pina colada cake

this is the story of two cakes.  one a beautiful cake and the other, a shipwreck.  or train wreck, take your pick.  either name will work.

as i have mentioned before, i work in a demonstration garden with my fellow master gardeners.  it is my responsibility as the project chair to round up the volunteers and maintain the garden.  to do this, i have resorted to bribery; it works out so much better than whining and begging…since i go out to the garden every sunday morning, i have made it a habit to take a freshly baked cake with me.  sounds easy but it is a challenge to come up with a different cake each week.

the result is that every week, i create a new recipe.  sometimes, it is as simple as substituting an ingredient or two in an already successful recipe.  other weeks, it can be complicated as i attempt a new formula all together.  most of the time, the cake works out and i am able to make minor adjustments to use the next time i bake the cake.  other times, not so much.  this last time, really, really not so good.  and by not so good, i mean the cake was self destructing from the moment i took it out of the oven.

 don’t you love the ski slope effect?  trust me, it went completely down hill from here…

as i stood there looking at my sad cake, i watched in horror as more and more of the sides of the cake just fell off and littered the tray.  so sad, so embarrassing.  how would i fix this?  there wasn’t any time to bake another cake, i would just have to bring it out to the garden and hope for the best.  the best laugh that is.  shirley quickly dubbed it a total shipwreck.  and honestly, it was-no harm, no foul, just lots of giggles.  she and lynn were astonished that i could have baked this.  so as you see, even a pastry chef is capable of a shipwreck every now and then.  the mistake here, i tried to temper the acid level of fresh pineapple by adding a little baking soda to the recipe.  guess what, the cake did not need any tempering.

so this week, when i set out to bake a cake for my gardening friends, i had a new challenge; no eggs.  we have a couple of new volunteers that both follow a mostly vegan diet and the eggs needed to go.  luckily, they were both okay with a small amount of butter but definitely not the eggs.  and luckier still, i happened to have a package of ener-g egg replacer in the pantry and a supply of coconut milk and coconut oil.  i also had the determination of a baker scorned; i simply was not going to be pushed around by a cake.  no, i was going to win this thing, we were going to eat pina colada cake and it was going to be a good cake.  no ifs, ands or buts.  just a really good cake!

recipe notes:  to get a nice pineapple flavor, use fresh, ripe pineapple.  peel, core and cut enough of it into 1″ cubes to make 2 cups.  place the pineapple in a food processor and pulse to produce tidbits.  do not let the machine run for more than 5 or 10 seconds at a time or you will quickly make puree.  put the pineapple tidbits into a mesh strainer and press out as much of the juice as you can.  reserve the juice for the syrup that is poured over the warm cake.  2 cups of chunks should yield 1 cup of tidbits and 1/2 cup of juice which is what you will need for the cake.

for the liquid in the recipe, i have used coconut milk.  to get the best texture without it being gummy or overly moist, use a light coconut milk or an unsweetened coconut milk beverage.  these will add moisture without excess fat that can make the cake greasy and heavy.

for the vegans, use all coconut oil(2/3 cup) and ener-g egg replacer(4 1/2 teaspoons mix to 6 tablespoons of warm water).  for the not so vegan, you can do as i did and use half unsalted butter(6 tablespoons) and half coconut oil(1/3 cup) with the egg replacer.  and for those of you throwing caution to the wind, you can also just use 3 large eggs, and all butter but you will have to use  coconut milk to be able to call it pina colada!

if you have never used ener-g egg replacer, it is easy!  follow the instructions on the box and use as you would real eggs.  place the powder in a mixing bowl, whisk in warm water and let it sit while you start mixing the recipe.

pina colada bundt cake
1 bundt cake serving about 12
*before starting-read the notes above!!!
1 cup fresh pineapple tidbits*
ener-g egg replacer equivalent to 3 eggs*
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened*
1/3 cup coconut oil*
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup coconut milk*
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup light brown sugar
preheat the oven to 350.  grease and flour a bundt cake pan.  place butter, coconut oil, sugar and salt into the bowl of a food processor.  pulse to combine.  with the motor running, pour in the egg replacer and process until smooth.  pour the mixture into a mixing bowl with the pineapple tidbits.  stir to combine and distribute the tidbits evenly.  sift the flour and the baking powder over the batter and fold it in a few times.  sprinkle the coconut milk over the top of the batter and fold together until no streaks of flour or butter remain.  scrape the batter out of the bowl and into the prepared pan.  smooth out the top and bake until a pick inserted comes out clean, about an hour.  while the cake bakes, make the syrup by combining the juice and the brown sugar in a small sauce pan.  bring the mixture to a boil, reduce it to a simmer and allow it to simmer for 2-3 minutes.  set it aside while the cake bakes.  allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then turn it out onto a rack to cool.  prick the surface of the cake with a fork and spoon the glaze over the top of the cake.  allow it to cool completely before slicing.

coconut tea cake

 each week, i bake a cake to take to the new group of students attending the master gardener’s classes.  this week, i had to do a bit of foraging in the cupboards-i hadn’t gone to the grocery store and my options were few.  for some reason, which i cannot explain, i found 5 cans of coconut milk in the closet.  then, while searching for some shredded coconut, i came across a package of fresh-frozen coconut from birdseye.  it is finely shredded and barely sweetened but most importantly, it tastes pretty close to fresh coconut and it doesn’t involve the hassle of opening a coconut and removing the flesh.

since there are at least 50 students in the class, i made a big 10″ (12 cup) tube shaped cake.

after the cake cooled, i dressed it up with a simple glaze and sprinkled some toasted coconut over the top.

coconut tea cake
1 (12) cup cake serving 16-20
7 ounces unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
4 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup finely grated fresh coconut (or the frozen shredded, thawed)
1 can coconut milk, whisked smooth if lumpy
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons of half and half (or coconut milk if you have some extra)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup shredded coconut, toasted (or not if you prefer)
preheat the oven to 350.  grease and flour a large tube or bundt cake pan and set aside.  place the butter, sugar, salt and 2 teaspoons of the vanilla into the bowl of a food processor.  pulse to combine.  with the machine running, add the eggs, one at a time and allow to mix in.  scrape the mixture into a large mixing bowl since the rest of the ingredients will be folded in by hand.  place a mesh strainer or a sifter into a bowl.  place the flour and baking powder into the strainer/sifter and set aside.  stir the shredded coconut into the mixture-make sure there aren’t any hard lumps of coconut in the batter by breaking them up with your fingers.  sift the dry ingredients over the batter.  fold the mixture a few times and then pour the coconut milk over the batter.  carefully fold together until no streaks remain.  scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a pick comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.  allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes.  remove the cake from the pan and allow it to cool on a rack.
when the cake is completely cool, whisk the powdered sugar with 3 tablespoons of half and half and the vanilla.  add additional half and half as needed until you have a thick glaze.  using a spoon, drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake.  decorate with a little toasted coconut.

nevermind waldo, where’s the baker…

not only can she bake, she can make messes too! big big messes and in no time flat…

honestly, i know where everything is. no really, i do…i think i do.
somebody find those elves and fast…

and in the midst of all of this confusion, i am trying not to step on the cat. she has this idea that if she is cute and cuddly(something she isn’t most of the time) i will stop what i am doing and feed her, 10 times a day…

you can’t possibly be talking about me, sweet lu, i would never play you like that. don’t believe a word those little eyes are trying to convey. lucy, or twitch whichever name you like, is a pro at making herself look innocent when she is hungry.
somehow while all of that was going on; cat dancing, kitchen wrecking, and a major clean up, gladys sang on. “oh i heard it through the grapevine”…sorry otis, take a seat ccr, nobody sings it better than gladys knight and the pips. in the end, a beautiful coconut cake with 7 minute frosting emerged from the rubble…