I've made many cakes in my time. And yet, it's never enough! I'm always on the hunt for something new, something different, something that makes me stop and say, “Hmm, I've never done that!”
So I'd like to give the ol' tip of the hat to Milk Street for introducing me to this Coconut Cashew Cake. It's made with semolina, a high-protein flour you've probably encountered in pasta or pizza. When used in the wrong type of recipe, high-protein flours can lead to tough, rubbery cakes. In this case, semolina and shredded coconut are toasted in the oven before being whisked together with a can of coconut milk. The shredded coconut acts as a kind of flour substitute that adds flavor but not gluten, or structure. The coconut milk also helps keep things tender and moist, meaning the semolina is allowed to provide the cake with a pleasantly springy – but not chewy – texture.
Coconut Cashew Cake (Sanwin Makin)
One 14-ounce can coconut milk (do not use light)
1 cup (170 grams) semolina flour
1/4 cup (30 grams) plus 2 tablespoons (15 grams) unsweetened shredded coconut
1 generous packed cup (218 grams) light brown sugar
4 tablespoons (57 grams; 1/2 stick) salted butter, melted and slightly cooled
3 large eggs
11/2 teaspoons (8 grams) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt
1/4 cup (32 grams) roasted unsalted cashews, chopped
Lightly sweetened whipped cream, for serving (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat the inside of your 9-inch round cake pan with cooking oil spray. Line the bottom with a round of parchment paper, then grease the paper's surface with the cooking oil spray.
Pour the coconut milk and all its solidified fat into a mixing bowl, whisking thoroughly to emulsify it, as needed.
Combine the semolina and 1/4 cup of the shredded coconut on a rimmed baking sheet, spreading them in an even layer. Toast (middle rack) for 10 to 12 minutes, until the coconut is fragrant and golden at the edges, stirring halfway through the oven time. Transfer to the mixing bowl with the coconut milk and whisk to incorporate. Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.
Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees.
Add the brown sugar, butter, eggs, baking powder, cardamom and salt to the semolina mixture, whisking to form a thin batter. Pour into the prepared pan, then scatter the cashews and the remaining 2 tablespoons of shredded coconut evenly over the surface.
Bake (middle rack) for 28 to 33 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean. The cake's surface may crack a bit; that's okay. Cool (in the pan) on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then run a round-edged knife around the edges to loosen it. Invert the cake onto the rack, remove the pan and paper. Turn the cake right side up, onto a serving plate.
Serve warm, or at room temperature, with the whipped cream, if desired. Makes 8 servings.
– Adapted from “The Complete Milk Street TV Show Cookbook,” by Christopher Kimball (Little, Brown, 2018)