Jody and I both like simple, unfussy desserts with a couple of dominant flavors that compliment each other. A couple of weeks ago I laid my hands on a quart of wild blueberries, so my original vision for this included a wild blueberry compote. Jody, however, wanted to go with peaches. Since I couldn’t get my hands on any wild blueberries for the day we were scheduled to blog, she won. This is a simple Coconut Yogurt Cake with Roasted Peaches. The crumb is moist, with a rich coconut flavor. And the peach accompaniment, oh man.
Part of my reticence about peaches had to do with the fact that I’d all but given up on American peaches. A New Yorker article about peach hybridization some years ago highlighted my objections when it observed that children are now likely to grow up thinking a peach is an extremely sweet crunchy fruit. Extremely sweet. Crunchy. No thank you.
And yet… I haven’t done enough research to know whether the hybrids themselves have changed, or farmers are just finding that not everyone is in love with crunchiness, or super sweet white peaches, even if they do ripen to softness. But the peaches I’ve been eating from farmers’ markets lately seem to have taken a step back toward their old-timey selves. You still have to ripen them at home–I alternate between a brown paper bag and a shoebox, which is more protective–but they do get soft, not quivering-custard soft, but soft enough. Also, you’ll notice the peaches in these photographs are distinctly yellow/orange. I can attest that yellow peaches have a peachier flavor than white, along with an element of tartness in the finish. If anyone reading this notices a similarity to my white-versus-yellow comments about corn last week, yeah, I noticed too. It’s weird. But I stand by both sets of observations.
In any event, this is a lovely cake–kudos to my wife–with a peachy accompaniment. One recipe note: we didn’t specify the fat content of the yogurt or the coconut milk. You can do what you want but, for the record, we used full-fat Greek yogurt and regular coconut milk, not the lite version. But you knew that. Enjoy. Ken
Coconut Yogurt Cake
Makes 1 10-inch single layer cake
- ½ tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
- 4 ounces unsweetened coconut flakes
- ½ cup semolina flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 cup yogurt
- ½ cup coconut milk
- ¼ cup coconut oil or vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons orange flower water
- 3 jumbo eggs, separated
- 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
- 4 ripe peaches
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Rub ½ tablespoon butter inside a 10-inch spring-form pan to form an even coat. Dust with 2 tablespoons flour, knocking the pan around to distribute the flour evenly on the bottom and sides.
- Spread 3 ounces of the coconut on a sheet pan. Bake until toasted, about 5 minutes. Cool. Chop in a food processor. You should have a heaping ½ cup.
- Toss the remaining all-purpose flour, the semolina flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.
- Put the sugar and lemon zest into the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix to release the oils from the lemon zest for a minute or so. Stop the mixer and add the yogurt, coconut milk, oil and orange flower water. Mix until well combined. Add the egg yolks one at a time and beat well after each addition.
- Stop the mixer. Add the combined dry ingredients (flour-baking powder-salt) and mix briefly until just combined.
- In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Use a rubber spatula to fold into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining coconut and 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar over the cake.
- Bake 40 minutes. If you have a convection oven, turn on the fan for the last 5 minutes or so if the coconut on the top isn’t toasty.
- While the cake is baking, cut the peaches into 8ths. Toss with ¼ cup sugar. Arrange in a single layer in a baking pan and dot with the remaining butter.
- Bake on the lowest rack in the over for 30 minutes. When the cake is out of the oven, turn the oven to broil and broil the peaches until slightly charred. Cool. When cool enough to handle, remove the skins, if you like. Serve with the accumulated juices in the pan.
I’ve wanted to try a yogurt cake ever since I read in Dori Greenspan’s book, Baking: From My Home to Yours, that every French mother has a recipe for this cake. I don’t think of French mothers as cake bakers so I was intrigued. I did a little digging and found versions of yogurt cake in all kinds of cookbooks–some with nuts, some without. It’s a family cake, meaning one you’d make for your family rather than for a fancy dinner party. It’s “rustica,” a little wet, a little crumbly, it’s not too sweet and after a few days when it gets a little dry, it can be morphed into a breakfast treat with a little toasting.
It’s the kind of cake you make when you have a colander full of peaches that you need to use right away. You cook all those peaches and then they need a vehicle. Make the cake.