A special recipe from a special friend (with help from Helga.)

Todd Alexander is an author and a friend who lives in the Hunter Valley with his partner Jeff where they run a boutique vineyard and accommodation business called Block Eight. 

Helga enjoys Todd’s book.

Todd recently visited the Manning Valley to promote his memoir, “Thirty Thousand Bottles of Wine and a Pig Called Helga” published by Simon & Schuster Australia. (Maggie Beer said it made her laugh out loud.)  An avid cook, kitchen garden advocate and passionate cookbook collector, Todd shares one of his special and popular recipes. 


Coconut, Vanilla and Maple Cupcakes

Makes 24

I’ve struggled to find a vegan cake that is moist, tasty and light in texture.  The secret to these is both the dessicated coconut, and the coconut oil in the batter helps give the cakes a crunchy golden top.  Delicious without the icing, decadent with.


Dry ingredients

3 ½ cups plain flour

2 cups sugar

2 cups dessicated coconut

2 tbsp baking powder

2 tsp salt

Wet ingredients

1 ½ cups coconut milk

½ cup olive oil

½ water

½ cup apple sauce

2 tbsp coconut oil (solidified)

2 tbsp vanilla extract

For the icing

2 cups soft icing mixture

125ml pure maple syrup, approximately

2 tbsp shredded coconut

Special Equipment

A 12-cupcake baking tin and large cupcake patties.


For the cupcakes

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients.

In another large bowl, mix together all the wet ingredients.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon or spatula, making sure all the dry ingredients are incorporated into the wet.

Using a dessert spoon, place two heaped spoonfuls of the mixture into each cupcake patty – they should be about ¾ full.

Bake for 15 minutes until each cake is lightly browned and firm to the touch.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

For the icing

Combine the icing sugar with enough of the maple syrup to form a thick toothpaste-like consistency.

Spread 2 tsp of the icing onto each cupcake.

Sprinkle each cupcake with a little shredded coconut.

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