My young son recently returned home from a school trip to Vietnam.  He came home with tales of green hills, friendly smiles, busy markets, hot beaches, “ah-maze-zing” food, rice paddies, bustling cities, remote villages, horrendous traffic, cheeky cyclo guys, cyclo races!!, baguettes, bike rides, temples, steaming bowls of pho, overnight trains… and COFFEE! He loved the coffee… strong and sweetened with condensed milk.  He loved it so much so that when he came home he offered to make us some as, apparently, he is an expert on the topic. He forgets that his father and I visited Vietnam before he was a twinkle in our eye and on that trip, we gorged on coffee and little French pastries every day as we made our coffee odyssey from the North to the South of that wonderful country.  But I still let him make me Vietnamese Coffee… his coffee game is strong.

All that talk of little Vietnamese cafes made me nostalgic.  We used to seek out a little cafe at every destination and order coffee and some sweet treat or other, which was almost always French.  One of our favourites, and available just about everywhere, was the smoothest, creamiest Creme Caramels, which we would eat while sitting on tiny chairs at tiny tables… Think dollhouse.

There’s nothing like a walk down food-memory lane for motivation.

I set my mind to satisfying my craving for coffee, condensed milk and caramel.  I was brewing coffee and beating eggs before you could say “afternoon tea”.

This cake brought back some sweet memories.

It even passed muster with our schoolboy barista.

Vietnamese Coffee and Caramel Coconut Flan Cake

For the Topping:

1/4 cup of caramel (I used my homemade caramel, recipe here, or you can use store-bought)

For the Cake:

125g self-raising flour

100g golden caster sugar

3 eggs

30ml (1 shot) espresso coffee

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

75ml sunflower oil

For the Flan:

4 eggs

400ml coconut milk

397g can sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Prep the Topping:

Preheat the oven to 170C.

Spray a 24cm wide (from rim to rim) 12cm deep (3.5 litre capacity) bundt pan with cooking oil spray. Set aside.

Spoon the caramel into athe prepared pan and set aside.

Make the Cake:

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs and sugar together to the ribbon stage (it will be light and frothy and fall in ribbons from the whisk). Stop the mixer, remove the bowl and sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda over and fold gently into the eggs. Add the coffee and pour the oil down the side of the bowl and fold in, being careful to retain as much are in the batter as possible. Spoon the batter into the pan, on top of the caramel. Set aside.

Make the Flan:

In a large mixing bowl, use a hand whisk to combine the coconut milk, condenced milk, eggs and vanilla. Try not to incorporate too much air while mixing. Once thoroughly mixed, gently pour the flan mixture over the cake layer. It will sink to the bottom of the pan, under the cake layer.

Cover the pan with foil and place it in a roaster tin. Fill the roasting tin with water so that the water comes halfway up the sides of the cake pan and bake for 55 – 60 minutes. It will still have a slightly wobble as you take it out of the oven.

Remove the pan from the water and take the foil off the top. Leave to cool in the pan for one hour and then place it in the refrigerator to cool right down and set for at least 4 hours before inverting on a plate.

Slightly adapted from here