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It's Butternut & Coconut Time

Hi there!

Christmas is approaching really fast, and when it is cold out there, I can't think of anything more appealing than eating a nice slice of cake, specially when this cake is made with the best flavour combination EVER (no bragging of course): Butternut Squash, Orange and Coconut.

Now, coconut is not necessary the most Christmassy flavour that comes in mind, specially when you spend Christmas in the cold as we do in our side of the world, and yet, when combined when some rich flavours like spices, butternut and orange, it suddenly becomes a warm and comforting combo, perfect for a snowy day (and let's face it, this cake looks like it's covered in snow!)

But less chit-chat, I know why you're here, and it's not to read a novel about why coconut and butternut (and let's not forget orange!) work amazingly together. You're here because you want the recipe, and I can't blame you!

Just a note before we start: this cake has been made with Dacquoise sponge, which is a meringue and ground almonds based sponge, a bit like macarons. The difference being the presence of flour which makes the whole thing much softer and moister than macarons batter.

Here goes:

For a 5" cake

Coconut Dacquoise

Egg whites 150g

Caster sugar 110g

Ground Almonds 90g

Desiccated coconut 35g

Icing sugar 75g

Plain Flour 40g

(check this little video to see the process)

Mix on a tray the desiccated coconut and ground almonds and roast for about 10 minutes (or until evenly lightly golden - remember to stir once or twice during the roasting otherwise the sides will burn before the powders in the centre have had time to golden slightly). Leave to cool on the side.

Make a French meringue with your egg withes and the caster sugar.

Meanwhile, mix together all your powders: icing sugar, plain flour (sieve both if necessary), and your ground almonds and coconut once they have cooled down. Give it a good stir with a hand whisk to make sure it is all well combined.

When your meringue has reached firm peak (it should be nice and glossy), start pouring your powders little by little, folding them in gently with a spatula until all folded in.

Once mixed, prepare a tray and a piping bag and start piping your batter in 5" wide discs.

Sprinkle some raw desiccated coconut on top of each disc and bake at 180ºC for about 10 minutes, switching side halfway through. It should be gold on top.

Butternut & Orange Puree

One Large Orange

One small butternut

Light Brown Sugar (quantity to be determined - read below)

1 Vanilla Pod

2 Cinnamon Sticks

2 Star Anises

Peel, remove the seeds and cut your butternut. Place it on a baking dish and roast it gently in the oven until soft and tender (spray it with a bit of water once in a while to avoid dehydrating it).

Meanwhile, clean and slice your orange. Boil a pot of water and blanch your orange slices for about 2-3 minutes. Empty the water and repeat this operation three times*.

Once you have blanched your orange and roasted your butternut, weight them together to calculate the amount of sugar you will need.

I personally add 20% of the total weight in sugar. For example: I have a total of 400g between the orange and the butternut, so I will add 80g of sugar.

Once you have figured out the amount of sugar, mix it with your orange and roasted butternut in a pan, along with your spices and a couple of tablespoons of water, and leave on a low heat for about half an hour, making sure to stir regularly to avoid burning the bottom of the pan.

Once cooked, remove all the spices and vanilla pod, and blend the whole thing with a hand blender.

Note: This recipe will give you more than what you need for the cake, so prepare some clean jars, and pour your puree while still piping hot, and turn your jars upside down which will seal them. You can save it like that for a few weeks and enjoy on your morning toast. Yum yum.

*this puree call for a very soft and round flavour which is why I prefer to blanch the orange. If you love the bitterness of orange marmalade, then blanch it only once only to soften slightly the orange skin.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Egg whites 99g

Light Brown Sugar 198g

Butter 250g (soft and at room temperature*)

1/2 Vanilla Pod

1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg

For the process of the SMBC, read my blog post here where I tell you how to proceed. If you are familiar with the Swiss Meringue method, then just do what you do ;)

Flavour it with a pinch of nutmeg.

Assembling the cake

Assemble the cake by layering a disc of Coconut Dacquoise, a thin layer of buttercream (about 5mm) and a thin layer of Butternut & Orange puree (about 2mm) per layer, making your way up.

Then decorate as you wish.

I personally decorated it with some desiccated coconut and toped it with some French Meringue that I burnt with a blow torch. But of course, feel free to let your imagination go wild!

And... Bon appêtit!

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