Ever grilled with mesquite wood? The caramel aspect of the wood lends meats and veggies — or anything you grill over it — an intriguing sweet-smoky flavor that you don’t often come across. Well, guess what? The same tree bears edible pods that can be dried and then ground into flour. Happily, the same caramel flavor that mesquite wood brings to the table is present in the flour that’s made from the mesquite pods … which means that you can enjoy a unique caramel flavor in your baked goods, too.
Mesquite flour has a very pronounced flavor, so I don’t use mesquite flour in portions higher than 25% of the total flour in the recipe. For this cake, though, I opted to go 100% mesquite in the streusel to complement the cake’s spicy nature. (And I only used mesquite in the topping — the cake includes millet, teff, and brown rice flours.) The caramel flavor of mesquite is also a great pair with anything chocolate: chocolate cake, chocolate-chip cookies, brownies, you name it.
Since mesquite flour is hard to find in stores outside of the Southwestern states where it’s grown, I order mine from the aptly named Mesquitery, which carries not one but eight (!) varieties of mesquite flour. The flour stores well in a cool, dark place, so sometimes I order more than one type at a time. If you don’t have mesquite flour, though, this honey- and yogurt-based cake will still please your taste buds. It makes a great breakfast, too!
Spiced Yogurt Coffee Cake
To make the streusel:
1/4 cup mesquite flour* OR 1/4 cup brown rice* OR 1/4 cup teff flour*
1/4 cup sucanat
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cardamom
1/2 tsp. allspice
Generous 1 cup of chopped walnuts OR pecans
6 T. butter (if you use unsalted butter, add a dash of sea salt to the streusel), chilled
To make the cake:
3/4 cup millet flour*
3/4 cup brown rice flour*
1/2 cup teff OR sorghum flour*
1/2 tsp. cardamom
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 stick butter (8 tablespoons), softened
1 tsp. vanilla OR lemon extract
4 eggs, preferably from pastured hens
1/2 cup honey
1 cup whole-milk plain Greek yogurt (Fage Total is a great choice)
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a tube pan with butter and then dust it with flour. (I sprinkle on some flour and then turn the pan sideways, tapping and turning it to dust the sides as well as the bottom.) Set aside.
Make the streusel by whisking together all of the ingredients except the butter. Use a pastry cutter (or two knives in a cross-crossing motion) to cut the butter into the flour mixture. You’ll wind up with small crumbs and a good workout for your arms. Stash the streusel in the fridge while you make the cake.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, spices, and baking soda and powder. In a large bowl, cream the butter with the vanilla for at least 2 minutes or until the butter has become pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the honey and yogurt.
If you’re making a gluten-free cake, you can beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture, adding the flour in thirds and beating after each third. If you’re using wheat-based flours, stir in the flours just until the batter is mixed. (You can overdevelop the gluten through excess stirring/beating. Obviously, that’s not a concern if you’re using gluten-free flours.)
Pour half of the batter into the readied pan. Sprinkle on half of the streusel. Finish pouring in the batter and top the cake with the remaining streusel. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean and warm.
Let cake cool completely on a wire rack before running a spatula around the edges to loosen the cake from the pan. Leftover cake can be left out at room temp for 2 days or refrigerated — tightly wrapped to prevent it from drying out in the refrigerator’s dry climate — for 5 days. Should the cake become a little on the dry side, serve with a dollop of yogurt and a drizzle of honey. (Or drizzle with unrefined walnut or pecan oil.)
* These are gluten-free flours. If you’d rather make a whole-wheat version, substitute an equivalent of kamut, spelt, or whole-wheat flours.
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