Today, I take you on a journey, leaving the wet and cold England behind for a (hopefully) more sunny location. Specifically Côte d’Ivoire, or the Ivory Coast. Changing continents, I hear you cry? Unorthodox I know, but I think we could all do with some sun, particularly if you are in England at the moment!
This cake is truly a case of combining flavours found in a certain countries cuisine into a typically English cake, as I don’t believe that Côte d’Ivoire has ‘cake’, as shown here. However the flavours are taken from a specific drink, Nyamanku, which combines ginger with orange, lemon and pineapple juices. Little known outside Côte d’Ivoire, the drink is thought to have many health-giving properties due to the ginger, which seems to cure most diseases known to man, if Google is to be believed!
To reassure those of you who may be reading this thinking ‘I don’t like ginger cake’, do not worry. This cake has chunks of ginger in it, but the taste is very subtle and not at all overpowering, so do not let this put you off!
The cake is flavoured with ginger, orange and pineapple, before being topped with an orange buttercream. The decorative flowers are made from thin slices of pineapple which have been slowly dried out in the oven to give them their characteristic look. I first saw this technique on Pinterest, and have been longing for a suitable opportunity to try them out! They are completely edible and include no extra sugar, so you could even call them healthy! To make the centres, I used candied fennel seeds, which you can find in Indian supermarkets, but if you cannot get these soft gold pearls would also look lovely.
- 1 small pineapple
- 6oz butter/margerine
- 6oz caster sugar
- Rind of one orange, finely grated
- 3 eggs
- 2 tbsp milk
- 8oz plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- A pinch of salt
- 6 large lumps of bottled stem ginger
- 125g icing sugar
- 40g butter
- 10 ml milk
- Grated rind of one large orange
- Sugar coated fennel seeds or soft gold pearls to decorate
Start by making the dried pineapple flowers. Preheat the oven to gas mark 1/275°F (or less if you have the option), and line 2 baking sheets with baking parchment. Peel the pineapple and remove any eyes before cutting into 12 very thin slices (about 1mm thick – you may need to use a mandolin slicer unless you are a whizz at cutting!). Transfer to the baking sheets and place in the oven for 30 minutes. At this point, if they are suitably dry, turn them over and return to the oven for about 20 minutes, checking regularly to ensure they don’t burn. Remove from the oven and place into bun tins to dry – this will shape them into the round flower shapes shown. Allow to dry out completely at room temperature. Use the best six for decoration, and cut the remainder into thin strips to add to the cake later.
Turn the oven up to gas mark 3/325°F, and grease and line a 6in round cake tin. Cream together the butter and sugar before adding the eggs, beating well after each addition. Add the orange rind, ginger, shredded dried pineapple (see decoration), milk and remaining dry ingredients and mix thoroughly to combine. Pour into the pre-prepared tin and bake for 75-90 minutes (1 1/4 hours-1 1/2 hours) until golden brown and cooked all the way through (a skewer should come out clean!) Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing and cooling completely on a wire rack.
When the cake is completely cool, make the buttercream, by mixing the sugar, butter, milk and orange rind for about 5 minutes until thick and fluffy. Spread over the cake, smoothing with a palate knife to give a neat finish. Top with the dried pineapple flowers, putting a small blob of buttercream in the centre of each flower. Sprinkle with the candied fennel seeds or soft gold pearls to finish.
Eat and enjoy. Came back soon when we will travel back to Europe to visit the amazingly beautiful country of Croatia – I know I can’t wait!