Flower Power at its Best!!

Flower Power at its Best!!

What an interesting book, the name Hibiscus caught my eye and I thought I wonder if this book has Hibiscus blossoms as an ingredient, well indeed it does.

‘For all its richness and mindboggling variety, African food has yet to cross over in the UK. With her freewheeling, boldly flavourful take on Nigerian cuisine, Lopè Ariyo could be the person to make it happen say the Observer.

Lopè Ariyo is the rising star of African cooking and Hibiscus, her first book, is packed with delicious dishes. An energetic and supremely talented cook, Lopè creates fresh, fuss-free meals that are full of flavour. With chapters including Fruits, Vegetables and Tubers; Grains and  Pulses; Meat and Poultry and Baking and Desserts, there’s something for every occasion and for everyone.

Nigerian-inspired flavours and cooking methods can transform everyday dishes into something spectacular. Whether it’s experimenting with new ingredients (Hibiscus Chicken), reimagining old favourites (Grapefruit and Guava Cheesecake; Baked Kuli Kuli Cod with Cayenne Yam Chips; Lagos Mess), exploring different techniques (Cheat’s Ogi, Chin Chin) or finding alternatives to everyday staples (Plantain Mash with Ginger, Corn and Okra Gravy; Nigerian Roast Veg), Lopè will help you discover all that modern Nigerian food has to offer.

Lopè Ariyo was announced as the Observer Rising Star of Food 2017 award winner on January 1st 2017. Previous winners include Sabrina Ghayour (2015) and Olia Hercules (2016).

Hibiscus And Coconut Cake

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.

Prep Time: 30 Mins Cooking Time: 30 Mins 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

2tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

desiccated coconut, to decorate hibiscus petals, to decorate

For The Coconut Drizzle

120g icing sugar

4 tbsp coconut milk

½ tsp coconut extract

½ tsp vanilla extract

For The Coconut Frosting

300g cream cheese 2 tbsp coconut milk 80g icing sugar

1 tbsp fine-cut dried hibiscus petals

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.