My mother and father always cooked the Indian dishes in my house and in my teens, I started to experiment with pastas, soups, casseroles and baked goods, basically all non-Indian cuisine. Between my mother, father and I, we seemed to have things covered in the kitchen right? Well, after I got married, I realized that I had zero cooking skills when it came to Indian food, at least the South Indian food I grew up with. I was so embarrassed (I still am really), that I was a “foodie” who had no idea how to make dishes from my own culture. The funny part was that my mom and mother-in-law responded to my embarrassment with “Oh, that’s okay. So listen, next time you come over, can you make your spinach cannelloni? Can you bring a cake over too?” I then realized that my family actually relies on my non-Indian cooking skills!
I love to bake but given that it’s just the two of us in our home, it’s not wise for me to bake all the time. I tend to bake when there is a family gathering, since it’s easier to finish a whole cake or a dozen cupcakes with more than 10 people around. The challenge however is that my parents and in-laws tend to enjoy plain baked goods such as pound cake, while my nephews love chocolate and caramel.
I’m on a quest to find cakes that make (the majority of) my family happy, so here’s my latest find. This one is from Martha Stewart, via @nympsam from Twitter. Funny thing, she tweeted to ask how to prevent the top of this cake from browning too much while the inside was still cooking. I suggested that she should cover the top with foil and then (naturally) I asked for the recipe. She took a picture of the recipe, I Googled it and BOOM, there it was! Once again, hats off to Twitter!
Martha Stewart’s Coconut-Buttermilk Pound Cake
1 1/2 hours + cooling
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 cup granulated sugar (Sandy’s Notes: You can use slightly less than 1 cup if you would like to. I even made it with 3/4 cup of sugar once and I still enjoyed it).
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk, divided (Sandy’s Notes: I used store-bought buttermilk, I’ve never tried to use a homemade version for this recipe.)
1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut, toasted, divided (Sandy’s Notes: See below for instructions on how to toast the sweetened shredded coconut)
1 cup confectioners’ sugar (Sandy’s Notes: This is for the icing. I used half the amount of sugar and ended up with more of a glaze on the cake, which was still tasty.)
How to toast sweetened shredded coconut: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, then spread the 1 ½ cups of sweetened shredded coconut on a cookie sheet or in a baking pan and put it on the middle rack. It can take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes to toast and you’ll have to keep stirring the coconut on a regular basis. Toast the coconut until a few pieces start to turn light brown. Any longer and you might end up burning it! Remove the cookie sheet/pan from the oven and transfer the coconut into a bowl. If you leave it in a hot pan, it will continue to cook!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 4 1/2-by-8 1/2-inch loaf pan. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat butter and granulated sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 8 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Add vanilla, then eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down bowl. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with two 1/2-cup additions buttermilk, and beat until combined. With a rubber spatula, fold in 1 1/4 cups coconut. (Sandy’s Notes: You’ll have some toasted coconut left, you’ll need it for the topping at the end.)
Transfer batter to pan and bake until a skewer inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 60 minutes.
Sandy’s Notes: I found this cake has a tendency to take a LONG time to bake. You may find that the top has browned nicely but when your toothpick or skewer is inserted into the center it still comes out wet after 60 minutes. If that’s the case, cover the top of your cake LOOSELY with a piece of foil and put it back in the oven for a few minutes. This will help the inside cook but keep the top from burning.)
Let cool in pan on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet, 1 hour. Remove cake from pan and let cool completely on rack. (Store at room temperature, wrapped in plastic, up to 4 days.)
Whisk together confectioners’ sugar and remaining 2 tablespoons buttermilk. Drizzle over cake and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup coconut.
Sandy’s Notes: You could skip this step if you don’t want to add anything to the cake, but it really looks and tastes great with the icing and toasted coconut. I used half the amount of icing sugar and created a lighter glaze, which worked out just fine.
The verdict: This was one of the most delicious cakes I’ve ever made and it was a huge hit with my family! The buttermilk keeps it really moist and the bits of toasted coconut are delicious. A slice of this cake is perfect with a cup of coffee, tea or even better, some chai (spiced Indian-style tea). Enjoy!