I opened a kitchen cabinet last week and was met with the most aromatic blast of coconut imaginable. It was like I had stuffed my entire face into a bag of freshly shaved coconut. Being me, the first place my mind went upon being bombarded with the scent of coconut was not to Hawaii, but to cake. What can I say? I like what I like (which is not to say that I do not like Hawaii—because I do, very much—but more to say that, when it comes to what I can make happen ASAP to satisfy my needs, making a cake lands far, far ahead in the realm of plausibility than making a spontaneous trip to Hawaii).
Because, as we know, I like making cakes, I tend to have a lot of documentation of many, many cakes. After a while, however, though the cakes I make are mostly new affairs that I test out in the name of promised deliciousness, I have noticed that many of the cakes I make tend to look fairly indistinguishable from one another. Observe:
This ginger cardamom cake:
looks a lot like this rum cake:
which looks pretty much identical to our current lemon coconut cake:
Oh, don’t get me wrong. The cakes may look the same, but their tastes are anything but the same. That ginger cardamom cake is a blast of spiciness and subtle cardamom, while the rum cake is boozy enough to make you feel a little flushed after eating it. But how boring is it to show you all pictures of what appear to be the same golden cake, time after time again? It’s super boring, I admit. The good thing is, this cake may look like just a plain old bundt cake, but, like the cakes that came before it, there is nothing plain about it.
With coconut milk taking the place of regular milk, an added hit of shredded coconut, and a double burst of both lemon zest and fresh lemon juice, this cake is totally worth sharing with you. In fact, it would be a crime not to let you know about it. That initial inspiration provided by the coconut shines through like a tropical dream, and the punch of lemon, plumped up just a tad by the addition of a light lemon glaze, makes for a perfect pairing. Though not a traditional pound cake in the sense that the ratios of flour, butter, eggs and sugar do not line up equally, the crumb of this cake is very much in the realm of a pound cake, with a dense, moist crumb, and the unmistakable flavor undertone of rich butter. It may look like a plain, innocent bundt cake, but don’t be fooled. This cake had got kick, and it wants to be heard. I mean tasted. You know.
Lemon Coconut Cake
2 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
drop of pure vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Generously grease and flour a 10 or 12-cup bundt pan.
Into a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter on medium-high speed until soft and fluffy. Grandually add in sugar and continue to beat on medium high speed until mixture is fluffy and light. Reduce mixer speed to medium, and add in eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides and bottom of bowl in between each egg. Beat in vanilla. Beat in lemon zest, shredded coconut, and lemon juice, and mix until just combined.
Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl, then add in 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by ½ of the coconut milk. Mix until barely combined, then add in ½ of remaining flour mixture, barely mixing to combine, then rest of coconut milk. Add in remaining flour, beating until just combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl one last time, and gently fold the batter two or three times, just to incorporate any unmixed bits of flour.
Pour batter into prepared bundt pan, then bake in center of oven for 50 to 55 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the cake emerges with just a few moist crumbs attached. Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to continue cooling.
While cake is cooling, prepare glaze. In a small bowl, combine all glaze ingredients and whisk to combine thoroughly. Whisk for 2 to 3 minutes, until powdered sugar has lost some of its graininess.
While the cake is still warm, gently brush on glaze, covering as much of the surface of the cake as possible.