When a food critic turns the poison pen on herself

Pineapple and coconut crunch cake April 9, 2009

Filed under: All-occasion cakes — crummb @ 2:06 pm
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Dear all, since the last time I wrote about cake decorating, my piping skills still suck so bad it could frighten small children. But! *cymbal clash!* I have found a solution to my dismal handicap. And it’s really quite simple.

Don’t know how to pipe? Don’t pipe!

There are other types of cakes in this world that don’t need buttercream rosettes to look good. And, as in the case of this cake, they can even taste better.

Tired of Western cookbooks that don’t work, I’ve been turning to Asian titles for a change. One of the first cookbooks that landed on my desk when I was a food writer was Asian High Tea Favourites by Malaysian author Betty Saw. I remember making her Chocolate Crinkle cookies that came out smelling and tasting like Famous Amos (no joke). So surely her cakes wouldn’t be too far off.

Mysteriously named Surprise Cake, this cake is basically butter cake covered with a moan-inducing topping of minced pineapple, dessicated coconut and crushed cornflakes. Yeah yeah, so it uses canned pineapple, which is loaded with sugar, preservatives and other life-threatening stuff. But I love how it’s so Malaysian/Singaporean/Thai. I mean, South-east Asia is serious about their fake fruit. I can’t think of another region in the world (oh, okay, there’s also China) that has entire industries that peel, deseed, sweeten and basically falsify fruits like longans and lychees to resemble flawless fishballs.

(I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, the best thing about Chinese wedding banquets was dessert – I’d wolf down the canned longans in double-quick time and leave the pukey almond jelly untouched.)

Consider the mutated marvel called stuffed rambutans. How on earth do they remove the seed and present the flesh as if the seed never happened? As if such technical wizardry isn’t impressive enough, they then proceed to stuff them with delicious chunks of pineapple. I love!

So anyway. When you bite into this cake, there is the expected moistness and softness of the butter cake. But then, there’s also a crunch of cornflakes here, and bits of coconut and pineapple there. If pina coladas are to be reborn as cake, this is it.

PINEAPPLE AND COCONUT CRUNCH CAKE (Adapted from Betty Saw’s Asian High Tea Favourites)

You’d need a 9-inch butter cake (you could use any butter cake recipe, such as this one)

For crunch topping, you’d need:

120g butter

115g brown sugar

30g cornflakes, crushed

1 can (565g) canned pineapple, chopped

30g dessicated coconut

1. Prepare the butter cake and pour batter into a 9-inch cake pan.

2. To make topping, cream butter and sugar until mixture is light and fluffly. Then stir in cornflakes, pineapple and coconut.

3. You’d need two spoons for this. Scoop up one spoonful of topping, then, with the second spoon, press it down so it forms a flattened segment. Carefully place the segment on top of the cake batter. Repeat until all of the cake surface is covered. (You can’t just dump all of the topping on the cake and spread it out with a butter knife cos the topping is heavy and will sink. The topping is also not easily spreadable, which is why you have to flatten it and patch up bit by bit.)

4. Then bake the cake and topping together in a preheated oven at 175 deg C, for about 50 minutes.


7 Responses to “Pineapple and coconut crunch cake”

  1. tellaure Says:

    i lol-ed at the “fake fruits” part. that was hilarious. haha. though, to be honest, i hate canned fruits. too sweet, too artificial, doesn’t have the fragrance that there fresh counterparts have. haha. and i love almond jelly!

    the topping sounds incredible. thanks for the headsup!

    ALSO!!!! regarding butter cakes, go and try rose’s sour cream butter cake or the almond variant! it’s a bit too crumbly for my liking, but it’s great! it’s quite different from her downy yellow cake (i wasn’t too impressed with that) but her sour cream butter cake might rival your best 😛 i’ve made minor edits to the recipe, like decreasing the sugar, using whole eggs (seriously, who wants to go through the trouble of seperating yolks from whites, keeping the whites and looking for recipes to use up the whites when making a simple butter cake?!?!?) and replacing some of the cake flour with AP flour.

  2. happygrub Says:

    Hi! Gorgeous cake, perfet round flat top too!

    If you are interested in other Asian titles, Don Yong’s Bread Winners and Catherine Lau’s Cheesecake Seductions are very reliable, and not to mention cheap! Compared to ang moh cookbooks, haha. They’re both from the Celebrity Chef series (I think its printed in M’sia)

    Anyway, I always wondered about the stuffed rambutan, like how do they do it. And you have to admit, they don’t taste like rambutan at all, just the texture, vaguely. I love them tho! reminds me of my childhood.. Now all we’re raving about are Korean Strawberries and whatever else that’s flown halfway round the world.

    By the way, have you tasted Malaysian passion fruit, they’re all over the markets now and they’re gorgeous. Great on a pavlova. Look out for them..

  3. crummb Says:

    tellaure: rose’s sour cream butter cake…. REALLY REALLY?! ok i will give it try! unlike my baking guru Chris, who tried every single recipe in rose’s book, i stopped right after i tried her yellow downy cake. like you, i was NOT impressed! *high five!*. if i remember correctly, the texture was too fine and didn’t have enough bite. and, oh, i am right with you about the egg white part. in fact, right now i have about 8 egg whites frozen in my fridge which i have no idea what to do with, haha!

    happygrub: i know, RIGHT?!! those canned rambutans are aMAzing! how do they take out the seed without the fibrous bits sticking to the flesh, which is what always happens when you eat the real thing? in fact, i can’t stand eating real rambutans cos you always end up eating, like, some BARK OF A TREE. ptui!
    mmm.. to be honest, i’ve never liked passionfruit cos they’re always sour. are these malaysian ones sour? also, i always feel like i’m crunching on some uncooked thing when i bite into the seeds. haha! i hope these ones change my mind! 🙂

  4. wordsmith Says:

    *sits sorrowfully in a corner*

  5. chris Says:

    No lah I haven’t made EVERY single recipe in TCB…am a bit autistic, but not THAT autistic.
    As for pineapple-stuffed rambutans, I think the companies hire toothless people with powerful lungs to simply suck the seeds out, and then plug in pineapple chunks that they hold in their cheeks, like hamsters.
    If only the ‘Don’t know how to pipe? Don’t pipe!’ philosophy applied to other things, like income tax and reservist…

  6. crummb Says:

    wordsmith: soon, soon! get the house, then get the oven!

    chris: hahaha! add to that, washing dishes, mopping floor, jogging, sit-ups, leg-lifts, paying bills, going to work, etc etc!

  7. Sarah Says:

    sweetened or unsweetened coconut?

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