Monday, April 30, 2018

A Chinese take on coffee cake

It’s not that hard to turn a Western style cake into something that’s just a bit Chinese. All you need to do is sub in Asian ingredients, like ginger for cinnamon, black sugar for white, wolfberries for raisins, and so on. 

One other thing: you should lower the sweetness considerably in order to make it taste even more Chinese.

This is a classic case in point. It’s the sort of thing that I can confidently serve to my Chinese friends with the knowledge that they will go crazy for it. It’s just Chinese enough to feel and taste familiar, yet Western enough to still be good old coffee cake.

Coconut wolfberry coffee cake chez Huang
Sweet-sour wolfberries
Huaángjiā yēzĭ gŏuqĭ kāfēidàngāo  黃家椰子枸杞咖啡蛋糕
Makes one 10-inch | 25-cm Bundt cake, and serves 16 or more

¾ cup | 75 g chopped walnuts
1¼ cups | 180 g dried wolfberries (aka goji or gouqi berries)
1 cup | 50 g flaked or shaved coconut
1 cup packed | 200 g black or dark brown sugar
¼ teaspoon sea salt

1 cup | 225 g | 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed | 200 g black or dark brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon coconut extract or coconut rum
3 cups | 525 g cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups whole fat plain yogurt
Filling peeking out of the batter

Spray oil

1. Place a rack in the lower third of your oven and heat to 350°F | 175°C. Put the walnuts on a small baking tray and toast them until they are golden and smell great. Rinse the wolfberries, shake dry, and toss them in a work bowl with the toasted walnuts, coconut, sugar, and salt.

2. Spray a 10-inch | 25-cm Bundt pan (see Tips). Using the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together until they are light. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition, and finally add the coconut extract or liqueur.

3. Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a work bowl. Alternate adding these dry ingredients to the butter mixture with the yogurt in about six steps. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Fresh out of the oven
4. Pour about a third of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle half of the fruits and nuts over the batter, add another layer of batter, then another layer of fruits and nuts, and then top it off with the rest of the batter. Lightly bang the pan on your counter to settle the batter.

5. Set the pan on a baking sheet to catch any drips, and then place it in the oven. Bake the cake for about 30 minutes. If the top is browning too quickly, cover it lightly with foil. Continue baking for another 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the thickest area comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool for at least 15 minutes before turning it over on a cake rack or plate.


If you are using a patterned Bundt pan, such as Nordicware, consider using spray oil that is mixed with flour, as this helps prevent the cake from sticking to the pan.

Always wash these cake pans by hand. I soak them just until the baked-on batter is soft, and then brush them gently before letting them air dry.


  1. Ooh, this looks good! I have had mantou's with this kind of filling and love it!

    1. That sounds really good, too... like steamed sticky buns.