Monday, April 01, 2013

Holy Coconut Cake, Batman!

First and foremost, if you've never opened a real coconut, go online and check out the YouTube video how-to's because I seriously felt like I was in a Tom and Jerry cartoon when I was trying to open my coconut for this recipe. Once I went online, I was like a pro at opening it.

Second of all, USE A REAL COCONUT. For my peeps in the West Coast, I know we can find coconuts pretty much every where specially in the Asian or Mexican markets. I know this may not be possible in other parts of our country and in that case, use unsweetened coconut flakes and a good, plain coconut water--these are sold pretty much in every grocery store now.

Lastly, don't give up. This cake is a labor of love and you need some time management. If you're a busy person, like me, this is what I did: I grated the coconut three days before, then made the cake two days before and the frosting the day of--which was Easter.

This cake was, simply, quite spectacular. The recipe came straight from my Saveur magazine, which I am so happy to be subscribed to, really! Of course, I did a few changes, but they were minor. I basically just reduced the amount of sugar to both cake and frosting. Still, the cake was fabulous and this is definitely one of those special occasion cakes. Happy baking!

INGREDIENTS (serves 10 - 12)

  • 16 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour, plus more for pans, sifted
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar (original recipe calls for 2 cups)
  • 5 eggs
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar (original recipe calls for 2 1/4 cups)
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup fresh coconut water
  • 3 cups freshly grated coconut
  1. Make the cake: Heat oven to 350°. 
  2. Butter and flour two 9″ cake pans, and set aside. 
  3. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; set aside. Whisk together buttermilk and vanilla in a bowl; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. On low speed, alternately add dry ingredients in 3 batches and wet ingredients in 2 batches. Increase speed to high, and beat until batter is smooth, about 5 seconds. 
  4. Divide batter between prepared pans, and smooth top with a rubber spatula; drop pans lightly on a counter to expel large air bubbles. Bake cakes until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cakes cool for 20 minutes in pans; invert onto wire racks, and let cool. Using a serrated knife, halve each cake horizontally, producing four layers; set aside.
  5. Make the frosting: Place egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, and beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form; turn mixer off. 
  6. Bring sugar, syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup tap water to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar; attach a candy thermometer to side of pan, and cook, without stirring, until thermometer reads 250°, 4–5 minutes. 
  7. Turn mixer to medium speed, and very slowly drizzle hot syrup into beating egg whites. Add vanilla, and increase speed to high; beat until meringue forms stiff peaks and is slightly warm to the touch, about 3 minutes.
  8. To assemble, place one layer on a cake stand, drizzle with 3 tbsp. coconut water, spread with 1 1/2 cups frosting, and sprinkle with 1/2 cup grated coconut; top with another cake, drizzle with 3 tbsp. coconut water, spread with 1 1/2 cups frosting, and sprinkle with 1/2 cup coconut. Place another cake over frosting, drizzle with 3 tbsp. coconut water, spread with 1 1/2 cups frosting, and sprinkle with 1/2 cup coconut; top with remaining cake and drizzle with remaining coconut water. Cover top and sides with remaining frosting, and cover outside of cake with remaining coconut, pressing it lightly to adhere; chill cake to firm frosting. Serve chilled. 

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