This is a lovely moist cake that is wonderful both as a dessert or a coffee cake. The moistness is due in part to the coconut but it’s mainly the lemongrass syrup that is poured over the cake once it’s cooled that makes it super soft and luscious. I love cakes that are doused with syrup, especially when the syrup is infused with some off the cake flavours, which in this case is lemongrass. This is a very simple cake to make. All the ingredients come together in a food processor and the only thing to note is the lemongrass needs to be finely chopped before it goes into the processor and to run your machine for as long as necessary to ensure the lemongrass and sugar form a very fine paste. I always struggle to find desserts to serve after an Asian meal but this cake with its subtle exotic Thai flavours has solved the problem and is new my go to dessert for such occasions.
Ingredients Adapted from Rachel Allen’s Cake Diaries
4 lemongrass – base and tough upper tops trimmed and outer leaves removed but reserved for the syrup
250 g caster sugar
4 large eggs
200g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
125g desiccated coconut
125g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
Greek yogurt or crème fraiche, to serve – optional
Coconut shavings to decorate – optional
For the syrup
Reserved trimmings and outer leaves of the lemongrass
75g caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 170C (not fan forced). Butter the sides of a 22 or 23cm cake tin and dust with flour, then line the base with a disc of baking parchment. Thinly slice the lemongrass stalks into rounds about 3mm thick, then place in a food processor with the caster sugar and whiz until the lemongrass is finely puréed.
Add the eggs, butter and coconut and process again until combined. Sift the flour and baking powder together and add to the machine, whizzing very briefly just until the ingredients come together. Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
For the syrup: While the cake is cooking, make the syrup. Roughly chop the lemongrass trimmings, place in a saucepan with the sugar and 75ml of water and set over a high heat. Stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved, then bring to the boil and boil for 2 minutes before removing from the heat and leaving to infuse. When the cake is ready, take it out of the oven and let it sit in the tin for 10 minutes. Loosen around the edges using a small, sharp knife and carefully remove the cake from the tin before transferring to a serving plate. Reheat the syrup, then pierce holes all over the cake with a skewer and pour the hot syrup through a sieve onto the cake, moving the pan and sieve around as you pour so that the syrup covers the top of the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely. Decorate with coconut shavings and serve with a dollop of natural Greek yoghurt or crème fraiche if desired.