A dear friend of mine passed away at the age of 36. I have written about Robert many times, as it's been over 10 years since he passed away. He taught me many things in life, and one thing we shared was a love of baking. I have two of his recipes, which he passed on to me. One in particular I have made many times, because it is both incredibly easy and super delicious. It has been dubbed 'Robert's Coconut Cake'.
I have been on Instagram for a few years now and with all the talk of trolling and bitching online, I have found the opposite on this social network. In fact, on Instagram I find myself chatting to some quite delightful, supportive and kind folk. And it is through this network that I have watched this cake take flight, grow, evolve and bring joy to more people than I could have ever imagined. It's the little cake that could.
Robert made this cake and sandwiched it with jam and cream, like a sponge cake. I have made it with either raspberries or blueberries embedded in the top. It was a photo of the blueberry version that peaked the interest of the gorgeous Briony on IG. I sent her the recipe and before I knew it she had made a few different versions and posted photos. She then passed it onto more online friends and it seemed the cake went viral. There have been mango versions, and the latest report was a tweak to the recipe that included orange zest and swapping the milk for orange juice and covered in an orange syrup.
This to me is what baking is all about. Take something basic and add your own twist. It's also highlighting one of the best sides of social media - the sharing, creative side to connecting with other people. I think there may be nearly 10 other people this recipe has been passed onto online. Briony joked saying the cake should have it's own facebook fan page. Well, perhaps this blog will be the start of an even bigger number of people baking and making this cake their own.
Nigella has always talked about food being part of her memories and family. It is this sentiment that fills me with delight at every interpretation and reincarnation of Robert's cake. Most people making it would never know the story behind the recipe. That's fine with me. I'm happy to have a warm inner glow at reports of the cake living on and finding it's way into people's homes...and smiling that Robert would never have thought something like this could happen because one friend shared a recipe.
So thank you Robert. And thank you Briony for really getting the ball rolling and sharing the coconut cake love.
Robert's Coconut Cake
125g SR Flour
1 cup coconut
3/4 cup castor sugar
1/2 cup milk
icing sugar for dusting
Heat oven to 180 degrees C. Line a 20 cm round cake tin.
Melt the butter and let it cool. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Stir in the cooled butter. Beat eggs and milk together and then mix into the other ingredients. Plonk into the cake tin and cook for 25 minutes. Place on a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Turn out, eat and enjoy.
The man himself
Well in the 24 hours after posting this I have had more amazing responses. Thanks to Briony we found that this cake has been made in the U.K. (thanks Sarzie); it's been made with fresh raspberries, coconut oil and coconut sugar (thanks Esme) and Briony's sister Brooke supplied another photo of when she made it for her Father-in-law's birthday (see below, thanks Brooke). But something that brought an extra special smile to my face was the fact that this cake had already been blogged about, by Marian in Tasmania. She made a gluten free version and it's been a popular post on her page. It seemed there were a lot of smiles and tears yesterday from people sharing the 'online love-in' that came from this post. If you were interested in more backstory about Robert, here is the post I wrote about his death and our friendship.
My heart is full. Thank you all.
IG photo by brookedrz