Make Dorie Greenspan’s Easy and Impressive Coffee Coconut Banana Bread Cake

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Sometimes I think that my husband hides bananas and waits for them to turn brown just so that he can hold them up, pretend to be surprised by their mottled skins, and then exclaim “It’s time to make banana bread!” He loves banana bread and I love baking it, so we’re a good pair.

Because we’re celebrating Simply Recipes’ anniversary, I wanted to make a version of their banana bread recipe that could welcome a few candles. I think of it as banana bread that’s ready to party. It teeters between banana bread and banana birthday cake—I think it tips more cakeward in texture and certainly in spirit.

Coffee coconut banana bread cake switches up the basics of banana bread: it’s got new flavors and, because of the mix of coconut, a new texture—each bite is a little different from the others. And it’s got frosting! The swirly cream cheese frosting (based on this recipe) not only makes the cake a bit richer and fancier, it echoes the coffee and cinnamon flavors in the cake. Actually, as I’m writing this, I’m thinking that maybe this is really a banana cappuccino! 

Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

Coffee, Coconut, and Banana: A Winning Combo

When I was thinking about riffing on the classic recipe, I thought of bananas as a tropical fruit and had this idea to build on the flavors of the tropics. Ever since I heard the expression “what grows together goes together,” I’ve been intrigued by trying to pair ingredients that might be “neighbors.” 

Coffee and banana are one of my long-time favorite flavor combinations. Cinnamon and coffee, another classic. Once I decided to include coconut flakes, that’s when I had the idea to swap the melted butter for coconut oil—it was a natural jump. I like that each of these ingredients has its own personality, but none of them overwhelms the others and nothing stands in the way of the banana being the star.

Using Toasted and Untoasted Coconut

I love that coconut offers different flavor and texture possibilities. Toasting coconut intensifies its flavor, but when you add toasted coconut to the batter and bake it, you lose some of its textural interest. And so, I toasted some of the coconut to bring up its flavor, and left some of it raw, so that it would be chewy. It’s a nice double-play and it’s also another way to build surprise (my favorite ingredient) into the cake. 

Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

How to Serve Coffee Coconut Banana Bread Cake

I like that this cake can be an everyday snack or a special dessert. I made it for a dinner party and then we nibbled the leftovers at breakfast the next day. The frosting makes it special—fancier than a traditional banana bread—but honestly, this is a morning-to-midnight treat.

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