new challenge for me, as I am not vegan myself, and have had basically no experience in this type of cooking. However, I was asked to make dessert for a family dinner and one of my cousins who would be in attendance is a very committed vegan. Now, whilst the easy option was to make a fruit salad or the like I decided that I didn’t really want to do that – rather I wanted to make a dessert that everyone could eat and enjoy – one that was vegan without looking vegan!

Now this is easier said than done, as the majority of desserts include some form of animal product, whether it be eggs, butter, cream or honey. Coupled with the fact that Max is strongly allergic to banana (another ingredient often used in vegan cooking) made it quite a large challenge! So I did what every sensible person does in this situation and hit Pinterest.

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I decided that I would make a trial run of several desserts, having never attempted vegan cooking before. I selected three contrasting desserts, made mini tests of each of them and had a taste test! The three recipes were a coconut and vanilla panna cotta, a chocolate and orange mousse and a lime cheesecake. Two out of the three were successful, and the third (the lime cheesecake) was not unsuccessful – it tasted great, I just need a better blender!

Today then, I present the first of these recipes – a vegan coconut and vanilla pannacotta served with a caramel macadamia tuille and both dried and macerated pineapple. This recipe could also be used successfully for non-vegans as the flavours themselves are lovely (I actually adapted the recipe from a non-vegan version!)

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Vegan Coconut and Vanilla Pannacotta, Macadamia Tuille and Pineapple (Two Ways)

Ingredients:

Panna cotta:

  • 20g vegetarian gelling agent
  • 150ml/5floz rice milk (or your preferred milk equivalent)
  • 150ml/5floz cream substitute
  • 25g/1oz caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
  • 100ml/3flz coconut milk

Tuille:

  • 50g macadamia nuts
  • 50ml/2flz orange liqueur
  • 100ml/31/2floz water
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp liquid glucose
  • Pineapple and edible flowers to decorate

Instructions:

Panna cotta:

Place the milk, cream, sugar and vanilla pod and heat until the sugar dissolves, before removing the pan from the heat. Stir in the coconut milk, ensuring the mixture is completely smooth. Add the gelling agent to the pan and bring to the boil, ensuring that you stir constantly. Cook for two minutes before removing from the heat and pouring into metal ramekins. Place in the fridge to set for at least two hours.

Macadamia Tuille:

Crush the macadamia nuts in a pestle and mortar, before placing on a baking sheet and gently toasting for a few minutes (keep your eye on them – I can promise you that if you even think of leaving them, they will burn!) Place the liqueur, water, sugar and glucose in a pan and cook over a high heat, swirling the pan occasionally. Allow it to become a nice amber colour, before removing from the heat and pouring onto a silicone baking mat. Spread it with a spatula until it is very thin,and sprinkle with the macadamia nuts. Cut out four discs (about 2in in diameter) and allow to cool completely.

Pineapple Crisps:

Peel and de-eye the pineapple, before cutting very thin slices using a large broad-bladed knife. Lay these on a foil lined baking sheet and bake in the oven at gas mark 1 for about 1 hour until they have started to dry out and the edges have gone golden, turning occasionally. Remove from the oven and leave to dry completely. You can create pineapple flowers by placing the slices in muffin tins to cool. Cut the remainder of the pineapple into cube and place in a bowl with a little lime juice and sugar.

To complete the dish, Remove the panna cotta from the fridge and remove from the mould, loosening with a sharp knife as necessary. Place in the centre of the plate and place the tuille on top. Position pineapple flowers to one side, and add cubes of pineapple. Finish with an edible flower.

And there we go – my first vegan dessert! In two days time, return for chocolate mousse – vegan style!

Baking · Cake · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge

Denmark: Coconut Dream Cake

Denmark flag

When I started thinking about the Danish cake, this cake was at the forefront of my research. Everywhere I went it was there, seeming to scream ‘Bake me! Bake me!’ I struggled to find other recipes – it was like this cake was pushing them away, desperate to be the representative of the Danish nation. Eventually I gave in, and decided to make it. And boy, I’m so glad I did!

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This cake is aptly named, the combination of light, fluffy vanilla sponge, crunchy coconut and caramel is a dream indeed. The cake is ridiculously easy to make, and keeps well – what more could you want? Make this cake – you know you want to!

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This recipe is taken from the book Scandilicious, and was also found on Ed Kimber’s blog. The original recipe calls for vanilla sea salt, but as I did not have any of this, I replaced it with 1/2 tsp normal salt and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Buttermilk is generally quite easy to buy, however you can also make it by adding 1 tsbp lemon juice to a cup of milk (240ml)

Coconut Dream Cake

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 150g melted butter
  • 150ml buttermilk
  • 300g plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Topping:

  • 200g butter
  • 200g light brown sugar
  • 100ml whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 150g dessicated coconut

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas mark 5 and line a 20x30cm rectangular cake pan with parchment paper.

Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla together until thick and pale. Pour in half the melted butter and buttermilk and sift half the flour onto the batter, folding gently so as not to beat all the air out of the eggs. Add the remaining, butter, buttermilk and flour and fold in as before.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 20 minutes or until it is firm to the touch and golden brown. nce the cake is out of the oven, turn the temperature up to 220C/200C fan/gas mark 7.

Whilst your cake is in the oven make the topping by putting all the ingredients in a pan and cooking over a medium heat for 5 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has thickened. Spread the topping on the baked cake and place back in the (now reheated) oven for 10-15 minutes until the topping has turned golden brown and smells nice and toasty. Remove from the oven and leave to coll in the tin before cutting into squares to serve.