Friday, February 27, 2009

key lime coconut cake

key lime coconut cake

Friends, I may adore you but I have had just about enough of this cold, windy and snow-free excuse for a New York City winter and I’m leaving you. For a week. Maybe more, I’m not making any promises of a swift return.

key limes

I seem to not be the only one with the Caribbean Islands on my brain, because I had barely cracked the cover of the March Gourmet when I saw this lime coconut cake recipe, remembered both the leftover coconut and a bag of withering key limes I had never used in the fridge and knew immediately that this would be the only thing that would get me through the remaining hours between now and that beachfront resort. Tiny violins, please.

toasted coconut

As with previous vacations, you won’t have to miss me at all because I’ve hidden all sorts of posts that will magically pop up over the week that I am gone; the only thing they’ll lack is my comment responses and clarifications. But, hopefully all of the recipes I am leaving you with are clear-cut enough that there should be very few needed. (Aren’t those famous last words?)

key lime coconut cake

And when I get back — dare I say I am actually looking forward to it? — there is so much good stuff ahead. I can think of at least three things that are too cool not to discuss going on this spring — four, if you consider what awesome company I’m going to be in on this trip — but we’ll get to that in due time. For now, I’ll be collecting my freckles and frosty mai tais, and I plan to forget the internet ever existed.

key lime coconut cake

Recipe Index! Aaat laaast… I have a recipe index that is largely up to date. Oh, I always had one but at last count it was about 6 months out of date and I would rather have stuck pins under my fingernails than even considered making up for that lost time. Instead, I have a new, self-updating system and I love it. I am basking in the glow of a recipe page that’s 90 percent functional. How far we’ve come! [Of course, I have made the rather awkward realization that a ton of posts have been creatively mis-tagged and I'm slowly going through them. Yes I see them, no you don't need to tell me about all the ones I haven't gotten to, I will fix them all -- after vacation. I will hopefully sound less easily exasperated by then too!]

One year ago: Homemade Devil Dog, Ring Ding or Hostess Cake
Two years ago: Red Split Lentils With Cabbage, Indian Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes and Cucumber and Scallion Raita

Key Lime Coconut Cake
Gourmet, March 2009

I am sure you could use standard limes in here, but if you can find them, Key limes are the juiciest (especially for their size) and the tastiest. I plan to put a wedge of one in every frosty beach cocktail.

Serves 8, but I’d argue 16, especially if in squares

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon grated Key lime zest
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups self-rising flour*
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup fresh Key lime juice, divided
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon rum (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Generously butter an 8- by 8-inch square or 9- by 2-inch round cake pan and line bottom with a round of parchment paper.

Toast coconut in a small baking pan in oven, stirring once or twice, until golden, 8 to 12 minutes. Cool. Leave oven on.

Beat together butter, granulated sugar, and zest with an electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir together flour and 1/2 cup coconut (reserve remainder for topping). Stir together milk and 2 tablespoons lime juice. At low speed, mix flour and milk mixtures into egg mixture alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour.

Spoon batter into pan and smooth top. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool to warm, then turn out of pan and discard parchment.

Whisk together confectioners sugar, remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice, and rum (if using) and pour over cake. Sprinkle with remaining coconut.

* Make your own: You can make your own self-rising flour — I did, when I realized I had self-rising flour in the pantry but my last known use of it was nearly three years ago. Unfortunately, there are many recipes out there and they don’t all agree. The most common one has you add for each cup of flour 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder but some also suggest 1 teaspoon baking powder instead. I’m going to suggest that you use the 1 teaspoon level because I used the higher one and my cake sunk ever so slightly in the center, a suggestion that it had too much leavening in it. So: For every cup of flour, add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of baking powder, whisk together very well and sift the mixture. Measure your self-rising flour from there.


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