Wednesday, January 9, 2013

"THE" Coconut Cake (Stick with me, if you hate coconut)

**If you've been a regular visitor to my blog, I thank you! Welcome to my remodeled Blog Kitchen.  We've repainted it, decluttered it, and added some update social media buttons-- from Pinterest to Google +.  I'm very happy with the new and modern look, and I hope you find this to be user friendly.
I'm still seeing a boatload of "Healthy Recipes" on the cover of food magazines, and on a lot of the food blogs that I visit. I keep pinning them, and promising that I'm going to make at least five one a week, for my family.

It just doesn't seem right that the height of Diet Season falls smack in between Thanksgiving, Christmas and Superbowl or Valentine's Day, does it?  So, I don't feel guilty that I'm sharing a cake recipe, a few weeks before the next onslaught of holidays are almost upon us.  Do you really want to know that Super Bowl Sunday is just a tad over three weeks away? Hello, Guacamole, Chili and all the non-health food fixin's!

My bestie, of over 35 years, loves coconut cake. So, when Craig and I drove almost 90 miles to visit her, I promised that I'd make her favorite cake for dessert.  I've made Ina Garten's  and America's Test Kitchen's Coconut Cake.  Both of those recipes do have their virtues. Ina's is good-- especially if you love cream cheese frosting--but it's really more of a white cake with coconut flakes in the frosting.  ATK's cake was also good, albeit a bit "dry" (and I'm pretty cautious about not overbaking my cakes).  However, the Coconut Swiss Buttercream is the star of this cake-- silky and loaded with four sticks of butter!

This time, I wanted to try a different route. I wanted a moist white cake, that tastes like coconut. I also wanted a frosting (with only one stick of butter) that would taste like coconut--and then I wanted to add toasted coconut to finish off the whole cake.  If you absolutely hate coconut, just leave out any coconut related ingredients. This cake will yield a moist white cake. 

I adapted a recipe from King Arthur Flour, because I had purchased a bag of their Coconut Milk Powder, and a bottle of Coconut Flavor.  I didn't have a bag of their Queen Guinevere Cake Flour, but I always have their Unbleached Cake Flour on hand, so that's what I used.

Instead of separating six eggs, for the whites only, I used Liquid Egg Whites. I also used buttermilk, instead of regular milk.  I took a gamble that the buttermilk would be a help in my quest for a tender and moist white cake.  See the baked white cakes, and those silver "bands" around the cake pan? I believe they really do work!  My cakes bake more evenly.

For the frosting, I used powdered sugar, butter, vanilla and coconut extract-- and about 1/2 cup of coconut cream (not to be confused with coconut milk).

I decided to add a layer of Meyer Lemon Curd, that I made (and canned) a while ago.  Lemon Curd is super easy to make, and I'll show you how right here.  Or, you can buy a jar of it, which you can easily find at most grocery stores.  I figured that the lemon tartness would tone down the sweetness of the  buttercream frosting.

Here's a really cool frosting tip that works great!  I'm not fond using disposable frosting bags (they're expensive and wasteful), and the zip-loc bag things works "okay".  I just prefer a frosting bag.  So, here's what I do-- on a sheet of plastic wrap, I plop a mound of frosting. Then, I grab both ends and swing it around until the ends look like this.

Slip one end through the piping bag, coupler and tip and then cut off the end.  Once you're finished with piping your frosting, simply remove the frosting by pulling out from the other end. Your piping bag is clean!  You can easily switch frosting colors, this way. Works great!
I began by piping a "wall barrier" around the bottom layer of the cake, and then spread a generous cup full of lemon curd.

The beauty of this cake, is that you don't have to be meticulous about how you frost the outside.  Once frosted, I added toasted coconut (you could leave it untoasted, if you prefer).  It's helpful to hold the cake over a baking tray, to catch excess coconut.

Anytime that I bring a cake to a party or event, it's a given that one slice will be missing.  My friends are used to it, now. I have to slice into it, so I can photograph it. Plus, I wouldn't want to serve a cake that isn't any good, would I?

Well?  Is this the coconut cake?  First, it has a  tender crumb and it's very moist.  I taste a perfect balance of coconut, with a slight hint of vanilla.  The frosting is sweet, of course, with notes of coconut and I love the chewy crunch of the toasted coconut flakes.  Ah, the lemon curd. Yes, that's a great combination-- tart lemon, sweet frosting, tender cake.  Yep, I'm happy with this recipe... but, I don't dismiss Ina's nor America's Test Kitchen.  So, now I you have three versions to choose from!

So was my friend.  I took home a few slices, and they are individually wrapped in plastic wrap and in the freezer.  When temptation calls me, to eat a slice, I know that I have to wait at least a half hour for it to thaw.  This is a good way for me to resist eating all of it!  So, you see, I can still practice moderation.

Just don't offer me a plate full of Rice Krispie Treats. This is where I get into trouble.  I can eat the entire pan, if left to my own devices.  There's something about...oh, never mind.

Here's the recipe:

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Monica H said...

This cake looks great and so does your new blog look. I love it!

bellini said...

Loving the new look Deb. It seems we have the same designer as well. Emily is great! AS for the cake coconut is second only to lemon in my books.

Lisa Ghenne said...

New blog design looks amazing and so does that cake! I love coconut! I could eat half that cake myself? Beautiful!

Susan said...

I would have no problems sitting down to a piece of this beautiful cake. I LOVE your frosting tip!!!!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

*swoon* I love coconut and this looks amazing. I am unfamiliar with coconut milk powder. I guess I have to familiarize myself more with my King Arthur catalog. I probably would have just swapped out the liquid in the cake with coconut milk, which would have sacrificed the buttermilk texture.

Thanks for the pastry bag tip. I HATE cleaning pastry bags. So messy.

Proud Italian Cook said...

Hi Deb, Love your new design! it looks really nice, congrats! I adore coconut cake one of my favorites, I wouldn't let that cake leave my house!

Cathy at Wives with Knives said...

I've been waiting for this coconut cake recipe, Debby. Can't wait to try it. I LOVE your new look!!!!!! Emily did a fantastic job. It really showcases your gorgeous photos. This is a great way to start the new year. Well done.

Anne @ Webicurean said...

WOW that looks beautiful! Love the blog makeover too!

Calamity Kate said...

What a beautiful cake! I love all things coconut and all things lemon curd. Thanks so much for sharing this delicious cake! Kate

Karen said...

I haven't had coconut cake in years. Do you remember the coconut cakes in the store. they were cut in half and wrapped in plastic. They were SO good. I wonder if they still make those.

Joanne said...

I ADORE all things coconut...especially baked goods! I need this cake in my life.

Kate said...

I have been waiting for the cake recipe! It looks yummy! YOur blog...absolutely beautiful, Debby! I love the new look. It is so clean and fresh....