Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Impossible Coconut Pie, Take I

I found this recipe on a blog called A Southern Grace. Grace calls it the 'impossible pie' because rather than the baker making a pastry crust, the pie forms its own crust. I was immediately intrigued, not so much because of this logic defying feat (it seems to me to work along the lines of the crust that forms on cannel├ęs), but because the recipe reminds me of a recipe I've been trying to get my hands on for a long time.

Floyd is a friend of ours who lives in Berlin but is originally from Utila (a small island off the coast of Honduras). Quite a while ago he made a coconut cake that blew my mind. Thick coconut custard held together by a chewy coconut crust. I'd never had anything like it.

Floyd wouldn't give me the recipe. He said I'd have to win it off him by making my 6 time losing streak in chess into a 6 time winning streak. That's just cruel. Since then, I've lost another 3 games to him.

Now, this recipe isn't the same, but it does have some similarities. I'm going to gradually change this recipe until I've approximated Floyd's, and then maybe my losing streak will end too. To start with, I've used an unrefined cane sugar instead of what I'm assuming is a white sugar in the original recipe. I think there might still be too much sugar, but we'll see. And i've used dessicated coconut rather than shredded or flaked, because that's all I had. Eventually I think solid coconut might be replaced by coconut milk. But let's take this one step at a time.

Impossible Coconut Pie, Take I (in a bread tin, because I don't have a pie tin)
adapted from A Southern Grace on the way to replicating Floyd's Coconut Cake

3 eggs
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/2 cup self raising flour (I used white unbleached spelt flour with 1 tsp of baking powder)
1 3/4 cups unrefined cane sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups dessicated coconut (shredded or flaked would be really nice too)
1 tsp vanilla
good pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celcius.
Beat the eggs, not too much, just until they're well combined, and then pour in the slightly cooled butter and beat that a little too. Stir in the sugar until the whole batter's consistent and then fold in the flour. Add all the milk, vanilla, salt and coconut and stir the mixture until it's completely combined. Pour the batter into a greased 9 inch wide, deep set pie pan, or a couple of bread tins (which is all I had).

Now, I cooked these two bread tins in the middle of the oven for exactly 30 minutes. At this point, they were just set (ie, bounced back when I pressed them with a finger), and when I inserted a toothpick it came out clean. I think this was too long. The cake was actually pretty divine, but it didn't have as soft a custard consistency as I remember of Floyd's coconut cake (see the photo). Next time, I'm taking the cakes out when they're still wobbly in the middle to see if that makes the difference.

And I'm going to try a little less sugar next time as well, it's still a tad too sweet. Also, if you've checked out the Southern Grace version, you'll see that using unrefined cane sugar rather than white sugar makes  the pie much darker. And imagine the difference in flavour. Unrefined cane sugar has a caramel edge; white sugar is just sweet.

I'm going on the hunt for some cake eaters for this batch so I can get started on the next. Watch out Floyd, I'm comin back...


  1. i'm so glad you tried this, and with what i'd call successful results. good luck finding that secret combination, and you'd better believe i'll be trying out some raw sugar the next time i make these!

  2. I'm so glad I tried it too! Actually, it's been a total hit. And now that I've been tasting it over the last day, I don't think it does need any less sugar actually. Next attempt I'm going to use coconut milk instead of cow's milk, and cook it just a little under what I did the last time. Thanks so much for introducing me to your impossible pie!