Coconut cake is severely underrated. Like, I almost kicked myself for not having made it before. Until I read this blog post a few weeks ago, it wasn’t even on my radar. Shame, shame on me. Airy, yet dense it is an unexpected hit that makes you not even miss the fact it has no chocolate in it (seriously). I dare you to eat just one slice.
There is something about the look of a layered cake that is just impressive. However, I always struggle with what to do with all that cake. Nine inch cake pans create a cake that can feed an army. The solution to my problem was solved when I received these as a gift, which are great when you’re not trying to feed 30+ people. You simply halve most cake recipes (which is what I did with the below) and you have an adorable layered cake of which you’re not trying to pawn slices off on your neighbors, co-workers, mailman, etc. While this does tend to make you quite popular with your baked-good recipients, eventually I’ve found they begin to begrudgingly accept the aforementioned treats mumbling as they walk away that you’re ‘making them fat’. So, on that note, I highly recommend purchasing a set of six inch pans.
Beware though, as six inch cake is a bit trickier to work with and much less forgiving then it’s nine inch counterpart. I came across a tip awhile back that I now swear by. Make your cake a day ahead and then freeze it. It is lightyears easier to handle and frost when frozen and does not effect the taste or end result in at all a negative way.
inspired by her holiness, the barefoot contessa.
For the cake (for a 3 layer, 6 inch cake, halve all)
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
2 cups sugar
5 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup milk
4 ounces unsweetened shredded coconut
For the lemon curd (for a 3 layer 6 inch cake, halve all)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
4 extra-large eggs
1/2 cup lemon juice (3 to 4 lemons)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
For the frosting
4 large (approximately 135 g) egg whites
1 1/4 cups (250 g) granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons (30 g) coconut water
1/4 teaspoon (1 g) salt
1 teaspoon (5 g) coconut extract
1/2 teaspoon (3 g) vanilla extract
2 cups large, unsweetened dried coconut flakes, toasted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans, then line them parchment paper. Grease them again and dust lightly with flour.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl once during mixing. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. The mixture might look curdled; don’t be concerned.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter in 3 parts, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in the 4 ounces of coconut with a rubber spatula.
Pour the batter evenly into the 2 pans and smooth the top with a knife. Bake in the center of the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until the tops are browned and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a baking rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a baking rack to finish cooling.
Using a carrot peeler, remove the zest of 3 lemons, being careful to avoid the white pith. Put the zest in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the sugar and pulse until the zest is very finely minced into the sugar.
Cream the butter and beat in the sugar and lemon mixture. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined.
Pour the mixture into a 2 quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. The lemon curd will thicken at about 170 degrees F, or just below simmer. Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate.
In bowl that’s big enough to sit comfortably over a double boiler, pour in your egg whites and sugar.
Place it over a pot filled with a couple of inches of simmering water. Start whisking immediately, or the heat will start scrambling the egg whites.
Whisk for a couple of minutes. The sugar will dissolve and the mixture will get very warm. If you do the finger test, the mixture will be ready once it is no longer ‘grainy’. The sugar will be fully dissolved and smooth. Immediately remove from heat and pour into your stand mixer.
Whip on high speed until high peaks form. It will be thick and gooey, billowy and meringue-y. This is a swiss meringue. And it is perfection.
Pour in the salt, coconut extract, vanilla extract, and coconut water, and let that whip in for 15 more seconds. We’re ready to frost.
Set the first layer down on your cake stand. Dump enough icing in a ziplock bag, and cut a small hole in said bag to line the inner rim of your cake with frosting (this ensures lemon curd doesn’t leak down the sides.
Spoon and spread lemon curd. Put down second cake layer and repeat.
Spread a thin layer of icing all around cake. This is your ‘crumb’ layer. Refrigerate for 5 minutes.
Spread final layer of icing on your cake. Take handfuls of toasted coconut flakes and press into cake.