Tag Archives: coconut

Banana Coconut Cream Cakes

We went off on a brief romantic tangent to celebrate my anniversary with Mike (thanks for all your congratulations!), but now we need to get back to some serious business. SERIOUS business. I told you after making my Coconut Cream Tart that I had some of that heavenly coconut pastry cream leftover. The dessert I came up with to use that leftover pastry cream is now (drumroll, please . . . are you drumrolling?) MY FAVORITE DESSERT OF ALL TIME.

Wow. I eat a lot of desserts, so you know this must be big.

Well, actually it’s small and cute. But BIG in taste!

These sweet little cakes are Banana Mini-Bundt Cakes filled with Coconut Cream and topped with a sweet pineapple glaze. My sister describes the coconut pastry cream as “tylenol PM that tastes good” because it’s so soporifically sweet and creamy. Imagine that deliciousness stuffed into the center of a bright, dense, moist banana cake. Now add the slight tang of pineapple. NOW MAKE THAT AMAZING DESSERT SO SMALL AS TO ALMOST BE BITE-SIZED. That, my friends, is a winner.

Some of you are getting all whiny right about now. Hey, there’s no shame in that; I get whiny sometimes, too. You’re thinking, “Oh well, I don’t like bananas,” or “Ew, coconut,” and it’s even POSSIBLE that there’s someone out there thinking, “Gross, pineapple.” Weirdo.

Kidding, kidding — I don’t think any less of you pineapple haters! BUT before you write off this dessert for any of the reasons above, let me give you a run-down of why you should try it anyway.

1. I dislike bananas. They’re odd. Nevertheless, I still love these cakes more than I can really explain.

2. My roommate hates coconut with a passion. She would barely consent to try one of these. Nevertheless, she loves these cakes more than almost anything I’ve ever made.

3. Mike loves both banana and coconut, and also adored every bite of these cakes. (Just so you know there’s not some strange phenomenon goin’ on with the flavors!)

4. You will love these cakes. YOU WILL.

Some of you, instead of whining, are mourning right now: “I don’t have a mini-bundt cake pan!” I didn’t either until my roommate bought me one (thanks, Barb!), so one option is to be really sweet to the folks you live with and keep your fingers crossed. The other (more realistic) option is to simply make these as cupcakes. I think they’d work out just fine — maybe not quite as adorable, but still just as tasty.

To reiterate how amazing these cakes are, let me tell you about my little mixup while making them. I was hoping to get 12 mini-bundt cakes out of this recipe but, because I failed to check the size of the pan in the original recipe, I ended up with 32. At first I was annoyed — who on earth was going to eat the extra 20 CAKES?!

Yeah, that did not turn out to be a problem. They were DEVOURED. In fact, as Mike and I polished off the last few cakes, we wept a little. Okay, maybe we didn’t actually cry, but we were crying on the inside. I can’t wait to make these again. Please, if you make one thing from this willowy, birdbrain blog of mine, make these! I’m anxious to hear what you think.

Banana Coconut Cream Cakes


Recipe by: Compiled by Willow Bird Baking from Piggly-Wiggly (banana cake), ZoĆ« Bakes (coconut pastry cream), and The Neely’s (pineapple glaze)
Yields: About 32 mini-bundt cakes using the pan size pictured below

Mini-Bundt Cake Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter at room temp
2 cups sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, preferably at room temp
~4 very ripe bananas, mashed (about 1.5-1.75 cups)
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt

Coconut Pastry Cream Ingredients: *
1 can (14 fluid ounces) unsweetened coconut milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean
pinch kosher salt
3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup whipping cream

Pineapple Glaze Ingredients:
2 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons pineapple juice

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350. Generously butter a mini-bundt cake pan or cupcake pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together. In a separate, large bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and beat at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating for about 1 minute after each egg goes in. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the bananas.

Mix in half the dry ingredients (the mixture may look curdled — just keep mixing), followed by all the sour cream and finally, the rest of the flour mixture. Fill each well of your prepared pan about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way full and rap the pan on the counter to remove bubbles from the batter and smooth the top.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted deep into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before unmolding on the rack. Let cool to room temperature before adding cream filling and glaze.

While cakes are baking and cooling, make coconut pastry cream. Heat the coconut milk, sugar, salt and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan over medium heat. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and corn starch. Once the cream is hot, remove the vanilla bean, scraping out any remaining seeds and returning them to the cream. Add 1/2 cup of the hot cream slowly to the yolks, whisking as you add. Then pour the yolk mixture into the pot of hot cream and whisk. Continue to whisk with heat on medium-high for 3 more minutes. The mixture will turn thick and bubble. You need to continue to whisk for the full 3 minutes or the pastry cream will separate once it is cool. After the 3 minutes, whisk in the butter. Add the coconut flakes. Pour into a shallow dish to cool.

Cover with plastic wrap pressed right against the pastry cream. This will prevent a thick skin from forming on the surface. Refrigerate for at least an hour or freeze for 30 minutes. Once it is cold, stir the pastry cream to loosen. Whip the 1/2 cup cream to medium peaks. Stir in 1/3 to the pastry cream to lighten. Fold in the remaining cream until the pastry cream is nice and light.

When cakes are cool, hollow out the center of each mini-bundt cake (or, for cupcakes, you can use the cone method). Pipe in as much of the coconut pastry cream as will fit.

Whisk confectioners’ sugar and pineapple juice together to form glaze. Drizzle over filled mini-bundt or cupcakes. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5-7 days.

NOTE: These things are aaaaamazing served cold straight from the refrigerator! They’re dense, creamy, cool hunks o’ bright flavor.

*NOTE 2: This recipe actually makes twice as much coconut pastry cream as you need to fill the cakes. I split my pastry cream and made these with half, and a Coconut Cream Tart with the other half. If you’re not keen on a tart, you can also just double the number of banana cakes you make to fill, or find some other creative use for the excess cream. I suppose you could also try halving the coconut pastry cream recipe, but I didn’t want to fiddle with halving three yolks and a can o’ coconut milk.


Enjoy!


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Coconut Cream Tart

I could have easily become a picky eater. I am compulsive in so many ways . . . the way my glass has to be completely clean or I won’t drink from it, the way I hate to get my hands dirty, the way I have to brush my teeth before my shower, not after. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I like all foods. There’s not much I won’t try, and once I’ve tried it, not much I don’t like! Except beets . . . ew, beets.

I wasn’t always so open to food. I was never picky, per se, but I had my list — like many kids — of things I didn’t like. Tomatoes, onions, lima beans, olives, bananas, and coconut. I hated coconut! What was wrong with me? Looking back, I think my aversions were almost always related to texture. Lima beans and bananas are oddly smushy. Shredded coconut just feels weird . . . too many paper-like pieces in your mouth, I guess!

Anyway, I’ve heard people say that their tastes “gradually” changed as they got older . . . well, mine usually change instantaneously. It’s an odd and wonderful phenomenon. For instance, last year I was driving home from school and realized I wanted sushi, something that until that moment, I was relatively sure I hated. I picked some up, enjoyed every bite, and have enjoyed it ever since. The same thing recently happened with olives and lima beans . . . and coconut! All of a sudden it hit me that light, sweet, wonderful COCONUT, when combined with milky or creamy flavors, was one of the best tastes in the world. I’m hooked.

Mike loves coconut too, thank God! After making him two birthday dishes that included ingredients he wasn’t too keen on (smart choice), I needed to hedge my bets.

This gorgeous tart was a sure thing. It has all the appeal of a coconut cream pie with an even better texture. The coconut pastry cream is thick, rich, buttery, and altogether one of the best tasting things I’ve ever put in my mouth. I filled my favorite buttery, flaky tart shell with it and topped it with lightly sweetened whipped cream and toasted coconut. Mike actually liked the Chocolate Tart better, but I’m voting for this one all the way!

Coconut fans (and even those who don’t think they’re coconut fans) have to whip up one of these tarts. It’ll work just the same in a round tart pan, but this rectangular tart pan was only $18 at my Williams-Sonoma if you’re into corners. Even though the recipe below makes enough pastry cream to fill two tarts, feel free to just make one tart shell — I have another amazing recipe coming up shortly to use the extra pastry cream!

Coconut Cream Tart



Recipe by: Compiled by Willow Bird Baking from Zoe Bakes (coconut pastry cream) and Tyler Florence (tart shell)
Yields: makes one tart (but enough pastry cream for two, if you want to double the tart shell recipe — otherwise use leftover pastry cream for something fun!)

Tart Shell Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and chopped
1 large egg, separated
2 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed

Coconut Pastry Cream Ingredients*: (makes enough to fill two of the tart shells above)
1 can (14 fluid ounces) unsweetened coconut milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean
pinch kosher salt
3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup whipping cream

Whipped Cream Ingredients:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar (or more to taste)

Directions:
To make the pastry: combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl (or food processor). Add the butter and mix with a processor or hands until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the middle of the pastry. Combine the egg yolk with the ice water in a small bowl, whisking to blend; pour it into the well and work it in to bind the dough until it holds together without being too wet or sticky. Squeeze a small amount together, if it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time. When the dough is coming together but still in crumbs, pour the crumbs into your tart pan and press them out to fill the pan. Press them up the sides evenly and trim off any excess. Dock the dough (prick it slightly) with a fork all over. Put the tart shell in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes to relax.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the tart pan on a sturdy cookie sheet so it will be easy to move in and out of the oven. Line the tart with aluminum foil and add pie weights or dried beans to keep the sides of the tart from buckling. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and weights. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the crust with a beaten egg white. Return to the oven and continue to bake for another 8 minutes until the tart is golden brown. Let cool completely before filling.

To make filling: Heat the coconut milk, sugar, salt and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan over medium heat. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and corn starch. Once the cream is hot, remove the vanilla bean, scraping out any remaining seeds and returning them to the cream. Add 1/2 cup of the hot cream slowly to the yolks, whisking as you add. Then pour the yolk mixture into the pot of hot cream and whisk. Continue to whisk with heat on medium-high for 3 more minutes. The mixture will turn thick and bubble. You need to continue to whisk for the full 3 minutes or the pastry cream will separate once it is cool. After the 3 minutes, whisk in the butter. Add the coconut flakes. Pour into a shallow dish to cool.

Cover with plastic wrap pressed right against the pastry cream. This will prevent a thick skin from forming on the surface. Refrigerate for at least an hour or freeze for 30 minutes. Once it is cold, stir the pastry cream to loosen. Whip the 1/2 cup cream to medium peaks. Stir in 1/3 to the pastry cream to lighten. Fold in the remaining cream until the pastry cream is nice and light. When tart shell is cool, fill it with pastry cream.

To make whipped cream, beat all ingredients together until whipped cream reaches medium peaks. Pile onto coconut pastry cream filling and top with toasted coconut.

*NOTE: This recipe makes enough pastry cream for two tarts, so you can double the tart shell recipe if you want to make both. If you only want one tart, leave the tart shell recipe as-is and use your leftover pastry cream for something fun!

P.S. Not to oversell this weekend’s upcoming recipe, but um . . . it’s the best dessert I’ve ever eaten. Yeah.


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Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Icing

It was hard to get my baking accomplished this weekend, but if I could go back and do it all again, I wouldn’t change a thing. I just spent the weekend with 8 of the sweetest 6th graders on the planet. My church holds a youth conference each year called Disciple Now. Students travel to the homes of generous church members to spend two days worshiping God, studying His Word, and having fun. I was a family group leader, responsible for leading the gals through Bible studies and refereeing the occasional pillow fight.

My short time with those bright, silly, beautiful, brilliant young ladies was so rewarding — partly because at first, it didn’t feel like it was going very well. They were exhausted Friday when we arrived home after worship, and were in no state for the Bible study we had planned. Sleepiness, pointed watch-checking, and delirium ensued. I lay in bed that night and reiterated the prayer I’d prayed upon arriving at the event earlier in the afternoon: Lord, I know Your strength is made perfect in my weakness, and right now, I’m feeling very weak! Please come make this work for Your glory.

The next day, I spoke with other group leaders who had experienced that very same moment of brokenness late Friday night. My Bible study leader revealed that she had woken up at 3 am that morning with the urge to pray for us. I’m so thankful for her prayers and the faithfulness of God — because the fantastic time spent with the girls Saturday was not my doing, but His! Apart from wheelbarrow relay races, crabwalking, screaming contests, an obstacle course, and a whole lot of giggling, we had an amazing discussion of what it means to live a “backwards life” for Christ (here is a site where you can download a free copy of the devotional book we worked through on this topic). The girls revealed their hearts — friends they were praying for, their struggles in faith. At one point, we made a list of daring ways to share the gospel (“good news”) of Christ with our loved ones.

I’m adding one to my own personal list — posting the good news on Willow Bird Baking! You are all on my list of “loved ones”! You may not be a believer, but I challenge you to read and consider this message either way, in the spirit of allowing me to share something that’s important to my heart.

The central message of Christianity is this simple truth: we are all sinners, separated from God by our sins. We cannot remedy this by ourselves, but God so loved us that He sent His Son Jesus to live a perfect life and die in our place — paying the price for sin. Jesus was then resurrected to triumph over sin and death. If we confess with our mouth and believe in our heart that Jesus did this for us, we accept His free gift of what Christians call “salvation”: salvation from the price of sin, and an eternal relationship with God, who is a wonderful Father.

If this is the first time you’ve heard or understood what Christ did for you, will you take a moment right now and tell Him you’re accepting His gift? If you’re already a believer, will you take a moment and thank Him again? Lastly, if you’re reading this right now and have questions, please leave me a comment with your email address.

Okay, I know you’re ogling the pictures of the amazing Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Icing and wondering . . . how does Christ relate to Oatmeal Cake? Well, my jam-packed weekend resulted in a rushed baking session on Sunday. I needed a quick and simple recipe that I could make while bleary due to sleep deprivation. I cut calories during the week to splurge on the weekends, so I also wanted a recipe that could be easily devoured before Monday morning. This cake more than fit the bill — especially the easily devoured part!

This recipe is heavenly, y’all (pun intended)! The cake is incredibly moist and delicate, with a mesmerizing blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and oats. The broiled icing is insane: toasted coconut and pecans bound by a gooey almost-caramely mixture created by the broiled butter and brown sugar. On my Recipe Index, small hearts denote Willow Bird Baking favorites — the recipes I’m over the moon about. This hearty, filling cake has more than earned its heart!

One of the best parts is that it truly is a quick and easy recipe as well. The icing is spread on while the cake is warm, meaning that the entire recipe can be easily accomplished within an hour (not including cooling time). If I got through the entire process without a hitch while half-asleep, caffeinated, sore, and frazzled, it should be a breeze for you! Happy eating!

Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Icing



Recipe by: America’s Test Kitchen*
Yields: one 8-inch square cake (about 9 pieces)

Cake Ingredients:
1 cup (3 ounces) quick-cooking oats (see note)
3/4 cup water , room temperature
3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed (3 1/2 ounces) light brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Broiled Icing Ingredients:
1/4 cup packed (1 3/4 ounces) light brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons milk
3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) pecans, chopped

Directions:
1. FOR THE CAKE: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut two 16-inch lengths aluminum foil and fold both lengthwise to 5-inch widths. Spray 8- by 8-inch metal baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Create a foil sling for the pan: cut two 16-inch lengths of foil and fold them to widths of 5 inches each. Fit foil pieces into baking dish, one overlapping the other, pushing them into corners and up sides of pan; allow excess to overhang pan edges. This creates a sling that will help you remove the cake after baking and cooling. Spray foil lightly with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Combine oats and water in medium bowl and let sit until water is absorbed, about 5 minutes. In another medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together.

3. In bowl of standing mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium speed until combined and mixture has consistency of damp sand, 2 to 4 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula halfway through mixing. Add egg and vanilla; beat until combined, about 30 seconds. Add flour mixture in 2 additions and mix until just incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add soaked oats and mix until combined, about 15 seconds.

4. Give batter final stir with rubber spatula to make sure thoroughly combined. Transfer batter to prepared pan and lightly tap against counter 3 or 4 times to dislodge any large air bubbles; smooth surface with spatula. Bake cake until toothpick inserted into center comes out with few crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes (careful: mine only took 28 minutes), rotating pan halfway through baking. Let cake cool slightly in pan, at least 10 minutes.

5. FOR THE BROILED ICING: While cake cools, adjust oven rack about 9 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. In medium bowl, whisk brown sugar, melted butter, and milk together; stir in coconut and pecans. Spread mixture evenly over warm cake. Broil until topping is bubbling and golden, 3 to 5 minutes.

6. Let cake cool in pan 1 hour. Following illustration 2, transfer cake to serving platter, then discard foil. Cut cake into squares and serve.

*ATK’s notes: Do not use old-fashioned or instant oats for this recipe. Be sure to use a metal baking dish; glass pans are not recommended when broiling. If you have a drawer-style broiler (underneath the oven), position the rack as far as possible from the broiler element and monitor the icing carefully as it cooks in step 5. A vertical sawing motion with a serrated knife works best for cutting through the crunchy icing and tender crumb.




Enjoy!

P.S. Reader comment: “Seriously this is the best cake I have ever baked or eaten. […] I cannot thank you enough for posting this. It is seriously amazing!” Hurray! GO MAKE THIS CAKE!


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