Raspberry, Coconut and Russell Crowe


Apparently ‘buttercream’ sounds like ‘Russell Crowe’. That’s how he heard it anyway, when he asked me one morning about the type of cake I was making. “Raspberry, coconut and buttercream”, I mumbled, half asleep, face pressed deeply into my pillow. He got the bit about raspberry and coconut, but was rather stumped as to what Russell Crowe had anything to do with it.

So anyway, not only are we rather lacking in the Russell Crowe department, but I’m forced to confess that I didn’t have the necessary raspberry jam either. I only realised this when it came time to assemble the cake, and resorted to what jams I did have lying around instead : a quince marmalade from Lynwood Cafe and a Fortnum & Mason rosepetal jam (which by the way travelled with me all the way back from London, and was so delicious that I was consuming it in small amounts to make it last longer).

In the absence of quite a few original key components (this includes Russell Crowe), what DOES this cake have going for it, in the end? Well, for starters, the coconut’s still there! But really, this cake is a dream. I love the closed crumb and the flavour that is buttery like a madeira cake, but with a texture as light as a sponge. Coming from someone who doesn’t normally like buttercream, this lemon flavoured buttercream was genius, I thought. The best I’d ever tasted. The amount of lemon was just right, allowing the acidity to cut the sweetness and richness of the buttercream, giving it a certain airy lemon curdy presence, without resorting to being a lemon curd, which might have been too full on for this delicate cake. The verdict? An absolutely gorgeous and incredibly easy to prepare party piece. One I hope to make again in the near future.

Thanks Morven for picking such a great recipe for us to play with this month! Now I wonder if anyone else managed to find Russell Crowe for their cake…

Perfect Party Cake :
(Recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours)

For the Cake
2 ½ cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk
4 large egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
113g unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon pure lemon extract

For the Buttercream
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
340g unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Finishing
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
About 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut

Getting Ready
Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 175’C. Butter two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

To Make the Cake
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
Add the butter and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light.
Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed.
Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated.
Add the rest of the milk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated.
Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean
Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unfold them and peel off the paper liners.
Invert and cool to room temperature, right side up (the cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to two months).

To Make the Buttercream
Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or another large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a plan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes.
The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream.
Remove the bowl from the heat.
Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes.
Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth.
Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes.
During this time the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again.
On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla.
You should have a shiny smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.

To Assemble the Cake
Using a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half.
Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper.
Spread it with one third of the preserves.
Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream.
Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with a third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream leftover).
Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top.
Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.

[Note: I only used jam between the layers, as the boy is lactose intolerant. The buttercream I used to ice the outside of the cake only, so he had the option of scraping it off]



  1. Deborah said,

    March 30, 2008 @ 1:32 pm

    It looks wonderful, with or without Russell Crowe!

  2. Chris said,

    March 30, 2008 @ 4:18 pm

    Looks beautiful!

  3. Maryann said,

    March 30, 2008 @ 4:22 pm

    Maybe next time you can serve Russell Crowe on the side 😉
    Cake looks awesome!

  4. courtney said,

    March 30, 2008 @ 4:37 pm

    I used a rose petal jam. Its heaven. Try it next time. Maybe Russel will vist you in your dreams and you can serve him up a slice:-).

  5. Aran said,

    March 30, 2008 @ 5:08 pm

    This was a wonderful cake to make and to eat wasn’t it? Yours looks lovely. Nice layers!

  6. Lisa said,

    March 30, 2008 @ 7:29 pm

    My cake was notedly devoid of Russell Crowe as well (Rather as I expected it to be) but it was a lovely cake in the end though – wasn’t it!

  7. Mimi said,

    March 30, 2008 @ 10:50 pm

    Perhaps one could at least think about Russell Crowe while enjoying each rich and flavorful bite.

  8. Lucy V said,

    March 31, 2008 @ 1:28 am

    Your cake turned out beautifully! I bet it was fantastic with the rosepetal jam. I was considering a flavor using rose, but didn’t do it. I’m glad yours turned out well. I think I might try it next time.

  9. Susan said,

    March 31, 2008 @ 6:04 am

    I loved the cake too, though mine had the standard raspberry jam and not rose petal, which sounds just delicious!

  10. SaraLynn said,

    April 1, 2008 @ 12:56 am

    It looks lovely!

  11. Anne said,

    April 1, 2008 @ 1:22 am

    You did a fabulous job…your cake is simply lovely 🙂

  12. cyn said,

    April 1, 2008 @ 5:13 pm

    YUM. rosepetal jam sounds so good! after using lavender msyelf, i’m absolutely hooked on all things floral now!

    gorgeous cake.. just like all your other confections! 😀

  13. B said,

    April 2, 2008 @ 3:36 pm

    I did have the option of scraping off the buttercream, but chose not to. My intolerant digestive system can suffer the consequences afterward!

  14. Sheltie Girl said,

    April 6, 2008 @ 1:15 am

    Russell Crowe cake…that’s funny! Your cake turned out beautifully and I wish I could taste the rose petal jam. Sounds scrumptious!

    Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

  15. Coffee and Vanilla said,

    April 6, 2008 @ 6:50 am

    Raspberry and coconut sounds like a perfect combination 🙂
    I will be thinking now about coconut and raspberry all the time… and I will have to make this cake!!

    Great blog 🙂

  16. Tarah said,

    July 12, 2008 @ 1:20 pm

    Your cake looks beautiful! I would love a slice right now! :]

  17. Rachel said,

    August 29, 2010 @ 4:28 pm

    Y – love your website, all the more for the wonderful photos and recipes. Sorry I am a few years too late with this post but I have a question about what you use in your recipes for cake flour.

    Do we have something similar in Australia or do you just use plain flour? I would love to know as I have found a few of your recipes that have cake flour in the list of ingredients but have no idea what the equivalent would be here.

    I hope you can help me work it out!!!

  18. Y said,

    August 29, 2010 @ 4:38 pm

    Hi Rachel! Thanks for the comment 🙂 I get my cake flour (also known as pastry flour/soft flour) from the supermarket eg. Woolworths. If you can’t find it, you can just use plain flour. Some times people also recommend using slightly less plain flour (eg for one cup of pastry flour, use 1 cup minus two tablespoons of plain flour) if substituting it for pastry flour.

  19. Rachel said,

    August 30, 2010 @ 10:33 am

    Thanks Y for answering my question. I always use Anchor’s Lighthouse Cake, Biscuit and Pastry Plain Flour – I guess this is the one you mean.

    I was reading Rose Levy Beranbaum’s website where she did some experiments with bleached cake flour and unbleached plain flour and the cake results were very different. Rose recommended dropping some of the baking powder if using unbleached plain flour.

    Have you found that you get different results as a result of using unbleached cake flour and the recommended amount of baking powder or does the pastry/soft flour produce the same results for you as the cake flour in American recipes?

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