So far August has been a month of revelations. Apart from being irritatingly monsoon-y, that is.
First there was the fact that I actually enjoy cookies. Quite an eye-opener. Then, Saturday at the office we found out that I can sop up eight whole chicken rolls in 30 minutes flat, when facing a bet.
Wow. I’m like this whole new person.
And it doesn’t stop there. Yesterday, after a particularly long evening at the supermarket, I came to the conclusion that I should not be let loose un-supervised in a supermarket. Because if I am then I’ll return home with half a kilo (a little more than a pound) of desiccated coconut, half a kilo of dried and pitted prunes and a jar of crystallized ginger for absolutely no reason.
I love supermarkets of course. I love that I can look at a shelf of canned tomatoes and think of making pasta. Or, I pick a head of cabbage and I know I might want to make a sabzi out of it. And that’s enough reason for them to end up in my cart. But a half a kilo of desiccated coconut? Where did that come from? If you’re raising your eyebrows at me right now, well then, save it. I can blame the candied ginger to my subconscious mind; I’ve been wanting to do a ginger cake for a long time without actually DOING anything about it. I can understand the prunes — I loved them when I made Nigella’s Christmas Cake last Christmas, so I knew I’d be half-happy snacking on them all day. But the coconut? I’m not even going to try and explain it.
For the rest of the day I sat with my legs propped up on the balcony railing checking out all that’s fugly while the rain thundered on outside. And all throughout, that bag of coconut sat on the counter giving me the I’m-waiting-for-you eyes. Stupid transparent bag.
In the end, when there’s a persistent bag of coconut waiting, there’s not much you can do except turn on the laptop and get out the old cloth-covered monster that is my recipe book. The bright screen and a couple of folded down pages threw up a mix of mind-boggling coconuttiness. It was like I was in a snowball fight. Except that there was no snow, only white sweet powdered coconut.
Three hours later I had enough material to write a cookbook on coconut. Does 100 Ways to Overcook Your Coconut sound good? No? How about 50 Overly Sweet Macaroon Recipes? Not convinced yet? Oh well, I tried. And since there is no such book in the soon-to-come horizon, maybe you’ll be happy to settle for a simple tea cake.
I have Jen from Use Real Butter to thank for this. Although I didn’t exactly follow her recipe for the tea cake, I should thank her for the idea of it. And while I’m at it, I should probably go ahead and thank her for the lovely evening we spent with slices of coconut cake nestled on our laps. Also, while the cake was baking, it made the house smell of very expensive tropical room-freshener. Also, I have to thank myself for bringing along a bag of candied ginger. I threw some in before the cake went in, and you’d be well-advised to do the same. They only make the subtly flavoured cake taste even more intoxicating. More summery. Summery during monsoon, which by the way, after enduring 48 hours of constant downpour, is exactly what people want around here.
I polished off three thick slices…that’s almost half the loaf, even before anyone else got to it. The bag of coconut, although not completed defeated, seems like an infinitely diminished opponent. The house still smells fantastic. And I like August more now.
Also, it’s the Indian Independence Day today. We’ve been free from the British Rule for 66 years, people.
Coconut Loaf with Candied Ginger
inspired by a coconut tea cake recipe by Use Real Butter
1 cup of desiccated coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
2 tsps of baking powder
A pinch of salt
1/2 cup of milk
1/2 cup of vegetable oil (something tasteless like canola or groundnut)
2/3 cup of white granulated sugar
1/4 – 1/2 cup of candied ginger, chopped
Pre-heat the oven to 180 deg C. Butter a 8″ long loaf tin.
In a medium bowl put the coconut, flour, baking powder and salt and mix with a fork. In a larger bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, oil and sugar till the sugar dissolves. Dump the dry ingredients into the wet and fold gently till just combined. Don’t overwork the batter. The batter will be quite thin, but don’t worry, its supposed to be like that due to the lack of flour in it. Toss the ginger in a couple of pinches of all-purpose flour. Pour the batter into the prepped loaf tin and sprinkle the ginger on top. Bake for 45-60 minutes, till the top is caramelized and a fork run through the cake comes out clean with a few crumbs stuck to it. In my oven the cake took about 50 minutes, till the fork was clean enough. So keep checking after the 45-minute mark.
Let the cake cool in the tin before taking it out. Then cool on the rack. Properly stored, the cake will stay for 4-5 days easy. Slice into thick slices and serve with softly whipped cream or with some chocolate sauce poured over.