Wednesday, August 14, 2013
What a strange summer this has been. Not so much in terms of things that have happened, but more in terms of how weird the weather has been this summer, in New York, at least. I remember doing my usual weather complaining in a post way back in June, where I said that I couldn't believe I had worn a leather jacket and boots to work for a couple of days in June. Then, out of nowhere, there was a ridiculous heat wave that passed through, and once again, I complained that I was constantly feeling nasty after being outside for a mere five minutes. And now, we're back to that strange June weather, where it's only about 75 degrees, humid, muggy, and kind of dreary. Seriously, what is this? I feel like this has been a relatively blah summer, weather-wise. There's been too many days with gray skies, too many days where I've had to wear a jacket to work, and too many summer rain showers. This, and the fact that summer is essentially almost over, is making me feel sad. Just plain sad.
I feel like I didn't do enough "summer things" to counteract the less than perfect summer weather. Can you believe it's the middle of August and I haven't been to the beach yet? Neither can I. I'm still as white as always (ugh). Can you believe that I haven't had an authentic grilled s'more yet? My frozen s'mores ice cream sandwiches were pretty darn good, but I still want to experience the satisfaction of blowing out a flame-engulfed marshmallow. Can you believe that I have yet to picnic outside, or enjoy a freshly made lobster roll? Can you believe that the one thing that assures me that summer has actually happened, despite how it's been a little lackluster, is the fact that I manage to get attacked by mosquitoes every time I step outside of my house? Can you believe it's currently 65 degrees today in NYC, in the middle of August? Ugh.
As underwhelmed as I'm feeling, I've been trying to make the best of summer via my kitchen adventures. I've been churning up lots of ice cream, making tons of berry desserts, filling up my freezer with frozen fresh blueberries, and eating all the fresh fruit I can. It's certainly been helping! Pretending like I'm experiencing a true summer may not be authentic as experiencing the real thing, but it's hard to complain when you have a slice of homemade cherry pie, a fizzy strawberry soda float, or a slice of grilled coconut lime cake sitting in front of you, right? At least that's how I felt when I made this cake over the weekend. I loved this cake, as it's totally my kinda cake. It's easy to prepare, not too sweet, tastes delicious, has no frosting, and requires no special occasion to make, meaning that it's the perfect cake to have on hand for either breakfast, a snack, or dessert. I love multi-functional cakes like this.
I had a craving to make something coconut-y, and I've had this craving for a long time now. I put off making something with coconut for so long because my sister, somehow, can't stand the taste of coconut, and being that she is one of my primary recipe testers, I foolishly give in to her dislike for coconut and never make anything coconut-flavored. Last weekend though, I decided to ignore her taste buds and get my coconut fix. I've always thought twice about making coconut rice puddings, cakes, and panna cottas, but enough is enough. I wanted my coconut, and I wanted it now! This simple loaf cake turned out to be a delicious and easy way to get around this problem. I love pairing coconut and lime together, and they work beautifully in this recipe. This cake can be put together in a flash and with little effort. The cake has a delicate flavor and texture and just melts in your mouth. It's simplicity at its best. The cake itself is not too sweet, which is how I like my cakes to be, but if you like a little more sweetness, you could certainly make a glaze to pour over the cake. I think a simple lime icing would work wonderfully here!
Because it's summer (or so they say), grilling outside is usually at the top of people's to-do lists. It's definitely a tradition that my family likes to partake in very often during the summer months, so I thought that grilling up thick slices of the cake and topping it with tropical fruit would be a great, simple dessert option for outdoor meals. I've always loved slices of grilled pound cake topped with fresh berries, and I loved this tropical version as well. Since this cake is nowhere near as dense as a pound cake, be careful when grilling the slices, otherwise it'll get a little disheveled and crumbly. Disheveled or not, it's delicious anyway! I topped my grilled slices of cake with a little diced mango that was mixed with freshly squeezed lime juice. It was a perfect pairing! Enjoy!
Coconut Lime Cake
recipe adapted slightly from Williams Sonoma
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
zest of 1 lime
1 1/2 teaspoons coconut extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup shredded coconut, lightly toasted and cooled
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven, and preheat to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9x5x4-inch loaf pan, making sure to tap out any excess.
To prepare the cake, begin by sifting together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Set aside. In the bowl of a standard electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until the butter is pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar, and beat until well incorporated. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Follow with the lime zest, both extracts, and the lime juice.
Add half of the flour mixture, followed by half the coconut milk, and repeat to add the remaining flour and milk, mixing only until the flour has just been incorporated. Do not over mix! Fold in the toasted shredded coconut.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan, and smooth out the top with a rubber spatula. Bake the cake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55-60 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let it cool for about 30 minutes, then invert the pan onto the wire rack and lift off the pan, allowing the cake to cool to room temperature.
If you'd like to grill slices of the cake, simply slice the loaf cake into thick slices, coat each side with a little bit of melted butter, and place on a hot grill. Allow the cake to cook for a few minutes per side to get even grill marks. Remove the slices of cake with tongs (be careful, this cake is a little crumbly, but can definitely stand up to grilling if handled with care) and top with fresh fruit and more shredded coconut. Enjoy!
Makes 1 9x5x4-inch cake