Monday, November 9, 2009

Cuckoo for Curry Powder: Curried-Coconut Sweet Potato Tea Cake


I've never exactly been a trendsetter. All too often I find myself clambering onto the bandwagon just as all the cool passengers have already transfered. Take fourth grade, for instance. My best friend and I spent weeks choreographing a dance to our favorite song, Ice Ice Baby, for our school's talent show. When you're 9, that seems like a really long time. While we looked great in matching black bike shorts, oversized t-shirts, slouch socks and Converse, the performance got off to a rocky start when the sound came on too low and we couldn't really stick our dramatic and suspenseful opening. We did our best, though, jumping, spinning, popping, locking, and finishing in breathless exhilaration. Afterwards, riding a stellar performance high, a fifth grader sauntered up and, rolling her eyes, notified us that Vanilla Ice was totally last year.

Which, to be fair, he totally was.


Similarly, while many conoscenti have been touting the gustatory pleasures of curry powder for years, I have only just begun to feel the craze. I have sprinkled it on popcorn covered in butter, olive oil, salt and nutritional yeast. I have eaten Humphry Slocombe's Peanut Curry ice cream and liked it. I have taken multiple swipes of the curry flavored, coconut milk enriched sweet potato shiitake goo that comprises the veggie empanadas where I work.

Inspired by that combo, I decided to bake these flavors into a rich, moist, and satisfying tea cake. I had sweet potatoes and coconut milk left over from last week's canela buns, and decided to use coconut oil rather than butter in the batter. A happy amount of curry powder, some eggs, sugar, flour and leavening made a simple batter which I spread in a loaf pan and sprinkled with a salted, curried sugar.


If you want to be even more badass, and if you can find it, use coconut palm sugar in the batter. Toss in half a cup of dried fruit if you like (golden raisins plumped in coconut rum would be sweet; chopped dates or prunes would be good, too), or some toasted pecans or shredded coconut. This tea cake works any time of day; breakfast, lunch, or, well, tea time. Enjoy plain, or with a smear of cream cheese, creme fraiche or greek yogurt.

This recipe could be easily veganized by using egg substitute or 2 tablespoons flaxseed blended with 6 tablespoons of water until smooth. But, honestly, vegans are so last year...


Curried-Coconut Sweet Potato Tea Cake

Makes one 8 x 4" loaf, 8 - 10 servings

1 cup (8 oz.) sweet potato puree
6 tablespoons (3 oz.) virgin coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup canned coconut milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup whole wheat or spelt flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons curry powder
3/4 teaspoon salt

Topping:
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 350º. Line an 8x4" loaf pan with parchment paper, and brush lightly with a bit of coconut oil.

Combine the sweet potato puree, coconut oil and milk, sugars and eggs in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Sift together the flour, baking powder, curry powder and salt. Add the dries to the wets and fold gently until thoroughly combined. Spread evenly in the pan.

Combine the topping ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the top.

Bake the loaf for about an hour, until a toothpick inserted comes out mostly dry with a few clinging crumbs. Cool 10 minutes, then remove the bread from the pan and let cool completely before slicing.

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