Tonka beans will blow your mind. As a long time fan of vanilla (So much so, if I was on Saturday Kitchen it would be my heaven ingredient), I would go as far to say tonka bean is like vanilla but better. Yes, better than vanilla! It has a similar natural sweetness but it also has more depth of flavour, almost a tobacco/smokeyness to it. A very interesting taste that marries perfectly to baking. I would say its an easy substitute for vanilla in most recipes. Tonka beans are really easy to get hold of online and not that expensive, they have a long shelf life and come looking like big black seeds which need finely grating before adding to your bake. In this recipe I have married them with coconut which taste really exotic and different, really unique.
I have really got into using my dehydrator too which is how I have achieved the decoration on the cake. I finely sliced pears, lemons and oranges on a mandolin (be careful with the mandolin, I didn’t pay attention and sliced off the tip of my thumb. Que visit to A&E) and popped them in the dehydrator for 12 hours. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can use your oven on a really low setting of around 50-60 degrees for a few hours, keep a close eye on them to make sure they don’t burn.
Tonka bean and coconut cake
Makes one 8 inch cake
- 6 eggs
- 550g caster sugar
- 375ml coconut milk
- 90g unsalted butter
- 2 tonka beans, finely grated
- 110g desiccated coconut
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 360g self-raising flour
Tonka bean buttercream
- 250g unsalted butter
- 100ml double cream
- 600g icing sugar
- 1 grated tonka bean, finely grated
- 3-4 tablespoons full fat milk
- Pinch of salt
- Pre-heat your oven to 170 degrees and lightly grease and line two 8 inch cake tins
- Put your coconut milk, grated tonka bean and butter into a saucepan and heat gently until the butter has melted. Set aside to cool.
- Beat your eggs and sugar in a mixer until pale and fluffy, around 3 minutes.
- Add your coconut into the mix then slowly pour in the butter mix and stir until just combined.
- Sieve together the salt and flour and fold this in until just come together and there are no streaks of flour. Evenly distribute between the tins and pop in the oven.
- Bake for 22-25 minutes until light golden brown on top and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave in the tins to cool.
- To make the buttercream, beat the butter until pale. Add the cream and the milk plus half the icing sugar. Beat together then add the tonka bean, salt and the last of the icing sugar. Leave to beat together for 5 minutes until fluffy and pale.
- Once the sponges are cool, sandwich together with a layer of buttercream and perhaps a layer of raspberry jam for added flavour, then cover with the remaining buttercream and decorate.