White Zapote Coconut Cake

Yesterday, I was at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market with my grandchildren and Chef Gianfranco Minuz.  I like following the chef around because if I have any food questions, they get instantly answered because he knows EVERYTHING about food.    Also, it means I get to have a capuccino at the restaurant before we shop.  I love the quiet industriousness of a restaurant preparing for its day.  Everyone is busy, in good spirits and there is a peace to be found sitting there watching the efficient movements of staff laying down table cloths, sweeping, organizing.  I watch with interest as the chef meets with vendors; the cooks rattle pans and prep vegetables.  It is strangely soothing and a lovely way to start a day.  In a small way, it reminds me of the same quiet focus of my grandmother’s kitchen.

At the market, I picked up some mulberries, eggs and three white zapotes to take home with no idea of where they’d fit on my weekly menu.  The eggs though, those always come in handy for baking and nothing beats the lightness these beautiful organic ones give my cakes and breads.  I was tempted by some cherimoyas, kohlrabi and strawberries, but in the end, bought very little this time.  I think a part of me knew we’d head for the beach and I didn’t want to haul a massive bagful with me.

After, my shopping, I met the very charming West Hooker-Poletti back at his restaurant, Lago Santa Monica and we had a lovely chat over lunch prepared by Chef Minuz.  Pizza for the grandchildren – black olives for Jasmine; pepperoni for Aiden.  For me, lunch was a little more elevated.  To start, I had  freshly baked focaccia topped with thinly sliced tuna and a cilantro flower garnish, second course was a very Spring-like and delicious dish made with snap peas, scallops and clams in a tomato broth.  I barely had room for the spaghetti carbonara that followed, but between the grandchildren and myself, we made a big dent it in and took the rest to go.  How do you leave behind heaven on a plate?

We decided to walk off the lunch on the beach.  It was a glorious, windy day and perfect for walking along the shore in Santa Monica, so we walked the few blocks to the steps down to the beach and spent a couple of hours walking on the sand.   I didn’t realize things were happening to my fruit while we walked and played in the surf.  Imagine my surprise and dismay then, when I got home,  to open my bag and find the zapotes were crushed and so were the mulberries. I wanted to cry, but I’m not the Llorona, I’m just writing about her.  Instead of crying, I invented a cake with my crushed fruit.  It turned out to be delicious and I’m so happy I remembered to write the proportions and what I did down for once at the urging of my granddaughter. Way to go Jasmine!

White Zapote-Coconut Cake with Mulberries

3 medium sized white zapotes, peeled and seeded
Juice and zest of one mandarin orange
1/8 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 c. honey
3/4 c sugar
1 c butter, room temperature
6 eggs
3 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 c shredded coconut

In Grams:

3 medium sized white zapotes, peeled and seeded
Juice and zest of one mandarin orange
1/8 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla
59.1 grams honey
177.4 grams sugar
236.58 grams butter
6 eggs
709.76 grams flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
473.17 grams shredded coconut

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Line two 9” springform pans with parchment paper and grease pans and parchment.

Puree zapotes with orange juice, orange zest, vanilla and almond extracts.  Strain into a bowl and set aside.

Cream together butter, honey and sugar.  When mixture is light and fluffy, add eggs one at a time until well mixed.  Add zapote puree.

In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking powder.  Add to wet mixture a bit at a time, till all mixed in thoroughly.  Add shredded coconut to mixture.

Divide batter evenly into the two pans and smooth with a spatula.  You can choose to top cakes with fresh fruit or sugar, or leave it plain till after baking.

Garnish with fresh fruit or nuts.  Cake will be very moist and dense, but not overly sweet.

For the cakes pictured, I added fresh mulberry pulp to the top before baking along with a little raw sugar.  I made a mulberry simple syrup with white wine, mulberries, sugar, lemon thyme and white pepper.  Cooked then strained it, through cheesecloth.  The other cake, I roasted hazelnuts with ginger powder and salt, then rolled them in the mulberry syrup before topping the cake with them.  Also, yes you are seeing cookies behind the cake… as a thank you to the chef, I baked his favorite oatmeal-molasses cookies, but that’s another post.

*All photos were taken using the #Nokia #Icon phone on the #Verizon Wireless network.  This is not a sponsored post, but credit is given where it is due and that phone rocks my photos.  Seriously.  You can follow the chef, the Farmer’s market and the restaurant on Twitter at @gianfrancominuz, @smfms and @lagosantamonica #VZWBuzz


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