The school that my daughters attend had their Open Day and Fair on Saturday. It is a wonderful annual event that involves families and friends from the school’s community and invites people in surrounding areas to attend and enjoy the day’s festivities.

Once again the cake stall was a popular spot for those with a sweet tooth. Beautifully wrapped packages, and boxes of biscuits, slices, cakes and treats were made and donated by parents.

In planning what to bake, I leafed through my cookbooks and various food blogs and decided on double batches of breakfast banana bread, chocolate brownies, honey oat slice and a buttercake in a shaped tin . I used tried and tested recipes from How to be a Domestic Goddess, and Feast by Nigella Lawson; and Merle’s Kitchen by Merle Parrish.  I wanted to make one more cake, something suitable for perhaps a Mother’s Day gift or after lunch accompaniment with tea and coffee.

While scrolling through one of my favourite food blogs, I came across a delicious looking photograph of a cake completely covered in scrolls of coconut. It reminded me of a cake that appeared in an early episode of Call the Midwife, an excellent series on Channel 2 based on the memoirs of midwife Jennifer Worth who worked in London’s East End in the 1950’s. In one scene a marvellously moist looking, coconut clad afternoon tea cake was lifted from a cake tin and shared over a pot of tea. These two images inspired me to make this aromatic vanilla cake, decorated with creamy vanilla-scented butter icing and handfuls of shredded coconut.

To make clean up less of a chore, I spread a large piece of plastic cellophane on my bench top. Alternatively layers of plastic wrap would also do the trick. The cake sat in the middle and was iced using a large palette knife for a consistent thickness. The finish doesn’t need to be ultra smooth, because the coconut will cover the icing. However, you do need to work quickly before the icing sets. 

Gently press handfuls of coconut onto the top and sides of the cake. You may need to do this a couple of times to ensure the entire surface is covered.

When finished, slide the palette knife under the cake, lift slightly and using your free hand lift onto a cake board, serving plate or cake stand.

Roll the corners of the cellophane or plastic wrap towards the middle gathering excess coconut and icing. Give the bench a quick wipe and presto! If serving up at home, you can present the cake as is, or tie a ribbon around the base before wrapping in clean cellophane and delivering to a grateful recipient.