This is a cake I’ve been wanting to make ever since I first made my very easy gluten-free Lime and Coconut Cake. Sure, I get it. Why mess with perfection? Reason: I know that most coconut cakes tend to dry out very quickly, and I wanted one that didn’t. But life got in the way. I designed a whole heap of other recipes for the blog, started making custom birthday cakes, got another job, you get the picture… life had no room for testing recipes anymore. Plus, hubby doesn’t love coconut so there was no-one to taste my trials.

Fast forward to a weekend where we had to cancel everything because of a sick child, the husband was out for the day, and I was up to date with housework. What better opportunity than to trial a recipe or two? I set to work. The first trial was a COMPLETE FLOP. Remember my “Fabulously Sunken Lemon Drizzle Cake”? It was like that. Kicking myself, I made some tweaks and tried again in a different shaped pan. Perfection. Not content with that, I made it again in the loaf tin. Perfection again. It was my lucky day!

I was further inspired when Alex came home with a bag of home-grown oranges. Rather than create yet another version of the same cake, why not design a version of the much-touted Persian Love Cake, based on my newly successful recipe? From this point, there wasn’t a whole lot I had to change. Swap out the limes for oranges, that was easy. I knew it needed cardamom, but ground cardamom tends to lose its flavour quickly. I chose to use cardamom pods, but infused in the milk rather than added to the cake directly.

Adding a syrup makes the flavour really sing, and edible rose petals just make it pretty! If you can’t find rose petals, why not use crushed pistachios instead? And if you don’t happen to have the proliferation of GF flours that I do, then using one starch instead of two should be fine (i.e., double the tapioca if you don’t have potato starch). I hope this becomes one of your go-to recipes. I’m super happy that I’ve finally got a new recipe to share, and hope that you love it, too. Leave a note in the comments or on my socials if you make it.

Coconut, Cardamom and Orange Syrup Cake {vegan, GF}

Serves 10

¾ cup desiccated coconut
¾ cup caster (super-fine) sugar
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
¼ cup all-purpose GF flour (e.g., Bob’s Red Mill)
¼ cup almond flour
¼ cup tapioca starch
¼ cup potato starch
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 270ml can of coconut milk (I used Ayam brand)
1 tablespoon cardamom pods, crushed

1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
1 teaspoon rose water (not extract)

Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Grease a 7-inch round cake tin and line base with baking paper.

Add sugar, coconut and orange rind to a large mixing bowl. With your fingers, rub zest into sugar and coconut until oils are released. This will vastly affect the flavour of the cake. Sift over flours and baking powder.

With the flat blade of a kitchen knife, bash the cardamom pods until the seeds fall out. Add seeds and pods to milk in a small saucepan and heat slowly until the milk is warm and the fats are melted. Strain through a fine strainer and discard the cardamom. Add milk to dry mix, and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Scrape batter into prepared tin, then bake on middle rack in oven for 50 minutes, covering with alfoil (aluminium foil) at 30 minutes.

Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for at least half an hour before removing from tin and placing on a flat serving plate.

To make the syrup, combine orange juice and sugar in a small saucepan. Stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to boil, then remove from heat. Add lemon juice (to taste) and rose water. Puncture warm cake all over with a metal skewer and pour over the syrup. Decorate with edible rose petals if desired, and serve.

The potato starch can be substituted with more tapioca.

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