Growing up, one of my favorite childhood treats was my mother’s sour cream coffee cake: the perfect marriage of a rich, moist yellow cake with the irresistible sugary crunch of its walnut-raisin topping.
I inherited my mother’s much-coveted recipe. And, I confess, it’s the one home-baked treat that I’ve occasionally missed since I began following a Paleo diet (no grains, no wheat, no dairy, no refined sugars, no processed foods) in earnest last year.
The colder it is outside, the more intense my craving for baked goods. January, in particular—when temperatures are frigid and the snow piles up outside—is when my urge to nest and bake kicks into high gear.
So, I was thrilled to stumble across a coconut flour coffee cake recipe from Carol Lovett, author of Ditch the Wheat.
Coconut flour comes from dried coconut meat that is dried, defatted and then finely ground into a powder. The texture of coconut flour is fine and delicate; at the same time, it can create a very dense batter—you have to be careful not to overmix when blending with wet ingredients.
The first time I made the coffee cake, I ignored the recipe instruction to bake it in a small loaf pan; instead, I poured the batter into an 8 x 8-inch square glass baking pan. The result? A coffee cake that was flat, dry and on the “crispy” side.
I tried again. This time, I followed the recipe instructions to the letter. How did it turn out? Well… “The flavors are great, but the texture is dry,” said one friend who gave his unvarnished opinion.
Hmmm. I had to agree!
The third time was a charm. I discovered that the trick to creating a lighter, moister cake was to not man-handle the coconut flour batter. Instead of using an electric mixer, I used a large spatula to gently fold the coconut flour into the wet ingredients until just blended. I then folded the coconut flour batter slowly and gently into the egg white mixture, again, until just combined.
“Your ‘pound cake’ is definitely moister this time,” my friend enthused, then asked: “But isn’t anything sugary bad for you?”
For me, this coffee cake qualifies as a guilt-free indulgence. The batter is sweetened minimally with raw honey; the cinnamon topping includes coconut palm sugar, a natural whole sweetener with a low glycemic index (GI 35). And, gluten-free coconut flour is rich source of dietary fiber, protein and lauric acid—a “good” saturated fat—that can help promote thyroid health and the immune system. Combined with four pasture-raised eggs, this “cake” is a tasty, protein-rich special occasion indulgence.
Coconut Flour Coffee Cake
Adapted from TheCoconutMama.com (original recipe from Ditch the Wheat
by Carol Lovett)
4 large organic or pastured-raised eggs, whites separated from yolks
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup organic, raw (or unrefined) virgin coconut oil, melted
3 tablespoons raw honey
1/2 cup organic coconut flour, sifted
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
* Just 2-3 tablespoons of this coconut sugar mixture more than adequately covers the coffee cake.
1/4 cup organic coconut palm sugar
(*I like Big Tree Farms or Wholesome Sweeteners organic coconut sugar)
1/4 cup organic raw (unrefined) virgin coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons organic coconut flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
In a large bowl, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar, using a hand-mixer. Whip until stiff peaks form (this will only happen if you are careful not to get any yolk in the whites).
In a medium bowl, cream together honey and 1/4 cup melted coconut oil. Mix in the 4 egg yolks. When combined, blend in the vanilla.
In a small bowl, whisk together the sifted coconut flour, baking soda and Celtic sea salt. Using a large spatula, gently fold the dry ingredients into the honey, coconut oil and egg yolk mixture until just combined. Be careful not to overmix—or batter will become very stiff and tough.
Add the batter to the egg white mixture. Using a large spatula, gently fold egg white into the batter until just combined. Spread batter evenly in the greased loaf pan.
In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut sugar, coconut flour and cinnamon. Sprinkle over the batter so that it is even distributed. (I use about 2 tablespoons). Drizzle 1/4 cup melted coconut oil over the topping.
Bake for 30 minutes. The cake is done when a knife (or toothpick) is inserted and comes out clean.
Set loaf pan on a wire rack. Allow to cool before slicing and serving.