This month’s installment of The Cake Slice features Southern Coconut Cake. So far, every recipe that I’ve made out of Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes has exceeded my expectations, and I highly recommend that you go out and treat yourself to this cookbook.
Impossibly moist white cake layers are subtly flavored with unsweetened coconut milk, enveloped by a cream cheese buttercream frosting (I gained 5 pounds just typing those words) and covered with sweetened flaked coconut (oops, another 5 pounds).
With all of the cake making happening in my kitchen this month, I cut the recipe in half and baked the cake layers in two 6″ round pans. The instructions for the cake were pretty straightforward, and the layers were baked without a hitch.
The cream cheese buttercream frosting is a bit more involved to coordinate the whipping of the egg whites and heating of the sugar, but the efforts will be rewarded with a frosting that has all the flavor of your traditional cream cheese frosting but with a lighter, fluffier consistency. Good grief, I could have eaten an entire batch this frosting right out of the bowl!
The assembled cake is really beautiful, and I thought the coconut flavor in the cake was nice and subtle. Again, the frosting was out of this world delicious and it wasn’t coyingly sweet or rich…perfect!!
This recipe is on my short list for my friends J&T. You see, they are getting married this September, and I’ve been honored with the responsibility for their wedding cupcakes and dessert display. Am I just a bit panicked? — absolutely!!! Aside from the nervousness, I’m really excited about the opportunity to create something delicious for people that I adore. I’m going to try this recipe out in cupcake form and see how it turns out… wish me luck!
Southern Coconut Cake
Makes an 8-inch triple layer cake
For the cake:
5 large egg whites
½ cup of milk
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
3 cups of cake flour
2 and 1/3 cup sugar
4 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
½ teaspoon of salt
2 sticks of unsalted butter (8oz.) at warm room temperature
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 ½ cups of sweetened flaked coconut for garnishing cake
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Butter the bottoms of three 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a parchment circle and butter the circle.
Put the egg whites in a bowl and whisk slightly. Add the ½ cup of milk and the vanilla and whisk to mix thoroughly; set aside.
In a large mixer bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low, beat dry ingredients well in order to break up any lumps. Add the butter and coconut milk on low speed and beat just to combine. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy about 2 minutes.
Add the egg white mixture in 2 or 3 additions, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Divide the batter among the pans.
Bake for 30 minutes or until a cake taster inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in their pans for 10 minutes. Then turn the cakes out and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
To assemble the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on an 8-inch cake round. Cover this layer with 1 cup of the buttercream frosting. Spread it evenly all the way to edge of the cake. Then sprinkle ½ cup of shredded coconut on top. Add the second layer and repeat the process. Top with the final layer of cake and frost the top and sides of the cake.
Place the remaining 1 ½ cups shredded coconut on a large baking tray. Pick up the cake and hold it on the palm of one hand over the tray. Using the other hand scoop up the coconut and press it to the sides of the cake. Continue with this process until the sides of the cake are covered. Set the cake on a serving plate and sprinkle any remaining coconut on top of cake. Chill cake for at least one hour to allow frosting to firm up a bit.
Cream cheese buttercream frosting
12 ounces of cream cheese, slightly chilled
1 stick of butter plus 6 tablespoons of butter (7 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup of confectioners sugar, sifted after measuring
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup of water
3 egg whites
Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a mixer and beat on medium speed until slightly fluffy and smooth. Add the butter 1-2 tablespoons at a time, mixing until smooth. Add the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla and mix until fluffy. Set aside at room temperature while buttercream is made.
Combine the granulated sugar and water in a small heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Continue to cook without stirring until the syrup reaches the softball stage 228 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
Meanwhile, place the egg whites in mixer bowl and have the mixer ready to go. When the syrup is ready, turn the mixer on med-low and begin mixing the egg whites. Slowly add the hot syrup to the whites taking care not to pour onto the beaters, it may splash. When all the syrup is incorporated, raise the speed on the mixer to med-high and beat the egg whites until mixture has cooled and stiff meringue forms.
With the mixer on low, begin adding the cream cheese mixture by the spoonful. When all is incorporated, raise the speed to medium and whip until frosting is smooth and fluffy.