India’s famous desserts have won worldwide acclaim. In addition to positively unapologetic quantities of butter and sugar, the Subcontinent’s sweets feature spices, seasonings and homegrown fruits and nuts that make cookbook author Chetna Makan’s new collection shine.
When I was a child, my dad would bring home bunches of fresh lychees whenever they were in season. I remember enjoying the juicy sweet fruits with my sisters, and since then I have always loved lychees. This very moist cake features a little caramel to enhance the flavor of the fruit. You will have some leftover sauce, which will keep, refrigerated, for up to two weeks. Finish it up with bowls of ice cream and other desserts.
- 1 3/4 cups canned lychees
- Scant 1 cup unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
- Heaping 1/2 cup caster sugar, plus 4 tablespoons
- 4 large eggs
- Heaping 1/2 cup self-raising flour
- 3 1/2 tablespoons ground almonds
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Scant 1/2 cup caster sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
- 4 tablespoons double cream
- 1/2 pint double cream
- Scant 1 cup canned lychees, drained or fresh, peeled, pitted and halved
For the cake
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350ºF), gas mark 4. Grease 2 × 20 cm (8-inch) cake tins and line them with nonstick baking paper.
To make the cake, drain the canned lychees, reserving the syrup, then chop the fruit into small pieces and set aside.
Cream the butter and the 150 g (5½ ounces) sugar together with an electric whisk or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients and beat for 1 minute until thoroughly combined.
Fold the chopped lychees into the cake batter, then pour the mixture equally into the prepared tins. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centers of the cakes comes out clean. Leave the cakes to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the reserved syrup from the lychees and add the remaining 4 tablespoons caster sugar. Bring to the boil, then simmer until the volume of the liquid has reduced by half. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
When both the cakes and syrup are cool, brush the syrup over the cakes.
To make the caramel sauce, combine the caster sugar and measured water in a small saucepan and cook for 5-6 minutes until the mixture turns into a golden-brown caramel. Stir in the butter and cook for another couple of minutes. Now slowly add the cream, stirring continuously. Cook for a further 2 minutes, then set aside to cool.
To prepare the decoration, whisk the double cream in a bowl until soft peaks form. Add 2-3 tablespoons of the cooled caramel sauce and fold it in. To assemble, place the cake on a serving plate and spread half the flavored cream on it. Sit the second cake over the cream and spread the remainder of the flavored cream on top. Decorate with the lychees and drizzle with some of the remaining caramel sauce. This cake will keep, refrigerated, in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.