Lucy Judkins Durr’s COCONUT ALMOND CAKE

Table of Contents: CAKES

This is not a frosted or iced cake so the cake itself is the feature.  The texture of the grated coconut and the ground almonds are the appeal.  And, I like that it is only lightly sweet.

If possible, grind or grate the coconut one-day in advance to allow it to dry a bit.  I use a food processor to grind the coconut and the almonds.

8 egg whites, must be at room temperature


½ cup butter (no substitutes), room temperature


2 cups granulated sugar, divided


2 ½ cups plain flour


2 tsp. cream of tartar, divided


½ tsp. baking soda


½ tsp. baking powder


¾ cup sweet milk


2 cups fresh ground or grated coconut


1 cup blanched almonds, ground into flour


½ tsp. vanilla extract

 

 

Separate egg whites while the eggs are cold; then allow the egg whites and the butter to come to room temperature (about 70 degrees).   

Prepare a Bundt or tube cake pan with Baker’s Joy or grease and flour the pan.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  

In an electric mixer, cream butter and 1 ¾ cups of the sugar.  Measure the flour, and sift; then re-measure flour by spooning lightly into cups.  Sprinkle a small amount of the flour on the almonds and toss to lightly coat.  Repeat the same process with the grated coconut.

Re-sift the remaining flour with 1 tsp. of the cream of tartar, and baking powder.

Dissolve the baking soda in the milk and stir to blend.  Alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk/soda mixture to the creamed mixture.  Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. By hand, stir in the coconut, almonds, and vanilla until well mixed.

Beat the room temperature egg whites until very stiff.  Then, beat in the remaining ¼ cup sugar and remaining1 tsp. cream of tartar.  Beat until sugar is dissolved.  

By hand, fold the stiff egg white mixture into the batter.  Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, and bake in the preheated oven for 50-55 minutes.  After 40 minutes of baking time, if the cake is browned on top, lay a loose sheet of aluminum foil on top of the cake pan

and continue cooking the final 10 or 15 minutes.  Allow the cake to cool for 20 to 30 minutes before turning it out of the pan.

 

Lucy Judkins Durr was my grandfather’s oldest sister so this recipe dates back at least to the early 1860’s.  The cake would have been made using a wood-burning stove, and the egg whites would have been beaten by hand.  What a job!

I remember Aunt Lucy as a tiny little lady who looked like a Dresden doll.  She lived in Montgomery in a beautiful, huge old home that she had shared with her husband, Mr. John Durr, who owned Durr Drug Co., a Montgomery wholesale pharmaceutical house.  When they celebrated their golden wedding anniversary, Aunt Lucy, wore her original wedding dress.  The dress is now on display at the Alabama Archives & History Museum in Montgomery.

I definitely wandered away from the cake on that story, but hope you enjoyed the history!

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