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Flour Girl: Khaki Coffee Cake

Avocado Coffee Cake gets a tinge of color and some moistness from avocado. (Julia Ewan -- The Washington Post)

In further exploration of the avocado’s sweet side, I revisited a recipe from Akasha Richmond, Los Angeles chef and caterer to the stars, who plays around a lot with soy milk and tofu. (No surprise for someone in L.A.) I couldn't quite figure how a coffee cake made with avocado would taste, but curiosity lead me straight to the kitchen.

Even though we’re used to pairing avocados with onions and cilantro, their soft green flesh is a pretty mild fat. It has a lovely silken quality that lends a moist, lush consistency.

Because I last made the cake a few years ago, I wanted to retest it before posting this item. The effort fell flat (literally), and the cake had the consistency of steamed pudding.

What had changed? Only my attention to detail. Here’s a friendly tip to fellow late-night bakers: Phone conversations with Mom while combining ingredients may cause mishaps. I forgot the baking soda. Kind of a crucial ingredient for that whole chemical-rising thing.

The first time I made the cake, its insides were spring green, and that made it all the more fun. This time, the avocado created more of a khaki color. I think this depends on the ripeness of the avocados; the greener the flesh, the greener the outcome.

As you can see in the photo, my attempt was a success. As Kermit the Frog famously quipped, “It’s not easy being green.” But it sure can be tasty.

-- Leigh Lambert

Avocado Coffee Cake
12 to 16 servings

The cake can be covered and refrigerated for 1 week. It freezes well.

Adapted from "Hollywood Dish," by Akasha Richmond (Avery, 2006).

For the filling
2/3 cup walnut pieces, toasted and chopped
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips, coarsely chopped

For the cake
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/3 cup canola oil or other neutrally flavored oil
1 cup avocado puree (from about 2 large ripe Hass avocados; see NOTE)
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain soy milk or low-fat milk
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice

For the filling: Combine the walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and chocolate
chips in a small bowl.

For the cake: Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven;
preheat to 325 degrees. Use baker’s spray (flour plus oil) to coat the
inside of a 9- or 10-inch tube pan or bundt pan.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.

Combine the oil and avocado puree in the bowl of a stand mixer or
hand-held electric mixer; beat on low speed for 1 minute, then slowly
add the sugar. Beat until combined, then add the eggs one at time,
beating for 1 minute between each addition. Stop to scrape down the
sides of the bowl as necessary.

Add the vanilla extract and beat to combine.

Combine the soy milk or low-fat milk and juice in a liquid measuring cup.

Add a third of the flour mixture to the avocado-egg mixture, stirring until just combined, then add half of the soy milk-juice. Add another third of the flour mixture and mix to incorporate, then the remaining milk-juice. Add the remaining flour mixture and stir to

Spread half the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Scatter the filling evenly over the batter, then top with the remaining batter so it is smooth and even. Bake on the low oven rack for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and has begun to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely in the pan, then invert onto a serving plate.

NOTE: Puree the avocado flesh in a blender or food processor; it needs to be as smooth as possible.

Per serving, based on 16: Calories: 255; Protein: 4g; Carbs: 34g; Fat: 13g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Cholesterol: 26 mg; Sodium: 179 mg; Fiber: 2 g; Sugar: 19 g

By Leigh Lambert  |  May 7, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Flour Girl , Recipes  | Tags: Leigh Lambert, avocado, coffee cake  
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You mention that the greener the avocados are the greener the cake will be. Does that mean if I use avocados that are slightly brown in certain parts it will be ok to use for this recipe? I have some avocados that are on the verge of going bad and would love to use them as opposed to throwing them out.

Posted by: Krizia | May 7, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

By all means, make this cake with the almost-gone avocados. As long as you remove any really bad spots (for flavor concern, not color) you'll be fine. Rule of thumb on ingredients is if you wouldn't eat it raw, don't use it anything else.

Posted by: lambertl | May 7, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

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