What dessert do you imagine when you think of Easter dinner?
(Side note for you non-Southerners: Dinner is eaten in the evening most nights, but when lunch is large, we call it dinner, then the evening meal is called supper. But you can call the evening meal supper any ol' time too.)
Coconut cake is traditional Easter fare in my family, and it seems that other families aren't so different from mine. Whether it's my grandmother's three-layer coconut cake made with sour cream or my mom's coconut bunny cake (that's coconut cake in the shape of a bunny), I consume coconut, butter and sugar in some form or fashion every Easter Sunday.
But here's the thing -- I'm not really into making cake.
If you know me, you know that I'm a cook, not a baker. Although I can bake sufficiently when I put my mind to it, cooking is so much more fun for me. Baking is too precise, and cake is way too finicky for my adventurous kitchen spirit.
But every once in a while, you just have to make dessert. Goodness knows I like to eat it, so every once in a while, I bite the bullet, roll up my sleeves, and bake something. And it is during these times that I tend to choose pie over cake.
For me, pie is ...
-- Easier to make
You typically need only two bowls and a pie tin and you'll all set. You can complicate things as I often do by making a crust from scratch, but even when that's added to the mix, I find the details of pie baking so much simpler than making a cake.
-- Easier to improvise
The texture of a cake is so finicky, while pie can be a little easier to manipulate. If the recipe calls for whole wheat flour and you have spelt (for the crust), the difference won't be noticeable. Want to use honey instead of brown sugar? It might be a tad runnier, but you can add a teaspoon or two of flour or cornstarch and your problem is solved. Or just use a bit less of the liquid ingredients like milk.
-- Easier to present
Have you ever had your icing melt right off the cake on a hot day? Enough said.
-- Easier to serve
This may be a personal problem, but when I cut cake, it either turns into a pile of cake, rather than a slice or I end up putting my finger in the icing to get it from point A to point B.
-- Easier to deal with if something goes wrong
If your pie is a bit runny, it will still taste fantastic. When something goes wrong with the appearance of a cake, it's usually an indicator that it doesn't taste that great either.
So with all these reasons for choosing pie over cake, you really must ditch the coconut cake this Easter and make a coconut pie instead.
I made this coconut pie dairy free, but feel free to substitute butter for Earth Balance if dairy isn't a problem for you or your guests.
Dairy Free Whole Wheat Crust
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
2 tsp. organic sugar
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 cup Earth Balance*
1/4 cup coconut oil**
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. light coconut milk.
Mix dry ingredients together: flours, sugar, and salt. Add Earth Balance and coconut oil. Use a pastry cutter to cut the Earth Balance and oil into the dry ingredients. Add coconut milk a little at a time (you may not need at all). Turn on a floured surface and knead several times. Roll dough into a 9 inch circle and transfer to a pie plate, using fingers to shape dough as needed.
Coconut Pie Filling
1 cup organic sugar
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Mix together sugar, eggs, and salt. Add oil and flour and mix well. Add coconut milk and fold in 1 cup coconut. Add vanilla and mix well. Sprinkle remaining coconut on top of the pie. Pour into your whole wheat pie crust.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-55 minutes.
Kelly Davis is a blogger, freelance writer, food enthusiast, and native North Carolinian. When she's not training for a race or cooking something delicious in the kitchen, she's writing, reading, snuggling her dachshund, or plotting her next project. You can keep up with Kelly's antics and recipes on her blog, Foodie Fresh.