Lope Ariyo. It’s a name you’re going to want to remember. And if you’re even slightly into food, Ariyo’s debut title – Hibiscus – is a book you’re going to want to buy. “Hibiscus may change the way we see African food in Britain,” opine the knowledgeable foodies over at The Observer. And we’re inclined to agree. The UK is a true melting pot when it comes to food; Indian, Turkish, Italian, Chinese have all become part of our culinary vocabulary in a little more than a generation. But African? Sure, you might have tried a tagine or jollof pot, but food from Africa – or even inspired by – the mother continent is surprisingly rare and certainly not mainstream, even in the bigger cities.

And that’s a real shame. A bold, eye-opening take on Nigerian cuisine, Hibiscus shows all the rich colours, flavours and vibrancy that Africa has to offer. Sure, there are some ingredients you might not have encountered regularly – baobab, egusi seeds and efirin probably aren’t on sale in your local supermarket. But if Sainsbury’s are stocking sumac and tahini these days, that’s undoubtedly thanks in part to Mr Ottolenghi. Featuring simple, delicious recipes packed with flavour, Hibiscus is remarkably accessible, with recipes like Nigerian roasted veg, traditional Puff Puff doughnuts, rich meat stews and curries and spicy salads and soups. Read this and you’re going to want to find out more about Nigerian cuisine. To get you started, try your hand at Ariyo’s Hibiscus & Coconut Cake: possibly the perfect summery cake to make (and eat) right now…

Hibiscus is a really flavourful ingredient and is very fragrant when cooked, which makes it great for experimenting with. Rather than using almonds for the base of this cake, I’ve gone for egusi seeds, which are eaten much more regularly in Nigerian culture. Although it doesn’t happen often, when I do have time to make cakes, I try to create a real showstopper to share with friends, and this is no exception. Although hibiscus can be eaten all year round, I do think of this as a summer cake to enjoy in the garden.

180g plain flour  //  60g ground egusi seeds or ground almonds
80g fine-cut dried hibiscus petals  //  1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp baking powder  //  1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt  //  90g coconut oil, softened
60ml groundnut oil, plus extra for greasing  //  100g caster sugar
80g light brown sugar  //  3 large eggs
½ x 400ml tin coconut milk  //  2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice  //  desiccated coconut, to decorate
hibiscus petals, to decorate

FOR THE COCONUT DRIZZLE

120g icing sugar  //  4 tbsp coconut milk
½ tsp coconut extract  //  ½ tsp vanilla extract

FOR THE COCONUT FROSTING

300g cream cheese  //  2 tbsp coconut milk 
80g icing sugar  // 1 tbsp fine-cut dried hibiscus petals

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas 4. Grease two round 20cm cake tins then line them with baking paper. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, ground egusi seeds or ground almonds, hibiscus petals, ground cloves, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and salt.

In another large bowl, cream the coconut oil, groundnut oil and sugars together. One by one, add the eggs until well combined. Add half of the dry ingredients to the bowl, followed by half of the coconut milk and mix with an electric hand whisk or stand mixer until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Repeat to add the remaining dry ingredients and coconut milk and mix to thoroughly combine. Finally, add the vanilla extract and lemon juice, folding in gently.

Transfer the batter into a large measuring jug and evenly distribute it between the two cake tins. If you prefer less washing up, then roughly measure by eye. Bake the cakes for about 30 minutes. When they’re ready, a skewer inserted into the centre of the cakes should come out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then turn the cakes out of the tins on to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

To make the drizzle, mix the icing sugar with the coconut milk to get a thick drizzle, then add the coconut and vanilla extracts. Trickle over both layers of the cooled hibiscus cake.  For the frosting, whisk all the ingredients together to create a fluffy purple cloud. Make sure the colour is consistent throughout. Spread half the frosting over one of the cakes and place the second on top. Spread what’s left of the frosting over the top layer and sprinkle over the desiccated coconut and hibiscus petals to decorate.

Published by Harper Collins, Lope Ariyo’s Hibiscus is available to buy online here.