It’s that period of the year when the days have become increasingly shorter (it gets dark by 15:00) and the nights seem to be endless. Winter has arrived and the temperatures have now dropped quite quickly. So quickly, in fact, that I still can’t believe I need to wear my winter coat when I go out and I insist on wearing my trusted leather jacket. Sooner or later, I will have to give up. Either the jacket or my hands. Leeds has now undergone a substantial transformation, mostly dictated by the fact the city has gone Christmas-y (yes, already), the lights have been switched on and the (non)traditional Christmas Market is now proudly erect on Millennium Square. Go at your peril.
For those of you who don’t quite want the summer to end, this is the perfect recipe. The Caribbean twist of the cake is provided by the pineapple jam, the lime juice and the coconut, which permeates the cakes and is also present, albeit in spirit form, in the butter cream. The recipe is Jo Wheatley’s – she was the first ever winner of the Great British Bake Off and is a true talent in the kitchen. The quantities have been amended to create 3 x 20cm sponges. You don’t have to be super retro to serve this, although you could add cocktail umbrellas to each slice, if you don’t think it’s a bit over the top.
Ingredients (for the sponges)
- 337g unsalted butter, softened
- 337g golden caster sugar
- 5 large eggs
- 330g plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- splash of milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract or paste
Ingredients (for the butter cream and the filling)
- 50g desiccated coconut, toasted in a pan, then cooled
- 5 tbsp pineapple jam
- juice 1 lime
- 400g icing sugar
- 250g unsalted butter, softened
- 4 tbsp Malibu (coconut liqueur)
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Grease and line 3 x 20cm sandwich tins with baking parchment.
- If you are using a freestanding mixer, cream the butter and the sugar in the bowl using the paddle attachment. Alternatively, a hand-held mixer or a bowl and wooden spoon would do just fine. Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla, beating well after each addition and occasionally scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula.
- In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and approximately 20g of the toasted coconut. Add to the batter mixture and fold it in very carefully using a rubber spatula, then add the milk and divide the mixture among the three tins. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until well risen and golden. A skewer inserted in the middle of the cakes should come out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
- To make the icing, pour the Malibu into a small saucepan, the bring to the boil and reduce down to 2 tbsp. Set aside to cool slightly.
- In the bowl of a freestanding mixer, combine the butter and the icing sugar and mix together with the paddle attachment until thoroughly combined. I usually add the sugar in two batches and cover the whole mixer with a tea towel to avoid turning my kitchen into a complete mess. Beat on high speed until light and fluffy, then pour in the hot liqueur with the paddle on low speed and beat well until combined and glossy.
- Once your sponges have cooled down completely, mix the pineapple jam with the lime juice in a bowl. To assemble the cake, position the first sponge upside down on a cake platter/base, then cover with half of the jam and sprinkle over some of the desiccated coconut. Top with about 1/3 of the butter cream, then cover with the second sponge and repeat using the remaining pineapple jam. Top the last layer with the remaining butter cream and sprinkle with the remaining toasted coconut. Enjoy!