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Coconut & Lemongrass Tea Cake

Over Easter long weekend, Alex and I took a day out to the sort-of suburbs of Richmond, in Southwest London, for a stroll along the Thames. We came across Petersham Nurseries, a gardening centre with a Michelin-starred restaurant, and a little café for those of us a little less inclined to dine constantly at Michelin-starred establishments. Inside the café, we were first faced with a huge selection of cakes before getting to the lunch mains – just my type of place! There were some fun flavours like chocolate pear, but the most unique of them all caught my eye – coconut lemongrass. It looked like a dense cake with big crumbs, not something I typically go for, but the flavouring sounded so different that we just had to have a slice. Thank goodness, because not only could I not forget about this lovely cake after we ate it, but I also went on during the week to re-invent it in my kitchen so now you can try it at home too!

The cake has a rustic quality to it – big crumbs, no-fuss decoration (just a light dusting of icing sugar will do), and seriously good with a cup of tea or coffee in the afternoon. Also, it takes me about 30 minutes to throw everything together and pop it into the oven. I’d know, because I made the recipe twice in a week! Taste-wise, it is remarkably light and coconut-y. Although there’s coconut milk, the cake isn’t actually creamy or rich like an indulgent dessert might be. The little slices you cut off to accompany your tea might go quicker than you expect! Therefore, I’ve doubled the recipe here to make a bigger cake – always the best solution to the over-eating problem.


  • 160g butter
  • 150g white sugar
  • 150g brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 stalks of lemon grass, chopped into 2″ sections
  • 200g coconut milk
  • vanilla (optional)
  • grated zest from 1 lime (optional)
  • 250g plain flour
  • 50g polenta (cornmeal)
  • 6g baking powder
  • 50g shredded coconuts (a finer shred is probably better, and sweetened makes it a bit nicer to taste)
  1. Infuse the coconut milk by warming it up in a small pot with the chopped lemongrass segments. Bring to just under a boil, and turn off the heat. Keep covered and let steep for about 30 minutes
  2. Butter and flour an 8″ square pan or a 9″ round pan, lining the bottom with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. With the paddle attachment in an electric mixer, cream butter until softened
  4. Add in sugars, and beat well until combined
  5. Add in eggs, beating until well emulsified. If using, add in 1 tsp vanilla extract or a small tip-of-the-knife dot of vanilla paste
  6. Add in the dry ingredients. If using, add in the lime zest as well. The mixture will be very dry, so you can start adding in a splash of coconut milk at a time, taking care to remove the lemongrass stalks first.
  7. Once all the liquid has been added, beat well for 10-15 seconds until everything is well mixed. Do not overmix
  8. Scrape batter into prepared pan, bake until golden on top, and the cake is springy (about 30 minutes)
  9. Let cool in pan for a few minutes before taking out of pan, removing parchment paper, and cooling on a rack.
  10. Lightly dust with icing sugar just before serving with a large cup of tea!


Chocolate Sables

Not sables, sablés. Complications with accented characters in blog post titles.

I’ve been to privy to this recipe for a long time, through Smitten Kitchen, and this is a recipe originally from the cookie master herself, Dorie Greenspan. However, Smitten Kitchen’s recipe used to have weight measures, then the weights were taken off because there were errors, and finally, this past week, I got around to figuring it out myself. And now I shall share it here so we can all benefit from delicious cookie heaven.

Sablés are little French cookies that resemble shortbread, but the consistency and texture is much more pleasing than an old-fashioned cornstarch-y shortbread. The word literally means ‘sand’, and the cookies fall apart in your mouth like fine sand. (That may not sound very appealing, but it’s a texture comparison, not a taste comparison!) The process to make these cookies, when you make them by hand, requires you to rub the butter into the flour, and the action there is called “sabler” in French – to make like wet sand. There are no eggs in these cookie recipes to emulsify and hold everything together, so once bitten, these cookies simply fall apart delicately.


  • 160g flour
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 3g bsoda
  • 160g butter
  • 3g salt
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 45g white sugar
  • 200g chocolate chips
  1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Set aside
  2. Cream butter with salt, using the paddle attachment in an electric mixer, or a handheld mixer, or, if it’s room temperature, you can even try to do this with a scraper and a bowl.
  3. Beat in the sugars, and cream well – no need to get to “light and fluffy”, but cream well enough that everything is mixed together.
  4. Beat in the dry ingredients, or if using your hands, rub the butter into the flour mixture until a coarse, wet-sand mixture comes together. Work quickly to gather into a dough, do not overmix.
  5. Add in the chocolate chips, just until mixed
  6. Roll into two logs, wrap with plastic, and refrigerate. Shortbread dough is best chilled overnight and baked the next day.
  7. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and slice cookies into 1cm thick discs. Bake until cookies are set. Cool on cookie sheet for a couple of minutes before removing to cooling rack to cool completely.

The trick to a good French sablé is to make sure you don’t over-work the dough once it comes together. If you do, the butter fats break down further, sometimes melting at room temperature or from the heat of your hands. In that case, your cookies will still turn out well, but they’ll have a much more coarse crumb, and will crack easily when baked. These cookies will not crack – as you can see, they’ll hold quite tightly together. If you like very buttery, big-crumbs type cookies, then you can take the liberty to work your dough a bit more. However, as the French are very stringent about traditional taste, a proper sablé is never overworked.

Also, the higher quality cocoa powder and chocolate chips you use, the better these cookies will be. This is not a recipe for the Hershey’s cocoa powder! If you try that, don’t even tell me how it turns out.

When I took these into work, people loved them. I am still hearing comments about these cookies a week later. Enjoy!

Pictured here with lavender shortbread


April Desktop Wallpaper

I had April 1 off as a holiday, and I was sitting here importing my photos to do the wallpaper and get some blogging done, when I accidentally deleted my whole iPhoto library. *Insert multiple GIFs of horrified faces*

Having your whole library destroyed and slowly rebuilt to a mediocre condition (i.e. still not entirely functional) is the sort of thing that lets the air out completely. Therefore, the task of getting the wallpaper done fell to the wayside and I only got around to it this weekend, after a busy week at work.

Since we’ve been back from Taiwan, I feel like my life has been a bit derailed, and I’ve been constantly playing catch-up to the long list of things I want to do/need to do. This is probably due to the fact that I started a new job so my schedule has had to adjust with that. I’m loving the new job, a bit daunted by all the responsibilities that come with it, but super-psyched to be in the big leagues with how much ownership and pride I have for my role within the company! However, later nights have so far pushed daily exercise off my radar, which is really unfortunate, and I’m hoping to get back into it again in April. The whole clocks-skipping-forward thing hasn’t aided me in getting up early to exercise, though!

Since the weather just doesn’t seem to be warming up, I’m also finding it quite difficult to start thinking about spring training for my upcoming runs. I’ve resigned to the fact that I’m a runner for half a year only (say no to winter running!) but seeing as how it snowed here in London on April 4th, I’m not sure when I’m supposed to dig out my pink running shorts! This year I’ve signed up to do a 10K with work in July, and a half marathon in early October in London! All registrations have been confirmed and paid for, so no backing out this time!

I’m also adding in more stress by focusing on the fact that this summer, we have to move. It feels like all the bombs will set off about the exact same time period – we’re going to Toronto, my mom’s coming here, I’m taking my mom to Paris (SO excited), but our lease expires around that time too. Perhaps I need to start packing now to alleviate stress! (Actually, wow, good idea, I probably will do this soon…)

All this to say, I actually did get very busy cooking last weekend (Easter long weekend – FOUR DAYS!) but I documented it all with my camera, and I was able to take some lovely photos because it was a sunny weekend. So this weekend I’m working on getting those photos ready for some blog posts to come soon, I promise!

Download the 2560×1440 April desktop wallpaper
Download the 1920×1200 April desktop wallpaper
Download the 1440×900 April desktop wallpaper
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