You guessed it. I made another birthday cake. This month, it was for my friend Tim (buy his book!). I LOVE anything coconut. Coconut milk, coconut rum, coconut cream pie, Almond Joys, those neopolitan coconut candies made by Brachs, you get the idea. It’s the wonder fruit. So versatile and delicious. Is it a fruit? It is definitely the weirdest one. You need a hammer and an awl to get in one of those bad boys. But then you get to reap the benefits of its dank interior. When I lived in Raleigh, I would every once in a while make a special trip to Hayes Barton for an enormous slice of their coconut cake. (*side note- if ever in Raleigh and you want an absurdly huge piece of cake or pie, go to Hayes Barton. In fact all their portions are huge, so go hungry). I’m not sure if this one is as good, but it’s pretty damn good.
Luckily, Tim also likes coconut cake. He told me tales of his mom’s coconut cake that was “wet” it was so moist. Not sure if I’m picturing that correctly…As usual, I was hard pressed to find a good recipe. My criteria this time though was that it had to be coocnutty (as well as moist and delicious). Just because a cake is white, with white frosting and has coconut all over it, it doesn’t mean that cake is a coconut cake. In fact that is unacceptable. The coconut must be infused. The cake must reek of Coppertone…but not taste of it. The whole thing should transport you back to a 1953 vacation in the tropics when coconuts were exotic.
I also knew I wanted the cake to be white all over. White cake, white frosting, untoasted coconut. The cake recipe (not frosting! frosting will follow) I chose is from Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes. I found the recipe posted on another blog and the woman discussed it’s coconutty-ness which made it sound delicious. What sold me though, was her photograph of the slice. This is actually how I search for recipes and mold them together. I use Google IMAGES. I find the picture that most resembles what I want the end result to look like and go from there.
You can see from the picture of my slice, this cake is white and dense, and you can’t really tell, but the moisture level is good. You can also note how I should have evened out the layers but I am unprofessional like that. I want it to look relatively good but what matters most to me is how it tastes. The recipe is called Southern Coconut Cake. I figured since Tim’s mom is Southern, this might be a comparable cake. This frosting suggested, however, was a cream cheese frosting, which, don’t get me wrong, I love, but it didn’t seem traditional for a coconut cake. Instead I used this one from America’s Test Kitchen:
4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
Pinch table salt
1# butter, soft but kind of cold
1/4c cream of coconut
1t coconut extract
Combine whites, sugar and salt in a bowl over slightly boiling water and whisk until opaque. Transfer to mixer and beat on high until whites are cool and thick and sticky. Reduce speed and beat in butter a little at a time. Beat in rest of ingredients scraping down the bowl as necessary.
I used half this recipe for icing. (Something about a pound of butter kind of made me think, yikes!) The cake it is originally for is a four layer cake so I didn’t think I needed as much. I actually had barely enough, and the only reason i got away with it is because I covered the cake in coconut flakes. So if you are making this a three layer cake or if you really like frosting make the full recipe. If you are like me and like minimal frosting, you can get away with half. I really enjoyed this cake. The coconut flavor is there but not insane. You get more coconut out of the frosting than the actually cake. The frosting is not super sweet as well, more buttery than sweet. It was dense and kept for a few days, wrapped. You could also toast the coconut if you like it better that way. All in all, a winner.