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Sophie’s Pineapple & Coconut Sandwich Cake

This simple sandwich cake is made with chunks of fresh coconut and pineapple, layered with coconut-flavoured buttercream and topped with a pineapple ‘flower’.

Serves: 12

Hands-on time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Baking time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Skill level: Needs skill

For the sponge:

100g pack fresh coconut chunks

1 pineapple, topped, tailed and peeled

170g cake margarine, or softened unsalted butter

225g caster sugar

5 eggs, beaten

240g self-raising flour

2 tbsp coconut flakes, toasted, to decorate

For the buttercream:

300g caster sugar

3 egg whites

250g unsalted butter, softened

coconut flavouring, to taste

You will need:

20cm deep sandwich tins x 2, greased, then base-lined with baking paper

Baking sheet lined with baking paper

Mini-muffin tray

Sugar thermometer

Large disposable piping bag

Step 1Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/Gas 4.

Step 2Carefully remove any brown husk edges from the coconut chunks. Blitz in a food processor to small, gravel-like pieces.

Step 3Cut three thin discs from the base of the pineapple, pat dry and set aside for decorating. Cut the rest of the pineapple into small chunks, discarding the core. Weigh out 150g for the cake mixture, drain thoroughly and pat dry with kitchen paper. Set aside 50g for decoration (eat the rest!).

Step 4 – Put the margarine or butter into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the beater attachment. Beat until light and fluffy, then gradually add in the eggs, beating well after each addition. Add 1 tablespoon of the flour with the last 3 additions, to prevent the mixture curdling.

Step 5 – Sift the remaining flour into the bowl and gently fold in. Add the pieces of coconut and pineapple and combine.

Step 6 – Divide the mixture equally between the 2 prepared tins. Bake for about 25–30 minutes, until each cake is golden, well-risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins for 2 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Turn down the oven to 140°C/120°C fan/275°F/Gas 1.

Step 7 – While the sponges cool, prepare the pineapple ‘flower’. Put the 3 reserved pineapple slices on the lined baking sheet. Bake for about 15–20 minutes, until leathery. Turn over the slices and repeat until they are dry but still flexible, with golden edges.

Step 8Remove the slices from the sheet and press each slice into a hole in the muffin tray. Return to the oven for about 20 minutes, until dry and golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tray. Stack the slices on top of each another to make a flower and set aside.

Step 9 – Make the buttercream. Put the sugar and 6 tablespoons of water into a medium pan over a low heat. Melt very gently.

Step 10 – Put the egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk, and whisk to soft peaks. Once the sugar has completely dissolved, increase the heat to a rapid boil and the syrup reaches 121°C on the sugar thermometer.

Step 11Remove the pan from the heat. With the whisk at full speed, slowly pour the hot syrup onto the egg whites in a thin stream. Continue whisking until the meringue is very thick and glossy and has cooled to room temperature.

Step 12 – Gradually add the butter, whisking after each addition until the buttercream is smooth and thick. Incorporate the coconut flavouring to taste. Cover the bowl and chill until firm enough to pipe.

Step 13To assemble, place 1 sponge (top-side down) on a cake stand. Spoon the buttercream into the large piping bag and snip the end. Pipe large ‘kisses’ on top of the sponge, saving half the buttercream for the next layer. Top with the second sponge (top-side up) and pipe more kisses.

Step 14 – Place the pineapple ‘flower’ in the centre and decorate with toasted coconut flakes and the reserved pieces of pineapple.