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Banana Coconut Pound Cake

This dessert reminds Diane Spivey of her youth growing up in Chicago, where she listened to R&B music while baking and eating cakes. The connection to music, she said, can be traced back to Africa. There, the African griot, or storyteller, would use linguistic pitch and tone to perform his history lessons, often performing with a flute or baulafo, an African xylophone.

1 1/2 cups butter, or 3 sticks margarine
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (very loosely packed) sweetened, flake coconut
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk (I used 1 cup milk)
3 very large, very ripe bananas (we used only 2)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon coconut extract (we used banana extract)

Cream butter until light and fluffy. Gradually blend in sugar and mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine salt, baking powder and flour in a bowl.

In a food processor or blender, purée coconut in milk. (Perhaps our grinder wasn't strong enough, but the coconut never got fluid enough to be mixed until we added more milk.) Add bananas (we used only 2 because of the additional milk) or coconut mixture and process until bananas are also pureed.

Beginning with dry ingredients (flour mixture), add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with coconut puree and extracts. Begin with dry ingredients, end with dry ingredients. There should be four additions of dry ingredients, three additions of liquid ingredients.

Mix well, but do not beat or stir too much.

Very lightly grease a tube pan. Line with wax paper. Pour batter into a pan. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 1 hour and 19 minutes. Cool thoroughly before removing from baking pan. (Tester's note: I found that this cake tasted even better when left to sit for a couple of days. It stayed moist and the banana and coconut flavors seemed heightened.)

"The Peppers, Cracklings, and Knots of Wool Cookbook"

Thursday, January 13, 2000

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