So I “started” this blog up a little while ago now and I have yet to post anything but an introductory post; blog fail.
For me cake is for all occasions, there’s a saying out there “Say it with Cake” and for me that is most definitely my philosophy on life. In my opinion cake is the ultimate way to wish good luck, celebrate an occasion, console a loss, or send commiserations. However this weekend was about a celebration, a birthday; no less. The recipient’s favourite flavour? Coconut. Now this is a question I often ask myself…when does a recipe become your own? I’ve followed many a recipe and mixed things up, changed a few things down the way, combined recipes, is it my own? You tell me.
For this recipe I have combined several elements from four recipes to create these cupcakes and there is three quintessential elements to them: the cake; the coconut crème pâtissière filling and the coconut butter icing. Sounds complicated, but they’re really not so difficult!
It makes sense to me to start with the cake part, but quickly first, a short how-to on working with fresh coconut!
Breaking into a Coconut
There’s something great about using fresh coconut and there’s a great satisfaction to actually breaking into one, and well for me anything that let’s me bring a hammer into the kitchen has my seal of approval! Also it has a more authentic taste than dry dessicated coconut, a bitterness to it almost, and most importantly for this recipe it adds moisture stopping the cupcakes drying out whilst baking.
- Using a metal skewer, pierce one of the coconuts ‘eyes’ and drill into the flesh of the coconut to create a hole. I usually find that there’s always one that’s easier to break into than the others.
- Tip the coconut upside down to allow the milk to drain out of the coconut.
- Place the coconut in a plastic bag and take it outside to crack open. Place on a hard surface such as a patio or concrete slab. Now whack it with a hammer!!
- To make the next step easier, be sure to detach as much of the shell from the flesh exposing the skin.
- Take the broken coconut pieces back into the kitchen and using a peeler carefully peel the skin away from the flesh. (Be careful doing this though, I managed to take a chunk out of my index finger!)
- Next and final step; this recipe calls for finely grated coconut, so using a grater grate the coconut and put aside for use in the recipe.
Last year for this person’s birthday I made this recipe from Delia Smith, and it went down a storm. Everyone loved it, and approaching the birthday I had a request: “If you’re going to make a cake for me again, can I have that amazing coconut cake from last year again please?” So I thought, why not, but it’s not like me to repeat recipes unless I need to perfect them further, and for me it was a little bland. So that’s why I’m mixing it up a little this year.
150g (6oz or 1 cup) finely grated fresh coconut
350g (12oz or 2 1/2 cups) self-raising flour
2 rounded teaspoons baking powder (this makes the cupcakes light and fluffy)
6 large eggs at room temperature (ingredients at room temperature combine easier)
350g (12oz) very soft butter (same reason as above)
350g (12oz) golden caster sugar
2 teaspoons coconut flavouring (this really brings the coconut flavour to the table)
This really is quite an easy method that’s about it follow, it’s an ‘all-in-one’ type cake, so there’s no worrying about it splitting or having the beat so much air in then worrying about beating it out again. Just chuck all the ingredients in and beat, the extra baking powder brings the fluffy-ness to this recipe! Simple.
- First thing’s first, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F or Gas Mark 4)
- Sieve the flour and baking powder together into a large mixing bowl.
- Stir the sugar into the dry ingredients.
- Chop the butter into small pieces, put in the mixing bowl, along with the eggs and coconut flavouring.
- Beat the mixture together with a electric hand whisk (if you don’t own one you can beat together with a wooden spoon, but it just uses a bit more elbow grease! They’re relatively inexpensive so do recommend investing in one, it makes life in the kitchen so much easier; I’m in the market for a new one currently after years of use mine stopped working when I was making some chocolate cupcakes just as I had finished these coconut cupcakes, I’ll be getting one of these ones). Beat this mixture together for about five minutes until it is well combined.
- Gently stir the grated coconut into the mixture with a wooden spoon.
- Divide your mixture between your cases. (I made eighteen with these quantities, but that’s mainly because the cases I used were very large, and the cupcakes were by all records very filling. I’d recommend splitting this between twenty-four cases for a better sized cupcake) Bake them in two batches of twelve for twenty minutes each. When the time’s up poke them with a cocktail stick, when removed it should come out clean. If not, pop them back in for three more minutes and check again until it comes out clean.
- Place your cupcakes on a wire rack to cool completely before decorating, in the mean time it’s time to move onto the crème pâtissière and buttercream.
Coconut Crème Pâtissière Filling
Crème Pâtissière is basically just a fancy custard that the french use, once cool, to fill their pastries with. It’s a daunting name, but it’s actually a very simple process to make it. When making mine I made some alterations to the basic recipe and instead replaced the milk with coconut milk, it didn’t really pay off, and I believe a better taste was achieved when I added the flavouring to the crème pâtissière instead. It wasn’t that it was unpleasant, it just didn’t pop with the flavour that I was hoping to achieve. So the recipe below is my amended version for a richer flavour. There’s a lot of steps in the method below, but I’ve done that on purpose so break it down into small readable chunks, it’s not really too technical.
250ml (1/2 pint or 1 cup) full-fat milk
45g (2.25oz or 1/3 cup) golden caster sugar
2 egg yolks from large eggs
2 tablespoons cornflour
200ml double cream (heavy cream if you’re in the US)
2 teaspoons coconut flavouring
- Firstly separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and place in a bowl. (I know most people move the yolk from half the egg shell to the other until all the egg white is in the bowl; I however go for a simpler, far less graceful approach. It does require having clean hand to begin with and having to wash your hands afterwards, but it’s much easier and you’re less likely to split open the yolk on the edge of the shell. I break open the egg, pour allow the white to fall into the bowl from one half, then pour the other half through my fingers allowing the white to detach from the yolk, leaving the yolk in my hand.)
- Add the sugar and corn flour and whisk until well combined. You’re not looking to put air into the mixture here, but just make sure it’s all mixed in.
- Next gently heat the milk over a medium flame/heat until you see the edge of the saucepan of milk starting to simmer.
- Take off the heat and pour a third of the milk over the eggs. And whisk it together quickly until the entire mixture is combined. (This is called tempering the eggs. It ensures that you don’t end up with scrambled eggs!)
- Put the milk back on the heat and from a height pour the egg mixture in a steady stream into the milk. Ensuring that you’re continually stirring the mixture.
- You’ll notice that the mixture starts to thicken quickly. We’re going for a consistency that will coat the back of a spoon, and like I mentioned before it is basically a custard. So that’s the consistency we’re going for here. Once thickened, take the crème off the heat and set aside.
- Cover with cling film so that the cling film is touching the crème to stop a skin forming as it cools. Allow to cool and place in the fridge.
- Whisk the coconut flavouring and cream together in a bowl until it forms peaks. You need to be careful not to over whisk it, but you want a good amount of air in the cream as this will give your crème pâtissière a fluffy lightness.
- Carefully fold the whisked coconut cream into the crème pâtissière that you’ve had cooling in the fridge and set to one side until we’re ready to assemble the cupcakes.
Coconut Buttercream Icing
This is a simple recipe the most important thing is that you add the ingredients slowly and take you time with it, otherwise you’ll end up with a messy kitchen (like mine below) but believe me from past experience, it gets much messier if you don’t take care! (I used approximately three batches of this mixture, but then I also used a lot of icing because my cupcakes were pretty big; it doesn’t take long to make, so I suggest that you make it as you go)
450g (16oz or 1 1/2 cups) icing sugar (confectioner sugar)
110g (4oz or 1/4 cup) butter
1/2 teaspoon salt (strange addition, but trust me)
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon coconut flavouring
1 tablespoon vanilla flavouring/extract
- Cream the butter, salt, coconut and vanilla flavourings in a bowl until your butter is a light yellow colour; this should take a few minutes. We want the butter to be light and soft so that it combines well with the icing sugar in the next step.
- Add approximately a quarter of the icing sugar to the butter mixture and beat with a hand whisk until well combined. The icing sugar should be totally combined into the mixture even scrape down the edges of the mixing bowl at this stage to ensure that it is.
- Add another quarter of the icing sugar and a tablespoon full of milk to the mix to loosen the mixture. Repeat steps three and four until all the ingredients are used up. You should be left with a lovely white looking buttercream that is thick and well creamy!
As I mentioned earlier, there are three elements to these cupcakes and we need to assemble them together to get the finished product, it’s a simple assembly, it just takes a little bit of patience.
There are two stages to assembling these cupcakes:
- Filling with crème pâtissière
- Icing with the buttercream
Filling with Crème Pâtissière
- Take each cupcake and using a serrated knife go around the outside of the cupcake with the knife pointing toward the center. The idea is that you cut the top of the cupcake off so it’s like a cone, leaving a well in the cupcake for the crème pâtissière.
- Now taking the top piece of the cupcake that you’ve just cut off, keeping it right way up cut the bottom pointed part of this top piece off to leave space in the middle of the cupcake for the crème pâtissière.
- Spoon a spoonful of the crème pâtissière into the well and place the top back on.
- Repeat for each cupcake.
Icing with the Buttercream
I’m not fantastic at icing, in fact I’m a novice at it. I watched this video before attempting it this time, it’s pretty helpful. The thing I took away from it was where to put pressure on the bag when icing.
- Using a tall glass or jug, to put your piping bag into and fold the edges of it over to help you get the icing into the bottom of the piping bag without it sticking to the sides
- Squidge (very technical term, I know) the icing around the bag to get rid of any air bubbles in the icing.
- I place the cupcakes on a tea towel to stop them slipping on the work surface as I iced them.
- Follow the instructions in the video and voila!
- Finally I sprinkled some dessicated coconut on top to finish them off.
Oh not forgetting the absolute last step…eat and enjoy!
Let me know how they turn out for you, I’d love to see any photos of your take on these. Got any ideas or suggestions of what to do next, just post below. Like this blog? Then please share it!
Thanks for reading! :]