Putting on the Ritz?
I don’t usually do fancy. When I try to add frostings and decorations I sometimes end up feeling like I’ve spoiled a perfectly good cake by making it look like a disaster area. When it comes to baking I am all about the cake. Especially with Bundt and pound cakes. I really want the cake to be packed full of flavour so that it can stand on its own merits. Besides that, I have to admit that I am a little bit lacking in the artistic department. I think that is partly where my love of Bundt tins comes from. I figure that if the cake comes out already shaped and looking bobby dazzler then I won’t have to do much in the way of titivation. My preferred topping is usually a simple dusting of icing sugar. But when there is a special occasion you sometimes have to push the boat out. If you’re having a get together for a birthday or anniversary you can’t be singing ‘for he’s a jolly good fellow’ around a drab and uninspiring everyday cake. People want to be wowed. And if it’s true that we eat with our eyes, then this cake should give your peepers a proper feast.
Apparently there are two types of cake that are called Madeira cake. The first Madeira cake comes from the island of the same name. Alternatively called Christmas treacle cake or Bolo De Mel. It’s a wonderfully rich and exotic treacle or honey cake. Packed full of spices, nuts and dried fruit. You would generally leave it to stand for a couple of days to allow the flavours to mature a little before baking. It sounds like it would be a real treat to have around Christmas time. Something to warm the cockles of your heart when the weather has turned wintry. And then there is the English version of a Madeira cake. Sigh. Nothing at all to do with the island. It actually gets its name from Madeira wine. In the 18th and 19th centuries, people would drink booze in place of water. I know. I know. There are people around today with much the same outlook. I’ve even had nights like that myself. But in those days it was to save themselves from diseases such as dysentery, cholera and typhoid that were spread in contaminated water. Our forebears would drink gallons of wine each day and one of the more common accompaniments was cake. Any excuse for a party. Back then cakes were not the pleasurable gastronomic experience they are today. They were usually just something to fill your belly. I’ve always thought of the English version of Madeira cake as being a throwback to that bygone era. One of those old recipes from the days where everything you baked seemed to come out beige. In colour and in flavour. I am happy to say that in this case I was proved to be entirely mistaken. The recipe for this coconut Madeira cake, while not being overly sweet, was a moist and flavourful triumph. It also managed to hold its shape beautifully when turned out of the tin. And in my book, that really is something to celebrate.
Basted? It’s all in the pronunciation.
This cake is glazed. A procedure that will result in a stunningly attractive celebration cake (he said optimistically). Especially when you’ve scattered the desiccated coconut over the top. The whole thing finishes up looking a bit like a giant Tunnock’s snowball. Lush. But please be warned. If you are similarly disposed to me you will find it to be a dull and time-consuming rigmarole that requires an inordinate amount of patience. And much like the aforementioned dysentery, the laborious process of glazing this cake will be a huge pain in the arse. There. I’ve said it. I have found the easiest way to completely coat any Bundt cake with glaze is to adopt a two tray system. When the cake is fully cooled, you place the cooling rack over one baking tray while having a second tray close to hand. As you baste the cake with the glaze, a goodly amount will run straight down the cake and drip into the tray. This cannot be helped. When all the glaze has been applied you quickly switch the cooling rack onto the second tray. You can then continue basting with all the glaze that has run off the cake onto the first tray. You just have to continue in this way, moving from tray to tray until you have slathered the whole cake with glaze. Basted. Basted. Basted. Until every inch of every nook and cranny is properly covered and all of the glaze is used. I know it sounds overly complicated. I know it’s a total chore. But it’s also totally worth the effort. When you see the finished cake I am sure you will agree it looks dashingly elegant. Or as they say in France – tray, tray chic.
A tin to bake it in.
The Bundt tin I used for this cake was the 10 cup Wilton Marquise. That’s 2.5 litres in English money. It isn’t quite as intricate design-wise as some of my other tins but considering that the cake was going to be hidden under an avalanche of chocolate and coconut it really didn’t need to be. I think I got mine from Lakeland in the sales. If memory serves it only cost me around £10. The bad news is that you will need to be really lucky to find it at that price now. And you certainly won’t be able to buy it at Lakeland because they don’t stock it anymore. I don’t know what is going on with Lakeland. They used to be a good place to find specialist cake tins. Now it seems that you’re perfectly placed to buy novelty silicon cake moulds or own brand pushpans but if you’re hankering after something fancy then you’ve got a snowball’s chance. If you did want to seek out this Marquise tin for yourself you’d be much better off having a quick look on eBay. As ever, you could use any 10 cup cake tin you happen to have handy as an alternative. If you do have occasion to celebrate, give this coconut cake a go. People will see just how much effort you’ve made to ensure all their cake needs are desi-catered for. There will be no way anybody could accuse you of being too g-lazy. Now here’s that recipe… Enjoy.
Glazed Coconut Bundt.
- 250g Margarine.
- 250g Caster Sugar.
- 4 Eggs.
- 250g Self Raising Flour (sifted).
- 80g Coconut Cream.
- 40g Desiccated Coconut.
- 150g Milk Chocolate.
- 60g Coconut Cream.
- 20g Desiccated Coconut.
- Position a shelf in the centre of the oven. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4. Grease and flour a 10 cup Bundt tin. I used the Wilton Marquise.
- Cream together the margarine and caster sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition.
- Fold in the sifted flour until just combined, taking care not to over mix.
- Fold in the coconut cream until just combined, taking care not to over mix.
- Fold in the desiccated coconut until evenly distributed, taking care not to over mix.
- Spoon into the prepared tin and level the surface.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Melt the chocolate and coconut cream together in the microwave. Stir until smooth and well mixed.
- Place the glaze in the fridge if necessary, checking and stirring often until cooled and thickened slightly.
- Place the cooling rack over a large baking tray to catch any glaze that runs off the cake. Have a second tray handy.
- Carefully spoon the glaze all over the cooled cake, making sure to coat all the nooks and crannies. Move the cake from one tray to the other so that you can continue to use any glaze that has run off the cake and collected on each tray during the basting process.
- Quickly scatter the remaining desiccated coconut over the glaze.