You’ve got to love a recipe that fits into the general chaos of family life. I made this coconut tea cake last week, on a weeknight evening, between 5-6 pm. I proceeded cautiously, moving in little, manageable, non-committal steps.
I got out the ingredients. Looked around. Noticed that the kids were dragging the coffee table to the edge of the living room and pulling off all of the pillows from the couch. I know what’s coming, and it’s a good sign for me and my little baking project.
Sift the dry ingredients. Set the bowl aside to answer the high-pitched pleas for music. A request for Coldplay. Oh, thank god, because I’m not sure I can stand another round of songs from The King and I.
Warm the coconut milk and butter in a saucepan amidst cries of “I don’t want this song. I want ‘bum-BUM, bum-BUM, bum-bum-bum-bum-bum-BUM.'” That’s 2-year-old speak for Coldplay’s Death and All his Friends. The kid has an uncanny ear for rhythm and that’s how he names one of his favorites. I change the song and return to my project.
I’m getting a little more committed now. It’s time to beat the sugar and eggs. But both kids are dancing full out now, and my daughter suggests that they put on dresses, a request my son agrees to instantly. So they run upstairs to put on more formal dancing wear.
This is my chance. I’m all in. I beat in the vanilla and rum, reminding myself for the hundredth time to adjust the measurements (I’m only making 1/4 batch), then add the dry ingredients, knowing full well that the baking powder is already doing its work and I can’t turn back now or the cake won’t rise properly in the oven.
Both kids come giggling down the stairs in their “princess” dresses and resume dancing to Cold Play. They’re dancing mosh-pit style, crashing into each other and tumbling onto the couch pillows, pink tulle and sparkly sequins flying up. They come much too close to the sharp edge of the coffee table. and though I’m in the middle of pouring the batter, I set it aside to clear the coffee table far away from their barely-controlled “princess” slam dance.
I finish pouring the batter and I’m almost there, but then realize that my oven is still set at 425 because I’m roasting fennel. I yank that fennel out and turn the heat down to 350. But there’s no time to wait for the oven to cool down because my son climbed up the back of the couch and hoisted himself up onto the two-inch window ledge, flattened himself against the window pane, and he’s asking for help, so I shove the cake into the oven, slam shut the door, and come to his rescue. Does everyone bake like this? Is it just me?
In any event, these coconut tea cakes were delightful. My 1/4 batch allowed for three mini-cakes. The first night, after the kids were in bed, I made a buttered rum glaze and my husband and I split the cake. Yum. The second night, we got wise and each had our own individual cake. This time, I made some vanilla pastry cream, cut the individual cakes in half, and filled them with pudding. I put hot fudge on mine (Boston cream pie-style) and Dave put caramel on his. Divine.
The cake itself is a cross between a pound cake and a sponge cake. Dense, slightly springy, with a small crumb, perfect for brushing or soaking with a sweetened glaze. I loved the combination of coconut and rum, and the buttery rum glaze couldn’t be easier. Here’s the recipe:
Buttered rum glaze
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup rum
Boil butter, water, and sugar for five minutes. Stir in rum. Drizzle over anything you like! Because I didn’t make a whole cake, I reduced this recipe a good bit: 2 Tb. butter, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 tsp. water, 2 Tb. rum
Thanks to Carmen of Carmen Cooks for selecting this week’s coconut tea cake. You can find the recipe on her site or on pp. 194-195 of Baking: From My Home to Yours. And thanks to my two young children for making life such a crazy, beautiful ride.