Coconut Cake, with Coconut Buttercream Frosting, topped with coconut flakes. Obviously for the hardcore coconut lover.
Much to my aggravation, my fiance Mark's birthday happens to be three days after Christmas. It's killer for me because he's already hard to buy for, and I have to think of enough present ideas for two occasions in the same week.
His food tastes, however, are pretty easy to figure out. When I saw the recipe for Coconut Cake in the June/July 2012 issue of BUST magazine several months ago, I knew I had to keep it in mind to try.
So, the morning of his birthday, I woke up at 8 a.m. to put the thing together. I never made a homemade cake before, let alone a layered one, but I was extra motivated by the fact that his mom just bought us a Kitchen Aid mixer for Christmas. It was also my first time making homemade buttercream frosting.
This recipe I found in BUST, but they cited the recipe from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook, by Cheryl Day & Griffith Day. This recipe is repeated nearly verbatim from the magazine.
3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder, preferably aluminum-free
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
3/4 cup cream of coconut (could not find this stuff in the store anywhere, so opted for coconut milk instead)
1 1/2 tsp. pure almond extract
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 lb. (three sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
3 cups sweetened flaked coconut
Prep time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Cook time: 45-50 minutes
Serves: 10 - 12
- Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butt two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans and dust with flour, shaking out the excess.
- Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cardamom and salt; set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the cream of coconut, 1/4 cup water (I used the coconut water leftover in the coconut milk container), the vanilla and the almond extract.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer), cream the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed for 3-5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with the rubber spatula as necessary.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in third, alternating with the cream of coconut mixture and beginning and ending with the flour, mixing just until combined; scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary.
- Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and smooth the tops with a spatula. Tap the pans firmly on the counter top to remove any air bubbles from the batter. (Couldn't really do this part too effectively, since I was using a ceramic pan.) Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean. Let cool for 20 minutes, then remove the cakes from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.
- To assemble the cake: Level the top of one of the layers with a serrated knife so it is flat. Place the layer cut side down on a flat serving plate (you can keep the edgers of the plate clean by sliding strips of parchment paper under the cake while you frost it). With an offset spatula, spread the top of the layer with a big dollop of frosting. (See next recipe). Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of the flaked coconut on top. Place the second layer on top, right side up, and frost the top and sides with the remaining frosting, making swirls with the spatula. Sprinkle some of the remaining coconut on top of the cake and press the rest onto the sides. (I couldn't push on nearly all of the coconut flakes that were allotted, but i tried.) The can can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days.
Our new Kitchen Aid mixer we got for Christmas was put to use quite a bit.
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 tsp. coconut extract
1 lb. (four sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 12 minutes
Yields: 6 cups (It's a lot, I wasn't able to use all of it for the cake, so you'd be OK cutting it down a bit if you want to try.)
- Combine the flour, a 1/2 coup of the milk, the vanilla, and the coconut extract in a small saucepan and whisk until blended. Set the pan over medium heat and gradually add the remaining 1 1/2 cups milk, whisking constantly. Cook the mixture, whisking, until it comes to a low boil, then reduce the heat to low and continue to whisk until the mixture begins to thicken and starts to "burp," 2-3 minutes. (Burp? Their words not mine.)
- Transfer the mixture to a small heatproof bowl and stir it occasionally as it cools to keep it lump-free. (If you do get a few lumps, don't worry. You can whisk the mixture to dissolve the lumps.) Set the mixture aside to cool to room temperature, or put it in the fridge for 10 minutes to speed up the process.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a large bowl, using a handheld mixer), whip the butte on medium speed until soft and creamy, 2-3 minutes. Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes.
- Gradually add the milk mixture, then increase the speed to medium-high and whip until the frosting is light and fluffy, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary with a rubber spatula to make sure the frosting is thoroughly mixed. The frosting can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days.
Mark was pleased with his birthday cake. It's an impressive feat, considering his mom once baked for a living. We each ate a few pieces and I cut the rest to freeze. The cake was delicious, but it's rich as heck. I got kind of sad knowing I used seven sticks of butter for this recipe, but it was for a birthday, and therefore worth it. :)