Monday, March 11, 2013

Exotic Coffee Cake with Queen Pineapple, Banana, Coconut and White Chocolate

The Natal Queen Pineapple
(fine art print from

Or, Zululand Pineapple.  I had one of these beauties perched on the sill of my kitchen window.  Its sweet aroma was beckoning me, biding me to come cook even while I stood at the sink washing the remains of pots and plates from the last family meal.  It was a lazy Saturday afternoon, the kids were hankering for an activity, so with a curtsey, I aquiesce and submit to her majesty, the Queen Pineapple.

While this variety of pineapple is not readily available in every market, it is found seasonally amongst the import fruits.  They are grown in the KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa, accordingly, you should see them labeled as such in the produce section.  Its adorable "mini" look makes it easily recognizable amongst other varieties of pineapple, whilst its compact size can be taken as a promise for the condensed juices that she will emit in sweet abundance.   

I have encountered many recipes for pineapple breads and cakes (upside-down or otherwise), and they typically call for canned fruit.  Because of the tender flesh and rich juice content of this queen variety, I thought I might like to try baking with it as a fresh ingredient.  And All Hail the Queen, my loyalty was rewarded handsomely.

Exotic Pineapple, Banana, Coconut and White Chocolate Coffee Cake

While the traditional coffee cake is laden with the flavors of autumn and winter (ie: cinnamon, nutmeg, apple harvest, pumpkin or java) this coffee cake will have you tasting the lush lands and warm sunshine of the foreign homeland where her majesty, the queen pineapple was reared.  It truly is a sweet bite into the emerging warmer seasons.

What I loved most about this cake - it was dense and moist, like the revered chewy-center brownie.  It was engulfed in a crisp, golden caramel crust, the toasted coconut yielded a warm tropical aroma, the banana took a respectful supporting role rather than overshadowing the queen, and in an astounding act of reverence and martyrdom the white chocolate chunks all but dissipated to melt their velvety smooth decadence equally throughout the batter.  My taste-buds were humbled. 

Exotic Pineapple and  Banana Coffee Cake
Adapted recipe and photos by The Child's Plate
Original recipe by For the Love of
List of Ingredients 
  •  1/2 cup of butter (plus more for coating pan)
  • 1 cup of white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 1 cup minced fresh queen pineapple 
  • 1/4 cup fine desiccated coconut (plus more for topping)
  • 200g white chocolate bar (plus more if cooking with children)
  • 2 cups of flour (plus more for dusting)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs sugar in the raw

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
Let your 1/2 cup butter come to room temperature.  In the meantime, prepare a 9 inch spring form pan by generously rubbing the bottom and edges with additional butter.  Dust the pan with a mixture of 2 tbs "Sugar in the Raw" and 2 tbs Flour.  Coat the edges well and see that the excess is evenly distributed on the bottom of the pan.  (This is the secret for an AMAZING crisp and caramelized crust around the cake.)
Cream the softened butter and sugar together in a bowl with a beater. Beat in the eggs, one at a time . Add vanilla extract. 
Here is where the little helpers get involved.  My kids did a fine job of pealing and mashing smooth the two very ripe Bananas.  I also gave them the task of chopping our White Chocolate bar in into small chunks.  (note: be prepared! Have an additional bar of white chocolate on hand because you can be assured that naughty children will be thieving chunks as they chop;)
Stir the mixture of mashed banana, minced pineapple, coconut, and white chocolate chips into the creamed butter.
Mix the flour together with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture and gently combine.  Pour you batter into the prepared spring form pan. Dust the top of the batter with a little more coconut, and . . .
Bake in the oven for 60-70 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes; the remove the cake to a wire rack. 

Slice and serve at your next sunday brunch to share all the warmth and promise of a the upcoming season.  
It makes a perfect Easter Coffee  Cake.