Fresh Coconut Layer Cake
The optimum word here is 'fresh'. If you've ever suffered cakes made with dry, dull desiccated coconut, let me transport you to a different world. Fresh coconut (you'll only need one) is very moist and has a fragrant, slightly sour, sweet flesh that is perfect for this cake.
Before you start this cake, you'll first have to deal with the coconut. Not half as impenetrable as it might seem, as all you do is first push a skewer into the 3 holes in the top of the coconut and drain out the milk.
Then place the coconut in a polythene bag and sit it on a hard surface – a stone floor or an outside paving stone. Then give it a hefty whack with a hammer – it won't be that difficult to break. Now remove the pieces from the bag and, using a cloth to protect your hands, prise the top of a knife between the nut and the shell. You should find that you can force the whole piece out in one go. Now discard the shell and take off the inner skin using a potato peeler. The coconut is now ready to use. The best way to grate coconut flesh is with the grating disc of a food processor, but a hand grater will do just as well.
To make the cake, sieve the flour and baking powder into a large bowl, holding the sieve high to give them a good airing. Now just add all the other ingredients, except the grated coconut, to the bowl and go in with an electric hand whisk and combine everything until you have a smooth mixture, which will take about 1 minute. If you don't have an electric hand whisk, use a wooden spoon, using a little more effort. What you should now have is a mixture that drops off a spoon when you give it a tap on the side of the bowl. If it seems a little stiff, add a drop of water and mix again.
Finally, stir in the 3 oz (75 g) finely grated coconut and divide the mixture between the tins. Now place them on the centre shelf of the oven for 30-35 minutes. To test whether the cakes are cooked, lightly touch the centre of each with a finger: if it leaves no impression and the sponges spring back, they are ready. Next, remove them from the oven, then wait about 5 minutes before turning them out on to a wire cooling rack. Carefully peel off the base papers, and when the cakes are absolutely cold, carefully divide each one horizontally into two halves using a very sharp serrated knife.
Now make up the frosting by simply whisking all the ingredients together in a bowl to combine them. Next select the plate or stand you want to serve the cake on – you'll also need a palette knife – then simply place one cake layer on first, followed by a thin layer of frosting (about a fifth), followed by the next layer of cake and frosting, and so on.
After that, use the rest of the frosting to coat the sides and top of the cake. Don't worry how it looks: the good thing is that it's all going to be covered with the rest of the grated coconut next. And that's it!