The genesis of a coffee cake

Crazy Coffee Cake overhead

It started when Mr. Banana Bread and Mrs. Coffee Cake got together. There was rustling in the bushes, and they honeymooned in India, and this recipe was born.

Slow down, you say. There must be a story there.

I didn’t eat much of either growing up. Coffee cake followed my husband into my life (via his family’s Christmas rituals), and banana bread – well, truth is, banana hadn’t really ever made me swoon until recently. But that time, there was chocolate involved, so who can blame me?

Three bananas sat restlessly on my counter, ignoring my claims that I’d just baked with their cousins. They wanted to be used. We agreed (me and the bananas) that we’d try something different, and we borrowed from Heidi’s splendid idea to put curry into zucchini bread. We outlined the recipe, with only a touch of curry, for depth and surprise rather than real spice. Only when we got the bread pans out, curried banana bread didn’t seem right, so we took a turn down a side street, toward coffee cake, made with coconut milk (because we thought it would be nice to write a dairy-free baking recipe now and then) and sour cream (because halfway through baking, we plum forgot about the lactards (just a joke, really)).

The bananas started whispering. What are we doing here? And why did she add sour cream when the point was to avoid stuff like that this time? They thought I was crazy. Who talks to a banana?

Then there was no all-purpose flour, quelle surprise, so we used all white whole-wheat flour instead. And then we found an unopened bag of coconut, the good kind, with no added sugar, tucked into the bottom of the baking drawer.

But, alas, the bananas died for the coffee cake, so here I am, typing again like a normal human being in first person singular, assuring you that while this may be different from any coffee cake you’ve tasted, with its feathery, curry-scented, panko-like topping and dense, banana-studded texture, it is still most certainly right at home next to a (good) cup of coffee.

Just don’t serve it to someone who only eats inside the box.

Crazy Coffee Cake close

Coconut-Curry-Banana Coffee Cake (PDF)
Recipe 234 of 365

I admit, it’s a tough title to get one’s brain around. Think whole wheat banana bread, studded with toasted unsweetened coconut and a whisper of curry, baked with a little more lift in a tube pan, and topped with a brown sugar-coconut-curry streusel that you’ll be pinching off with your fingers before the cake has cooled properly. Be careful!

To toast the unsweetened coconut, spread it in a thin layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees, stirring every few minutes to ensure even browning. Cool and freeze any unused coconut for later use.

TIME: 25 minutes active time
MAKES: 12 servings

Butter and flour for pan, or baking spray

For topping:
1/4 cup (packed) brown sugar
1/2 cup toasted unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For batter:
2 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour (all-purpose or a combination of white and whole wheat flours should also work)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup toasted unsweetened coconut flakes
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
2/3 cup light coconut milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 10” tube pan (or spray with baking spray), and set aside.

First, make the topping: Mix the topping ingredients together in a small bowl, and set aside.

Next, make the batter: Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, curry, cinnamon and coconut in a mixing bowl, and set aside.

In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the eggs and both sugars together until light, about 3 minutes on medium speed. Add the remaining wet ingredients, and mix until well blended. Add the flour mixture in three separate additions, mixing on low speed between each addition until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and mix again.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, sprinkle the topping over the batter, and bake for 45 to 55 minutes on the middle rack of the oven, until the top is cracked and the cake tests clean with a wooden skewer. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then run a small knife around the edges, and invert the cake first onto a large plate, then right-side up onto a serving platter, reserving as much any topping that crumbles out as possible. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Filed under Breakfast, Cakes, kitchen adventure, recipe

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