Friday, April 15, 2011

Lemon-Coconut Bundt Cake


These last few posts, I’ve been sharing with you some of my old favorites.  But now it’s time for a new one.  My new favorite recipe.  My new best thing to make for any person or place of occasion.  My new obsession.  And the new obsession too of everyone who’s had a taste. 


I first made this Lemon-Coconut Bundt cake about a month ago, for a casual week-night dinner gathering with a small group of our close friends.  Under normal circumstances, none of us in this group is especially gluttonous or greedy.  For the most part, we’re actually pretty well-mannered, kind of classy even.  But come dessert that night, all five of us turned straight into rude little ravenous pigs.  Each of us raced back to the cake again and again, slicing thicker and thicker slices with each return visit. Within a quarter hour, the cake had entirely disappeared!   



You can’t blame us though.  We were taken by surprise, completely disarmed by this pretty yet humble little confection.  Startled into forgetting all our manners. 


Perhaps we had under-estimated how truly delicious a simple Bundt cake can be.  In fact, we surely did.  With hardly an embellishment to speak of  - no jam filling or glossy frosting or colorful sprinkles – just a light dusting of powdered sugar, this modest dessert seemed too plain to be exciting.  But with one single bite, we fully realized our mistake.  With one single bite, each of us knew for certain, this was one special cake.


Bright with lemon, and with a smooth, full richness of sweet, creamy coconut, this surprising cake is buzzing with intense flavor.  The texture though is what makes it an instant and all-time favorite.  Inside the crisp outer layer of lemony-golden crust, the crumb is dense yet tender, delicate yet springy, and amazingly, utterly, impossibly moist.  Even though we’d collectively decided ages ago, that we unanimously hate the word ‘moist’ (It really is a horrible-sounding word, right?), we just couldn’t help ourselves.  Between ooh’s and ahh’s and more than a couple un-restrained moans of pleasure, that awful word kept popping up, over and over again.  Struck all but dumb by the luscious goodness, there was just nothing else we could possibly say! 


And since, I’ve baked this cake three times again.  Once at the request of those very same friends who shared in the delight of it that first night.  Once for another group, who displayed the exact same happily astonished reaction. And once again, to snap these pictures, and then send Ben off to the office with a surprise treat for his co-workers. Each time I taste it, I’m amazed all over again by how extraordinarily delicious such an unassuming Bundt cake can be.


I know I’ve ruined the twist ending of this little cake’s surprising story, and sorry about that.  But still, I give this dessert the biggest of recommendations.  Definitely, definitely try it.  Even after all my praise and adoration,  you’ll still undoubtedly be surprised by how good it is. 

Lemon-Coconut Bundt Cake
Adapted from Veganomicon by I. Moskowitz & T.H. Romero
Serves 10 to 12
1 2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup vegetable or canola oil, plus more for greasing the pan
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
3 Tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
about 1 Tablespoon confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling
Pre-heat the oven to 350 F and arrange a rack in the middle position of the oven.  Generously grease a 10-inch Bundt pan with vegetable oil, and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, stir to combine the sugar, oil, coconut milk, water, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla.  In another mixing bowl, whisk to combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, doing so in about three batches, and stirring after each addition.  Fold in the coconut. 
Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan.  Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a wooden tester inserted into the cake comes out clean.  Allow to cool for about 10 minutes on a wire rack.  To invert the cake, place the serving dish up-side-down over the top of the cake pan, then flip over and lift the pan from the cake.   Allow to cool completely.  Once cool, sift a pretty sprinkling of confectioners sugar over the top.  Slice and serve.