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Claire Ptak’s coconut pudding cake recipe

Claire Ptak’s coconut pudding cake recipe

“There is just something about a coconut cake. The fluffy texture, the white on white on white, the ‘furry’ exterior,” says Claire Ptak.

“For me, it is the quintessential birthday cake and is a staple on the Violet [her East London bakery] To install celebration cakes menu. The filling is based on a classic Hawaiian pudding recipe called Haupia, which is often used in wedding cakes.”

Coconut pudding cake

(Makes one 20cm round cake, to serve up to 12)

For the coconut filling:
400g coconut milk
100g castor sugar
80g water
2tbsp cornflour dissolved in 3tbsp cold water
⅛tsp fine sea salt
½tsp vanilla extract
1½tbsp white rum

For the coconut soak:
50g coconut milk
50g castor sugar
½tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2tsp white rum

For the sponge:
250g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
3⁄4tsp fine sea salt
85g unsalted butter, softened
250g castor sugar
60g vegetable oil
2 eggs
160g coconut milk
1½tsp vanilla extract

For the coconut icing:
190g softened unsalted butter
750g-1kg icing sugar
5tbsp coconut milk
1tbsp vanilla extract
2tsp white rum
pinch of salt

Desiccated coconut, to decorate

Coconut pudding cake
Coconut pudding cake from Love Is A Pink Cake (Pia Riverola/PA)


1. First, make the coconut filling. Put the coconut milk, sugar and water into a saucepan. Place over a medium heat, stir to dissolve the sugar, then turn up the heat to high.

2. Add the cornflour and water mixture to the pan with the salt and whisk until thick. Pour into a bowl and stir in the vanilla and rum. Let cool then chill for at least four hours.

3. Now make the soak. Put the coconut milk, sugar and vanilla into a pan and cook till just about to come to the boil. Leave over a medium heat for five minutes, then turn off the heat, add the salt and rum and leave to cool. (This and the filling can be prepared the day before to save time.)

4. Preheat the oven to 150°C fan/170°C/340°F/gas mark 3 1⁄2. Grease and line either one deep or three shallow 20cm cake tins.

5. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl and set aside.

6. Put the butter, sugar and oil into the bowl of a stand mixer and cream until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time until combined.

7. Add half of the dry flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar, and mix well. Then add the coconut milk and vanilla and mix again. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the remaining dry ingredients to the bowl. Mix well to incorporate all of the ingredients, but do not overmix or this will make your cake tough.

8. Divide the batter between the cake tins and bake for 45-50 minutes, depending on which size tins you are using. The cakes should be starting to turn golden, feel springy to the touch and a skewer inserted should come out clean.

9. While the cake is baking, make the coconut icing. Put the butter and 500 grams of the icing sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until smooth. Stir together the coconut milk, vanilla and rum and gradually add this to the bowl and mix again, scraping the bottom of the bowl as needed. Add another 250 grams icing sugar. Cream together on a low speed for at least three minutes (set a timer as three minutes is longer than you might think). Add the salt. Gradually add more sugar as needed until you get the right consistency – you want a spreadable and creamy icing that is simultaneously as light as can be. Put a third of the icing into a piping bag with a round nozzle (or use a ziplock/resealable bag and then snip off a corner for a makeshift piping bag). Set aside at room temperature until ready to use.

10. Leave the cakes to cool in their tins, then turn them out onto a wire rack. Wash the tins and line one with a large piece of clingfilm that hangs out over the sides.

11. If you baked the cakes in individual tins, place one layer into the bottom of the lined tin. If you baked the cakes in one deep tin, split it into three layers with a large serrated knife, and put the bottom layer into the clingfilm-lined tin.

12. Soak the bottom layer with a few tablespoons of the coconut soak. Pipe a thick ring of coconut icing around the perimeter of the bottom layer to create a dam for the filling. Fill the middle of the ring with half of the coconut filling.

13. Pipe a couple of stripes of icing across the filling (this serves as a glue for the layers).

14. Add the second cake layer on top of this and then repeat the previous steps before adding the third and final layer of sponge on top. Bring up the overhanging cling film and pop in fridge to chill for a few hours, or overnight.

15. When ready to finish the cake, unwrap it, turn out onto a turntable or cake plate and cover the top and sides with the remaining coconut icing, then lightly press desiccated coconut to cover.

Love Is A Pink Cake by Claire Ptak
(Square Peg/PA)

Love Is A Pink Cake by Claire Ptak is published by Square Peg, priced £27. Photography by Maren Caruso and Pia Riverola. Available now.


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