You know you’re in trouble when you start browsing the produce section at Tom Thumb during your lunch break instead of the shoe department at Nordstrom’s. On one of my guilty pleasure lunches, I was lazily eyeing produce when I came across a whole bunch of kumquats. They were so cute all piled up next to the giant oranges, and it dawned on me that I couldn’t recall if I’d ever even eaten one before. How could I have made it this far in life without savoring these cute little wintertime treats? I am a huge citrus fan and yet I’ve been missing out on such an obvious source!
So, I ran back to my office and started doing a little recipe research. I found a great tea cake recipe on NPR of all places and thought it sounded delicious. I could practically smell the toasted coconut and citrus-y zest from my desk.
The NPR recipe is actually an adaptation of a Dorie Greenspan tea cake recipe. It has a lot, and I mean A LOT, of sugar. The next time I make these I may cut back a bit on the sugar, but seeing as how my office devoured a dozen of them in less than two hours, I think they were a hit.
Coconut Kumquat Cake
This recipe makes about 2 dozen cupcakes/muffins, but can also be cooked in a standard-sized bundt pan. If using a bundt, adjust cooking time to 50-55 minutes. Also, make sure to zest the orange and lemon before squeezing them for juice (just makes it easier). I only needed one orange and one lemon for the whole recipe.
1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut, toasted
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk, stirred well
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
4 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
2 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup de-seeded kumquats, with the rind, minced until pulpy
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon orange zest (about one orange)
1 tablespoon lemon zest (about one lemon)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Icing and garnish
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
A few drops of milk
1/4 cup shredded, sweetened coconut, toasted
2 or 3 kumquats, thinly sliced and de-seeded
Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter or coat with cooking spray a standard muffin pan (or two).
To toast the coconut, place in a dry skillet over medium heat, and gently stir until aromatic and golden brown, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Keep your eye on it since it burns quickly.
In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together.
Pour the coconut milk into a small saucepan, add the butter, and heat until the milk is hot and the butter is melted. Remove from the heat, but keep warm.
Working with a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, in a large bowl beat the eggs, sugar, minced kumquats, orange juice, lemon juice, orange zest, and lemon zest at medium-high speed until thick and almost doubled in volume, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer to low and add the dry ingredients, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Keeping the mixer on low, add 1 cup of toasted coconut, mixing until just blended, then slowly add the warm milk and butter. When the mixture is smooth, stop mixing and stir a couple of times with a rubber spatula to be sure it’s thoroughly mixed. Pour the batter into the muffin pan and gently shake it to even it out.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before unmolding onto the rack to cool at room temperature.
Meanwhile, make the icing in a small bowl by whisking together confectioners’ sugar with orange and lemon juices. Add a few drops of milk and continue whisking until the icing is smooth and thin, yet clings to the back of a spoon. If you still have clumps, pour it through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any tiny clumps of confectioners’ sugar.
Using a spoon, drizzle the icing in a back-and-forth pattern on the slightly warm cakes. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of toasted coconut, and garnish with sliced kumquats. If making a bundt cake, allow to set for at least 15 minutes before slicing.
Note: To de-seed kumquats, slice the fruit into rounds with a sharp paring knife. Using the tip of the knife, gently pluck the tiny seeds from the slices.