APPETISING: Golden Coconut Cake

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A season to remember

By Shirley Hall Author of The New Caribbean Home Garden Handbook

I love the holidays, everything about it, the togetherness, parang and of course the food — especially the ham and turkey. This is my holiday story of my childhood where my parents, grandparents, and brothers all got together and played a part in the preparation for the season.
My father would find three rocks almost same size, and place them in a triangle. At the front he would put pieces of dry wood. Next a biscuit tin three quarters full of water would be placed upon the triangle of stones. He would then light the wood to heat the water, and let it burn for about ten minutes, adding more wood if necessary. Then came the big moment when he would place the ham in the biscuit tin and leave it to boil for two to three hours. He would check occasionally to make sure the water was still covering the ham or stray dogs weren’t eyeing it.
My grandfather would dig a hole about a foot and a half in diameter and about a foot deep. Then he would place chopped pieces of very dry wood in the hole, till it was three quarter full. As it burned down grandpa would add more wood pieces. In the mean time my brothers and I were given the task of beating the butter and sugar light enough for the cakes. As I reminisce I wonder how much of the mixture we ate, and if it would have made a difference in the quantity and quality of the finished baked goods. We were also given the task of grating the coconut for the sweetbread on a homemade biscuit tin grater.
My mother was responsible for kneading the flour for the bread and my grandmother would sort the ingredients for the sweet bread and the cakes. By this time the cakes are mixed, and sweetbread and the regular bread are ready for the makeshift oven.
When the fire is red and not smoking anymore, my mother would place a pot over the fire in the hole. They would place a pot quarter filled of water and let it come to a boil. Then they would place the cake mixture, or the sweetbread, or the regular bread in coated pans and place those pans in the large pot with the heated water. A piece of tin was used to cover the pot. On this tin was placed pieces of the burning embers. This made the covered pan have fire at the bottom and top. Baking in this manner normally took about two hours to finish all your cakes and breads.
It may sound difficult, but once you get a handle on it, it became easy. Now in these modern times we have ovens, where we can just open and place whatever you are making to bake. We did not have an oven, all we had was a two burner stove, but that never presented a problem for us because we knew alternative ways of baking. By the time everything was finish baking, my father would drain the ham.
Here are a couple of simple recipes you can try with the use of your oven.
I hope you enjoy making these cakes, for they are easy to make and the taste is beyond this world. Have a safe and blessed season to one and all.
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