Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Coconut Cake

I've been wanting to make this for a while.  I bought the coconut milk weeks ago.  The problem is, people either love or hate coconut.  There is no in-between.  Finally, I decided that I don't care.  I want a light, fluffy coconut cake, and I have three afternoons off in a row to have tea.

There are an amazing number of coconut cake recipes out there.  Alton Brown's is one of the most complicated and coconuttiest I found.  None were exactly what I wanted, but one came close.  This is a variation of About.com's cake, with cake flour instead of all-purpose and one more egg white.  Warning: the original recipe is badly written and very badly formatted.  I had to rewrite it before I could try to bake one.

I admit, I have more egg whites in my freezer right now than most people do.  Ice cream.  There is nothing wrong with buying a carton of egg whites and using the manufacturer's measurements to figure out how much should go in the recipe.

I cheated on the frosting, mainly because I did not feel like making a boiled icing.  Since I had made a 1/3 cake, I whipped up a small batch of Wilton's buttercream icing for the filling (using coconut milk in place of regular) and used store-bought whipped cream frosting for the exterior.  The amount of coconut flakes you use to decorate the cake has less to do with how much you like coconut and more to do with how neatly you frosted the cake.  Note the excessive quantities of coconut flakes on mine.  And there are only three layers in the photo cake because I made a 1/3-recipe 6" cake, and that was how many I was able to get out of it without breaking the layers.

*3 C cake flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
*1/2 C shortening
1/2 C unsalted butter (not margarine)
2 C granulated sugar
1-1/2 C coconut milk  (save remaining few Tb in can to flavor icing)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
*6 egg whites
*1/2 to 1 C sweetened coconut flakes
about 4 C white icing

1.  Grease two 9" cake pans and line bottoms with waxed paper.  Lightly grease the paper.  Set aside.

2.  Cream together shortening, butter, and 1-1/2 C sugar.

3.  Sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.  Separately, combine coconut milk and extracts.  Starting and ending with the flour, beat flour and milk into butter in stages until combined.  Do not whip.

4.  Preheat oven to 350º.  In a separate bowl with clean beaters, beat egg whites to soft peaks.  Slowly add remaining 1/2 C of sugar and beat into a meringue.  Fold meringue into batter.  Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for about 30 minutes, until light golden and the top springs back when touched.

5.  Cool cakes in pans on a rack for 10 minutes.  Turn out onto cooling rack, remove waxed paper, and cool completely.  Can even be refrigerated and finished the next day.

6.  To decorate:  Slice each layer in half, creating a total of 4 layers of cake.  Place a dab of icing in the center of the serving platter or cake circle and place a bottom layer upside down on it.  Cover with a thin layer of icing, then sprinkle lightly with coconut.  Follow with a right-side up top layer, icing, and coconut.  Repeat with the other cake.  (The cut side of the layer will always face down.  It makes it way easier to ice.)  If necessary, chill cake again before icing the outside.  As a final touch, sprinkle outside of cake with coconut flakes.  Once icing is set, the cake may be served.

Serves 12 to 16

Difficulty rating :)

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