apple coconut and clove scented pound cake

apple coconut and clove scented pound cake| A Brown Table

What was I thinking? I decided to adopt a cat. A couple of weeks ago, a hungry kitten kept coming over to our garden at the back and I decided to feed her, play with her and she'd jump like a puppy into my lap as soon as I'd click my fingers. Yup, I got attached! I kept her for a night, and slept with her on the couch. We took it to the shelter (to make sure it wasn't microchipped) and posted a note our neighborhood to see no one was missing a pet. By law the shelter had to keep her for two weeks to make sure she belong to no one. After coming back from NYC, I ran over directly from the airport to see if she was still available but sadly, someone adopted her the day before. My jaw dropped and it was pretty obvious that I looked devastated. The cop who was working at the front desk could tell because she said, why don't you go and take a look at the other cats we have. I was a little hesitant at first, to replace my affections for one feline with another, it felt similar to cheating but then I met Vesper Lynx and fell in love and we brought him home. So yes, our "zoo" has grown!

Vesper Lynx | A Brown Table
Vesper Lynx | A Brown Table

Cloves!!! If there is a spice that I feel gets tossed to the side, it's got to be cloves. It's not that I don't use it but I don't use it enough by itself, it's always tossed into some combination of sorts. In desserts, except for a few combinations in cider or other spice mixes it's rarely used by iteself to add flavor to dishes. In this pound cake, the scent and flavor of freshly ground cloves, adds a mild yet distinct taste to the apples and coconut. I decreased the amount of sugar to reduce the sweetness so the flavor of the cloves, apples and the toasted coconut in the cake stand out. Using Califia's newly revamped unsweetened almond creamer, I was able to create this whole wheat pound cake this dairy free and it has three forms of coconut, there's coconut cream in the Califia creamer, there's coconut oil and toasted coconut.

I came across this technique that's used in Italian apple cakes where thinly cut slices of apple are sandwiched between the cake batter before baking. This helps the flavor of the apple to permeate through the batter while it's cooking but also makes it easy to cut the cake easily without having it fall apart while cutting and of course, more importantly, eating!

apple coconut and clove scented pound cake| A Brown Table
apple coconut and clove scented pound cake| A Brown Table
apple coconut and clove scented pound cake| A Brown Table
apple coconut and clove scented pound cake| A Brown Table
apple coconut and clove scented pound cake| A Brown Table
apple coconut and clove scented pound cake| A Brown Table
apple coconut and clove scented pound cake| A Brown Table
apple coconut and clove scented pound cake| A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips when baking this cake;

  • Use crips baking apples that are sweet yet mildly tart. I'm on my pink lady apple obsession and they work perfectly here.
  • Sweetened / unsweetened shredded coconut - use either. It's your call how sweet you want this to be.
  • Since coconut oil is the main source of fat and I've cut back on the sugar, the cake will be best kept wrapped tightly in cling film and refrigerated. Both coconut oil and low sugar reduce shelf life of food products, one gets rancid in a couple of days at room temperature while the other makes food dry out fast.
apple coconut and clove scented pound cake| A Brown Table

apple, coconut and clove scented pound cake

yields: one 9" loaf


1 1/2 cups (144gm) whole-wheat pastry flour

1/4 teaspoon fine grain salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

5 cloves, powdered

4 large eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup coconut oil, at room temperature

3/4 cup (148.5 gm) super fine sugar

1/2 cup Califia creamer, unsweetened

1 pink lady smith apple, cored, quartered and thinly sliced

1/2 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1. Place a wire rack at midlevel and preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and line a 9" loaf pan with a little coconut oil and parchment paper cut to size.

2. Place the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and ground cloves in a medium sized mixing bowl and dry whisk to combine. Keep aside until ready to use. 

3. In a large mixing bowl, hand whisk the eggs, coconut oil, and sugar until pale and creamy, this will take about 3 to 4 minutes (you can also use an electric handheld mixer). Whisk in half of the dry ingredients from step 1 until combined, add the creamer and whisk in the remaining flour mix. Pour half of the batter into the prepared loaf pan, then spread half of the apples on the surface of the cake batter in the pan in an even layer. Then pour the remaining cake batter over the apples. Arrange the remaining apple slices in a single row in the center across the length of the cake. Brush the surface of the apples with the maple syrup. Sprinkle the shredded coconut along the edges where the cake batter is exposed. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 50 to 55 minutes, turning the pan halfway through the baking process. The loaf will be done when the surface is golden brown and a skewer or knife comes out clean through the center when inserted and the surface of the cake will be firm to touch. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, remove from the pan and allow to cool on a wire rack completely before serving.


Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Califia Farms. All opinions expressed are solely my own. 

banana hazelnut pound cake

Banana Hazelnut Pound Cake | A Brown Table

Friends, I have a huge favor to ask of you. The nominations for Saveur magazine's annual food blog awards start today and if you like my work, I would be really grateful if you could take a moment to stop by drop my blog's name in their online ballot. Thank you so much for all your support and love thought the years! 

Now, let's get back to today's dessert, it's all about pound cakes. When I think of cakes that might fall into the comfort food/dessert category, I immediately think of pound cakes. They are simple to make and hearty, without the need for any fancy decorations (though you absolutely do something if you wanted to) and can be eaten as a snack or as a treat after a meal. Banana pound cakes are one of my favorites and this cake is extra special because it has one of my favorite nuts thrown in, hazelnuts! 

For all practical purposes when I bake with bananas they are generally overripe. The more ripe the banana, the sweeter the fruit and the aroma is even more intense. The fruity aroma associated with bananas comes from a chemical found in the fruit called isoamyl acetate. If you like to geek out on food biochemistry this paper has an interesting analysis on the different components of bananas and then there's this fun article on bananas from UCLA. Another fun fact about bananas, they are VERY, VERY, VERY and naturally mildly radioactive, they contain a radioactive form of potassium. You'd need to eat several thousands of bananas in one sitting to have any effect from radioactivity, so don't worry about it. 

Hazelnuts have one of the best aromatic flavors from a nut. I think I could consume them in any and every conceivable way. Most of the time, I drink black tea when I wake in the morning but when I do drink coffee, I'll get a hazelnut creamer to flavor it. Chocolate and hazelnuts are another fantastic combination (Nutella!). 

I'm guest posting over at my dear friend Valerie's blog Une Gamine Dans La Cuisine and sharing the recipe for this banana hazelnut pound cake. Valerie is one of my favorite bakers and she comes up with a lot of unique and fun flavors. When she asked me to share a recipe, I knew I would share one of my favorite desserts with some of my favorite flavors.

Banana Hazelnut Pound Cake | A Brown TableBanana Hazelnut Pound Cake | A Brown Table
Banana Hazelnut Pound Cake | A Brown Table
Banana Hazelnut Pound Cake | A Brown TableBanana Hazelnut Pound Cake | A Brown Table
Banana Hazelnut Pound Cake | A Brown Table

Here are some of my recipe tips when preparing this pound cake;

  • Use dark skinned overripe bananas for the best flavor.

  • I used a trick I saw on America's Test Kitchen on PBS where they mashed the bananas and then microwaved them to release the liquid from the fruit.

  • You can use raw or toasted hazelnuts in this recipe, they both work great. I kept the skin on to add more visual texture and flavor to the pound cake.

Banana Hazelnut Pound Cake | A Brown Table

banana hazelnut pound cake recipe at Une Gamine Dans La Cuisine

Banana Hazelnut Pound Cake
yields: one 9-inch loaf

5 overripe bananas
1 3/4 cups (7 18/25 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
3/4 cup (5 7/25 ounces) brown sugar
3 tablespoons dark molasses
5 large eggs, cold
1 teaspoon hazelnut creamer or hazelnut extract
1/2 cup raw hazelnuts with skin, coarsely chopped or crushed (toasted hazelnuts will work fine, too)
baking spray oil, or a little extra butter for greasing cake pan

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. Take one banana and slice it across its length and keep one slice aside, cover with cling film and refrigerate until ready to use. Slice the rest of the bananas along with the single leftover slice and place them in a medium-sized microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 3 minutes and then transfer the fruit to a medium-sized strainer and place it over a bowl. Let this sit for 1 hour without disturbing, you should get around 1 cup of liquid that will drain and collect. Keep strained bananas until ready to use.

3. Place a wire rack at mid-level in the oven. Take a loaf pan and grease it lightly with the spray oil or butter. Line pan with a sheet of parchment paper.

4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk all the dry ingredients from the all-purpose flour to the baking soda and set aside until ready to use.

5. Place butter, sugar and molasses in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter for about 5 minutes on med-high speed. Add one egg at a time to the creamed butter mixture and mix till combined. Add the hazelnut creamer/extract and mix for 5 seconds on med-high speed.

6. Stop the mixer and add half of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix on low speed for 15 seconds, then increase speed to med-high until just combined. Add the drained banana mixture to the batter and mix on med-high for 2-3 seconds, then add remaining dry ingredients; mix on med-low speed, gradually increasing to med-high. Add hazelnuts and mix for 15 seconds. Once batter is mixed, transfer to prepared loaf pan. Place reserved slice of banana in the center of the loaf. Bake 75-80 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking process. The cake will rise and will be done when the outer layer is firm to touch and caramelized. A knife or skewer when passed through the center should come out clean.