Hibiscus is a really flavourful ingredient and is very fragrant when cooked, which makes it great for experimenting with. Rather than using almonds for the base of this cake, I’ve gone for egusi seeds, which are eaten much more regularly in Nigerian culture. Although it doesn’t happen often, when I do have time to make cakes, I try to create a real showstopper to share with friends, and this is no exception. Although hibiscus can be eaten all year round, I do think of this as a summer cake to enjoy in the garden.
This recipe is extracted from Hibiscus by Lopè Ariyo (£18.99, HarperCollins). Photography © Ellis Parrinder
Ingredients for hibiscus and coconut cake Serves: 12
- 180g plain flour
- 60g ground egusi seeds or ground almonds
- 80g fine-cut dried hibiscus petals
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 90g coconut oil, softened
- 60ml groundnut oil, plus extra for greasing
- 100g caster sugar
- 80g light brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- ½ x 400ml tin coconut milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- desiccated coconut, to decorate
- hibiscus petals, to decorate
Ingredients for the coconut drizzle
- 120g icing sugar
- 4 tbsp coconut milk
- ½ tsp coconut extract
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
Ingredients for the coconut frosting
- 300g cream cheese
- 2 tbsp coconut milk
- 80g icing sugar
- 1 tbsp fine-cut dried hibiscus petals
Method for making hibiscus and coconut cake
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas 4. Grease two round 20cm cake tins then line them with baking paper.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, ground egusi seeds or ground almonds, hibiscus petals, ground cloves, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and salt.
- In another large bowl, cream the coconut oil, groundnut oil and sugars together. One by one, add the eggs until well combined. Add half of the dry ingredients to the bowl, followed by half of the coconut milk and mix with an electric hand whisk or stand mixer until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Repeat to add the remaining dry ingredients and coconut milk and mix to thoroughly combine. Finally, add the vanilla extract and lemon juice, folding in gently.
- Transfer the batter into a large measuring jug and evenly distribute it between the two cake tins. If you prefer less washing up, then roughly measure by eye. Bake the cakes for about 30 minutes. When they’re ready, a skewer inserted into the centre of the cakes should come out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then turn the cakes out of the tins on to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
- To make the drizzle, mix the icing sugar with the coconut milk to get a thick drizzle, then add the coconut and vanilla extracts. Trickle over both layers of the cooled hibiscus cake.
For the frosting, whisk all the ingredients together to create a fluffy purple cloud. Make sure the colour is consistent throughout. Spread half the frosting over one of the cakes and place the second on top. Spread what’s left of the frosting over the top layer and sprinkle over the desiccated coconut and hibiscus petals to decorate.
Shop all baking ingredients, and try our Persian rose cake recipe.