Last Sunday I was yearning for something sweet and comforting, but nothing I could buy looked enticing to me. I knew the answer could only be something I’d bake!
And so I made this classic Spanish sweet sponge: coca de llanda.
It’s quite easy and fast to make. Give it a go!
This makes two cocas, which is convenient if you have two trays and want to get more out of your baking sessions. Halve the amounts if you only want to bake one coca.
- 500 g self-raising flour
- 4 eggs (preferably big)
- 400 g sugar + some more for decorating
- 450 ml whole milk (it’s about 493 g)
- the peel of one (unwaxed) lemon
- 200 ml olive oil (it’s about 205 g)
- a pinch of salt
- optional: ground cinnamon, for decorating
You will also need:
- a blender with whisk attachment, or…
- a whisk, and lots of energy in your arms
- Turn the oven on to 200ºC (fan), 220ºC without fan (no idea about gas—hottish?)
- Grate the lemon and set aside.
- Whisk the eggs with the sugar until the mix starts to stiffen.
- Then add the other ingredients, one at a time: milk, flour, lemon peel, pinch of salt and the oil. Whisk continuously and persistently to mix everything very well together. If you’re using a blender and it has a speed setting, it is useful to start with the lower speed each time you add a new ingredient, and increase the speed as it gets mixed in. Don’t add a new ingredient until the previous one has been “assimilated” by the mix. The end goal is a very smooth mix.
- Leave to rest on the bowl for five minutes.
- Pour the mix on a lipped baking tray (it’s very liquid so it needs some walls… or else)!
- Decoration time: sprinkle with cinnamon first, then some sugar. I think it looks more tidy than adding the cinnamon second. Other people mix cinnamon and sugar separately and then sprinkle the mix on top. Experiment and see what you prefer!
- Bake for 45 minutes or until the top starts to get a nice golden brown colour.
Take the tray out and leave to cool down a bit before cutting a square and enjoying the results of your efforts. I like eating it when it’s still lukewarm ?
To keep, wait until it’s cold and then you can slice it in squares that will fit a box or any other container, or wrap it in film of some sort, and place it in the fridge.
That said, my grandmother used to make a big tall one on Mondays, and store it on the oven during the week, as it was our merienda. Come Friday, the remainder would be a bit dry, but then that was the perfect reason to spread some Nocilla (the Spanish answer to Nutella) on top! ?
This is the perfect mid-morning or after-lunch snack, with a nice black coffee to counterbalance the extreme sweetness of the coca. Another combination I like is with a couple of squares of dark-ish chocolate.
You could also pack it to go, as it keeps quite well at room temperature, not breaking down or anything. It used to feature very often in my school snacks (to my companions’ envy, being very honest here).
The name of this dessert could be literally translated as ‘tray sponge’. Depending on the region, it’s also called coca de canonge (canon’s sponge), although I don’t really know why. Another common name is coca de azúcar (sugar sponge).
In Spain, you can often buy these at traditional Spanish bakeries, by the weight. Supermarkets sell a very industrial version which makes my teeth go EWWWW, I can’t quite describe the feeling—it just leaves an unpleasant sensation on my mouth. I suspect it has something to do with the oils they use.
There are many other versions with almonds, chocolate, pumpkin, etc, but this is the base version that you can find all year round—the other versions are a bit more seasonal or region-specific.