Food: Cake to the cold weather rescue

Simply the Best

Why am I offering yet another cake recipe, you ask? After last week's lovely blood orange polenta confection I thought I would cool it on the cake offerings for awhile, then the furnace conked. Conked on the weekend when the heating & cooling repair guys are out in force but sadly the heating and cooling part stores are closed, perhap with their employees all out ice fishing. Parts weren't to be had for two days and temps were diving below zero.

So we gathered wood, stoked the fireplace, bundled up and I cranked up the oven on one of the coldest days of the year. The heating guy also suggested that I put large pots of water on the stove to let boil and that the fan on the furnace would help circulate the warm air through the house. The result was high humidity and a head of very frizzy hair. There I was looking like Ma Kettle in my layers of flannel shirts, corduroy pants and fuzzy slippers and I figured since I wasn't going anywhere I might as well make myself useful (and heavier) with yet another cake. It's a sin to let a hot oven go empty, after all.

I had discovered this recipe a while ago on one of my trolls and everything about the name of the cake appealed to me: pistachio, lime, coconut. Those three magic words got my attention, so I filed it away for just this kind of occasion. I had also planned ahead and purchased a bottle of rose water at the Mediterranean market. Rose water is made by distilling rose petals and has a very distinctive flavor. It's used heavily in Middle Eastern cuisine—especially in sweets such as nougat and baklava and worth going to the trouble to find. Substitutes can be almond extract, vanilla extract or orange flower water but you won't get the same floral flavor that helps make this cake a standout.

It was nice to be able to stand in my warm kitchen as I grated the lime, chopped the pistachios and stirred the coconut-studded batter and it took my mind off the cold day. It was even nicer to sit by the warm fire with a wedge of cake and a cup of tea. We made the best of it and I was grateful to see the heating guys Monday morning. I was even more grateful that I have a gym membership.

Pistachio, Coconut Lime Cake

This makes a dense cake perfect for snacking and even for breakfast. Rose water is recommended here but almond extract, vanilla extract or orange flower water can be used in its place.

Recipe adapted from Kingdom for a Cake

For the Bundt:

1 cup shelled, unsalted pistachio nuts

1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut

Finely grated zest of 2 limes

Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lime

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 cup unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

4 medium eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon rose water (can use vanilla or almond extract or orange flower water)

For the topping:

Zest and juice of 2 limes

1 cup confectioner's sugar

1/3 cup shelled, chopped pistachio nuts

Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease and lightly flour a large Bundt pan. Pulse the pistachio nuts in a food processor until finely chopped, then mix with the coconut and lime zest. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Beat the butter with sugar until fluffy and creamy, add the beaten eggs gradually, mix to combine and add the rose water. Now, add the pistachio nuts, coconut and lime zest and the dry ingredients, then the lime juice and mix until smooth. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for about 40 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then take it out on a wire rack.

To decorate, beat the lime juice and zest with icing sugar to make smooth paste, thick enough to drip over the edges of the cake. Place the cake on a plate and spoon the icing to cover the top, allowing some to drip over the sides. After setting for 10 minutes, chop some pistachio nuts and sprinkle them on the top of the cake. Serves 16.

Per serving: 321 cals, 20 g fat; 10 g sat fat; 56% fat; 33 g carbs; 24 g sugar; 73 mg cholesterol; 5 g protein; 112 mg sodium; 2 g fiber