BROTHER BOUGHT A COCONUT.... OR SEVEN
(As you well know, I have been in Florida for almost 2 weeks. I thought that I would be able to continue merrily posting on my blog during my stay but have found it impossible; unfriendly kitchen environment, lack of supplies and, to top it all off, uncontrollable camera and lighting conditions. What to do? I have been so very lucky with the friends I have made through food blogging, warm, wonderful people. Through this family tragedy, I have been supported and loved, cared for and kept entertained by a group on Twitter, and one tight-knit group we've become. So I wasn't really surprised when a couple of sisters offered to help. Hilda of the amazingly wonderful blog Saffron & Blueberry was one who offered to guest post for me. Besides being a fabulous cook and baker and incredible photographer, she is a caring, giving, generous person, helpful and serious, smart and wickedly funny. I am truly honored that she is my guest poster today. Thank you, darling Hilda.)
Before I start, I just want to say how honored I am that Jamie is letting me guest post for her while she's away, and warning you fine folks reading this that I'm no Jamie when it comes to putting words together. Continue at your own peril.
Sometimes, when you're very focused and have a laser-sharp mind which you take full advantage of by planning and executing things in the morning or the middle of the day when it may be at its best, you can actually do something only once and have it come out perfectly. As I have no idea who I'm talking about with that description other than not me, the marbled yogurt, coconut and chocolate cake in this post was not made once, but twice, and not one but seven coconuts were acquired to get there. How did this come about you wonder? Gosh I'm so glad you asked, because I'm about to tell you.
First, does anyone here (or at least anyone here of American origin) not know the song "Coconut" by Harry Nilsson? See, I have a 6 month-old baby, known on my blog as Baby Saffron, and since I've been playing all sorts of music for her for the last couple of months, I've dug out the song Coconut because it's a funny, repetitive song which I personally enjoy listening to and singing along with (and yes you grammar nazis out there, I am ending all these sentences with prepositions, but I'm the one who has to live with that, not you). The song starts with "Brother bought a coconut, he bought it for a dime," then goes on to talk about his sister and her lime, etc.... Ever since I played it in the car a few weeks ago, I've been mildly obsessed with making something with coconut, particularly as my husband -hereafter affectionately referred to as A.- had just purchased a couple of them. Well, stuff happens, and I didn't make anything with those coconuts. They were simply consumed and more coconuts were purchased. Finally, when it became clear that Jamie was serious about my guest posting, I decided I had to bake something to do a proper post for her.
Enter fall. Although the weather's been very weird for the transition from summer to fall here in London, and we've had a fair share of very warm days which is just bizarre at this time -and most of the rest- of the year, we're now headed into the truly bone-chilling cold I'm used to, which means baking less fruity and more chocolate-laden things for me. So something with chocolate. I don't remember now how I came up with yogurt cake but it's a French treat, the first cake you usually learn to make as a child because it's so simple, and can be altered in an infinite number of ways to suit your fancy. I searched around for a decent-looking recipe, since they are always given in ratios centered around the measuring device, an individual tub of yogurt found in French supermarkets. I found a couple of recipes which looked only semi-satisfactory, so ended up making my own off of two different recipes as you'll see.
So, the recipe having been more or less decided upon, I had A. open the latest two coconuts he'd purchased which had, let's be frank, been sitting on the kitchen counter for a while (a while = euphemism here). I wasn't surprised to find that they were no longer usable and promptly sent A. out to purchase two more. The two further coconuts are brought home, split open and, people, they are salty(!) what?? By then, it's late on Sunday night and I send A. out again to see if there's anywhere at all he can possibly get any more coconuts...Coconut Mission Fail. So I am condemned to wait until Monday morning, when A. goes to three different stores and comes home with five coconuts. Yes, 5. Just in case. You never know.
He splits three of them open for me, bringing us to a total of seven coconuts opened for this project, and joy of joys, they are good. Hallelujah! At which point, I make the cake late last night and forget to put the grated coconut in it. I know what you're thinking, I was thinking it too, and then so did A. when 3 minutes after layering the two halves of the batter into the pan and putting it in the oven, I realized what I'd done and told him. And THAT is how Jamie comes by two yogurt, coconut and chocolate cakes instead of one. I opened the oven door and sprinkled coconut on the first cake, then promptly proceeded to make a second batter, with the coconut in it.
I like both of them, though the one with the incorporated coconut is a bit sweeter and more moist, but I would say that if you like your cake to be a bit sweet you'll probably want to add more sugar, as I am finding myself on the less sweet end of things right now and these cakes are just barely sweet without the coconut and barely sweet with it. Just perfect for me with a bit of honeyed milk or tea, or some hot chocolate.
Marbled Yogurt, Coconut and Chocolate Cake
adapted from recipes by Lauriane Andre here & Clotilde Dusoulier here
For a 1L = 1Qt loaf pan
- 185ml (3/4 cup) whole milk yogurt or 1 1/2 tubs of yogurt which you then you use to measure out the rest of the ingredients (yep it's that simple)
- 100g (1/2 cup) sugar or 1 yogurt tub (you really should add more sugar if you like cakes that are at least a bit sweet, trust me on this)
- 125g (1 cup) flour or 2 yogurt tubs
- 60g (1/2 cup) cornstarch or 1 yogurt tub
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (optional)
- 60g melted and slightly cooled butter (or about half a yogurt tub)
- 3 eggs
- 120g (1 cup) grated coconut or 1 yogurt tub
- 1 teaspoon vanilla or other extract of your choice if you choose to flavor the coconut half of the cake with something more
- 80g (3 oz.) dark chocolate
- Turn the oven on to 190° C (375° F).
- Grease and flour a loaf pan.
- In a large bowl, mix the yogurt and sugar.
- In a separate smaller bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and baking soda if using.
- Add the blended dry ingredients to the yogurt and sugar mixture in the large bowl.
- Continue adding the ingredients in the order listed: the butter, the eggs one at a time until just combined.
- Now separate the batter in two, pouring half into another bowl.
- Melt the chocolate in the microwave or on a double-boiler (one pan on top of another filled with water).
- Add the grated coconut and any other flavorings you choose (e.g. vanilla) to the first half of the batter.
- Add the melted chocolate to the second half of the batter.
- Alternating the two halves, pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean. Let stand for five-ten minutes, and transfer onto a rack to cool.