Chai-Spiced Macapuno Upside-Down Cake

Macapuno is such a perfect topping for an upside-down cake. But because it’s sweet, syrup-y, fruity and rich in coconut flavor, it calls for an equally flavorful crumb. And for this baking experiment, we turn to our favorite cake spices and a bit of black chai tea.

You can get macapuno preserves from local supermarkets, but should you choose to make your own, you’ll find it’s an easy but rewarding task. It takes no time at all and you can add some spice, like we did.

For the macapuno topping:
2 cups fresh young coconut flesh, stringed
1 cup water
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

For the cake:
2 sticks / 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 cup coconut milk
1 black chai tea bag
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp powdered ginger
1 tsp five spice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsps vanilla extract

Make the macapuno topping. In a saucepan, combine sugar and water. Simmer until they have come together and the liquid has cleared. Add coconut strings. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the coconut softens and the liquid has thickened. Stir in butter, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Stir well. Set aside to cool until ready for use.

Make the cake.Preheat oven to 176°C/350°F. Grease and flour two 9×2 inch round cake pans. Line with parchment.

In one bowl, combine and whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices. Set aside.

Combine milk and the contents of the chai tea bag in a small microwaveable bowl. Heat at medium for about a minute or two. Set aside to cool slightly.

In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar with your electric mixer at medium speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add the sugar. Beat for about 3 minutes or until it has become creamy and light-colored.

Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as you do. Beat on high speed for 30 seconds after each addition. Beat for 1 minute after all eggs have been added. Add the vanilla extract.

Add flour mixture and milk mixture alternately, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Stir by hand to finish. Be careful not to overbeat.

Assemble your cake. Pour the macapuno into a prepared cake pans. Arrange the macapuno evenly. Pour cake batter on top of topping. Divide evenly between the two pans. Smooth with spatula if necessary.

Bake at 176°C/350°F for 40-45 minutes (rotate halfway through, if your oven is a little tricky and has a habit of baking unevenly) or until the cake is golden brown and a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the cake pans for at least 10 minutes. Unmold and serve.

Have some cake. You may have it plain, but if you’ve got some coconut ice cream handy, go ahead and top your slice for extra goodness.

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