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Coconut Kumquat Tea Cake

Coconut Kumquat Tea Cake
Susan Russo for NPR /

This cake is adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Coconut Tea Cake in Baking: From My Home to Yours (Houghton Mifflin 2006). Minced kumquats, orange zest and lemon zest add explosive flavor and color to this moist, aromatic cake. A simple citrus icing drizzled over the top with toasted coconut and sliced kumquats makes it an easy yet elegant wintertime treat.

Makes 12 to 14 servings


1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut, toasted

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk, stirred well

1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

4 large eggs, preferably at room temperature

2 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup de-seeded kumquats, with the rind, minced until pulpy

1 tablespoon orange juice

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon orange zest (about one orange)

1 tablespoon lemon zest (about one lemon)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Icing and garnish

1 cup confectioners' sugar

1 teaspoon fresh orange juice

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

A few drops of milk

1/4 cup shredded, sweetened coconut, toasted

2 or 3 kumquats, thinly sliced and de-seeded

Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter or coat with cooking spray a 9- to 10-inch Bundt pan.

To toast the coconut, place in a dry skillet over medium heat, and gently stir until aromatic and golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Keep your eye on it since it burns quickly.

In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.

Pour the coconut milk into a small saucepan, add the butter, and heat until the milk is hot and the butter is melted. Remove from the heat but keep warm.

Working with a hand mixer, or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, in a large bowl beat the eggs, sugar, minced kumquats, orange juice, lemon juice, orange zest and lemon zest at medium-high speed until thick and almost doubled in volume, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer to low and add the dry ingredients, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Keeping the mixer on low, add 1 cup of toasted coconut, mixing until just blended, then slowly add the warm milk and butter. When the mixture is smooth, stop mixing and stir a couple of times with a rubber spatula to be sure it's thoroughly mixed. Pour the batter into the pan and gently shake it to even it out.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and a cake tester inserted deep into the center comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before unmolding onto the rack to cool at room temperature.

Meanwhile, make the icing in a small bowl by whisking together confectioners' sugar with orange and lemon juices. Add a few drops of milk and continue whisking until the icing is smooth and thin yet clings to the back of a spoon. When it's ready, pour it through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any tiny clumps of confectioners' sugar.

Unmold the cake, and place on a rack. Using a spoon, drizzle the icing in a back-and-forth pattern on the slightly warm cake. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of toasted coconut, and garnish with sliced kumquats. Allow to set for at least 15 minutes before slicing.

Note: To de-seed kumquats, slice the fruit into rounds with a sharp paring knife. Using the tip of the knife, gently pluck the tiny seeds from the slices.

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