Well, here we are. I’m about a week into self isolation at my home studio and honestly I’m feeling pretty good about being inside. I swear, when this is all over we’re collectively going to suffer from agoraphobia. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m not going to working on new recipes for my Gourmet project until the crisis has passed and I can responsibly shop for ingredients again, but in the meantime I am going to be posting the backlog of recipes that I have already completed and photographed. Technically if you had eggs and freeze-dried coconut you could probably make this recipe from pantry items … but I suspect that you may want to wait until you can get fresh coconut. Hopefully you’re like me and enjoy reading recipes even when you can’t actually make them. Stay safe out there everyone.
The last recipe that I posted for my Gourmet project was how to make grated coconut. In the October 1976 issue of Gourmet there are a number of recipes that feature fresh coconut, including this one for Batica, which is a traditional Goan holiday cake. It is a decadent recipe in which there is no leavening agent other than eggs, and the sugar is made into a syrup before it is added into the batter. And instead of a light, baking type flour, it is made with semolina, which is a very course flour generally used for pasta and couscous. The result is a dense cake that is very sweet with a slightly gooey center.
Speaking of baking, it is tricky to get this cake baked right. Because it is so dense, it is very easy for the outside to be overdone before the center is completely cooked. You have to use a skewer or toothpick to test the doneness. In most baked goods you can follow the “if the toothpick comes out clean it’s done” rule, but because the semolina is so course, the toothpick is always going to come out clean, even if the cake isn’t done. When the cake has been in the oven for 50-60 minutes you can test the density with the toothpick. Start on the outside edge and feel how much resistance you get. Then compare that to the resistance you get in the center; your toothpick with likely encounter much more resistance at the edges. What you want is a similar level of resistance in both areas, so if they aren’t close put the cake back in and check in five or ten minutes.
This is intended to be a holiday cake best enjoyed with friends and family. Since I made it at the studio I shared it with my colleagues and took the leftovers home. It was a delicious addition to Saturday brunch with my wife along with a nice cup of coffee. Enjoy!
Batica (Coconut Cake) Recipe
- 2⅔ cup sugar
- 6 tbs butter softened
- 2 whole eggs
- 3 egg yolks
- 1½ cup semolina flour
- 4 cups loosely packed fresh grated coconut
- ½ tsp nutmeg grated
- ½ cup dried coconut strips optional
- Preheat oven to 350ºF
- Place sugar in a small saucepan with 1/2 cup of water and bring to a boil, and simmer for five minutes. Brush down any sugar crystals from the edge of the pan with a brush dipped in cold water. After five minutes remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Transfer syrup to a standing mixer and beat at moderate speed for 1 minute. With the mixer running, add in the butter, one tbs at a time. Then add the eggs and egg yolks, also one at a time and continue beating until all the ingredients are combined.
- Add in the semolina and beat until smooth, then add the coconut and nutmeg and beat to combine.
- Butter and flour a 1.5 quart ring pan with a removable bottom. Using a spatula to help, pour the mixture into the ring pan, making sure to spread it out evenly.
- Bake for 1 hour until the cake is golden. Test doneness with a toothpick: you're looking for a similar density at the edges and in the center. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 25 minutes. Serve cut into thin slices.
- Optional: Top with dried coconut strips before serving