Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fresh Coconut Cake

A friend of mine asked me to bring a cake to an event last night and I happily agreed. I made the Baby Chocolate Oblivions from Rose's Heavenly Cakes but then I realized that they probably wouldn't have enough time to cool for the party.  It was supposed to take 4 hours for them to cool.

So fresh from the book signing with Jodi Rhoden, I decided to quickly try out one of her cakes for the party.  I had exactly an hour before I had to leave for a meeting.  I could bake the coconut for 15 minutes while I prepped the cake.  Then I could stick the cake in the oven for 20 minutes.  That's 35 minutes total.  I could make the icing and grate the coconut while it's cooking.  Let it cool for 10 and then ice it in 15.  It's brilliant, right? Exactly one hour.

I opened the fridge and the pantry to begin but discovered that I had all the ingredients except the essentials: eggs, milk, and butter.  I thought I could make it to wal-mart and back and then swing back home later on to ice the cake right before the party.

Lesson of the day: always allot extra time.  Making a cake on the run, especially a coconut cake, is not always the best idea.  Here's why:

1. Have you ever had to crack and shave a coconut? Those things don't mess around.  See below for more details on that.

2.  Things always go wrong.  First I didn't have the right pans.  The recipe calls for 3 nine inch pans but I only had two.  I had three eight inch pans but one of them was silicone.  I went for it anyway with the 8 inch.

3. Then I made a baking mistake.  I didn't put parchment paper in the bottom of the silicone pan because I thought silicone would pull off easily.  I learned my lesson when that layer practically fell apart when I tried to unmold it.

4. I ran out of cream of tartar when making the icing.  As a result, it didn't get to the right consistency.

5. The motor on the hand held mixer died within 5 seconds of turning it on so I had to whisk for 7 minutes straight to try to get the icing to reach the right consistency--even though it was ultimately impossible because it lacked a teaspoon of cream of tartar. Whisking for 7 minutes is quite a task for my measly little muscles.

As a result, I didn't have time to finish it for the party after all. I left it in the oven and asked my roommate to take it out.  

I finally finished it last night before I went to bed.  Then I was a bad girl: I used half fresh coconut and half store-bought coconut because I got sick of shaving it and couldn't tell a huge difference in the taste.  So I guess I cheated a bit.

I cut into the cake this afternoon and it was well worth the work.  The cake itself has a wonderful, buttery flavor and the three layers of coconut icing in between add the perfect amount of flavor. 

After speaking with Jodi yesterday, I learned that it was fine to post some of the recipes.  So if you're in the mood to make a delicious coconut cake, please take a look at this recipe!

Here's what you have to do for the coconut:

1. get your coconut out and preheat the oven to 400 F.

Search the coconut for the "three eyes." 

Use an ice pick to poke a hole in one of the three eyes at the end of the coconut (two of the eyes will be too hard; one will be just soft enough to puncture through). Wiggle the pick around to widen the hole.  

Drain the coconut water through the hole into a bowl.  The water should be fresh and taste pleasant (if it is at all greasy or fowl tasting, your coconut is rancid--start over with a fresh coconut).

You'll get more coconut water than you think.

Place the coconut on a cookie sheet in the oven.  Bake at 400 for no more than 15 minutes to loosen the hull.

Remove the coconut and allow it to cool.

Thankfully the coconut cracked a bit in the oven. 

Then you beat the hull with a mallet until the hard outer hull cracks.

Peel off the hull with your hands, revealing the softer, inner rind.  Peel the innter rind with a vegetable peeler. 

What remains is the fresh, white coconut meat.  Rinse off any debris from the hull, and grate the meat with a cheese grater.

Fresh Coconut Cake

Prep Time: 15 Minutes plus 20 minutes for the coconut

Baking time: 20-25 minutes, plus 15 minutes for the coconut

Decorating time: 15 minutes


For the cake:
2 sticks butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the 7 minute icing:
2 egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/3 cup cold water
dash of salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Fresh, grated meat of 1 coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Prepare the pans:
Spray the bottom and sides of three 9-ich round cake pans liberally with cooking spray.  Place the pans on a sheet of parchment paper and trace three circles of the same size as the bottoms of the pans.  Cut the circles out and place in the bottoms of the greased pans.

Make the batter:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating the mixture well with each addition.  Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl, and beat again until the mixture is smooth, light, and creamy.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Add the vanilla.  Beat the batter until smooth after each addition.

Bake the cake:
Gently scrape the batter into the pans, distributing all of the batter evenly among the three pans.  Place in the preheated oven, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the sides of the cake have pulled away from the sides of the pan.   Allow the cakes to cool in the pans, then remove from the pans and det aside until you are ready to ice them.

Make the 7 minute icing:
Fill the bottom of a double boiler with water and bring it to a boil.  Turn the heat down to medium to maintain a steady simmer. In the top of a double boiler, combine all the ingredients except the vanilla and the fresh coconut, and beat with an electric handheld mixer (you can also whip the mixture by hand with a whisk) for 7 minutes or until the icing holds a stiff peak.  Remove from heat, add the vanila, and then beat the icing to incorporate the vanilla.

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