Great day in the morning, at least when you know how to make quick breads like coffee cake. Sure, you have eaten your fair share of banana bread, but have you yet to try banana coconut bread? It’s a quick bread, meaning it uses baking powder and baking soda as leaveners, not yeast, so it’s fast (and simple) to bake.
I misplaced my mom’s banana bread recipe again. I have found a hilarious amount of my copies shoved in a cookbook or a cooking magazine or some other random, hard-to-find locale. No way was I calling her again about it (I knew I’d find one of the copies anyway). So, I did the next best thing: I tried a new recipe that offered up a tantalizing twist. Coconut.
Hop, skip, and jump down to the recipe using the Table of Contents below or chat a bit. What’s the rush?
Country Cakes: A Home Style Treasury Cookbook
Do you remember when decorating in a “country” style was The Thing to Do? Everyone’s mother’s almost overnight started incorporating farm animals, gingham patterns, fake ivy plants, rooster-themed curtains, and shadow boxes filled with related tchotchkes.
I knew that getting my mom one of “Mary’s Moo Moos” was a sure thing. They were smiling little cow figurines wearing dresses and holding a watering can or some other item, but maybe that was more into the 1990s. I distinctly remember choosing Mary’s Moo Moos and Impetuous perfume from Garden Botanika as presents. Anyone remember that place? You could create your own custom perfumes. How do *I* remember that? Okay, wait a sec. I think my timing is completely off here.
Either way, country decorating was a Big Thing in 1989. That much I do know. You can see how the style carried over into cookbook designs of the day—and you know that includes “Country Cakes” by Lisa Yockelson. From the blue polka dot exterior, to the country-themed interior pages, this book went all out.
Inside Country Cakes by Lisa Yockelson
You’ll be struck by the size of Country Cakes. At 0.8 x 7.2 x 7.4 inches, and 160 pages, it’s on the small side, but that doesn’t mean “skimpy.” Inside this cookbook lie a variety of cake recipes. This is all cakes, all the time. Won’t your friends, family, and neighbors be thrilled?
Chapters include: Old-Fashioned Baking Goodness, The Simple Art of Country Cakes, The Country Cake Kitchen, Back Porch Cakes, Coffee Cakes, Traveling Cakes, Teatime Upside-Down Cakes, Pound Cakes, Fresh Fruit Picnic Cakes, Little Cakes, Cake and Ice Cream, The Country Cake Tea Party, Bake Sale Cakes, Country Cakes that Use “Goods on Hand,” Country Cakes that Use Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, and Keeping Cakes.
Each chapter includes an illustration divider. “Back Porch Cakes,” viewed above, is my personal favorite section illustration. Note that not every chapter is meaty. Some are no more than three recipes long. You’ll still have a blast ruffling through these pages. I would like to make Raspberry Coffee Cake (of course), Coconut Layer Cake (because I have yet to make one that hasn’t turned out kind of…blah. I’ve only made two, but still), Orange Cake, and Marbled German Chocolate Cake.
My favorite feature is found in the back of this cake cookbook. Starting on page 152, Lisa lists “Bake Sale Cakes.” Below the page are all the cakes perfect for such a thing (and their page numbers). She does the same with “Country Cakes that Use “Goods on Hand”” (Basic Dairy and Pantry Staples), “Country Cakes that Use Fresh Fruit and Vegetables,” and “Keeping Cakes.” It’s a convenient touch, one especially welcome in a cookbook without images.
Baking Banana and Coconut Bread
You won’t have to do much more than remember to set out your butter 30-60 minutes prior to baking (depending on the temperature in your kitchen). This recipe will ask you to toast coconut. Lisa’s instructions tell you to spread coconut on a cookie sheet at 350*. Check it at 2 minutes. Give the pan a shake and, if it isn’t light brown, chuck it back in for one minute.
I followed the 4-minute suggestion in the book and my coconut was dark brown. While that wouldn’t be a problem by itself, the toasted coconut tops the unbaked cake—so it will continue getting darker for the next 35-45 minutes the coffee cake loaf is baking. I tented foil over mine, but prevention is best. Oh, and do watch so you don’t overbake the cake, or it will feel dry. Check early when you get to the lower range of the time.
Banana Coconut Coffee Cake
- 1 9 x 5 x 3 Loaf Pan
- 2 Cups Flour
- 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt (I upped the salt from the original 1/4 teaspoon)
- 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon Ground Allspice
- 1/4 Cup Unsalted Pecans Optional (I omitted)
- 1 Stick Butter Softened
- 3/4 Cup Brown Sugar Packed
- 1 Extra-Large Egg I used 1 Large Egg.
- 2 Extra-Large Egg Yolks I used 2 Large Egg Yolks.
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 1/2 Cups Banana, Mashed about 2 Bananas
- 1/2 Cup Sweetened Flaked Coconut
- 1/4 Cup Toasted Coconut
- 350* oven.
- Grease a 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pan with Baker's Joy or Pam for Baking with Flour and set aside.
- Toast the 1/4 cup coconut: Spread coconut in 350* oven and bake for 2-3 minutes or until lightly golden. If you bake for the 4-5 minutes suggested by the book, your coconut will be darker, and will get even darker while baking.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice in a bowl. If using the pecans, take 1/2 teaspoon of the flour mixture and place in a separate bowl. Toss in the pecans and stir to coat. Set aside the pecans.
- Cream the butter until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add in the brown sugar and combine for 1-2 minutes until combined.
- Add in the egg and the egg yolks with the vanilla extract and beat until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure ingredients combine.
- Mix in the mashed bananas.
- With the mixer on low, pour in the flour mixture in two additions. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix just until combined. STOP mixing when you see a few streaks of flour left.
- Stir in the pecans and shredded coconut briefly. Stir by hand if you want so you DO NOT overmix. Stir JUST until the pecans and coconut are blended.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Smush the batter into the corners as evenly as you can.
- Top with toasted coconut and bake for 40-55 minutes. Yes, that is a big range. In my oven, my bread was done by 50 minutes. I believe it may have been ready a few minutes prior to that even. Set your timer early and check with a tester. A toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf will come out clean. If it's goopy, it isn't done. The sides will pull away from the pan a little bit (which can be hard to see through the coconut).
- Cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then pop out of the pan and cool on the cooling rack.
- AFTER completely cooled, the coffee cake may be stored in a covered covered reusable plastic container.
Cakes Something Here
As with most baked goods, don’t slice more than you need at one time. Cut baked goods dry out faster. Keep it fresher, longer, by slicing only what you know will be eaten.
Use your pretty platters and fancy plates. Why not make even a simple coffee cake feel a little more special? If you’ve made this cake or other cakes from “Country Cakes,” I’d love to hear about what I “must make” next in the comments section below.