Coconut Cake

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Wouldn’t you know. On Jeff’s Birthday I’m ready to make this cake and… the oven is broken. It won’t heat and it’s only three years old! Luckily I had only prepared the cake pans while attempting to preheat the oven, so it wasn’t a total loss. We had an extended warranty on the stove but even with that it took a couple weeks to be resolved. Like it didn’t work when the repairman showed up, then it did and he left unsure of what was wrong, and then it didn’t again so he came back the next week after ordering parts. Turns out the ignitor needed replacing. Anyway, back to cake! I changed a few things but mostly stuck to this recipe. The original recipe says to buy a coconut and drill holes in it, bake it, crack it and all sorts of crazy stuff I didn’t want to do, so I just bought coconut cream and milk in cans at the market. It came out great. Really great. The texture of the cake is perfect, it has a nice density to it. The flavor is exactly what you would want. I read the reviews on the cake and one of the biggest complaints was the frosting, that it tasted too much like marshmallow, and I knew I didn’t want that super sweet stuff, so I made a version of the frosting I made last year for Jeff’s Birthday Cake with Mascarpone and whipped cream. Last time I ran short on frosting, so for this recipe I doubled it, then I went lightly frosting the layers (as you can see), but I ended up with so much leftover! I was concerned about running out, but believe me you can pile on the frosting between layers and have plenty for the top and sides. This is a delicious cake and well worth making.

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Coconut Cake

  • Butter, for cake pan
  • 14 1/4 ounces cake flour, plus extra for pans, approximately 3 cups
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh coconut cream
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 16 ounces sugar, approximately 2 1/4 cups
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 4 egg whites
  • Coconut flakes 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter 2 (9-inch) cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper and then flour the pans. Set aside.

Place the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.

Combine the coconut milk and coconut cream in small bowl and set aside.

Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer and using the paddle attachment, cream on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Decrease the speed to low and gradually add the sugar slowly over 1 to 2 minutes. Once all of the sugar has been added, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides. Turn the mixer back on to medium speed and continue creaming until the mixture noticeably lightens in texture and increases slightly in volume, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the coconut extract.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the milk mixture to the butter and sugar in 3 batches, ending with the milk mixture. Do not over mix.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the batter, just until combined. Divide the batter evenly between the pans and bang the pans on the counter top several times to remove any air and to distribute the batter evenly in the pan. Place in the oven on the middle rack. Bake for 40 minutes or until the cake is light golden in color and reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees F.

Cool the cake in the pans for 10 minutes then remove and transfer to a cooling rack. Wrap the cakes in plastic wrap and refrigerate, they will be easier to slice. While the cakes are chilling prepare the frosting (recipe below) Assemble: Cut across the equator of each to form 4 layers.  Frost each layer with a generous amount, then top with coconut flakes.

Mascarpone Whipped Cream Frosting

  • 2 cup mascarpone
  • 2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract

Beat together all ingredients in a stand mixer for a couple minutes until fluffy. 

Adapted from Alton Brown