Having swanned off to Italy and neglected my poor blog, I now present with a very non Italian recipe for Raspberry and Coconut Traybake. I promise the future holds recipes from all the inspiration I got on this wonderful Italian adventure. For now though, it’s all about traybakes.

Raspberry and Coconut Traybake

Traybakes conjure up images of garden fetes and garden parties for me (and bunting, lots and lots of bunting); a million miles from the sports days and cake sales of my youth. However, tray bakes have so many advantages. Quick, generally easy to make, good for big crowds and can be cut into any size that you see fit. It also struck me that sometimes you want something comfortable and familiar to eat, flavours that aren’t adventurous but tried and tested favorites.

My mother is a member of the local I.C.A. For those of you that aren`t Irish, the Irish Countrywomens Association is similiar to the Womens Institute in the UK, but an uniquely Irish organisation. It has a great many aspects, but one of their strong traditions is of great baking. As a member, my mother will likely have to contribute towards various catered events, and only home baking will do.

It was a conversation with my mother about the merits of traybakes for such events that inspired me to make this traybake. Naturally, with the Irish heritage of baking running thickly through this blog post, I had to refer to the Ballymaloe Empire to source a recipe.

Darina Allen's Forgotten Skills cookery book

This is essentially a thin layer of sponge with jam spread on top, sprinkled with coconut. Light buttery sponge, sticky fruity sweet jam and chewy coconut. Blissful really. Very basic and simple, but baking, like life, doesn’t have to be complicated to be enjoyable. Also, in these cold nights, these are ingredients that allow us to taste the summer again without going against the season’s natural produce. Use those lovely jams you have made!

I must ask for your patience with this post…I got a bit carried away with pictures of the different stages of spreading and sprinkling that make this recipe so satisfying. I amn’t sure they are particularly informative but I couldn’t resist!

This recipe has been modified slightly from Forgotten Skills of Cooking by Darina Allen.

Ingredients for sponge base

175 grams soft unsalted butter

175 grams caster sugar

2 eggs

175 grams plain flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (a teaspoon of lemon zest or almond essence would be lovely)

2 tablespoons of milk (Buttermilk or yoghurt would work too, adding a little tang)


Raspberry jam or any other kind you like (About half  a jar or more if you like!)

Desiccated coconut or coconut curls – again as much or as little as you like. Flaked almonds would be tasty too. Toast the nuts for extra flavour if you wish or enjoy the snowy white untoasted coconut against the ruby red jam.


Grease or line a swiss roll tin. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.

Mix the butter and sugar together until they are well combined, soft and pale in colour.

Creaming butter

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each one until the mix is smooth. Add vanilla extract or any other flavourings.

Eggs and vanilla


Adding all the eggs

Whisk or sieve together the dry ingredients. Add to the butter mix and stir in just enough to combine (over mixing can make your cake tough). Mix in the milk until you have a smooth mix.

Flour and milk being added


Spread the mix into the corners of the swiss roll tin and bake for  minutes until it is golden brown and springs back when you touch the centre.

Spreading in tray

Spreading jam on the top of the baked sponge layer can be done in two ways. You can spread the jam while the sponge base is still warm so it spreads more easily. The danger here is that the sponge tears more easily when it’s warm. Otherwise you can let it cool completely and heat the jam in a saucepan if it’s very thick to help it spread more easily.

Once the jam is spread, sprinkle with coconut, slice and enjoy!

Spreading jam and sprinkling coconut



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