The first time I flew in an airplane, I was a teenager. My parents, my sister and I flew to Athens to visit our relatives. I was so excited to finally fly. I don’t remember much from the flight but I do remember that it was a very turbulent approach to the Athens airport. In my excitement, being a teenager on his first flight, I didn’t care. I kept turning to my dad who was sitting next to me trying to show him all the things I could see from my window seat but he was still as a statue, gripping the arm rests, trying hard not to throw up.
Before that first flight with my family to Athens, I had always loved going to the airport to pick up aunts and uncles visiting us from abroad. It seemed like such a magical place of people appearing, literally, out of thin air. I loved the chimes sound that preceded every announcement and the constant hum of people moving about. My love of airports continued for a while. The second time in my life that I boarded a plane, it was to travel to Philadelphia to begin my life in the U.S., a life that gave me many trips all over the world. For many years, I loved the different airports I got to visit. It wasn’t until much later, especially after 9/11, when airports became synonymous with stress, worry and unhappy crowds for me.
I remember talking with my mom one day after that first family flight to Athens. We were remembering all the things we did on our trip and we were reliving them by retelling them. “This is why I love the idea of traveling,” she said. “Because it means I get to see things I’ve never seen before and eat food I’ve never tasted before.” That last part always stayed with me and still makes me excited about traveling. It meant tasting fresh coconut for the first time in my life. Or curiously slicing into my first ripe passion fruit, wondering if it has gone bad, all wrinkly and hard as leather, and greeted with a bright yellow liquid interior studded with seeds, perfuming the air with its intoxicating scent.
Dairy-Free Coconut and Passion Fruit Pound Cake
2/3 cup virgin & unrefined coconut oil
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 eggs and 1 egg yolk
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
2/3 cups of passion fruit pulp
Preheat the oven to 350º F. Lightly grease an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan and line with parchment paper leaving extra paper overhanging over both long sides.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a mixer with the paddle attachment, add the coconut oil and mix for 10 seconds at medium speed. While mixer is running, add sugar and mix for another 2 minutes, stopping half way to scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs and yolk and continue mixing until combined, about 10-15 seconds more.
Add half of the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Add passion fruit pulp and mix a few seconds more to incorporate. Add remainder of flour mixture and mix until just combined (do not overmix).
Scrape batter in prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 70-75 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean.
Place pan on rack and let cool for 15 minutes before removing cake from pan and letting it cool completely on the rack before slicing and serving.