Coconut, Orange, and Chocolate Birthday Cake

November 26, 2017

Happy birthday to me! Hi, I'm 26 now, but still think I'm 20 when people ask. White hairs are coming in at an exponential rate now and I'm planning on becoming a full-blown witch by the time I'm 40. I've entered into the second half of my 20s, probably the second quarter of my life, and I'm good with that. If I had stuck to my original career path I'd be halfway through a PhD by now and I'm pretty thrilled to have avoided that. Thanks you so much to all of you for being here for the past couple of years (and newer readers, too!), your support means the world to me, and it's because of you that I'm able to make this into my job.

Some really wonderful things have happened this year. I got off antidepressants, improved my German, started making this blog into a real career, and really learned how to live minimally after a year of very uncertain and unreliable income. Last year at my birthday we had just moved to Germany. I wouldn't say that I'm ecstatically happy here, and we certainly miss our friends and surroundings back home (I need to see a proper lake and some snow very soon please) but it's been a worthwhile experience and overall I've enjoyed our time here so far. Connecting with my family has been wonderful and I've made some lovely friends, plus learned to live in a city with a completely different system than I was used to, including not driving a car for over a year now. We're staying in Germany for a few more months before we're off to another country in Europe for a year or so, but I'm not yet sure where. Fingers crossed for somewhere with snow, forests, and big lakes!

This is birthday cake number four for my blog, and it really is the best one so far. I asked on instagram which flavour combination I should do and got some excellent suggestions, which I squirrelled away for later, but ended up brainstorming with my sister and eventually stuck on chocolate, orange, and coconut. Three of my all-time favourite things together in one cake, and I love it. I made a test cake earlier this week and we had finished by the next day, so I ended up giving about half of this cake away to friends. We had my birthday coffee with family on the weekend so I made another cake and cinnamon rolls, which are apparently my thing now. (Let me know if you want a recipe!)

The trick with this cake is to make the elements the day before and then assemble everything the following day. You could hypothetically made it early in the morning but I think it really helps to reduce any stress if you do it all beforehand. The cake itself is very forgiving and won't dry out overnight if it's in a sealed container, and has to cool in any case, as does the ganache. But it's a simple cake to make and the whipped ganache is certainly easier than whipped coconut cream in my books, because coco cream can be a bit fiddly depending on the brand you're using. Plus, chocolate is always better, especially in this case. This whipped ganache is out of this world. I was inspired by my dear friend Traci from Vanilla and Bean who posted a recipe a while back including whipped ganache, and it's become my go-to vegan frosting ever since. The cake base here is spelt flour and added sugar (maple syrup in this case) is kept to a minimum - 1/2 cup in the entire cake! - but the coconut makes it sweet enough. I found that I needed the dark chocolate icing to keep it from being too sweet for me despite that.

It's a bit tricky not to go totally overboard with different flavour combinations with a recipe like this. I felt like a puppy being distracted by too many toys - I can add ginger! Or nutmeg! Pomegranate! And while I think you could add different extras to make the cake a little more varied, I think this is best as is. I see a chocolate, orange, and ginger dessert somewhere in my future. Nutmeg is usually added to coconut bread (which I love, & need to post a better recipe for) and my mind keeps going there as this cake reminds me of the coconut bread I grew up eating. The cake itself is a triple coconut cake with with orange zest and juice to add brightness and a seasonal twist. This cake was a hit with everyone who tried it and I can see it being a bit of an interesting holiday cake instead of your standard cranberry or spice cake, just in case you don't have a birthday coming up.

Let's connect! Tag me on instagram @occasionallyeggs and #occasionallyeggs so I can see what you're making, or stay in touch via facebook and pinterest. Happy baking!

Coconut, Orange, and Chocolate Birthday Cake
Makes one layer cake, serves several

Coconut and Orange Cake

300 grams / 2 1/2 cups light spelt flour
150 grams / 1 1/2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder*
250 ml / 1 cup coconut milk
250 ml / 1 cup orange juice*
125 ml / 1/2 cup maple syrup*
140 grams / 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
Zest of 4 organic oranges 

Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F and grease two 20cm / 8 inch springform pans* with coconut oil. In a large bowl, sift together* the spelt flour, arrowroot powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and vanilla powder. Stir in the shredded coconut and make a well in the centre.

In another bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, orange juice, maple syrup, and orange zest. Slowly add the coconut oil in a steady stream, whisking, until incorporated. Doing this keeps the coconut oil from solidifying into large chunks as it's added.

Pour the orange juice mixture into the dry ingredients and gently whisk until just combined. Don't over mix. Pour half of the batter into one prepared pan and the other half into the second pan. Shake gently to level the batter and then bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are golden and pulling away from the edges of the pans. If you're not sure, do a toothpick test. 

Place the cakes onto a cooling rack and cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing the sides. Cool for another 30 minutes before carefully flipping and removing the base of the pan. Cool completely before placing into a sealed container to keep before icing and serving.

Chocolate Orange Whipped Ganache

500 ml / 2 cups coconut cream, from the top of a can of full-fat coconut milk
150 grams (1 1/2 bars) dark chocolate, 70% cocoa or higher
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder
Zest of an organic orange
Pinch salt

Chop the chocolate and place it in a heatproof bowl, then set aside. Heat the coconut milk in a small saucepan over medium to a simmer. Pour the milk over the chocolate and let it sit for 30 seconds, then whisk to combine. Add the vanilla, orange zest, and salt, then whisk again. Cool in the refrigerator overnight or for at least four hours.

When you're ready to assemble the cake, take the ganache out of the fridge. Use a hand-mixer to whip on high for 2-3 minutes or until fluffy. It will seem too hard at first but the beaters will manage. Place one cake onto your serving dish or board, add about 1/3 of the ganache, and spread it out in an even layer. Place the second cake on top and use the remaining ganache to coat the top and sides of the cake. Top with melted chocolate (I chose dark orange chocolate), orange zest, and some shaved or grated chocolate. Serve immediately. The cake keeps well in the fridge for up to three days, but it will have a denser texture after being refrigerated.

1. You can use 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract in place of the vanilla powder in the cake. Just add it to the wet ingredients.
2. I squeezed the four oranges I used for the zest and it was exactly a cup (lucky!) and I recommend using fresh juice if you can. If your oranges aren't very juicy then top it off with juice from the fridge.
3. I have tested this with runny honey and it works as well. I personally find it a bit too sweet with honey but it's a fine substitution.
4. There's a good chance that regular cake pans would work, but I haven't tried it.
5. Spelt flour tends to be a bit lumpy, so sifting is quite important. I just use a fine sieve and bang on the side to get it to go through.
6. If you let it sit the icing will become more solid instead of retaining the fluffy texture, so it's best to eat it right away if you can. 

4 comments on "Coconut, Orange, and Chocolate Birthday Cake"
  1. That's a wow cake. I would love to have a piece. Happy Birthday!

  2. What a beautiful way to celebrate a birthday! Your cake look fabulous. That whipped ganache recipe was a game-changer for me when I discovered it, as like you, whipping coconut milk can be an exercise in frustration! Pinning!

  3. My husband would adore this cake. He's a huge chocolate orange fan. I love baking with spelt for my kids, so this cake is super appealing! Happy Birthday!

  4. Happy Birthday! Such a beautiful cake, and it sounds delicious, too.