Coconut Cream Cake (Secretly Dairy-Free!)

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This cake is the scariest cake I’ve ever made.
So many steps!
So much egg separation!
So much waiting hours for things to cool!
But.
It’s totally worth it, and totally not as difficult as it seems.
My version is dairy-free as I’m lactose intolerant, but the version on Poires au Chocolat is not. The dairy-free version is totally not noticeably dairy-free and adds an extra two layers of coconuttiness (totally a word, ahem), which can only be a good thing!
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So much coconutty goodness.
Coconut Cream Cake
(Adapted from Poires au Chocolat which was adapted from David Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert.)
NOTE: Steps 1 and 4 need to be looked after the night before.
1. The coconut custard:
  • 155 ml +30 ml coconut milk (from a carton – don’t use tinned as it’s too grainy and won’t blend properly).
  • 50 g granulated (normal) sugar.
  • A capful of vanilla essence (vanilla extract or vanilla bean is better but it’s like way more expensive).
  • 1 tbsp cornflour.
  • 3 medium egg yolks.
  • 35 g desiccated coconut.
  1. Mix the 155 ml milk with the sugar and vanilla essence in a medium sized saucepan. Put the saucepan on a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Combine the cornflour with the 30 ml coconut milk in a cup. Add this to the milk-sugar-vanilla mixture in the saucepan.
  3. Stir the mixture, still on a medium heat, until it’s thickened.
  4. Whisk the egg yolks together in a largeish bowl and pour the hot and thick milk mixture on top, whisking all the while.
  5. Put the whole egg-yolk-cornflour-milk-sugar-vanilla mixture back into the saucepan and bring to a boil. It should become very thick at this point.
  6. Pour back into a bowl and stir in the desiccated coconut. Leave it to cool and chill it in the fridge overnight (try and resist eating it).
2. The rum syrup:
  • 80 ml water.
  • 50 g caster sugar.
  • 1 tbsp rum essence (you can also use rum, but it’s quite expensive to buy a whole bottle of not-terrible rum here so I just bought rum essence instead; it was like a euro).
  1. Throw the water and sugar into a small saucepan and place it on a low-medium heat until the sugar has dissolved, stirring all the while.
  2. Add in the rum essence, and then leave to cool.
3. The sponge:
  • 80 g plain flour.
  • 30 g cornflour.
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder.
  • pinch of salt.
  • 3 medium eggs, separated.
  • 35 ml cold water.
  • 120 g caster sugar.
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/ 350 F.
  2. Grease and line two sandwich tins.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients together. Probably sieve them, but nothing bad happens if you don’t, I promise.
  4. Whisk the egg yolks and water together with an electric whisk on its highest setting for about a minute. Turn the power down a notch and add the caster sugar. Turn the power back up to high and then whisk for around 5 minutes, until the mixture is pale and thick.
  5. In a separate large bowl (this is the third one!) whisk the egg whites together with your electric whisk until they form those famous stiff white peaks.
  6. Go back to the mixture from step 4 involving egg yolks. Fold the dry ingredients from step 3 bit by bit into the mixture.
  7. When the dry ingredients are completely combined with the egg yolk mixture, fold in a third of the egg white mixture. Then add the rest of the egg white mixture until everything is once more combined.
  8. Pour this mixture into the lined sandwich tins and smooth the top of each one.
  9. Place both tins into the oven and bake them for about half an hour to 40 minutes until they’re spongy and springy to the touch.
  10. Leave each one to cool in the tin for around 15 minutes and then allow to cool properly outside of the tins on a wire rack.
4. The whipped cream:
  • 1 tin of coconut milk.
  • 1 tsp of sugar is optional. Personally I didn’t add it as I felt it would be too sweet.
  1. Leave your tin of coconut milk in the fridge overnight.
  2. The next day, open the tin to see your lovely separated coconut cream. Scoop it out of the tin and whisk it as you would normal whipped cream.
5. The assembly:
  1. Put the first sponge onto a pretty plate.
  2. Lightly spoon half of the rum syrup over the sponge.
  3. Spread half of the custard over the sponge.
  4. Add the next sponge, and repeat steps 2 and 3.
  5. Leave the whole lot to cool down in the fridge for 4 hours.
  6. Then, get out the cake and spread the coconut cream all over the outside. You can sprinkle desiccated coconut on top if you’d like, and some nice berries.

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