I’ve been known, in my fairly short and somewhat uneventful life, to frequently describe things as “the best [insert thing here] ever!”
A sleep in followed by a pie from the fancy bakery (as opposed to the less-fancy one)? “The best Saturday morning ever!“
Buying a pizza and bringing it into the open air movie instead of buying the overpriced picnic baskets on site? “The best dinner-winÂ ever!”
Rummaging through your bag to find not only a tin of mints but also an umbrella minutes before you’re due to meet a sexy boy for a dinner date? “The best foresight ever!”Â
The only thing I don’t frequently apply my best ever moniker to, however, is cake.
Especially cake made by me.
It’s not that I have anything against cake (anymore), it’s just… well… there’s always something imperfect about it.
Too moist. Not moist enough. Too strong a flavour. No flavour at all. Lovely crumb… horribly crumbly. Too fancy. Â Too plain. Too sweet. Too strange. Too large. Too much work.
And then I made this cake.
It all started very innocently.
“What are you doing up so early?” asked mum as she wandered into the kitchen to see me peering into the cupboards.
“I want to make something. For the blog. Maybe even for lunch?”
“You should make a cake.”
“Do you want cake? I can make you a cake. Maybe a pretty one with icing or cream and in layers and…”
“Nah. A simple cake.”
“A simple cake?”
“Yes. Just a cake-cake. Your cousin likes cake.”
“So do you…”
“You haven’t posted a cake in a very long time on your blog?”Â she said, changing the topic swiftly.Â “Maybe you can use your tin. The one that you hid in the spare room because you thought I wouldn’t see it there.”
It was a one-bowl cake made in a rush before chasing the rarely-glowing sunny skies to the beach for the day.
I left it on the kitchen counter overnight and promptly forgot about it.
An hour before dinner-time my phone beeped with a message.
“When can we eat your cake? Mum.”
I took some hasty photographs as the table was being set and, when the meal was done, brought it to be eaten.
“This is some seriously good cake” said Mr Shepperdoo.
A pause. The muffled sound of chewing.
A second slice for everyone on the table and by the end of the night a third of it was gone.
The next day I brought four slivers in for my buddies at work, curious to see their reaction.
Less than a minute after dropping a slice off with the Pav, he returned with a consensus from the troops.
Best cake they’ve had in recent memory.
We finished the last slice off tonight. An anemic wedge that had been hoarded because nobody wanted to see it run out. We ate it when we realised how ludicrous it was to be saving a slice of cake that one had the recipe for.
It was solemnly cut into five mostly equal chunks. Half a mouthful each at the most.
It was, after five days, almost as good as it had been on the first night we ate it.
Not a hint of dryness or staleness. Bursting with flavour. Full bodied enough to sink your teeth into without being heavy.
The best orange & coconut cake I’ve ever eaten… dare I say ever?
the best orange & coconut cake ever
This recipe will fill one standard kugelhopf tin. The palm sugar really adds to the earthy sweetness of the cake – if you can’t find it, try raw cane sugar instead.
you will need:
1 3/4C sugar
2tbsp palm sugar (grated)
1/4C orange juice
2tbsp orange zest
250ml natural yoghurt
1 1/2C plain flour
1C shredded coconut
1 tsp baking soda
how to do it:Â
1. Let the butter come to room temperature. Chop it into fat cubes and toss it in the large bowl of a stand mixer with the sugar and grated palm sugar. Beat until it is light and fluffy and pale. (If you don’t have a stand mixer, a hand held mixer or a wooden spoon + enormous biceps will do the job too).
2. Zest the orange and then juice it. I got slightly less than 1/4C of juice. Toss the juice, zest, eggs and yoghurt into the butter mixture and stir well to combine. It will look lumpy and curdled but that is ok.
3. Sift the plain flour and baking soda into the bowl then toss the shredded coconut in as well. Stir well to combine.
4. Tip the mixture into a well greased kugelhopf tin and bake it in a 170C oven for an hour, checking at 50 minutes to see if it’s done. A skewer poked through the middle of the cake should come out with a very light crumb attached. Let the cake cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes before upending it onto a rack to cool completely.