Visiting Cakes

Visiting Cakes

I love the concept of visiting cakes. I can’t remember when I first read this term but it makes me nostalgic for a life I’ve never actually had. The closest I came was living in Ireland 20 years ago. A country that is quite a bit smaller and slower paced than it’s other westernized partners. This was the place where I learned about stopping over to see someone and automatically being invited in for tea and something to nibble on. Yes, often a cookie from a package of cookies, though they would be put out on a plate first. But very often something homemade. Something simple. My husband has an aunt that has sausage rolls, in the oven, all the time (as far as I can tell) just in case anyone stops by. It is this that I aspire to.

I was utterly charmed by this seemingly universal habit. And I thought about what we Americans do when people stop by. First of all, they don’t very often. And if they do, do we invite them in for anything? I honestly don’t know the answer. I feel like we just attend to the thing they have stopped by for. The goal, the question, the favor. In Ireland I felt like there was an expectation of chat, of catching up, of sharing news. (And I know these are generalizations and overly romantic notions. I’m sure there are lots and lots of visiting, chatting, social people in this country.)

When we owned the inn I came close to having this kind of life. I mean partly this was my business. Guests arrived and there were cookies in the cookie jar and coffee brewed and we’d chat and find out why they were in town. Or there would be snacks and cold beverages out on the deck or in the back garden. But, there was also the backdoor version of this. This is where the people we knew, friends and neighbors and staff and business colleagues would come in for all the many reasons they had to come by. And sometimes it was just to visit. And there were cookies in the cookie jar or bread and cakes from the morning’s baking, or pots of soups and stews on the stove. It’s a good feeling to feed people. It’s a good feeling to just stop and share food and news.

But back to the cake, since that’s what we’re really here to talk about. Visiting cakes. In my mind this is a simple, almost plain cake. Usually made in a loaf pan. You have a slice with a cup of tea or coffee during that late morning lull before lunch. (The British call this ‘elevensies’) It’s tasty enough to feel special but simple enough to not feel overly decadent. This is also the cake you would take over to see a friend. It isn’t over the top, you won’t embarrass anyone into thinking you went to too much trouble for them. And, because this is a simple, easy cake that keeps well, you also have it on hand for a few days, so if someone stops by your house, you have cake to offer them. You don’t need the whole fancy thing, just a slice on a plate.

I think of banana bread or my apple cake recipe. A poppyseed bread, perhaps with fruit. And these coconut lime cakes. The recipe calls for this to be a bundt cake. I just wanted to make portable versions so made this in mini-bundt form. I’m also completely sure they would work in loaf pans too. Let’s make tea and cake and visiting and chat more of a habit.

Coconut Lime Visiting Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 limes zest and juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup shredded coconut, toasted

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter your pan (bundt, mini-bundt, loaf)

  2. While oven is pre-heating, toast the coconut. Place coconut on a tray and put in the oven for about 2 minutes. Then check every minute or so. Coconut will go from not toasted enough to too toasted very quickly.

  3. In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt.

  4. In a small saucepan heat the coconut milk and butter together until the butter is melted.

  5. Place the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the zest from the two limes and rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers. It will be nice and fragrant.

  6. Add the eggs to the sugar, attach the whisk attachment and beat at medium-high speed until thick and nearly doubled in volume. About 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and the juice from the two limes.

  7. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients.

  8. Add the toasted coconut and mix only until blended.

  9. Steadily add the coconut milk and butter. Stop mixing when it is all smooth. Give the mixture a couple of turns with a spatula to make sure everything is mixed in.

  10. Pour into your prepared pan(s).

  11. The full-size bundt will take about 60 minutes. If you are using smaller pans, set the timer for 45 minutes and start checking from there.

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