Last New Years my dad requested coconut cake. It quickly became a big deal and throughout 2011 I have made this cake many many times. You may have tried my coconut cupcakes, which I'd have to say are equally as good. I have learned a few things from practice and I figured that knowledge is useless unless you share it RIGHT? Here is my new and improved recipe and directions adapted from Martha Stewart's Ultimate Coconut Cake. It's a two day process, but WELL worth it.
2 cubes (one cup) butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 1/4 cups flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp coconut extract
1. Okay, the key to good cake is not so much in the ingredients, but in how you mix them so listen up! Do this the day before you want to eat your cake.
2. Cream the butter and sugar together until it is light and fluffy. This takes at least 3 minutes on high in my Kitchen Aid. I use the paddle attachment. Don't melt the better or even let it get to close to room temperature. You need the butter to be cool for this to bake correctly.
3. After the butter and sugar are creamed, add the eggs one at a time. Between each egg, beat them in with the mixer until they are totally incorporated. Once again, this may take a little longer than making a Betty Crocker cake, but you will love it.
4. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in one large mixing cup. Mix the cream, vanilla, and coconut extract in another mixing cup. Start by adding about a 1/4 of the flour mixture. After this is totally incorporated, add about 1/3 of the cream mixture. Carry on until you add the last 1/4 of the flour mixture. So, you're switching off, starting and ending with flour. Don't over beat in between steps. Just mix until it's mixed.
5. Scoop this wonderful, tasty, ice-cream like batter into two greased and floured 8 or 9" baking pans. I use a food scoop like the one is this link to divide the batter evenly. One scoop for this pan, then one scoop for the other pan, and so on. This will ensure that the layers of cake are even. Spread the batter out in the pan and push it away from the middle a little so the cake is flatter.
6. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 - 35 minutes. Don't be opening the oven all the time, just be patient. Also, it's okay if the top of the cake does not feel springy and bouncy like the cakes you may be used to. This is a butter cake and is more dense so just use a toothpick and try not to over bake anything. When these have cooled, pop them out of the pan and wrap them in plastic wrap.
While your cake is baking, do the filling!
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
1 cube ( 1/2 cup) butter
1 T cornstarch
1 T water
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups shredded coconut
1. Place the cream, sugar, and butter in a medium sauce pan. On medium heat, mix everything together until the butter melts and sugar starts to liquefy.
2. Mix the cornstarch and water together in a small bowl or cup. BEFORE the sugar/cream mixture comes to a boil, add the cornstarch/water and mix well.
3. Bring all of this to a boil and let it boil about 2 minutes, stirring continually. The mixture should thicken and look sort of translucent. If the mixture does not seem thick enough, don't worry, it will get thicker as it cools.
4. Take the cream off the heat and add the vanilla and shredded coconut. If you are making this coconut cream for cupcakes and plan on injecting the cream like in Coconut Cupcakes, I suggest shredding the coconut further in a food processor.
5. Remove the coconut cream from the sauce pan and place in a glass or plastic bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place the wrap directly on top of the cream. This will prevent a crust from forming on the cream. Place in refrigerator and let cream cool overnight.
You're done with day 1! This will really only take you about an hour.
On day two, you are ready to whip, toast, assemble and eat.
Start by whipping up your coconut cream in the Kitchen aid. I use the whisk attachment and whip the cream on high for about 2 minutes. This will make the cream turn from that translucent-ish yellowy color to a solid winter white color. If for some reason your cream does not whip up like mine hasn't about a dozen times, just serve it anyway and don't tell anyone you screwed up. They will not know the difference and you can do better next time. The main reason I found for this happening is that the cream was too thick. Try adding less cornstarch or just letting it boil less next time. BUT DON'T WORRY!
Transfer this whipped coconut cream back into it's bowl and mix up the frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 cube (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
4 oz. (half a block) cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
2 T heavy cream
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1. For this frosting it is important that your butter is room temperature and your cream cheese is fridge temperature. Don't try to melt the butter if you forgot to take it out. This will just make it worse. There have been MANY times I have not done this and it never ceases to amaze me that my frosting turns out lumpy EVERY TIME!!! You just can't beat two creamy things together of different consistencies and expect to get a good result. Then again, nobody has ever complained so if you forget to take out butter and want your cake now, proceed.
2. Mix the butter and cream cheese until creamy.
3. Add the powdered sugar, all at once, and mix on the lowest setting. I use the whisk attachment and find that it cuts down on the powdered sugar snow storm that frosting usually turns into.
4. While this is mixing, add your vanilla and the heavy cream. Your amount of cream should be adjusted to your consistency taste. If you are wanting to pipe on any sort of design, use very little cream for a thicker frosting. If you are not a huge frosting fan, I would make it a little thinner by adding more cream. Just take it slow and make sure you taste test. If you do not use cream very often, just use milk. This way the total recipe (coconut cream and cake) uses just two cups of cream. You can just buy a pint and be done with it all! If you do use cream often, buy a quart so you have enough for your frosting.
1. Turn the oven onto 400 degrees.
2. Spread about a cup of shredded coconut thinly on a cookie sheet.
3. Place coconut in the pan and WATCH IT!!! It will only take about 2 minutes to toast and about 2 minutes and 10 seconds to burn. It's okay if some of the coconut looks a little too toasty. Once you mix it all up, you will get a nice overall toasted appearance.
4. Put this in the freezer for a few minutes or just let it cool completely before you put it on your cake.
1. You are now ready to assemble. Unwrap your cakes and cut each one in half to make 4 layers in total. Find a nice size plate to put your cake on.
2. Put a little frosting on the bottom of the plate and place your first cake layer down. Use a layer that originally was a bottom layer to get a good base.
3. Place about 4 scoops of coconut cream on top of the cake layer and spread it out. Put the next layer of cake on the top and repeat. Use one of the top layers for the very top. Your cake will look like this.
4. Crumb coat the cake and then put a thin layer of frosting around the sides and a thicker, nicer looking layer of frosting on the top. I went for the messy butter cream look. The good news is that with this recipe, you will not have a mountain of cream or frosting left over like in the first time we tried this.
5. Take your mixed up toasted coconut and right after you frost (so your frosting doesn't dry out) press it into the sides of the cake. The best way I found to do this is to take a small handful of coconut and starting at the top of the side of the cake, press it in. Work your way down in a horizontal line, then move on to the next section of cake. You will get a little excess around the bottom rim of the cake, but you can just brush this out.
6. You are now ready to EAT!!! This cake is good right now, but even better a few hours later when everything has the chance to settle in. You may remember that in the previous recipe, I used a simple syrup to moisten each layer. I found this too sweet and really unnecessary if you baked the cake well. If your cake seems dry, by all means, spray it down. Enjoy and feel free to spread the joy of this wonderful cake.