I love baking. I bake for friends’ birthdays, for engagement parties, for school and just for fun. I even baked my own wedding cake along with other tasty treats. Dan and I managed to turn his family home into a food factory!
It’s been quite difficult to find time to delve into the cupboard for the Kenwood mixer since bub’s arrival. I do, however, manage to whip up some healthy flapjacks or rice pudding for bub while he wanders round emptying the entire contents of the kitchen drawers onto the floor!
Anyway, I knew that I wanted to make the most amazing cake for bub’s first birthday. I admit that I started sketching out ideas from very early on – it would be a 3 tiered jungle themed cake with lions, elephants and monkeys moulded out of sugarpaste or maybe a forest with chocolate piped trees bordering the outside of the cake with deers, squirrels and rabbits perched on the top etc. All very extravagant, ambitious and a tad short sighted considering the fact bub’s now constantly on the move and finding time just to go to the loo is a mission! And then there was the move to Australia where our rented furnished flat seems to have every kitchen gadget known to man but not much in the way of baking equipment – it is beyond me as to why anyone would need or desire a battery operated pepper grinder with a light!
I needed an alternative – a quick, simple yet delicious and special cake to make for my little man’s big day. I had also decided that I didn’t want to make him a cake that was so laden with sugar that he would only be able to enjoy a few crumbs – we would also be catching a 4am flight the next day so a bub high on sugar was not on the agenda! After a bit of research, I came across the perfect solution; a watermelon cake. Bub loves watermelon – the sweeter, the juicier, the stickier, the better. Watermelon will inevitabley save the day when we’re having a ‘I refuse to eat any of the food you give me even though you slaved over it and made it especially for me because I normally wolf it down’ day.
Now, you will need quite a lot of watermelon to make this cake so I suggest you take a car or some other mode of transport when it comes to getting it home. Dan and I left bub with the grandparents and took his pram to the shops so we could load all the party stuff into it – we got some odd looks as we wheeled the watermelon home in the pram seat!
So, the best thing about this fantastic cake is that it’s gluten free, vegan and healthy. It is cold and refreshing on a hot day and you can decorate it however you wish – we used bub’s favourite fruit. It will amaze and delight all who set eyes on it and all who taste it -bub certainly enjoyed it!
1 seedless watermelon
3 cans of full-fat coconut milk – it’s a good idea to have a spare for this recipe
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup flaked almonds or dessicated coconut
Few drops food colouring (optional)
Various fruits to decorate
1. Put the coconut milk tins in the fridge (preferably overnight or for a minimum of 6 hours). This allows the coconut cream to separate from the milk.
2. When it’s time to make the whipped coconut cream, open the tin from the bottom and pour the milk into a container before scraping the cream into a mixing bowl. You do not need the milk for this recipe but you could use it for smoothies etc.
3. Add the honey, vanilla essence and your choice of food colouring (if using) to the cream. Mix with an electric whisk for 5 minutes or until the cream becomes really thick and fluffy. Once ready, place in the fridge until ready to use.
Toasted almonds or coconut
1. Place them in a heavy, ungreased skillet over medium heat and stir often until golden brown.
2. Allow them to cool completely before using them to decorate the cake.
Assembling the cake
1. Carving the watermelon -you want the middle section of the watermelon so start by removing the cap from each side. You should be left with a circular cake shape -we used a cake tin to achieve a good shape and to help with cutting off the rind.
2. Use a knife to level the top and bottom as evenly as possible.
3. Use a vegetable peeler to even up the outside of the cake.
4. Cut the cake into wedges -we did quarters- as it makes it easier when it comes to decorating and serving.
5. Use paper towels to dab and blot as much liquid off as possible. The top and sides need to be especially dry for the coconut cream to stick.
6. Now you’re ready to ice the cake! Pick up each wedge and dunk the side in the coconut cream mix. Sprinkle with the almonds or dessicated coconut. Return to plate-the last wedge is always the most difficult to replace!
7. Use a knife or the back of a tablespoon to spread the icing on the top of the cake.
8. Arrange the fresh fruit on the top.
9. It is best to serve this cake immediately but it will keep in the fridge for a few hours.
-Why not use a cookie cutter to make cupcake versions of this cake?
-You could use edible flowers to add a splash of colour.
-If you want to use dairy as icing instead of coconut milk then try using very thick yoghurt or whipped cream.
I’d love to hear if you have any other tips – let me know how it goes if you give it a try!