Sunday, 4 August 2013

RECIPE: Coconut and strawberry squares

Ooh have I got a treat for you today! Well, not as much of a treat as it is to eat one of these babies.

Ever since I came back from Portugal I've been craving coconut. I must be subconsciously trying to keep the tropical vibe alive (these pineapple, passion fruit and raspberry jellies helped too!) Yes, sweet, exotic, delicious coconut. I'm a big fan. Malibu (mixed with Diet Coke, natch) just so happens to be my alcoholic beverage of choice when out for a soirée. #unay

So, I was jolly pleased to discover a strangely large amount of desiccated coconut on the baking shelf in the pantry - what a perfect excuse to indulge my cravings. And judging by how well these squares have been gobbled up, my family and friends seem to be jolly happy I did so.

Sometimes, I find myself much more in the mood for a traybake than a circular cake. It doesn't really make sense, but I'm convinced cakes taste different depending on the shape of the tin and the slices.

These squares are just perfect for this time of year - a fusion of the British summer (strawberries) and more exotic climes (coconut.) And an absolutely delicious combo. As far as I'm concerned, you've got to make the most of the wonderful British strawberry season, haven't you?

Theses babies are oh-so-moreish: the coconutty layer is delightfully squidgy with a slight crunch on top, the jam is a scrummy texture change, and the base layer holds it all together with a simple cake-come-pastry affair.

If there's one thing I would say, it's that you should definitely put more strawberries on top than I did, and I will certainly make that change next time. If for some reason they're not all devoured within a couple of days, pop the leftovers into the fridge so the fresh strawbs on top don't go mouldy. That would be so very sad.

This is inspired by a recipe in the fab Primrose Bakery Book, and I cut mine into 15 squares.


125g unsalted butter, softened (use my tip for quick softening!)
60g golden caster sugar
1 large egg
1tsp vanilla extract
185g plain flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
60ml milk
200g strawberry jam
300g (ish - I have no idea how many grams I used, sorry!) fresh strawberries, sliced

For the topping

100g unsalted butter, softened
5tbsp golden caster sugar
2 large eggs
225g desiccated coconut
60g plain flour


1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a large rectangular baking tin (I used one that measures 27x18cm) and line the base and sides with greaseproof paper - leave it slightly sticking out over the sides of the tin.

Adding the flour and BP to the wet beaten mix
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with a handheld electric whisk. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat well. Add the flour and baking powder about a third at a time, mixing well in between each addition, then beat in the milk until it's all well-combined. The mixture should be a little bit dough-like.

3. Spread this mixture into the tin and smooth the top as best as you can. Spread the raspberry jam on top (it's easiest if you give the jam a good stir in a bowl first.)

4. To make the coconut topping, cream the butter and sugar with the electric hand mixer just like before, and then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in about three lots, beating well after each once more. It should be quite thick, but it will also be seriously delicious. Try some. But then try really hard not to eat too much. It's not easy.

5. Spoon the coconut mix over the jam, ensuring it's easily spread - I found it best to use my fingers so I didn't disturb the jam too much. Scatter the sliced strawberries evenly on top - be generous - and press them down ever so slightly.

Fresh out of the oven
6. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until slightly golden on top and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out practically clean, this way they'll be nice and squidgy. Allow to cool in the tin for an hour or two before lifting out by the greaseproof paper to cool fully on a wire rack. Finally, transfer to a board and carefully slice into squares.

7. Serve with a cup of tea, some fresh strawberries and a smile.

If you're a coconut fan, you may also like my mini coconut Victoria sponges.


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