Rhubarb, strawberry & coconut cake
To me, the combination of rhubarb and strawberry sings Alice Waters [founder of Chez Panisse Restaurant in California]. No pastry chef ever grows by impersonating another, and it’s a fine line between being inspired and copying. However, I don’t believe there are no new ideas under the sun, and this is why I continue to strive in my creativity. SERVES 10 BAKED RHUBARB
1 lemon, finely grated zest 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
300g caster sugar
7 stalks rhubarb, leaves removed juice of 1 orange
125g unsalted butter, softened 200g caster sugar
350ml coconut cream
200g self-raising flour, sifted 50g shredded coconut
50g flaked coconut
125g strawberries, hulled and cut in half, or raspberries
4 (120g) egg whites pinch salt
180g caster sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon white vinegar 1 teaspoon cornflour 50g flaked coconut
Clotted cream or yoghurt, optional
1 BAKED RHUBARB Preheat the oven to 160°C (140°C fan-forced). Place the zest, vanilla seeds and sugar in a food processor and blitz for 30 seconds. Cut the rhubarb stalks down the middle lengthways and cut into 8cm long batons. Arrange in a baking dish in rows and sprinkle with the vanilla sugar and orange juice. Bake for 20 minutes or until softened. Remove from the oven and set aside.
2 CAKE Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C (130°C fan-forced) and line the base and sides of a 30cm x 20cm slice tin with baking paper. Alternatively, use a 30cm diameter round spring-form tin to make removing the cake from the tin easier.
3 Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for about 3 minutes until pale and fluffy. The butter must be really soft for ultimate fluffiness. Meanwhile, give the eggs a light beat with a fork, then gradually add them to the fluffy butter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula every now and then if you feel the egg is not incorporating with the butter. Once all the egg is added, whisk batter again until pale and fluffy. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold through one-third of the coconut cream followed by one-third of the flour, alternating until both the cream and flour have been completely incorporated, then fold through the shredded and flaked coconut.
4 Spread the cake batter evenly over the base of the prepared tin using a palette knife, being sure not to forget the corners. Arrange the rhubarb and strawberries evenly over the batter, draining any excessive liquid from the rhubarb as you do so.
5 MERINGUE Wash your mixer bowl so it is scrupulously clean for the egg whites and fit whisk attachment. Add egg whites and salt to the bowl and whisk on medium speed until soft ribbons form. Start adding sugar gradually, and continue adding a little at a time over a 2-minute period, whisking until meringue is thick and glossy. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a spatula to gently fold through the vanilla, vinegar, cornflour and coconut until well combined.
Spoon meringue over the fruit and gently smooth the top. Bake for 45 minutes or until meringue is golden and a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove and leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes, then angle slice tin at 45 degrees onto a serving platter and use the baking paper to leverage it out of the tin. Remove the paper by turning the end of the paper underneath itself and pulling it back under the sponge as if you’re folding the paper in half.