Rachel Allen was brought up in Dublin and left home at eighteen to study at the world-famous Ballymaloe Cookery School. Rachel is now a busy ...
4 stalks of lemongrass, base and tops trimmed, outer leaves removed but reserved for the syrup (see below)
250 g (9oz) caster sugar
200 g (7oz) butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
125 g (41/2 oz) desiccated coconut
125 g (41/2 oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tsp baking powder
greek yoghurt or creme fraiche, to serve
for the syrup
reserved trimmings and outer leaves of the lemongrass (see above)
75 g (3oz) caster sugar
23cm (9in) diameter cake tin with 6cm
Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F/Gas 3). Butter the sides of the cake tin and dust with flour, then line the base with a disc of baking parchment.
Slice the lemongrass stalks quite thinly into rounds about 3mm (1?8in) thick, then place in a food processor with the caster sugar and whiz for 1–2 minutes or until the lemongrass is finely puréed and very aromatic.
Add the eggs, butter and coconut and whiz again until combined, then sift the flour and baking powder together and add to the machine, whizzing very briefly just until the ingredients come together.
Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 40–45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. While the cake is cooking, make the syrup.
Roughly chop the lemongrass trimmings, place in a saucepan with the sugar and 75ml (3fl oz) of water and set over a high heat. Stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved, then bring to the boil and boil for 2 minutes before removing from the heat and leaving to infuse.
When the cake has finished baking, take it out of the oven and let it sit in the tin for 10 minutes. Loosen around the edges using a small, sharp knife and carefully remove the cake from the tin before transferring to a serving plate.
Reheat the syrup, then pierce holes all over the cake with a skewer and pour the hot syrup through a sieve onto the cake, moving the pan and sieve around as you pour so that the syrup covers the top of the cake. Allow the cake to cool down completely.
Serve with a dollop of natural Greek yoghurt or crème fraiche.