Tuesday 27 September 2016

Summery sweet tooth

Published 05/07/2015 | 02:30

Try these exciting cakes with a tasty twist, inspired by Vanessa Bolosier's childhood in the French Caribbean

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Mont Blanc coconut cake

This is my favourite cake. I have tasted many versions but none ever came close to the one my mum makes. I learned this recipe when I begged her to make it on Sunday afternoons. I can honestly say that this is where I get my passion for coconuts. I have simplified her recipe, but you do need to make a génoise sponge cake. The génoise gives a light and airy feel that makes it taste like a coconut cloud. Serves 6

You will need

Génoise sponge

Butter for greasing

4 eggs, separated

1 pinch salt

125g/4½oz/1 cup plain (all-purpose) flour

1 tsp baking powder

125g/4½oz/generous ½ cup caster (superfine) sugar

2 pinches grated cinnamon

1 pinch grated nutmeg

1 tbsp rum

Coconut cream

400ml/14fl oz/1 cup coconut milk

1 can (about 400g/14oz) condensed milk

2 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)

100ml/3½fl oz/scant ½ cup water

1 tbsp rum

grated zest of 1 lime

1 coconut, glacé cherries (optional), to decorate

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Grease and line a 24cm/9in round cake tin. To make the sponge cake, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form. Sift the flour and baking powder into another mixing bowl.

When the egg whites are stiff, add the sugar and carry on whisking. Once the mixture is firm, add the egg yolks, whisking continuously. Still whisking, add the flour and the spices and carry on whisking for another 2-3 minutes. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until well risen, with a nice golden top.

Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool in its tin.

To make the coconut cream, pour the coconut milk, condensed milk, cornflour and water into a saucepan and simmer for a few minutes, stirring constantly, until thick and creamy. Add the rum and lime zest and leave to cool.

When the cake is cool, turn it out on to a piece of greaseproof paper. Slice it in half horizontally, with the cut sides facing up. Sprinkle some rum over the cut sides. Spread some of the coconut cream evenly over both sides, then sandwich them together. Spread the remaining coconut cream over the top of the cake and all around the sides.

To decorate, break open the coconut and scoop out the meat. Peel and discard the skin. Wash the coconut meat under cold water and then grate it finely. Sprinkle the coconut all over the cake until completely covered. Scatter glacé cherries on top, if wished. Place it in the refrigerator for at least four hours before serving.

Gâteau pistache/peanut cake

I have a love affair with this cake. My mother is from Marie-Galante, a small island that is part of the archipelago of Guadeloupe. There are things you can get in Marie-Galante that you can't get anywhere else. Gâteau pistache is one of them. We used to order this cake for celebrations and we had to go and collect it from the boat. When I heard the lady who made them had died, I was devastated. I probably made this cake 100 times before successfully replicating the taste, but it was worth it. Not the easiest recipe, but a winner!

Serves 6

You will need

Génoise sponge

Butter for greasing

4 eggs, separated

1 pinch salt

125g/4½oz/1 cup plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

125g/4½oz/generous ½ cup golden caster (superfine) sugar

3 pinches grated cinnamon

2 pinches grated nutmeg

1 tsp vanilla extract

Peanut buttercream

200g/7oz roasted monkey nuts, shelled

75ml/2½fl oz/5 tbsp water

100g/3½oz/½ cup golden caster (superfine) sugar

2 tsp vanilla sugar

2 eggs

250g/9oz/2 cups butter, softened, cut into cubes

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Grease and line a 24cm/9in round cake tin.

First make the sponge cake. In a mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form. Sift the flour and baking powder into another mixing bowl.

When the egg whites are stiff, add the sugar and carry on whisking. Once the mixture is firm, add the egg yolks, whisking continuously. Still whisking, add the flour, 2 pinches of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg and carry on whisking for another 2-3 minutes. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until well risen, with a nice golden top.

Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool in its tin. Put the monkey nuts on a baking sheet and roast them in the oven for about 15 minutes, shaking the baking sheet regularly so they roast evenly. Cool.

When the cake is cool, turn it out onto a piece of greaseproof paper. Slice it in half horizontally. In a small bowl, mix the vanilla extract with a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg, and sprinkle over the cut sides of the cake.

For the peanut buttercream, heat the water, sugar and vanilla sugar in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved, bring to the boil and boil until the syrup reaches 120°C/250°F - the soft ball stage (see tip). Meanwhile, put the eggs in a mixing bowl and whisk lightly. Gradually pour the hot syrup into the eggs, whisking continuously until the mixture has cooled down and is thick and smooth. Beat in the cubes of butter one by one until you have a smooth buttercream.

Place 70g/2oz of the peanuts in a food processor and blend to a powder. Add the powder to the buttercream. Spread some of the buttercream evenly over the bottom cake layer, then sandwich together with the top layer. Spread the remaining buttercream over the top of the cake and all around the sides. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Put the remaining peanuts in the food processor and blitz briefly until the nuts are in chunky pieces.

Remove the cake from the refrigerator and sprinkle the peanuts over the top and around the sides of the cake.

Keep the cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Tip

If you don’t have a sugar thermometer, use the soft ball test to check when the syrup is at the right temperature: dip a teaspoon into the syrup and drop it into a glass of cold water. The syrup should form a small soft ball.

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