Coconut and Pineapple Layer Cake

Coconut and Pineapple Layer Cake

Coconut and Pineapple Layer Cake

Coconut and Pineapple Layer Cake

I’ve gone from hardly baking any cakes recently to two birthday cakes in one week! The first being a Chocolate and Caramel Cake (post to follow) and the second was this Coconut and Pineapple Cake. It is almost a year to the day that I last baked a Coconut Cake. I know this because the cake was made for my cousin’s birthday and this cake was made for her next birthday! What else do you bake a coconut addict than a Coconut Cake?

Since last year’s cake was a bit complicated, and this year I didn’t have as much time so I tried a simplified version with the additional flavour of pineapple to give it a twist! After lots of searching for Pineapple and Coconut cakes, I ended up using a mish-mash of recipes to tailor the cake to the ingredients I actually had to hand (I couldn’t be bothered to head to the shops!) 🙂

I am going to be the first to admit that this cake didn’t turn out too pretty, however for what it lack in the eye candy department it more than makes up for in flavour! I have a knack of trying to fit too many things in at the same time, so I was finishing the decorating of this cake whilst last minute packing for a trip to Myanmar (Burma) the next day. I’d like to think that if I had more time I would have spent more time on the presentation, for example getting some dried pineapple slices and making them into pretty flowers to top the cake. However my attempts to get some at the local supermarket were fruitless (excuse the pun!) and I couldn’t think of anything else to do, so a bit of quick chocolate writing was what I settled for… any suggestions for future cake decorating in the comments box below please! 😀

Although this cake has a few steps, it is actually quite simple to make as the pineapple filling and the coconut custard for the frosting can be easily made whilst the sponge is baking in the oven! The ingredients are mostly store cupboard basics so should be fairly easy to get together. Feel free to use fresh pineapple if you can get it (and have the time to cut it up and prep it!)


  • 175 g Self Raising Flour
  • 1.5 tsp Baking powder
  • 130 g Caster sugar
  • 3 Medium eggs
  • 130 g Butter, melted
  • 2 tbs Coconut cream
  • 60 g Desiccated coconut
Pineapple Filling

Pineapple Filling

Pineapple filling:

  • 540 g Can of pineapple (340 g drained weight)
  • 2 tbs Cornflour
Coconut Custard

Coconut Custard

Coconut Cream Frosting:

  • 370 ml Coconut milk
  • 2 Egg yolks
  • 20 g Caster sugar
  • 2 tbs Cornflour
  • 300 ml Double cream

To Decorate:

  •  20 g Desiccated coconut, toasted
Coconut Cream and Pineapple Cake

Coconut Cream and Pineapple Cake


For the Cake:

  • Using an electric whisk, beat the eggs and sugar until you see ribbons trails when stirred, lightly beat in the coconut cream
  • Slowly stir in the melted butter, try to avoid knocking too much air out of the mixture
  • Sift in the flour and baking powder along with the desiccated coconut, lightly combine so it is just mixed together
  • Bake the batter in a lined round 23 cm spring form cake tin for 25 minutes, 180 degrees C (fan oven)
  • Remove cake from the tin and allow to cool completely

For the Pineapple filling:

  • Pour the pineapple juice/syrup from the can into a jug and combine with the cornflour until smooth
  • Chop up the pineapple into small chunks and put into a saucepan
  • Warm up the pineapples in the pan and add the cornflour and juice mixture, keep on a low heat and the mixture will slowly thicken to look similar to apple sauce
  • Leave to one side to cool completely

For the Coconut cream frosting:

  • Make a coconut custard by combining the egg yolks with the cornflour into a smooth paste, warm in a saucepan and slowly add the coconut milk into the thicken egg mixture so you have a smooth custard
  • Keeping the pan on a low heat, add the sugar and continuously whisk until the mixture forms a very thick custard, don’t allow the custard to stick to the bottom of the pan
  • Set the custard to one side until completely cold. This can be made ahead and refrigerated, but ensure you cover the custard with cling film to prevent it from forming a skin
  • Whip up the double cream until peaks form, add the coconut custard and lightly whisk to combine

To assemble and decorate:

  • Cut the cake through the middle to create two layers, using the top as the bottom layer
  • Cover the bottom layer with a layer of the coconut cream frosting, then add the pineapple filling on top. I only used half the pineapple filling in the end as I was worried it would be too much!
  • Add the second layer of sponge then completely cover the whole cake with the left over frosting
  • Decorate with the toasted desiccated coconut
Coconut Cream Layer Cake

Coconut Cream and Pineapple Layer Cake

As you can see from the, slightly dodgy, photo of the inside of the cake it is packed with filling and cream. The contrast in textures and flavours worked well, the cake sponge was a little on the dry side but the cream helped to balance this out. All in all, a tasty version of the coconut cake in less than half the time of the original! 🙂


Coconut Panna Cotta with Passion Fruit, Mango and Lime Zest

Coconut Panna Cotta with Passion Fruit and Mango: 1st Blog Anniversary Post!

First Anniversary for Tea and Sesame!

A year has passed since Tea and Sesame came into being, starting off as an idea from a casual conversation over an afternoon tea this blog has become much more than I expected; a creative outlet to share my cooking and baking with like-minded people, a way to connect with people all over the world that I would otherwise be a stranger to, and the start of a major change in direction in my ‘real’ life…

Despite promises to myself to post recipes regularly, general life seemed to get in the way. Commuting and working long hours meant weekday dinners tended to be thrown together with little creative thought process and weekends were mostly spent catching up with friends and family with the odd fancier home cooked meal thrown in… Oh how things change! This year I’ve taken the (scary) step of giving up my steady job and challenging myself to fulfill my dream of working and living overseas. Hopefully this coming year will give me time to explore a new way of living and find out what I really want to do now that I am a ‘grown up’. I’ve got a year of travelling and work planned and will be documenting my journey through this blog, so I hope you will stick around to see what I discover…

This exciting adventure started off with a couple of weeks on vacation in Sri Lanka where I was introduced to new culinary delights that I will be sharing with you soon. But first I need to catch up with some recipes that I didn’t get a chance to write up before my holiday.

This post is dedicated to Mellissa, my foodie companion and inspiration for this blog. She is addicted to anything that contains coconut and like me needs a decent dessert to make a good meal complete… Enjoy! 😀

Coconut Panna Cotta with Passion Fruit,  Mango and Lime Zest

Coconut Panna Cotta with Passion Fruit, Mango and Lime Zest

Coconut Panna Cotta with Passion Fruit and Mango


  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 150 ml double cream
  • 2 heaped tbs icing sugar
  • 3 leaves of gelatin (use agar agar for vegans)
  • Pulp of 3 passion fruits
  • Cubes of fresh mango
  • Zest of one lime


  • Pour the coconut milk, double cream and icing sugar into a sauce pan and gently warm up, turn off the heat as soon as it starts to simmer and do not allow it to come to a boil!
  • Prepare gelatin as instructed on the packet, then stir into the warmed liquid
  • Pour into small bowls/moulds/ramekins (whatever you want to serve them in) and put into the fridge to set (at least 2 hours for me)
  • When ready to serve, top with passion fruit pulp, cubed mango and lime zest
Coconut Panna Cotta with Passion Fruit,  Mango and Lime Zest

Coconut Panna Cotta with Passion Fruit, Mango and Lime Zest

This dessert takes minutes to put together and is so easy to make but tastes so amazing! I served is as part of an ‘Asian inspired’ Afternoon Tea to celebrate a friend’s 30th birthday so served them in little shot sized cups, but you can make larger ones for a dinner party.

Coconut Panna Cotta with Passion Fruit,  Mango and Lime Zest

Coconut Panna Cotta with Passion Fruit, Mango and Lime Zest

The ‘Asian Inspired’ Afternoon Tea also consisted of Cardamom and Salted Caramel Profiteroles, Candied Walnut Carrot Cupcakes and Scones. Recipes to follow…

'Asian' Afternoon Tea

‘Asian’ Afternoon Tea

Clandestine Cake Club: Pistachio, Cardamom and Yoghurt Cake

Clandestine Cake Club
Clandestine Cake Cake Club Cake Selection

Clandestine Cake Cake Club Cake Selection

Are any of you Clandestine Cakes Club members? Have you heard of the club before? If not, and you LOVE baking cakes and anything cake related, you have to check it out! The basic premise is that as a member you bake a cake to take to an event, you share the cake with other members and then make new friends over the common interest of cake!

I heard about this secret cake society over a year ago and was super excited with the idea. There are clubs all over the UK, and increasingly all over the world! It was founded in the summer of 2010 by a lady called Lynn Hill from Leeds, Northern England. The mission statement for the CCC is: Bake, Eat and Talk about Cake, now there is nothing wrong with that!

As you all know you can make plans and then life gets in the way so you put things off and then you find that months have gone by and you still haven’t gotten round to doing those things that you really want to do. The CCC is that thing for me! I joined one of the groups but kept on missing out on their meets due to being busy at work or having other things planned. I even baked a cake once and then missed the meeting as I was stuck at work! So this time, I planned way ahead and sent an email to join the January meeting.

There are a few main things to take note of. The venue is a secret until a few days before the event. Once you have signed up to the event, the organiser will send an email to confirm the venue. There is a ‘Cake only Rule’- ‘CCC is not like any other club. You can share a cake, you cannot share a cupcake, Muffin or a Brownie. There is interaction and conversation as soon as you begin to slice a cake, that you don’t seem to get when you pick up a cupcake etc.’ You can also take a guest with you (who can choose to bake or not!).

Each event has a theme to guide your baking and give inspiration. The theme of the event I attended was ‘nouveaux’ -trying out a new recipe or using a new cook book or cake tin etc. The groups are run by volunteers who do it because they love cake and baking. So check out your local group and join one today! On the night there were 15 cakes on offer! A lot of new members so lots of people to chat to and get to know. The tea flowed and we worked our way through all the cakes with the determination to try every single one of them.

Pistachio, Yoghurt and Cardamom Cake

Pistachio, Yoghurt and Cardamom Cake

The recipe I decided to go with was a Pistachio, Cardamom and Yoghurt Cake. Not strictly a ‘new’ recipe for me but a ‘new improved version’ of the cake as I wanted to ensure that the cake would taste nice and I not turn out a total disaster! The cake was well received on the night, although it wasn’t the most attractive cake there. I got lots of comments about the flavour combination and was even asked for the recipe, which is always a good sign! The cake is fairly dense but still moist due to the yoghurt and the lime drizzle. The flavours work really well together and it’s sto easy to do if you have a food processor!

So here it is: (You’ll need a food processor and a small sauce pan)

Pistachio, Cardamom and Yoghurt Cake  (Adapted from ‘Sweet Food’ publised by Murdoch Books)


  • 150g Pistachio nuts
  • 1 tsp Ground Cardamom (about 15 pods)
  • 150g Butter
  • 185g Self Raising Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 180g Caster Sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 125g Plain Yoghurt
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • 2 tbs Honey


  • Grease and line cake tin (either 20cm round tin or 2lb loaf tin)
  • Place pistachios and ground cardamom in the processor and pulse until just chopped
  • Add butter and flour and caster sugar then pulse for 20 seconds or until crunbly
  • Combine yoghurt and eggs then add to the cake batter before pulsing again for 10 secons or until just combined
  • Bake in oven at 180 degrees C for 40-45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean
  • In a small pan warm up the lime of the juice and the honey until combined and becomes a sticky syrup
  • Once the cake has cooled a little, pierce it all over with the skewer and slowly pour over the lime and honey mixture as a ‘drizzle’
  • Allow cake to fully cool in the tin

The original recipe contains a lot more sugar and a little less cardamom but I found it way to sweet, so I use honey to make the syrup, and found the cardamom could be stronger, so I have changed the recipe to my taste. The original recipe can be found on this site.

Pistachio, Yoghurt and Cardamom Cake

Pistachio, Yoghurt and Cardamom Cake

I really enjoyed my first event as a Clandestine Cake Club member and would highly recommend it to anyone who loves cake! 🙂

Macau ‘Portuguese’ Custard Tarts (Pasteis de Nata)

There are lots of different types of custard tarts all from different countries and cultures, all with a slightly different list of ingredients and cooking method. Yesterday I was reminded of the deliciously buttery ‘Portuguese’ custard tarts I had in Macau, an island of the main land of China, which is an ex-Portuguese colony. Due to the history of the island, Macau is a fantastic place to visit to for it’s Chinese-Portuguese fusion food and exploring the what remains of the colonial town. In contrast, post-colonial Macau is also full of over-the-top 5 star hotels and is said to have a gambling industry seven times the size of Vegas!

These custard tarts are made from a buttery puff pastry and are baked until they are caramelised, almost burnt, on top. Not being able to get the Portuguese custard tarts out of my head, I set about finding a recipe and go to work on a cold and rainy Saturday afternoon…

Portuguese Custard Tarts - Pasteis de Nata

Portuguese Custard Tarts – Pasteis de Nata
Flaky puff pastry and not a soggy bottom in sight!

After quite a bit of internet searching, comparing recipes for the original Portuguese recipe and the Macau recipe, I decided to go for the one on due to the rave reviews and the helpful suggestions on how to adjust the recipe. Luckily for me, most recipes I found called for using ready made puff pastry, so who am I to question this? 🙂

After researching this recipe so much I made some changes to the recipe, so this is the final list of ingredients I used:

  • 300 ml whole milk
  • 150 ml double cream
  • 1 tbs cornflour
  • 0.5 tsp vanilla paste (I don’t have vanilla pods, too expensive!)
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 100 g sugar
  • 500g pack of puff pastry

The method I used was pretty much the same so no need to tell you about that!

Mini Portuguese Custard Tarts

Mini Portuguese Custard Tarts

The recipe was for 12 cupcake sized tarts, however I had pastry and custard left over so I ended up making some mini ones too in a mini cupcake pan. Great for little kids who don’t ever finish a whole dessert for themselves…

These tarts are so delicious and buttery, however even though I halved the sugar suggested in the original recipe they were still really sweet! So next time I’ll reduce the sugar event more and maybe add even more double cream to make them extra rich!

Macau Portuguese Custard Tarts

Macau Portuguese Custard Tarts

Since making this recipe, I have come across a  which includes a pinch of salt and a little lemon juice in the custard. Definitely worth a try to balance out the flavours…

Actual Portuguese Tarts bought in Macau (January 2012)

Actual Portuguese Tarts bought in Macau (January 2012)

As you can see from the photo above, there are different versions of the tarts available. I think we bought three custard flavour, two coconut milk flavour and one ‘sharks fin’ flavour from a well known bakery. They were straight out of the oven and I burnt my mouth on them, but boy were they worth it!

Pot-stickers, Gyoza, Mantu, Dumplings: The bite sized delights that cross cultures

Prawn Dumplings/Pot Stickers


During my childhood, my parents were keen to ensure my siblings and I retained our culture, mother tongue and heritage. As second generation migrants living in the UK there was always a need to balance my two identities; though not without the occasional volcanic eruption!

I attended a Sunday supplementary school to learn to read and write Chinese. This took place from 1-3pm each week and was attended by hundreds of children just like me, my sister and my cousins. A regular ritual for my family was to go to China Town and at 12pm for a dim sum lunch before we then rushed over to school. In Hong Kong, dim sum is traditionally served throughout the day.From early in the morning for breakfast right through to late afternoon for late lunches. ‘Dim Sum’ (點心) translated means ‘Touch of the Heart’.  If you’ve read my ‘About’ page, you’ll know that my name is Sam (心) so you’ll see that I have a natural affinity to this delicious cuisine!


Prawn Potstickers

Dim Sum is sometimes described as ‘Chinese Tapas’. You get lots of small dishes served in the middle of the table for all to share. The great things about Dim Sum is that the more people you have around the table, the more variety you can order. It’s a great way to have a lazy lunch with your friends, ordering as you go, washed down with plenty of jasmine tea.

Pot-sticker, Gyoza, Mantu, Dumplings etc. come in many guises. It’s an amazing food that many cultures and countries have their own versions of. Basically a disk of dough stuffed with some form of meat or vegetable filling, then folded and sealed. They can be steamed, boiled, pan-fried or deep fried. The possibilities are endless!

I regularly use shop bought dumpling pastry when I’m making them at home. They are fairly cheap and very convenient! In the early days of our relationship my partner wanted to show off the dishes from his home country (Afghanistan) and taught me how to make ‘Mantu’ and ‘Aushak’. Aushak are basically a dumpling filled with cooked leeks/scallions/spring onions, and boiled or steamed. Mantu are a meat version made with ground or minced lamb/beef. They are then served with a meaty or lentil based sauce. It seems that these Afghan dumplings were brought to the country by Mongolian horsemen when they were invading the country. Afghans have adapted the dumplings and added spices and stronger flavours to suit the Central Asian palate. A very different way of serving dumplings to the basic Chinese pot-stickers that are served plain with a light dipping sauce.

Afghan Mantu

Afghan Mantu

Dumpling making is time consuming but worth the effort. So today I have made a big batch. I’ve decided to try and make my own dumpling dough and turned to Christine again for her wise advice: Home made dumpling wrappers.

From one lot of dumpling dough I made three varieties: Prawn and shitake mushroom pot-stickers, Aushak, and Banana gyoza. This was mainly to test out the dough to see what kind of cooking methods it will stand up to.

The pot-stickers were fantastic! For the filling, I processed raw prawns/shrimp with rehydrated shitake mushrooms and added sesame oil, salt and pepper to taste. I also added some cornflour to help soak up some of the juice during the cooking process.

For the Aushak I made the filling, wrapped them, then stuck them in the freezer on a baking sheet for another time.

The banana gyoza were stuffed with mashed banana then deep fried. The pastry didn’t like the wet banana much as a couple of them burst during cooking. However, served with a coconut caramel recipe that I found, they were to die for! For one gyoza I also added a spoonful of Nutella (yum!) but found the overall taste to be too sweet and sickly. I think next time I’m going to add a little sea salt to the caramel to balance out the flavours a little.

Banana Gyoza

Banana Gyoza