Got to love a pun.
Got to love cake. And together? Gold.
Let’s not bury the lede on this. This is a quick as a flash, blitz it together, whizz of a dessert, particularly if you have some swift pieces of kitchen kit at your disposal (food processor/ stand mixer/ thermomix, what have you). What else? There’s no dairy. There’s no flour. It’s even got room for that steeping-the- zeitgeist ingredient of the moment; coconut oil (though it wouldn’t suffer too much if you opted for olive or sunflower). Its flavour lives somewhere between a bounty bar and a nut studded brownie. It’s texture is like a line from a Robert Frost poem, it’s lovely, dark and deep. It can be made in seven minutes and bakes in less than an hour. It’s sublime with a splodge of creme fraiche and some lightly toasted coconut flakes, but also sparkles if you want to pair it with some fresh or poached fruit and cream or yoghurt (prunes or pears would be perfect, but in an ever-predictable turn for this house, we headed to the black forest with jarred morello cherries and vanilla ice cream). If all you’re interested in is a solid, slow-ish carb dessert option, then skip to the bottom for a recipe. If you want a little life rambling about sleep, wee wins and great discoveries, read on.
As always, amidst the daily grind it helps to call out and love the small, good things. Things like swimming in the rain. A cup of tea which is picked up at precisely the right temperature. Visualising, then realising the rock star parking spot in Potts Point. A new cook book to read. The arrival of that first day of autumn when the weather turns, so you can comfortably wear jeans without sweltering at midday. Pulling on said jeans eight months after having a baby and realising that yes, they do fit. Not quite like they once did, but they’ll do. And scraping your brain in the middle of the night for inspiration for a cake for friends (one who won’t eat fruit) coming to dinner. Cocoa is good. Nuts are good. Coconut is good. OH. A COCOA – NUT / COCONUT CAKE. That could work.
Also, you’ve got to love a win now and again.
The past week has been a battle of the wills/Will’s.
Literally. In the past seven days my bundle of chins and chub has morphed into a squishy, diminutive despot. Sleep remains (as ever) his sworn enemy. Yet I am no longer his ally in this battle. And it turns out he can wail and rail against the dying of the light for longer than I dared conceive.
In a spell of reverse psychology between intensely competitive siblings, my elder sister bet me lunch at a gleaming Sydney beach side brasserie that I couldn’t do it. That I’d need to call in a super-nanny to help tame his wakeful whims.
She suspected I couldn’t handle the protests that would inevitably accompany teaching him to sleep for a sociable spell of time. She knows I’m a soft touch. But she also knows if you outright challenge me you’ll come head to head with a dogged thread of steel that runs through our shared genetic core. And so, six nights in, I think the tide has turned. I’ve become acquainted with a small, previously landlocked piece of Will’s personality- not anguish, or distress, but blind, cold, blaring fury. Raging indignation. He is unimpressed with the ‘Mozart for Night time music’. He doesn’t care when I tread into the room at carefully measured intervals and quietly say ‘I love you, now back to sleep’. He’s only interested in two things; the comfort of food, or the opportunity to bounce. When I called the Tresilian parent’s help line, grasping for reassurance I was put back on a firm path. ‘He doesn’t need any more night time feeds. If you put one in his face, he’ll relish it, but he doesn’t need it. Think of it this way, if every time you woke up someone put a slice of chocolate cake in front of you, you’d probably eat it and enjoy it. But you don’t need it’.
I understand. I would eat that chocolate cake and enjoy it too. Particularly if it was anything like this.
Cocoa Nut Coconut Cake
Nb, this can be made with any combination of unsalted nuts- those bulk-buy packs are perfect, however, if you want to make it up yourself a combination of almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts and some pistachios would be perfect (or else substitute with ground almonds or ground hazelnuts).
300 grams of ground nuts (a mix of unsalted, roasted nuts, blitzed in a food processor until they’re pebbles half the size of a grain of rice works well – just be careful not to blitz too long, or else they may turn into a nut butter). Alternatively, use 300 g of either hazelnut meal, almond meal, or both.
2 tbsp coconut oil (or mild olive oil)
3 tbsp cocoa powder, plus extra to dust over to serve
1 cup/215 grams caster sugar
Small handful of coconut flakes/shards, lightly toasted, to serve
Here’s how we roll
1) Preheat the oven to 180C/350 F and grease and line the base and sides of a 23 cm diameter springform cake tin with baking paper.
2) Use a food processor to blitz the nuts until they are small pebbles/ grains.
3) Fold through the cocoa powder and the oil.
4) Beat together the eggs and the sugar with electric beaters until the mix has at least doubled in volume, is pale, fluffy and all of the sugar granules have dissolved.
5) Fold the cocoa-nut mixture into the fluffy eggs and sugar in two batches, being careful not to knock too much air out.
6) Pour into your prepared pan.
7) Bake for 45- 55 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. The top may crack a little, in a meringue like layer- don’t fret, that rough texture is part of the charm. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then gently unmould. If you push on the slightly domed top, it will probably crack. Don’t fret, it’s all part of the charm. Top with cocoa powder and the toasted coconut shards.