So we’ve done it, we’ve left Hong Kong and we’re off on our adventures! On Wednesday we flew to Singapore, crossed the border into Malaysia and yesterday we jumped on a bus to Kuala Lumpar. We’re off on a big adventure that will take us half way around the world, through South East Asia, China, Russia, Europe, and eventually back home to England. There’s only one problem; I left behind a big part of my heart in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong has become such a second home for me, it doesn’t feel like we’ve left. We said some horribly sad goodbyes to some of our very best friends, but part of me still feels like we’ll be going back at the end of these travels. Excited as I am to be seeing new places, to be heading home for a while, I’m still trying to get my head around the new chapter that’s begun. Hong Kong has stolen my heart, changed me, taught me so much.
My life now moves with a rhythm of festivals not my own. Seasons roll through in rituals I have come to love. Rituals so ingrained in my calender now that I have to remind myself haven’t always been a part of my life. The end of the summer comes with the hungry ghosts, plates and plates of offerings laid out on the pavements. Burnt down joss sticks and waxy red candles melting into the road. Time to feed and appease the souls as they return to move among the living. At the same time adverts for moon cakes appear across the city, ready to celebrate the Mid Autumn festival, my favourite of the year. Every year I think I might just come to like the densely filled, pastry covered pretty little cakes. I never do reconcile myself to the taste. Supermarkets fill with garish plastic lanterns ready to glow with red lights come Mid Autumn Festival.
Christmas is soon here, celebrated with bright light displays around the city. As soon as its over the decorations go up for Chinese New Year. Tiny orange trees stand in doorways, cherry blossoms branches dominate shop entrances, red tinsel and red paper Lai See packets hang everywhere. Children get excited for the money they’ll receive, and businesses shut up shop as Hong Kong empties into the mainland. We who are left in the city wrap up warm to watch dragons dance through the streets, and fireworks explode into the night sky.
Year round we delight in the crazy hustle of wet market dinners. Weekends dedicated to ferry rides to islands where the pace of life is slow, or beers on the beach outside our front door. After work drinks on roof top bars with the view of that skyline. The one that never gets old.
I don’t know how to say goodbye to all this. This wonderful, frustrating, incredible place that I have both loved and hated in equal measure. This place that has become a second home. All the people in it that make my life what it is. I don’t know how to say goodbye. I don’t know how to close the door and say I’m not coming back. Its not sunk in yet. We’ve left from the airport so many times, with the same bags on our backs, and here Hong Kong has always been, waiting for us whether I wanted it or not. I’m excited for the future, but I’m terrified.
This cake is one I made a few months ago, and served at the last big meal we’d all share in our little house by the beach. It seems only fitting I share it today as a goodbye to Hong Kong and prepare myself to embrace something new. A rich chocolate cake, made tropical with coconut milk. If you fancied making it boozy I think throwing in a few cap fulls of Malibu would be an excellent addition. It’s filled and topped with a coconut frosting from Nigella Lawson’s Tropical Chocolate Cake recipe. It’s light, fluffy, and deliciously coconutty. The whole cake it covered with desiccated coconut. You cover it by literally throwing the coconut flakes at the cake and letting them stick where they can.
Chocolate Coconut Cake with Coconut Frosting
for the cake
230g unsalted butter
230g caster sugar
230g self-raising flour
4 large eggs
50g cocoa powder
165ml coconut milk
2 teaspoons coconut essence
1/4 teaspoon salt
for the icing
2 large egg whites
100g caster sugar
4 tablespoons golden syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons coconut essence
40g desiccated coconut
Preheat the oven to 180C/160 fan/ 350F.
Grease and line 2 x 20cm spring form cake tins.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
Beat in one egg, along with a tablespoon of flour. Repeat until all the eggs are incorporated.
Fold in the remaining flour, salt and cocoa powder.
Fold in the coconut milk and coconut essence.
Divide evenly between the 2 tins and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the cakes are risen, and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
Cool in the tin for about 5 minutes, then turn out and cool completely on a wire rack.
To make the icing, prepare a double boiler by placing a large heatproof boil over a pan of gently simmering water. The bowl needs to fit snuggly into the pan, you’re going to be beating with an electric mixer so you really don’t want it wobbling around.
Put the egg whites, caster sugar, golden syrup, salt and cream of tartar into the bowl.
Keeping it over the simmering pan, whisk with an electric beater for about 5 minutes until thick and glossy.
Sandwich the cakes with about a third of the icing, then cover the cake with a thick layer.
Throw the coconut over the top and sides until completely covered.