I didn’t post last week; my muse was lounging around the computer of some other food blogger, making ripe bunches of creative epiphanies flourish in someone else’s brain. I gazed out the window for her, like that insipid teen girl in the vampire movies. “When will she be back?” I uttered in the weak monotone of the dependably gloomy, “When?” Eaters, it was a pitiful display.
I abide in the grayest (true story) town in the United States, but one cannot keep blaming the weather for one’s troubles. Then again, the light is so scant, (hence the setting for poorly written books/screenplays featuring the undead) and forecast so hopelessly soaking that, well, why not blame it for sapping our zest?
Still, even considering the climate-induced doldrums, this past week I was soaking in a particularly tepid tub of malaise. I wallowed in my troubles, I borrowed troubles, I paid surprise visits to past troubles who had forgotten my name (Hey, remember me? Let’s relive all my mistakes!). I sensed that spending time with me was a charitable act, on the part of myself and others, and we were all doing it under duress. My husband feels obligated, and as for the rest of them, they are clearly just in it for the cake.
My second grand niece was born last week and I got to meet the little muffin. She made me want to say yes to life and bake a cake, but she refuses to try anything but breast milk and why should I cater to picky eaters? She is a reminder that life goes on, abundantly. When my oldest was a baby she would fight sleep, startling herself awake to look around hungrily. “What did I miss?” she seemed to say with her big eyes, desperate to take it all in. It’s true, there’s a lot here.
While I wait for Gabrielle Zendaya to get bigger and discover dessert, I will make this cake for my loved ones and serve it up with a hearty side of gratitude for their fortitude. Life with me isn’t always fun, but the tedium is punctuated by cake. So I am going to pinch my pale cheeks, make myself pleasant, and set this little beauty out as friendbait. Plus, it’s guaranteed to keep the vampires away; they detest coconut.
“Zest for Life” Key Lime Coconut Cake from Gourmet, March 2009
I reduce the granulated sugar to 3/4 cup and the confectioners to 1/2 cup. I also have used unsweetened coconut.
1 cup sweetened, flaked coconut
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon grated key lime zest (or the zest of any old lime)
2 large eggs (at room temperature)
1 3/4 cups self-rising flour
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup fresh Key lime juice, divided (or the juice of any old lime)
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 Tablespoon rum (optional)
Preheat oven to 350. Generously butter a 9 by 2 inch round baking pan and line bottom with a round of parchment paper.
Toast coconut in a small baking pan in oven, stirring one or twice, until golden, 8 to 12 minutes (watch it closely since it burns quickly).
Beat 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.
Spoon batter into pan and smooth top. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. This could take 40 minutes but check it at 30. Cool to warm, then turn out of pan and remove parchment.
Whisk together confectioners sugar, remaining 2 Tablespoons lime juice, (maybe less if you use less sugar) and rum (if using) and pour over cake. Sprinkle remaining coconut.