Monday, November 30, 2020

Pumpkin Boule with Dried Cranberries & Pepitas

I have been baking yeast breads for a long time.  Long before I went to cooking school to become a chef I was making pizza dough…my grandmother’s dinner rollscinnamon buns…honey whole wheat loaves…etc.  I can probably knead dough in my sleep.  But at some point during the last 20 years or so the manner in which kneading is accomplished began to expand and change.  The methods and techniques I learned are still used…they work very well after all—and they still produce beautiful breads.  But among artisan bread bakers—whose amazing “old world” breads can now be found in specialty bakeries everywhere—you will often find that they are manipulating their doughs in a very different way. 

I was aware that this alternate method of working with dough was developing around me.  But it—along with sourdough—seemed beyond the purview of the occasional bread baker.  It was while learning about sourdough by watching the IG Live tutorials from Bread Ahead Bakery during the early days of the pandemic that I discovered that this new method (“folding” the dough…as opposed to kneading) was in fact less—rather than more—complicated.

The reason we knead dough is to develop gluten.
  Wheat flour contains a couple of proteins that produce gluten when water (or other liquid) is introduced via a mechanical action like stirring…or kneading.  The stretchy strands of gluten are what give yeast doughs their strength and their loft.  If you have ever kneaded dough, you have seen this development occur as the dough goes from a lumpy mass to a smooth, springy ball. 

If I understand the process correctly, in the slow measured pace of the “no knead” folding method, much of the mechanical action is occurring at the microscopic level as the yeast consumes the sugars in the flour.
  By occasionally folding the dough over on itself, you are exposing the yeast to fresh sources of food so it can continue to multiply…and at the same time as you stretch the dough during each fold you are strengthening the developing gluten.  And if you try this method, each time you return to the bowl to give the dough a fold, you will notice that the dough discernibly smoother and is increasingly more supple and elastic.  It really is amazing.  

Here are some pictures of Ciabatta from first sloppy mix to risen dough (after three sets of folds): 

Having described it as I understand it at this point, I feel I must add a caveat.
  I have barely scratched the surface in acquiring knowledge of this big world of artisan breads…my understanding of this process is minimal and mostly experiential.  Ten years from now I may come across this post and be appalled at how I’ve described it.  In the end, what I really know now is that the breads I have made using this method have been fantastic.  And I’m excited to continue to expand my repertoire of breads that use it.

There are a couple of ways (that I know of…probably more) to execute a fold.
  Many people simply leave the dough in the bowl.  To fold, simply grab one side of the dough, pull up—stretching it as far as it will allow without tearing or breaking—and then lay it down over itself.  Repeat this action three times, giving the bowl a quarter of a turn each time so that you are folding the dough from all four points of the compass.  My preferred way of folding is to tip the dough out on an oiled sheet pan (or you can simply oil your counter), gently flatten/stretch it a bit into a rectangle and then execute two letter or envelope-style folds:  fold the top third of the rectangle down…then the bottom third up (as if you were folding an 81/2- by 11-inch sheet of paper to stuff into an envelope).  Rotate the resulting slender rectangle a quarter of a turn…flatten it slightly and repeat the same style of fold.  Turn it over and put it back in the bowl. 

This fall as we approached pumpkin season, armed with my new knowledge, I was determined to work on a yeasted pumpkin bread that I have been playing around with for several years now.
  I always felt it had great potential…but I was somehow missing something in the process that would turn it into a consistent and delicious loaf.

"Crumb shot" of that first never-to-be-duplicated loaf.

The first time I made this pumpkin boule I had been poking around looking for a bread that used whey.  I frequently have whey on hand (left after making Labneh) and feel bad just throwing it away.  Somewhere I had read it was good in bread.   I found a recipe for a pumpkin and whey boule by Dan Lepard that looked interesting.  Then I had pumpkin bread on the brain so I started looking for other pumpkin yeast bread recipes.  I found one that was similar, but also included some traditional spices (which seemed like a great idea).  The loaf I ended up making pulled from both recipes…and it was delicious.

Unfortunately I was never really able to repeat the success (although I tried every year).
  This year though, with some of my newly acquired knowledge and experience, I thought I would try again…this time incorporating folding…and baking in a Dutch oven (something else I had never tried prior to the pandemic).

It’s amazing what a little knowledge can do.
  The loaf was all I had hoped and imagined it could be: a crusty boule with a tender crumb…studded with crispy pepitas and tangy craisins.  I realized only later that I had forgotten to use whey….  I like it so well just the way it is that I have never even tried to make it with whey (even though I have made it several times this fall).

I have loved having this bread on hand during the autumn months.  (So much so that it replaced my new “house” sourdough loaf for a while…).  It is delicious toasted …smeared with Labneh…or butter…and honey.  I’m sure no one is surprised to hear that I have put it through its paces for grilled cheese sandwiches.  (It makes an unbelievably good grilled cheese–especially if you include a little bit of tangy goat cheese…).  And of course it is very fine sandwiched around roast turkey, crunchy lettuce, cranberry sauce and mayo…plus whatever else you happen to like on your leftover turkey sandwich.  It is a loaf I am certain will be a part of my autumn repertoire for years to come. 


Pumpkin Boule with Craisins & Pepitas

285 g. warm water (see notes)
165 g. pumpkin purée/solid pack pumpkin
4 g. (1 1/4 t.) instant or active dry yeast
500 g. bread flour
25 g olive oil
10 g (1 1/2 t.) fine salt
1/8 t. each cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger
Olive oil for folding
85 g. pepitas, lightly toasted (see notes)
125 g. craisins (left whole, or coarsely chopped)

Place the water in a large mixing bowl and whisk in the pumpkin.
  Sprinkle the yeast over this mixture and whisk in.  If you are using active dry yeast, wait a minute or two for the yeast to soften (instant yeast will dissolve “instantly”).  Add the flour, olive oil, salt and spices (in that order)

and mix until you have a homogenous mass.  (A Danish dough whisk is my new favorite tool for this initial mixing—but if you don’t have one, a rubber spatula or wooden spoon is fine—just remember to scrape all the dough off of your tool and back into the bowl—you don’t want to waste/lose any dough.)  

Using a rounded bowl scraper, scrape down the sides/clean the bowl so that you have a nice, neat mass of dough.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 1 1/4 hour.

After an hour and a quarter, execute the first fold, incorporating the pepitas and craisins at the same time:  Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on a sheet pan 

and spread with your hands (or a brush) so that the dough won’t stick.  Scrape the dough in one mass onto the oiled sheet and with lightly oiled hands/fingertips, nudge the dough out into a large rectangle. (Only stretch as much as the dough will allow without tearing.)  Scatter two-thirds of the craisins and two-thirds of the pepitas over the bottom two-thirds of the rectangle.

Starting with the portion of the dough without any pepitas or craisins, fold the dough in thirds as if you were folding a letter to put it in an envelope.  

Rotate the dough 90
° and repeat this letter/envelope fold with the remaining third of the pepitas and craisins (spreading out the dough as much as it will allow and placing the craisins and pepitas only on the lower two-thirds of the dough). 

When you are done you will have a square-ish ball of dough with all of the craisins and pepitas encased inside.  Place the dough back in its bowl and cover again with plastic wrap.

After 45 minutes, scrape the dough back out onto the oiled sheet and give it another two letter/envelope-style folds exactly as before (only this time you obviously won’t be adding anything to the dough).  

Return to the bowl and let it remain at room temperature until almost doubled—about an hour.

Transfer to the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation and allow the flavor to develop overnight.

The next day, take the dough out of the fridge (it will have more than doubled) and scrape it onto a lightly floured counter.  

Give it a gentle pre-shape into a loose ball (in doing this, you will effectively deflate the dough—but don’t aggressively “punch it down” or “knock it back”—just gently form it into a round).  

Turn the bowl upside down over the ball of dough and let it rest on the counter for 20 to 30 minutes. 

After it has had a rest, scrape most of the flour off of the counter and form the dough into a tight ball/boule by working against the counter.  (If any craisins pop through the surface during this process, simply poke them back toward the interior of the loaf and pinch the dough around them—they will burn during the baking process is left exposed on the surface.)   Place the loaf with the pinched side/seams down on a semolina dusted or parchment-lined (see notes) sheet pan or pizza peel.

Turn the mixing bowl upside down over the dough again and let the loaf rise in a warmish spot until it is doubled (until the dough doesn’t spring back—or springs back very slowly—when prodded with a floured finger).  I often resort to sticking the peel/pan with the loaf in the oven with the light on…or with the proofing function on…when my house is very cold.  The loaf should be ready to bake in about 3 hours.

A half hour before you are ready to bake, place a covered 5 quart (or thereabout) Dutch oven in your oven and preheat the oven to 475°.  When ready to bake, uncover the loaf and dredge lightly (using a small sieve) with flour.  Give the loaf three parallel slashes with a sharp knife or razor blade.  

Take the Dutch oven out of the oven (be careful…it is screaming hot), remove the lid and transfer the loaf to the pot—either by placing your open hands on either side of the loaf and scooping it up and dropping it quickly and gently into the pot…or by lifting it using the edges of the parchment paper and placing it in the pot with the parchment underneath.  Put the lid back on and transfer to the oven.  Immediately reduce the oven temperature to 450°.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove the lid from the Dutch oven and continue to bake until the bread reaches an internal temperature of 205°…another 15 minutes (give or take, depending on your oven).

Remove the bread from the Dutch oven and cool on a wire rack (I cool mine just by letting it sit on the “grates” of my gas stove).  It should be completely cool before slicing.


  • Cinnamon and ginger in small quantities enhance yeast activity. In large quantities they have the opposite effect and retard the activity of the yeast. Furthermore, this loaf is not intended to be “spicy” or have any kind of a sweet, “pumpkin spice” flavor profile. The spices are present to add warmth…and a hint of flavor and fragrance evocative of flavors we associate with autumn. Adding extra spice will not do any favors for the yeast…or, in my opinion, the final flavor.
  • Yeast thrives and is happiest in a warmish environment. When I mix up this dough, I aim for an initial dough temperature of 80 to 83 degrees. You will need to consider the temperature of the major ingredients (flour, pumpkin and water) in order to achieve this. In the fall and winter my home is cool (somewhere around 67° or less). This means my flour will be about that temperature…and the pumpkin too, if I am just opening a can. But more often than not, I make this bread when I have a portion of a can left…which means the temperature of the pumpkin will be closer to 40°. Since I want my dough to be around 80°, the only way to get it there is by manipulating the temperature of the water. For me, this means I use hot tap water and then I take the temperature of the water after I put it in the bowl (remember, the bowl is cool too, if it has been at room temperature, and will bring down the temperature of the water). I have found that with room temperature flour…and cold pumpkin…if my water temperature in the bowl is around 115°…that I end up with an initial dough temperature (right after mixing) of 81°. If your house is significantly warmer than mine…and if your pumpkin is at room temperature…you will need to lower the temperature of the water a bit. And if all of this is too complicated for you, just mix up your dough with warm water. As long as you don’t allow your yeast to come into contact with water/liquid that is hotter than 115° you will be able to produce a nice loaf…it will just rise/prove at a different rate than mine. 
  • To toast the pepitas, spread them in a small baking pan and place in a 350° oven for 7 to 10 minutes—or until some are beginning to turn golden around the edges. You may also toast them in a dry skillet over moderate heat (but you must stir frequently and regularly…and constantly at the end). 
  • This is not a particularly wet dough and I have not had difficulty moving it from the board to the Dutch oven, but if you are worried that it might stick…or that you will have difficulty scooping it up and moving it to the pot…let it proof/rise on a square of parchment paper. Then when it comes time to transfer it to the Dutch oven, simply lift and move it using the parchment paper. It will not harm the loaf to bake it with parchment paper in the pot. 

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Friday, October 30, 2020

Kale Salad…it’s all about the timing

For the past twenty years my work as a private chef has allowed me the luxury of cooking food and serving it right away (as opposed to catering work where one prepares food for transport and reheat).  But my new curbside pickup dinners have put me in the position of cooking food more like a caterer.  This food has to withstand packaging, transport, and reheating/finishing out of my sight.  I find this (particularly the “out of my sight” part) a bit stressful…but in the grand scheme of stressors inherent in our pandemic world, this is minor. For me, many of the pitfalls of this kind of cooking can be avoided—or at least minimized—with careful menu planning.

As I have navigated designing menus for these dinners, one of the difficulties has been salads.  I love salad—of all kinds.  Anytime I prepare a multi course meal I want to include salad.  Not only do they add something fresh and raw, they are a great source of textural and flavor counterpoint to the richer foods usually included in the entrée and/or the dessert.  Unfortunately, once lettuces have been dressed they have to be eaten straight away…making a dressed lettuce-based salad inappropriate for inclusion in a meal destined to be consumed at a later time.  By the time the dressed salad gets to its destination it will have wilted from the weight and acidity of the vinaigrette.

The obvious solution to this problem is to package the salad components and the dressing separately.
  This is a reasonable way to present the salad…and I have done it (and will do it again)…but this solution has its pitfalls too.  Salads are best when the lettuces and additions are tossed together (by hand) in a bowl so that everything will be lightly and evenly coated with just the right amount of vinaigrette.  A well dressed salad is typically not perfectly dressed after the first “toss.”  When I dress a salad, I add salt and pepper, drizzle in some vinaigrette, toss, and then taste.  At this point the salad will probably require some more attention:  Maybe more salt…or a tad more dressing…or a squeeze of lemon even.  I always add less dressing than I think I need at the first pass because an overdressed salad is soggy—and once added you can’t take it away.  (You can always add more.)  Even with a small instruction sheet that is sent home with the curbside dinners, I have no way of knowing if this is how people are dressing their salads.  I wonder if the salad ingredients are simply turned onto a plate with the entire contents of the vinaigrette container poured over.  I’m sure—because the ingredients are delicious—that when eaten this way that the salads are fine.  But they might not be as good as they could be.  And I want to serve food that is more than “fine.”  I want it to be delicious!

So far the best solution I have discovered to my salad dilemma (besides choosing an appetizer other than a salad…) is to choose greens that taste even better after the dressing has had time to sit on them and soften them a bit.  The most obvious green in this category has been green cabbage…in coleslaw. 

Growing up I didn’t think of coleslaw as salad.  I thought of it as some bizarre inedible found at almost every potluck gathering or as the obligatory accompaniment to otherwise delicious barbecue.  I don’t know when it dawned on me that it could actually be a delicious salad (Coleslaw is from the Dutch Koolsla, which translates as “cabbage salad”)…but I have probably written about this before…and have actually posted a couple of tasty recipes. I think the coleslaw I included in one of my summer dinners went over very well.  And as we head into the winter—when cabbage comes into its own—I will probably include coleslaw of some kind again.

But the salad green that has been the very best for my curbside pickup dinners has been kale.  This may cause some eye rolls or heavy sighs from people who are tired of kale.  In recent years kale has enjoyed immense popularity…and has also suffered a fall from favor that is surely a backlash due to overexposure.  And this is a shame.  I won’t get into all of the whys of kale's rise and fall here—mostly because I don’t really understand how a food suddenly become an “it” food in the first place.  I will only say that one of the main reasons that overexposed foods fall out of favor is misuse and improper preparation.  Kale has definitely suffered from both of these.  When served cooked, it is frequently undercooked (not all vegetables should be crunchy or al dente!)…and when served as a salad, often—believe it or not—it isn't dressed far enough in advance.

Kale is after all cabbage.  The Italian name for Tuscan Kale (Cavolo Nero) means black cabbage.  So it makes sense that this substantial and impervious green would taste best in a salad after it has had time to absorb the flavor…and soften from the acidity…of the dressing.  Kale salads stand up so well to the dressing that they can even be eaten as a leftover the next day.  (If you have ever tried to eat leftover dressed salad made with baby lettuce or arugula…or just about any other salad green…before, you probably don’t believe this.)  In fact, kale salads are often better the next day (depending on what else is in the salad).

As far as my dinners were concerned, I had forgotten about kale salads because I don’t tend to eat them in the warmer months (although I do make a delicious warm weather entrée-sized kale salad that involves roasted corn and Italian sausage…).  It was only when I began planning a curbside menu for the first of the cooler weather…and I saw kale back at the farmers market…that I thought about the advantages of using it for a curbside dinner.

The salad I made for the most recent dinner was a combination of the one found on the blog Smitten Kitchen…and the first kale salad I ever tasted (made by my chef friend Nancy).  I borrowed the golden raisins, walnuts, salty pecorino and garlicky toasted breadcrumbs from Smitten Kitchen…and took some crunchy, shaved celery and a fantastic Honey-Dijon vinaigrette from Nancy.  The resulting salad was really, really good:  a flavor party of contrasting tastes and textures.   After the curbside dinner I had leftovers of all the salad ingredients.  So I was able to enjoy this salad for lunch and dinner several days running (with soup…grilled cheese…quesadilla…etc.).  I never got tired of it.

One of the morals of the story here is that if you think you don’t like kale salads, it may be because you have always eaten them too soon after they have been dressed.  I suspect that if you prepared a kale salad for yourself …and then waited a half hour or so to eat it…that you would find that you really liked it.  This particular kale salad would be a great one to use as your first test case.  

  Autumn Kale Salad

100 g. (scant cup) walnuts
62 g. (mounded 1/3 cup) golden raisins
4 t. each white wine vinegar and water
1/4 c. coarse fresh bread crumbs
2 t. olive oil
1 very small clove of garlic
170 g. prepared Tuscan kale (see note)
100 g. (1 c.) thinly sliced celery
2 oz. pecorino, grated medium fine (it should have some texture)
1/2 recipe Honey-Dijon vinaigrette (below)

Spread the walnuts on a small baking sheet and place in a 350° oven and toast until they begin to take on a golden color and are fragrant—about 5 to 7 minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside to cool (if you like, toss with a small drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt).  When the nuts are cool enough to handle, crumble coarsely by hand (or chop, if you prefer—I like the texture of hand crumbled walnuts).  Set aside. 

Place the raisins in a small saucepan with the vinegar and water.  Bring to a simmer.  Simmer gently for five minutes or so (until plump and soft—the liquid may or may not be fully absorbed…this is ok).  Set the raisins aside (don’t drain).

Place the breadcrumbs and olive oil in a small non-stick sauté pan over moderate heat.  Let the crumbs sizzle, stirring regularly with a heatproof spatula, until they are golden in color.  Remove from the heat and use a microplaner to grate the garlic over the crumbs.  Give them one last stir.  Transfer the crumbs to a plate.  Set aside.

Dress the salad:  Place the kale in a large bowl along with the walnuts, raisins (with liquid), celery and pecorino.  Season with freshly ground pepper.  Drizzle most of the vinaigrette over and toss.  Use your hands to toss the greens, massaging/rubbing the vinaigrette into the kale a bit as you toss.

Taste and correct the seasoning with salt and pepper.  Let the salad sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.  Even better—if time allows, cover the salad, and let it sit in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour.  When ready to serve, toss again, adding more dressing if necessary.  Mound on individual plates or in a serving bowl and scatter the toasted crumbs over all.

Serves 4 generously.


  • It would be nice if bunches of kale always weighed the same. Unfortunately this is not the case. I have purchased bunches that weighed barely four ounces…and some that were 2/3 of a pound or more. A third to a half pound seems to be mostly the norm. You will need at least a half pound untrimmed kale to get the 6 oz. (170 g) of trimmed greens needed for this salad. It is best to purchase two bunches (unless they are very large).
  • To prepare the kale, strip out the center rib. Stack the leaves and cut cross-wise in 1/2-inch ribbons. Wash well (in several changes of water) and spin dry. If not using right away, store in an airtight container with a damp paper towel.
(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Honey-Dijon Vinaigrette

1 T. honey
2 t. Dijon mustard
2 T. Sherry vinegar
1 t. fresh lemon juice
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c. olive oil

In a small bowl whisk together the honey, Dijon, Sherry vinegar, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk until the salt dissolves, then slowly whisk in the olive oil until you have a nice creamy emulsion. Taste & correct the seasoning.

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Sunday, September 27, 2020

Piña Colada Cupcakes

It has been a while since my last post (more than a month!).  I’m guessing that no one is surprised by this.  I think life has been pretty crazy for everyone this year.  The main reason I mention it is that I want to assure people who have been reading my blog for a long time that I’m still here…and I’m not planning on going anywhere.  I just haven’t been able to get to my blog as much as I had wanted to this year. 

As is the case with so many in my profession, a lot of my normal avenues of work have disappeared.  One would think that this would give me more time for the blog.  But in order to stay afloat I have found myself pivoting…and reinventing…and creating work where ever and however I can.  All of this takes up a lot of mental energy that I might normally devote to my blog.

As unfortunate as all of this has been, good things have been coming out of it.  Many of you know that one of the first things I did in the early days of the pandemic was to start teaching online classes through an olive oil/kitchen store called Olive Tree.  I have continued with these classes and will be doing more through the fall and holidays.  They are low-key, fun and interactive.  If you like online classes, you should check them out.

In July I started preparing curbside pick up dinners through Olive Tree.  We have aimed for simple, seasonal and accessible menus. It has been a pleasure to cook for people again and these meals will also continue for the foreseeable future.

Today I am sharing the recipe for the dessert I served as part of my September dinner.  The dinner fell on the last weekend of summer and I wanted it to have a beach vacation kind of feel to it.  I thought the dessert was perfect for the occasion:  Piña Colada Cupcakes (it’s hard to get more beach vacation than a Piña Colada!)

I was going to use the recipe that we use occasionally in my friend Nancy’s bakeshop to make miniature cupcakes.  It is a nice reliable recipe that hits all the right Piña Colada notes:  pineapple…coconut…Malibu rum…and a rich and creamy finish courtesy of fluffy cream cheese frosting.  But when I made them in my giant cupcake liners they didn’t turn out right.  They were kind of damp and heavy.  For whatever reason, cake recipes that work in one pan size sometimes don’t work in another (this can be due to a needed adjustment in the quantity of leavener to account for the different pan size…although, in this case, I think it might have been my oven…which I am still getting used to…).  However, it doesn’t happen often enough to prepare me for the pan of cake pucks that I pulled out of the oven.  To make matters worse, the dinner was only about a week and a half away…and the menu had been published.  I had to come up with something pretty quickly. 

I looked around a bit on line for a likely recipe, but none of those that I saw had all the flavor components of the original recipe that I liked so much (most didn’t include Malibu).  I was also not really in the mood to try a bunch of recipes from unknown and untried sources.  In the end I decided to take one of my tried and true sour cream cake formulas and alter it to include the flavors I wanted.  I chose a sour cream cake base because sour cream has almost as high of a fat content as coconut milk and I thought that by subbing coconut milk for some of the sour cream…and then reducing the fat by using Malibu and pineapple juice to make up the rest of the “liquid”…that I would have a recipe that performed in basically the same manner as the sour cream cake. 

And in just one try, it did.  My insty Piña Colada Cupcake recipe had everything I had originally planned on—the flavors of a Piña Colada in a rich, moist, fine-grained miniature cake.  Crowned with a generous swirl of Malibu spiked cream cheese frosting and a shower of toasted coconut, they were the perfect conclusion to a South of the Border menu. 

So if you are still not ready for summer to end…  Or you didn’t get to take your summer vacation this year….  You should whip up a batch of these cupcakes.  You’ll have a miniature summer vacation on a plate.  And since these cupcakes freeze beautifully (with or without the frosting), you can make a batch to enjoy some now…and load the rest into the freezer…providing a stash of tropical dessert vacations to be enjoyed during the cold and dark months ahead.

Piña Colada Cupcakes

200 g. (1 3/4 c.) all-purpose flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
121 g. (1/2 c.) coconut milk
28 g. (2 T.) Malibu rum
56 g. (1/4 c.) pineapple juice (from can of crushed pineapple)
90 g. (1/2 c.) very well drained crushed pineapple (see note)
75 g. (3/4 c.) sweetened coconut
114 g. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
200 g. (1 c.) sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 t. vanilla
Cream Cheese Frosting
Toasted Coconut 

Line a 12 cup standard muffin tin with 10 tulip style muffin liners, leaving the center 2 muffin cups empty. (In my limited experience with the tulip liners, if you try to bake 12 large cupcakes in a standard muffin pan, the ones in the center will not bake at the same rate as the ones on the edge).  Set aside.  Preheat the oven to 350°F. 

Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a small bowl.  Whisk to blend.  In a measuring cup, combine the coconut milk, Malibu and pineapple juice.   In another bowl, combine the crushed pineapple and coconut, fluffing until the coconut and pineapple are uniformly combined. 

Cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy (about 5 minutes using a stand mixer).  Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla. 

Fold in the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the liquids in two additions.  Add the pineapple and coconut when the final mixture of dry ingredients is almost fully incorporated, 

continuing to mix just until the batter is homogenous.

Using a large ice cream scoop, divide the batter among the muffin liners.  (Each cupcake should weigh 95 grams.)

Transfer to the preheated oven and bake until golden and springy and a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean—about 22 to 25 minutes.

Cool the cupcakes completely before topping with 50 grams of cream cheese frosting each.  Garnish with a little toasted coconut.  Makes 10 large cupcakes.


  • Drain the crushed pineapple well: Place the contents of the can of pineapple in a sieve and us a rubber spatula or ladle to squeeze out most of the juice. A 20 oz. can of crushed pineapple in juice (not heavy syrup) will yield 8 oz. of well-drained/squeezed pineapple (about 1 1/4 c.) and 12 oz. of juice (1 1/2 c.).
  • I used “Tulip” style muffin liners in the 4 oz. size for these cupcakes. At this size the recipe produces 10 cupcakes. I assume you could make them in standard size muffin liners, but you will obviously need to use less batter per muffin (60 to 65 g)…which will make 15 to 16 cupcakes.
  • Use full fat coconut milk. I don’t know how the recipe would perform with the low fat version. 

Cream Cheese Frosting

6 oz./1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 lb. (3 cups) powdered sugar
1/2 T. Malibu
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature and cut into 8 cubes

Place the butter, powdered sugar and Malibu in a mixing bowl.  Using the paddle attachment, mix on the lowest setting until the powdered sugar is mostly absorbed.  Increase the speed to high and beat for 2 or 3 minutes, or until very light and fluffy.  Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Beat again on high, adding the cream cheese with the machine running.  Beat just until the cream cheese has been smoothly absorbed. (Overbeating cream cheese frosting can cause it to become too soft.)  Makes enough frosting to generously frost 12 large cupcakes.

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