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Polish Lemon Cake*

*Okay, so it’s not really Polish.  But the topping reminded me of a German Chocolate Cake topping, and since (half) my ancestry is Polish, I thought I’d just use the same concept for this cake’s name. 


Did you hear the one about the (half) Polish woman who wanted to bake a cake? 

Just kidding.

All right now! ‘Nuff of those wacky raw dishes we’ve been seeing the last couple of days!! Time for some CAKE.

One of the greatest challenges of living in a long-term, committed relationship is dealing with those areas in which you and your partner don’t necessarily mesh.  In order to coexist harmoniously and still retain one’s sanity, it’s sometimes necessary to make accommodations.  (Okay, fine; not only “sometimes,” but pretty much every day.  Okay, fine; several times a day.).

Since this union is the second go-round for both the HH and me, we no longer bristle at the petty, quotidien issues that drive some newlyweds crazy (does the toilet paper roll from the top or the bottom?  Do you re-fold the newspaper in its original configuration after reading, or leave it in separate, blowzy sections once you’re done with it? Is it okay to exchange sotto voce commentary while watching Atonement in the movie theater, or not?). Nevertheless, we do make our own concessions.  The HH prefers to play music ultra loud (beyond 11, even), whereas I prefer it as a soothing backdrop to other activities.  He takes a laissez-faire attitude toward housework and disciplining The Girls; I prefer a schedule, and rules. (“And we definitely prefer Dad’s approach. . . sorry, Mum.”)

One major difference that forces the issue pretty much daily is our respective dietary habits:  as I may have mentioned (perhaps, on occasion, in passing?) the HH loves to eat meat; I do not.

So when it comes to food, we’ve both learned to adapt. Over the past 11 years, the HH has eaten more tofu, collards, rice noodles and quinoa than he ever knew existed in the world. He’s also sacrificed some of his own cherished favorites, as when I had to cut out all alcohol (plus sugar, and fermented products, and fruits. . . don’t ask) from my diet for 2 years. He cheerfully complied and went without at home, with not a peep of protest.

So, as I browsed through my bookmarked recipes this week for something to bake, I was pleased to land on a recipe for Lemon-Coconut Bundt Cake from Deb’s great blog, Altered Plates. The HH adores coconut (whereas I’m fairly indifferent to it); coconut cream pie tops his list, but he’ll embrace cookies, muffins, bars, or any other coconut confections as well. I thought this would be the perfect cake to show my appreciation for his tolerating my (fairly) unconventional dietary habits over the years.

When I discovered that the Coconut-Lemon Cake recipe originated with Veganomicon, I wasn’t at all surprised. Seems you can’t read any food blog–vegan or not–these days without stumbling on a reference to that revered tome. I’ve tried many recipes from my own copy of the book, but none of the baked goods. In general,  Moskowitz and Romero (I like using their surnames–it’s actually the correct format when referencing other authors; and besides, it makes them sound like a comedy duo that way: “Romero & Moskowitz’s Laugh-In,” or maybe a law firm: “Moskowitz and Romero, LLP” ) often make use of baking ingredients far removed from my own kitchen cabinets:  white sugar, wheat flour, margarine, and the like. And while it’s not difficult to adapt those kinds of recipes to my own requirements, I already had plenty of other recipes lined up. 

I was definitely drawn to the concept of lemon and coconut coexisting in harmony (sort of like the HH and me!). But an entire Bundt cake seemed massive (I mean, how many extra baked goods can one bring to the office?). I decided to halve the recipe and bake it in a round cake pan.

In addition, M & R recommend serving the cake unfrosted.  Now, maybe a naked Bundt (like the Venus de Milo or Miley Cyrus’s shoulder) is sufficiently alluring on its own; but an unadorned, plain-Jane round layer, sans frosting or filling? Well, that just wouldn’t do.  Instead, I omitted the coconut from the cake itself, then added it to a a lemony, gooey topping, reminiscent of the frosting on a German Chocolate Cake, for a little more flair.

I’m happy to report that the HH was very pleased with the final result.  The cake itself revealed a cheery yellow, moist and light interior; the slightly more brash lemony topping, lush and loaded with coconut, provided a great contrast in texture and sweetness.  In fact, the HH seemed so pleased with his treat that I felt perfectly justified asking him to turn down that deafening volume on the stereo.

Since I was inspired by Deb’s adapted version, I’m submitting this entry to Ruth’s weekly Bookmarked Recipes event, over at Ruth’s Kitchen Experiments.

 [This recipe also appears in my cookbook, Sweet Freedom, along with more than 75 others, most of which are not featured on this blog.  For more information, check the Sweet Freedom button at left, or visit this page.]


19 comments to Polish Lemon Cake*

  • Celine

    lovely! I like that it’s made of agave nectar, I’ll give it a try asap.


  • I love coconut so much too! And combining it with lemon is a wonderful combination. I’ll have to try this!


  • I actually completely agree about Veganomicon, while it seems to be the bible of the veg community, do they have to use so much refined and unhealthy crap in their food?

    I have to admit, I laughed when I was reading out your relationship with the HH, seems like you guys have made a good compromise!

    And the cake looks PERFECT. I want some right now!


  • The HH seems to be adapting quite well to your tastes. Which I find it key to a good relationship. Not sacrificing who you are, but enjoying each other regardless. I think anyone would love that cake vegan or not. =)


  • That recipe totally brightened my day: the color (I’m in need of some sunny yellow on this dim, cloudy day), the combination of flavors (lemon and coconut — yum!) and it’s definately going to be easy to convert to gluten-free. Yay!

    Now on to read the last three posts I missed which look equally amazing…


  • “Authentically” Polish or not, that cake sounds FABULOUS!! And I’m glad that HH is loving the cake as well.


  • Awww. Thanks, Ricki! It did not go unnoticed that it was the recipe that began our friendship. 🙂


  • Courtney

    That cake looks amazingly good…the HH is one lucky guy :-)!

    I have never seen coconut flour before…do you think spelt flour would work in place of it? I was thinking this cake would be perfect for a co-workers birthday…



  • I’m part Polish too! Yay for Polish people :o). Oh, and double-yay for gorgeous Polish cake!


  • I did think you were doing lots of healthy cooking lately (and admired you for it). But I am sure HH is glad he has to eat coconut and lemon cake as well as tofu, collards etc! Great dish to bridge the divide in tastes! (NB I am not much of a lemon dessert fan but I do love coconut – especially in gooey icing!)


  • Celine,
    Glad you like it! I try to use agave whenever I can, but pretty much exclusively with lemon or banana flavors, as I find it allows the fruits to shine through.

    It does work pretty well–I am not crazy for coconut, but really liked it with the lemon.

    Thanks so much! Hmmm. . . compromise? Yep, pretty much all the time! But it seems to work. He gets lemon cake, I get loud music–hey, wait a sec. . . !

    The HH is actually great about tolerating my strange food requirements, even though I do joke about him on the blog (and he’s a good sport about that, too). I guess after 11 years, we’ve accepted that we’re not going to change each other! 🙂

    I’d love to hear how this comes out if you do convert it to GF. I’ve been wanting to experiment more with GF baking but am still a little shy of the flour mixtures and finding out that comes out just right!

    Thanks–we both enjoyed it (though I made sure the HH got more, of course!).

    Yep, that was the cake, all right! (I do think the Bundt looks prettier, though). How cool that you remembered that 🙂 .

    Thanks! (Would you talk to the HH for me about it??) 😉 Re: the spelt flour, yes, I think you could just use more spelt. The original recipe (in Veganomicon) used all-purpose flour; Deb mixed AP and coconut; and I took it a step further to coconut flour and spelt. So, what the heck, give it a try! I had been looking for coconut flour for about a year over here, and finally found it at a store called Planet Organic. But supposedly Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods carries it, too.

    Go on! So we must share some ancestors down the line somewhere. . .how very cool (well, there is that mutual love of chocolate, right?)

    Yes, the HH was pretty happy, though I have to admit he was fine with the healthier stuff, too. I guess I’ve been inspired by my course and am trying to stay true to the philosophy–but I could never give up baking entirely!


  • Well then Ricki, Dzień dobry! That’s it, my only Polish phrase, but oft repeated 🙂
    Nice looking cake, I think I am going to have to give in and look out for that book, I just can’t seem to escape it. Sounds like it is the book to have!


  • My two favorite things, lemon and coconut. I saw your comment on my blog and laughed because I have this recipe bookmarked.


  • Holler,
    Well, you’re one phrase ahead of me, then! (I have a vague memory of my dad’s “hello” in Polish when our neighbour would visit. . . but that’s about it). About the book, yes, it does seem to be making the rounds, but truthfully, I’d suggest getting it from the library first before deciding! There are a few fabulous recipes that I make over and over, but I’m not sure it’s worth buying the entire book for just a few.

    What a laugh. I bookmarked the Vegan Dad’s recipe, too! Both lemony, both good in their own way 🙂 .


  • Jedid

    Hi Ricki,
    This cake must be delicious! It looks great and I like coconut very much. It is also another Salba recipe… but why did you decide to put only 1 tsp of Salba in the cake? It would be even more nutritious with more Salba!!
    I am looking forward to more healthy delicious recipes!
    All the best, Jedid.


  • Hi Jedid,
    Thanks so much for your comment–glad you made it to my blog! In my baking, I’m mostly using Salba as an egg substitute, and the one teaspoon seems to work. I’ll have to try out some recipes that use it specifically as a main ingredient, I guess!


  • I made the cake from Vcon. I like your topping. Lemon is such a great warm weather dessert.


  • Stacy McKee

    Hi Ricki,
    I just wanted you to know that I made your Polish Lemon Cake for my husband’s birthday and it was delicious! Thank you so much for the recipe! My husband had requested a lemon cake, and being that I like to follow a healthy vegan, low gi diet, I searched the internet for the best option and yours was definitely it! I did make a few substitutions as I did not have spelt flour or soy milk or soy milk powder, so I used oat flour and all coconut milk. I had to exercise some self control as I did not want to stop eating it!

    Thank you again!
    Stacy McKee


    Ricki Reply:

    Hi Stacy,
    Thanks so much for your comment–and for letting me know you liked the cake! I’m so glad it worked out with the subs and that your husband enjoyed it. 😀


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