Orange and coconut. The minute I saw the combination of these two ingredients in master baker Dan Lepard's recipe, I knew I had to make his Orange Macaroon Cake. I have fast become a Dan Lepard fan simply because his recipes - whether for bread of desserts - are truly, subliminally delicious and uncomplicated.
While there is really no reason to tweak a Dan Lepard recipe - why mess with the best, right - I had to deviate a little from this one because whether in cooking or baking, I love using fresh coconut in place of desiccated (air dried) coconut, especially since we have such easy access to fresh coconut here. When I was young, my mum used to make me grate coconuts for cooking and it was a tedious task. And sometimes, if I day dreamed too much while doing it, I'd end up scraping my palms. I'd then make a big fuss to try and get out of the chore (the plan hardly ever worked, of course). These days, all I have to do is go to my neighbourhood grocer and buy freshly grated coconut whenever I want. So easy.
So, why fresh coconut? Well, apart from the moisture it brings to the cake, the one thing fresh coconut has that is missing from desiccated coconut is the slight sourness that accompanies the sweetness of the flesh. I love that. I also love the texture fresh coconut brings to the cake ... the slight chewiness from the shards of grated coconut. You can't see the coconut but you definitely bite into it amidst the softness of the cake.
I added more coconut that was recommended in the recipe because I really wanted a full coconut flavour to accompany the strong flavour of the orange (Lepard says that when baking a orange/lemon cake, you want it to taste "resoundingly" of orange and lemon). I was afraid the addition of more coconut may affect the texture of the cake but it came out really well.
To intensify the orange flavour, Lepard adds not only orange zest into the batter but also some orange liqueur - Cointreau or Grand Marnier. I added the zest but didn't have the liqueur so I improvised and added some orange juice in rum instead (I didn't want to leave out the alcohol altogether!).
Lepard's recipe is layered - two layers with a glaze in the middle and on top but I stuck to making two single layer cakes).
And, to top it all off, the glaze - orange juice + zest + icing sugar. Of course, I added some fresh, grated coconut too! I love a glaze that captures the essence of the cake and this one does exactly that. Love it!
Orange Macaroon Cake ( Dan Lepard Recipe from Short and Sweet; my notes are in red).
3 large oranges
175g unsalted butter, softened (I used salted butter)
175g caster sugar
3 large eggs
50g desiccated coconut (I used 100g fresh coconut + 2 tbsp for the glaze)
150g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
75ml Grand Marnier/Cointreau (I used 40ml rum + 20ml fresh orange juice)
125g icing sugar
Line the base of two 18cm sponge tins with a disc of baking parchment and preheat the oven to 180C. Finely grate the zest of two oranges into a bowl with the butter and sugar and beat until light and creamy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then beat in the coconut. Sift the flour and baking powder together that beat half into the butter mixture, followed by the Cointreau (rum/juice), then fold through the remaining flour.
Divide between the tins and bake for 25-30 mins.
Leave to cool in the tin, then remove and peel the parchment off the bottom. Finely grate the zest of the remaining orange into a bowl. Add the icing sugar and beat with a few tablespoons of orange juice until spreadable. I mixed in the 2 tbsp of fresh coconut at the end. Pour and spread the glaze over the two cakes when cool.