April 17, 2018

BLUEBERRY AND COCONUT CAKE and is cake really sexy?

blueberry and coconut cake

I made this cake ages ago, nearly two years ago in fact, and then the book I got the recipe from went missing.  When I was in France I thought it must be in the UK and vice versa.  I couldn’t find the recipe anywhere on the worldwide web so I was feeling miffed that I had made a really nice cake but had no idea how!  When I eventually found the book languishing under a pile of other stuff waiting for filing, sorting, chucking or saving, I was very pleased.  It was a good cake and I wanted to have the recipe so I could make it again if I ever wanted to.  The book is called “What’s for dinner?” by the actress Fay Ripley.

blueberry and coconut cake2

The cake didn’t look much when it came out of the oven, which made me chuckle because in the book she describes it as “comforting and sexy at the same time”.

Well, I don’t know what you think about the idea of cake being sexy, but this one did not look too enticing!  More twinset and pearls than slinky undies but if that’s what wrinkles your prune…….

Anyway, enough of that!   One of the reasons that I write this blog is that I find it handy to have a record of the recipes I used and what they turned out like.  Now that I have this one posted I can always find it regardless of which side of the channel I happen to be!  It was a lovely cake made for a CCC event although it looked a lot better after I had tarted it up with some drizzly icing and a sprinkling of coconut and blueberries.  It was moist and fresh tasting with the fruitiness of the blueberries, and the coconut added that unique texture that you only get from……coconut.  Which is not everyone’s favourite in a cake but it is one of mine.

blueberry and coconut cake3

There were some stunning cakes on the table at that meeting  and I would like to think that mine looked as tempting as any of them.  Not that the events are competitive of course – far from it – but even so, one does like one’s cake to look more bee’s knees than dog’s dinner!


180g softened butter (I used Flora Buttery)

180g caster sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

100g ground almonds

150g self raising flour

60g desiccated coconut

300g fresh blueberries


Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160° fan / gas mk 4.  Butter a 23cm springform tin and line the base with baking paper.

Using an electric whisk, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Whisk in the eggs, vanilla and almonds.  Fold in the flour and coconut then, very gently, the blueberries.

Transfer to the tin and level the top.  Bake for 50 minutes until done. 

Serve warm as a dessert dusted with a little icing sugar.  Or allow to cool in the tin before turning out and decorate with a little lemon water icing drizzled over, some shredded coconut and blueberries arranged on top.

Cuts into 10-12 slices.

April 9, 2018


sunday school cake2

Much water has gone under the bridge and many a cake has been baked since I last posted.

The water is because the winter that has just passed must be the wettest that I remember.  There may have been even wetter ones before but I don’t remember those, only this one which has, frankly, been miserable.  My winterus horribilis (no idea if my Latin is correct, which is probably isn’t because I just made it up.)

I shall remember this winter for the muck, mud, mess and litter.  The muck comes from the renovation of our 1960’s UK bungalow, any building work seemingly impossible to achieve unless there is a ton of muck produced every single day.  The mud comes from the back garden where our new puppy Hugo churned it up and brought loads of it into the house.  The mess is the mess in the house as we moved furniture and boxes of our belongings from one room to another, upstairs and downstairs and back again (it’s a dormer bungalow) to make way for some building project or other with a deadline to meet.  The litter is everywhere in the UK as far as I can see.  And in fact as far as everyone can see.  It’s awful.

In fact the filthy state of the roads, pavements and grass verges in the UK depresses me enormously.  Who are these people who think it’s perfectly acceptable to chuck stuff onto the streets and roads?  Do they think someone else is going to pick it up or do they simply not care how awful it looks?  The situation is in such sharp contrast to how it is in our part of rural France where I am happy to say there is virtually no litter at all.  In fact if you see any litter it’s remarkable for its presence, hands are waved in horror in an ooh-la-la kind of way.  I know that there are fewer people in rural France and fewer fast food outlets, but people do eat and do buy packaged stuff.  They simply dispose of their rubbish properly, like we all should in the UK but don’t.

Anyway, rant over and back to the cake!

sunday school cake

This was Nick’s cake for a recent meeting of Loire Valley Clandestine Cake Club, which I have the honour and privilege to organise.  The theme was “inspired baking”, hoping to find out what or who inspires the members to bake what they bake.  In Nick’s case the inspiration came from his mum who got him and his three sisters to take turns to bake either a cake or pudding for afters every Sunday.  With Nick’s dad being a vicar, lunch or tea was timed around the Sunday morning church service and afternoon Sunday school, hence the name for the cake. 

sunday school cake3

Being a boy, he was somewhat mischievous in his baking, usually creating something out of the ordinary, and his pink cakes became famous for their – pinkness.  For the meeting he baked a cake with a nod to the old mischief and produced a three layer cake flavoured with chocolate, rose and almond.  He used the all-in-one sponge recipe in my ancient (early 1970’s) Homepride Flourgraders Recipe Book (price 13/6d including postage) and added flavouring and colouring accordingly.

It was a lovely cake, one of those that almost disappeared completely at the meeting and I had to snaffle the last slice to take home so that I could taste it myself.  Which really was a tribute to the recipe, having stood the test of time and never failed.  It is written in ounces as that’s how things were weighed in the 70’s.  Because he used French flour, which doesn’t seem to produce as good a rise as our Homepride flour, Nick added a little (French) baking powder which wasn’t in the original recipe.

He sandwiched the cake layers with some Bon Maman three fruit jam and some double cream.  French cream is notoriously difficult to whisk thickly enough to do anything with it so he used some “double cream substitute”, a boxed long life product that I buy in Tesco and bring to France with me.  Shamelessly bad ex-pat behaviour I know, but a person can only take so many whipped cream disasters before all the hair is torn out and before resorting to alternative solutions.

sunday school cake4


8 oz self raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

4 eggs

8 oz whipped fat/margarine

8 oz caster sugar

½ tblsp cocoa powder

½ tblsp warm water

½ tsp rose water

a few drops pink or red food colouring

½ tsp almond essence

200ml double cream, whipped for spreading

4 tblsp red jam

chocolate mini eggs or other decorations (optional)


Grease and line the bottom of three 7” (18cm) sandwich tins.  Preheat the oven to 160° C / 140° fan / gas mk 3.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl, add the eggs, margarine and sugar and whisk with an electric whisk until well blended and creamy. 

Divide the mixture into three equal parts in three bowls – as a rough guide there should be about 10 oz in each bowl. 

Mix the cocoa powder to a smooth paste with the warm water and add to one of the bowls.  Add the rose water to a second along with enough colouring to produce a nice pink colour.  Add the almond essence to the third.

Whisk the contents of each bowl until the flavourings are well blended and transfer to the tins.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until done.  Cool in the tins for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Shortly before you are ready to serve, spread some jam on top of the chocolate sponge followed by some whipped cream.  Put the pink sponge on top and repeat the filling.  Add the almond sponge and decorate the top with some piped cream – and a few mini eggs or other decorations if you like.

Cuts into 8-10 slices.