Have you ever got up one morning and went hmmm I feel like baking something today? The thought of cake came as I was sleeping in on this one fine Sunday morning. You can never go wrong with cake. Cake understands you. Cake loves you. Cake…
I wanted something simple yet not something common. I wanted to experiment with the flavours. Something that would take me back home to Malaysia. I was born and raised in Malaysia till I met my husband and made the move here to Australia to start our new lives. The one thing synonymous to Malaysia would be food. Any Malaysian will tell you this that the best thing about the country is its variety food from all sorts of different background given that we are known for our multicultural diversity. When it comes to desserts, there is one famous combination that is used in almost every famous dish and that is Gula Melaka and its soul mate, coconut.
Gula Melaka, also known as palm sugar, is used widely in Asian cooking and not limited to desserts. You can find it in most Asian Grocers where its sold in either cylindrical blocks, or in powder form (similar to how brown sugar wold look). It also comes in different colours, from a very light beige colour, to dark brown or red. In Indian grocers, you will find something called Jaggery, extracted from cane sugar, and is sometimes mistaken for Gula Melaka mostly because of its looks (well, at least for me when I was still new here and searching for my authentic Malaysian Gula Melaka). When I was still a kid, we used to suck on Gula Melaka while watching our tv shows. It was heaven! It tastes like caramel, with smokey and bitter notes to it.
So for the cake, I used a Victorian Sponge Cake and added about 3/4 – 1 cup of desiccated coconut. The desiccated coconut used here was coated with sugar – I didn’t realise this until I saw this on the packet after I baked the cake. Rookie mistake! So the cake turned out a bit too sweet. I would reduce the sugar by half if I’d knew earlier. I did not add any coconut essence. I tasted a drop and it tasted nothing like coconut, so out that went! Instead of the essence, I added 3 tablespoon of coconut milk into the batter. Just like the recipe, I baked two parts of the cake so it can be sandwiched with the Gula Melaka buttercream. I have to say, my cake did turn out more like a butter cake – but it still tasted delicious!
For the buttercream, I prepared a basic batch of buttercream but replacing the fresh milk with coconut milk. The Gulaka Melaka component was included by adding a Gula Melaka syrup and coconut milk. Now, how do you get Gula Melaka syrup? If you have Gula Melaka blocks, you want to finely chop it up, put it into a sauce pan and add some water to it over medium heat and allow the chopped Gula Melaka to dissolve. Some recipes will call to add some sugar to the syrup but I refrained from that. Instead, I added alot of chopped Gula Melaka with little water (about 1cup of chopped gula melaka to half cup water) to ensure the syrup tastes strong not too sweet and leaves you with the slight bitterness. The excess syrup can be refrigerated in an air tight container and will last for a long time. You can use this in so many other recipes! One simple recipe is to use it as a sweetener with milk tea! If i find the time, I will put a post on this.
So you have the batch of buttercream, now you add the Gula Melaka syrup a little by little into the buttercream batch and whip it good. As always, you need to taste the buttercream as you go so it suites your taste. I don’t usually use exact measurements in my buttercream. It’s always a taste as you go – If its too runny then i add more icing sugar to it or more butter…if its too hard, in this case, ill add more Gula Melaka syrup and coconut milk.
Once your cake cools down, you spread the buttercream on one of the cake, and top it off with the other. Then you cover the entire cake with the remaining buttercream. I topped it off with some desiccated coconut for decoration. A simple look that’s elegant too!
Have a try and let me know how you go with your version of the Gula Melaka coconut cake!
P.S. Sorry for the crappy pictures! I was so excited that the only pictures I took was with my crappy phone!