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Musical pairing – Soak Up the Sun by Sheryl Crow
I’m going to keep this short and sweet – if you are a lover of all things coconut, I may have just the cake for you. No really, I have spent the last month testing various coconut cake recipes and so far, this has been my favorite!
While most recipes have a cream cheese-type frosting and use bagged sweetened coconut, I find them much to cloyingly sweet for my taste. Not to mention heavy and not enough real coconut flavor. This recipe uses fresh coconut as well as the fresh coconut water inside – yes, it is a pain in the hiney to break, peel and grate said fresh coconut but the payoff is exponential with an oh-so-lovely-milky-coconut-flavor. The frosting has a cooked meringue-like taste, texture and mouth feel – as I said, this cake is now at the top of my list.
I will not lie and say you can whip all this loveliness in an hour or two; you can’t. But you can make your cakes at least one day, if not two days, ahead; the frosting comes together in less than 30 minutes total. Assembling the cake will take you another 30 minutes, give or take (if you’re a baker and make cakes with your eyes closed, it will take you less time than it did me); once assembled, you’ll need to allow another 2 hours of refrigerator time for the flavors to meld together.
Then it’s stand back and wait for the oohs and ahhhs . . . because those are gonna come . . . oh yes indeedy, they will come . . .
You might also like this recipe from our friends, The Peche!
NOTE: The only thing I changed from the original recipe is in the method; several pastry chefs I’ve talked with have said that cakes need at least one day to rest before frosting them – two is even better. I followed their advice and rested my cake before frosting – the process was flawless!
Saveur March 2012
Serves 10-12 generously
FOR THE CAKE:
- 2 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted plus more for dusting pans
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 16 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans
- 2 cups sugar
- 5 eggs
FOR THE FROSTING:
- 4 egg whites
- 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2-1/4 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup water
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 mature coconuts, reserve coconut water (if you can find coconuts that have been pre-scored, buy them – will save you time!)
- Heat oven to 350°.
- Sift together cake flour baking soda and salt; set aside
- Stir together buttermilk and vanilla; set aside
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat together sugar and butter until pale and fluffy, 2–3 minutes.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until smooth.
- Stir together buttermilk and vanilla and with the mixer on low speed, add to batter alternately with cake flour, beating until just combined.
- Pour batter into two buttered and floured 9″ round cake pans, and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, 35-40 minutes.
- Let cakes cool completely, unmold, wrap tightly and let rest overnight
NEXT DAY (OR TWO DAYS)
- Pierce coconut eye and drain coconut water through a fine strainer into a small bowl, and reserve
- Crack coconut completely open and into pieces; peel off outer layer and finely grate coconut meat; set aside (I grated mine in my food processor using the large grater attachment)
- In a 2-qt. saucepan, stir together sugar, corn syrup, salt, and water; stir over medium-high heat until sugar is melted
- Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and, without stirring, boil over high heat until sugar mixture reaches 250 degrees (critical to the success to your frosting holding together so pay attention here!)
- Place egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, and mix on low speed until frothy; increase speed to medium-high and beat egg whites until soft peaks form; turn mixer off
- When sugar mixture reaches 250°, return mixer to medium-high speed and slowly drizzle the hot sugar syrup in a small, steady stream into the egg whites, making sure not to let the syrup hit the whisk or side of the bowl; continue beating until stiff peaks form and bottom of mixing bowl is still slightly warm to the touch – about 5-6 minutes
TO ASSEMBLE THE CAKE:
- Split each in half horizontally to create four layers
- Place one cake layer cut side up on a cake stand and drizzle with 2-3 Tablespoons of the reserved coconut water to moisten
- Spread a 1/4-inch thick layer of icing (about 1 cup) on top
- Sprinkle with a handful of grated coconut
- Repeat with two more layers, and then top with the last layer, cut side down
- Spread remaining icing over top and side of cake and then cover with grated coconut, lightly pressing it into the frosting to adhere
- Cover with a cake dome, or loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving
- Serve chilled or at room temperature