This post may seem a bit rambling but bear with me and you will be rewarded with cake.
It was summer. I was in elementary school, I think. I sat on the beach, like I did most summers, with two of my friends. Similarly pale, freckled girls, we shared much more than a desperate need to reapply sunscreen on an hourly basis. We shared a love of reading which some might call voracious. I distinctly remember getting in trouble in second grade for reading during class on multiple occasions.
This was the summer of Harry Potter. The first three books must have just come out. I’m not sure how they ended up in my hands but I flew through them. Over the next few years, I would attend midnight book and movie releases and spend afternoons reading through Harry’s latest adventures. So how, my enthusiasm for Harry dropped off as he got more popular.
I didn’t read or watch the end of the series until they had been out a few years. I would glance when the marathons came on ABC family but had long since gotten rid of my hard cover copies.
I think I can tie my love of all things British to the Harry Potter phenomenon, really. It was because of these books that I began to try to drink tea (initially with lots of cream and sugar) and ask my mother to make treacle tarts (which she had never heard of before but made a very nice example even in the pre-internet days). I began to scour the library for books on British cuisine and customs.
One such tome was on afternoon tea. Not high tea, which Americans often mistake as an elegant affair, but cream teas. That is where this recipe comes from. I have no idea what the book was called.
Barely sweet with crunchy toasted coconut on top, it makes any afternoon a festive occasion. It is best within a day of two of when it is made. After that it tends to dry out. If it manages to survive that long, you can always rescue it with a bit of thinned out raspberry jam or lemon curd as a sauce.
Funny how we don’t recognize the impact of something when it happens. It is only years later, when something makes us stop and think about how we came to where we are today. Good thing to ponder over another cup of tea, don’t you think?
Coconut Tea Cake
Adapted from a book on tea, long forgotten
1 stick butter
1/2 c sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 3/4 c flour
2/3 c sweetened coconut flakes, plus extra for top
powdered sugar for top
Preheat oven to 350F.
Cream together butter and sugar until pale. Add eggs one at a time. Add salt, vanilla, baking powder, and lemon juice. Slowly incorporate flour and coconut flakes.
Grease an 8 inch cake pan. I use my souffle dish because I only have 9 inch pans so the cooking time is longer.
Scoop dough into dish and top with additional coconut flakes and powdered sugar. Bake 45 min -1 hour if using a ceramic dish, shorter if metal. Cake will be beautifully golden and a toothpick will come out dry when finished.