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Coconut cake bridges fruit seasons

Coconut is the third ingredient in a tropical trifecta that inspired my latest food section column.

The grated flesh, the rich milk and even coconut extract ties pineapple and mango together in some of my favorite late-spring preparations. It’s also plays well with papaya, guava, passionfruit and more.

As my column acknowledged, it’s the Northern Hemisphere’s season to enjoy these imported fruits, particularly when citrus is ailing and berries aren’t quite their sweet summertime selves. But if you’re a staunch locavore, you can weather this lean season for fruits with frozen and dried specimens, even preserves.

In that vein is this cake calling for dried apricots and apricot preserves. Macaroons are one of my family’s favorite treats, and this cake promises that chewy, rich crumb lightened with slightly tart apricots. Given that I habitually keep shredded coconut, coconut oil, dried apricots and apricot preserves on hand, it’s practically a pantry-staple dish.

Tribune News Service photo

Coconut Apricot Macaroon Cake

For cake:

1 cup dried apricots, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

1/4 cup apricot preserves

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon coarse salt

6 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1/3 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For topping:

1 large egg white

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 pinch coarse salt

1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut

Sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 F with a rack in center position. Using a pastry brush, prepare a 9-inch round cake pan with “pan goo” (1/4 cup neutral oil whisked with 1/3 cup all-purpose flour).

In a small saucepan, stir together the apricots, apricot preserves and 1/4 cup water. Set pan over medium heat and cook, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, until a syrup forms that is thick enough to hold a line, for about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and toss with the shredded coconut. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the coconut oil, sugar and eggs until smooth and creamy. Whisk in the milk and vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, stir flour mixture into wet ingredients.

Gently fold apricot-coconut mixture into batter, distributing it evenly throughout. Pour batter into prepared cake pan.

To make topping, in a medium bowl, whisk the egg white, granulated sugar and salt until just foamy, for about 30 seconds.

Stir in the coconut flakes and scatter on top of cake batter. Sprinkle with sanding sugar.

Bake in preheated oven until cake is firm to the touch and golden brown and a cake tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs, for about 1 hour.

Transfer pan to a wire rack. Rest cake in the pan for about 10 minutes. Then unmold onto rack to cool completely. Cake will keep at room temperature, covered, for 3 or 4 days.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

— Recipe from “Fruit Cake: Recipes for the Curious Baker,” by Jason Schreiber (William Morrow; November 2020).