Tag Archives: cake

Eat Your Cake…and Coffee, Too

Today’s tropical recipe is like a coconut macchiato on a plate.  I started with a basic yogurt cake recipe and mixed in some coconut, fresh-ground Puerto Rican coffee beans, and a splash of coconut rum.  Topped with a yogurt-based glaze and toasted coconut, this simple cake will make an appearance on our Christmas dinner table.

Before we get to the recipe, a little coffee tour:

coffee farm


the view



We visited Hacienda Pomarrosa with Kara when she was here in September, and it was an informative and enjoyable morning in the beautiful mountains above Ponce. With our own farming background and recent experience living in the Rheinland, we really liked having an opportunity to visit with Kurt, the owner of Hacienda Pomarrosa (who is originally from Düsseldorf).  The location is a bit off the typical tourist track, but a visit to the farm is well worth the drive, and the hacienda also offers bed and breakfast stays for those who would like to spend the night in the peaceful Puerto Rican mountains.

And now, let’s get to baking!

Coconut and Coffee Yogurt Cake

  • ¾ cup plain yogurt, divided
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons coconut rum (optional, you can omit and flavor with vanilla if you like)
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon finely ground coffee
  • 1½ cups coconut, divided (I used sweetened coconut)

Grease and flour a 9-inch square pan and preheat oven to 350 F.  Beat ½ cup of the yogurt together with the sugar, eggs, coconut oil, and coconut rum.  Stir together and add the dry ingredients, folding in just until well blended, then stir in ½ cup of the coconut.  Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake for about 35 minutes, or until it feels springy to the touch and a toothpick tester comes out clean.  At the same time, spread the remaining cup of coconut on a baking sheet and put it into the oven until it is a toasty golden color.

After the cake cools, spread it with this glaze: stir together the remaining ¼ cup plain yogurt, 1¾ to 2¼ powdered sugar (quantity depends on how thick the yogurt is), and ½ teaspoon vanilla.  Sprinkle with toasted coconut just before serving.

cake ingredients





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Another little cake

Yep, it’s true – we’ve had this little blog for a year now! I guess none of us ever said why we started this whole thing, so here’s my perspective: we’re all a little obsessed with food, particularly of the homemade variety.  When we lived in Washington state, we didn’t have a lot of money and – I’ve just realized recently – we had a lot of home-cooked meals out of necessity. While back in the day we made homemade frosting because it was just a bit cheaper than buying it from a store, I now love making homemade frosting because it just seems right. You know what I mean? Why should I buy something when I can make it myself and have it taste exactly how I want? That’s what I want you, all of you, to get out of this blog. You can do it – you are a person capable of reading a recipe, understanding directions, and changing them to fit your specific needs. You’ve gotten this far in life, right? What’s a little cooking compared to, say, learning to drive a car? Or learning high school algebra? Or learning to read a complicated book, or that maybe you shouldn’t drink a few beers on an empty stomach and then have a gin and tonic? Compared to those things, cooking is a piece of cake. (Hah.)

I became especially enamored with food blogs my last year of college – probably mostly out of the necessity to procrastinate – and even briefly considered working in a restaurant after graduating.  Oh yes, I had grand plans for that Russian degree. (…) When that didn’t pan out, I still spent hours every day looking through recipes, sending them to my mom and sister, and bragging to them about the delicious results. Eventually we decided “Hey, why not do this ourselves?” So here we are: a mom and two daughters, cooking up a storm, encouraging you to try cooking too, and growing closer in the process. Not a bad deal.

And so without further ado, here is my cake:

This is my kind of baking: a cake with flexible(ish) measurements, adaptable ingredients, and (so far) a very high success rate. No real stress, only one bowl to clean up, and you get to call it a “French Yogurt Cake,” or, if you’re really trying to be fancy, “Gâteau au Yaourt.”

I adapted my recipe from Molly Wizenberg of the blog Orangette. Her cake is adapted from a French recipe which uses a little 125 ml yogurt cup to measure all the ingredients. So handy, those French cooks are! Since I’m not a handy French woman, I do not currently possess a single serving French yogurt cup. But, take heart: those cups are a little over half a cup, so you can measure your ingredients accordingly. Does not having an exact measurement scare you? I challenge you to not be afraid. Just remember: you can do it. You’ve made it this far, haven’t you?

Yogurt cake with berries
Adapted from this Gâteau au Yaourt à la Fraise, or French-Style Yogurt Cake with Strawberries

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (I’ve also used fruit-on-the-bottom Greek yogurt – it was delicious)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup finely ground walnuts (or whatever nut you have on hand – I like walnuts because they’re relatively inexpensive and don’t break my cheap-o “food processor” to grind)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 canola oil (or other neutral oil)
  • zest of one lemon (optional)
  • about 1/2 cup fresh or frozen berries (I used blueberries)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a cake pan, round or square, with butter or cooking spray.

Combine the yogurt, sugar, and eggs in a large bowl, stirring until well blended. Add the flour, ground walnuts, and baking powder, mixing just to combine. Add the oil, stirring to incorporate. Pour about 2/3 of the batter into the prepared pan, and distribute frozen berries evenly over the batter. If using, scatter the lemon zest on next. Pour the remaining batter over the berries, trying to cover them as well as possible.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the cake feels springy and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. If you use frozen berries, the cake may take longer to bake. If you find it browns on the top too quickly, loosely place some foil over the cake to prevent the top from burning.

Cool cake on a rack for about 20 minutes, then turn it out of the pan to cool completely. Cut into squares or wedges, and serve at room temperature. It’s awfully nice on its own, but I’m thinking a little lemon glaze would be lovely, too. The cake will keep for a few days, covered, at room temperature.


P.S. I made the peach butter barbecue sauce, and it’s pretty decent, but not what I want it to be. I’ll show you what I did soon, but hopefully next year my recipe will be better. In the meantime, did you know that making your own mayonnaise is really easy? Here. Watch this video. Then go make mayo. Then close your eyes, try a bit of the mayonnaise, and imagine you are in Belgium.

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It’s Been a Year!

The girls asked, do I have a special cake to go along with their Red Velvet and Yogurt-Fruit-Nut cakes to celebrate the blog’s first birthday?  It so happens, I do!

I always look at the cover of Lust auf Genuss magazine at the grocery store checkstand to see what the monthly recipe theme is, and probably eleven months out of twelve I end up with a copy in my basket.   The September issue is full of apple and pear recipes, which brings me to Rotwein Birnen Kuchen, and of course, I had to try it.  I’ve been doing a lot of healthy cooking lately (more about that another time), and this cake has a couple of healthful things going for it: nuts and pears.  I guess we could also count red wine, and by the way, we went for a drive along the Deutsch Weinstrasse a couple of weeks ago and found a wonderful schwarzriesling (AKA Pinot Meunier), some of which made its way into this cake.  In fact, the hazelnuts and pears were also produced right here in the Pfalz.  I don’t quite know how to describe the cake – sort of sophisticated, but homey comfort food at the same time.   I hope you like it!

Red Wine Pear Cake
Adapted from Lust auf Genuss Magazine

  • 1 cup chopped hazelnuts*
  • 1 cup ground hazelnuts plus 2 tablespoons for the baking pan
  • 1 cup softened butter plus extra to grease the pan
  • 1 cup demerara sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg**
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 2 ripe pears, peeled, cored, and cut into small cubes


  • 1 ¾ – 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons red wine

Heat oven to 350 F.  Butter a 10-inch spring-form tube pan and sprinkle with ground hazelnuts, tipping and shaking like you would to flour a greased pan.

Toast the chopped hazelnuts in a dry pan over medium heat, stirring frequently until the nuts start to turn golden.  Remove from the pan to cool, and toast the ground hazelnuts the same way. Note: if the hazelnuts still have skins, many of them will come off while they are toasting; you can either pick them out or leave them in as you prefer.

Cream the butter with the sugar; add the eggs and beat for several minutes.  Sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, and baking soda and then stir the dry ingredients into the butter-sugar-egg mixture along with the ground hazelnuts.

Blend in the wine.  Sift a tablespoon or so of flour over the cubed pears on the cutting board and then gently fold the pears into the batter.  The sifting-flour-on-the-pears step is my addition to the directions – when I made the cake without doing that, the pears all sank to the bottom (which ended up being the top), and I think the flour would help the pear chunks stay suspended in the batter.  Pour the batter into the prepared tube pan and bake for about 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes or so and then remove to a rack to cool completely.

After the cake is cooled, stir together the powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons red wine to make a glaze, adding powdered sugar as needed to get the right consistency.  Drizzle the mixture over the cake and allow the glaze to set before cutting the cake.

* Feel free to substitute walnuts or almonds if desired.

** The original recipe called for a generous dash of cloves, which I don’t like; I substituted nutmeg and it was good.


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