My version in front……not bad.
Look for my column in the New Haven Register featuring Amy’s Bread.I
Inspired by co-author Toy’s childhood memories of a favorite Hawaiian luau dessert, this light-textured yellow cake is not too sweet and has a subtle coconut flavor that comes from real coconut milk not coconut extract. This white beauty, finished with a rich, creamy Coconut Custard Frosting and a generous sprinkling of shredded coconut, will transport you to the islands with the very first bite. Because the Coconut Custard Frosting will sour if left too long at room temperature, once frosted, this cake must be kept refrigerated. Be sure to remove it from the refrigerator about an hour before serving, as the delicate texture and flavor of the cake are best when enjoyed at room temperature.
Make the custard base for the Coconut Custard Frosting one day ahead so it can be refrigerated overnight. The next day, before you start making the cake, fold the whipped cream into the custard base and return it to the refrigerator to chill thoroughly while you are mixing, baking, and cooling the cake layers.
Yield: one 9-inch double-layer cake
3 ¾ cups Cake flour, sifted
1 TBL + ¼ tsp Baking powder
½ tsp. Baking soda
¼ tsp. Kosher salt
1 cup Buttermilk
½ cup Coconut milk*
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
¾ cup unsalted butter,
2 cups Sugar
4 large Eggs
1 recipe Coconut Custard
Frosting (recipe follows)
2 cups sweetened flaked
coconut, loosely packed
Equipment: two 9 x 2-inch round cake pans
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease the cake pans. Line the bottoms with rounds of baking parchment then dust them lightly with flour. Shake out the excess. Or use Baker’s Joy baking spray that contains both oil and flour, so you don’t have to flour the pan. With Baker’s Joy, put the parchment liner in after you spray the pan. Spray the parchment liner with Bakery’s Joy after you put it into the pan.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until they are well combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, coconut milk, and vanilla.
3. Using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until it is light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Add the eggs gradually, mixing well after each addition, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl often.
4. Lower the mixing speed to medium-low and add the flour mixture to the butter in 3 parts, alternating with 2 parts of the buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix just until it is evenly incorporated. This is a thick, fluffy batter. There should not be any lumps or dry pockets of flour remaining, but be careful not to overmix this batter or the cake texture will be tough instead of tender.
5. Divide the batter equally between the 2 prepared cake pans. Weighing the batter into the pans is the most accurate way to do this. This ensures that both layers are uniform in size, and finish baking at the same time. You’ll have approximately 775 g/28.3 oz. of batter per pan. The pans should be about [2/3] full. Place the pans on the center rack in the preheated oven. Bake them for about 40 minutes, or until the cake is almost ready to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs. Rotate the layers carefully from front to back after 20 minutes, for even baking.
6. Cool the pans on a rack for 10 minutes, then invert them onto a wire rack that has been sprayed with cooking spray and lift off the pans. To prevent cracking, carefully right each layer so the top side is up and the parchment-lined bottom is down. Cool them completely on the rack. Before frosting, be sure to remove the parchment from the bottom of each layer. The Coconut Custard Frosting should already be made and chilled in the refrigerator.
To assemble the cake:
7. Place one layer, top side down, on a flat serving plate. Cut several 4-inch pieces of parchment or waxed paper to slide under the edge of the layer to keep the plate clean. Using a thin metal spatula, spread the top of this cake round with a [1/2]-inch thick layer of frosting, leaving a [1/4]-inch unfrosted border around the edge. Place the second layer top side up on the first, aligning the layers evenly. Spread a layer of frosting around the sides of the cake, rotating the plate as you work so you’re not reaching around the cake to frost the other side. Try not to let any loose crumbs get caught in the frosting. Let the frosting extend about [1/4] inch above the top of the cake.
8. Starting in the center of the cake, cover the top with a layer of frosting, taking it all the way to the edge and merging it with the frosting on the sides. Try to use a forward-moving circular motion, not a back-and-forth motion, to avoid lifting the top skin of the cake. Rotate the plate as necessary. When the whole cake is frosted, gently smooth the top and sides with the flat side of the metal spatula. Then take a handful of the coconut and gently press it on the sides of the cake. Continue doing this until the sides have been completely covered. Finally, sprinkle coconut flakes to cover the top of the cake. Slide the pieces of paper out from under the edge of the cake and discard them. Store the cake in the refrigerator, covered if possible, until about an hour before serving. Any leftovers should be returned to the refrigerator. This cake should be eaten within 3 days. The custard frosting may turn sour after that. Always taste the cake to be sure it’s still fresh.
Tips and Techniques
*Make sure you purchase canned coconut milk, not cream of coconut, which has sugar added to it. Do not use low fat coconut milk for this recipe. The cake batter may be too runny, and the subtle coconut flavor will be diminished. Fat is a flavor carrier. Whenever naturally occurring fat is removed from an ingredient, much of the ingredient’s flavor is also removed. Fat also is a key factor in the texture of baked goods. Be sure to shake the can or stir the coconut milk until it is smooth and homogenous before weighing or measuring it out for the recipe.
We sprinkle flakes of sweetened coconut on the top and press them to the sides of this cake to give it a festive finish. Commercial-grade sweetened coconut has nice separate flakes that are easy to sprinkle. The Baker’s Angel Flake Coconut (available from the local grocer) that we used for testing this recipe had delicious flavor but was so moist the flakes stuck together in clumps and did not lend themselves to sprinkling. If you’re using this kind of very moist coconut, spend a little time rubbing it gently with your fingers to separate the flakes before you apply them to the cake.
When refrigerating the cake, be sure to keep it covered to prevent it from absorbing any off-flavors from other foods in the refrigerator.
Coconut milk, cream cheese, white chocolate, and whipped cream blended into a smooth, subtly sweet custard make an extraordinary filling and topping for our Coconut Cream Cake. Some of our customers love this topping so much they’d like to just skip the cake and eat the frosting by itself with a spoon, like an exotic coconut pudding. The secret to making this frosting successfully is to cook the custard until it is very thick, or it won’t have enough body once the whipped cream is added to have a good spreading consistency. Cook the custard the day before you want to frost your cake, so it can be refrigerated overnight to chill completely before you fold in the whipped cream. After you spread it on the cake, add a sprinkle of sweetened coconut flakes for a snowy finish. This cake looks as beautiful as it tastes.
Yield: enough to fill and finish one 9-inch two-layer cake
2 ¼ cups Coconut milk, full-fat
½ cup + 1 TBS
1/3 cup + I TBS Cornstarch
36 ounces Cream cheese, cut
into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup white chocolate,
¾ tsp.vanilla extract
¼ tsp. kosher salt
1 ½ cups Heavy cream
¾ cup Sweetened flaked coconut, loosely packed for decoration
1. Combine 360 g/12.70 oz. of the coconut milk and the sugar in a medium-size heavy saucepan. Bring it to a boil over moderate heat, stirring it with a wooden spoon or a heatproof spatula until the sugar dissolves completely. Mix the remaining 180 g/6.35 oz. coconut milk with the cornstarch until smooth. Whisk this mixture into the boiling coconut milk, and cook over moderate heat, whisking vigorously until very thick, 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Remove the custard from the heat and whisk in the cream cheese, white chocolate, vanilla, and salt, stirring until it is completely incorporated and smooth. If the saucepan is too small to hold all the ingredients, you may have to transfer them to a larger bowl to whisk them together easily. Pour the custard into a clean bowl, press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding to keep a skin from forming, and refrigerate it overnight.
3. The next day, remove the custard from the refrigerator. Stir the cold custard vigorously with a whisk just until it’s smooth and creamy. In another bowl, whip the heavy cream until it is stiff but not grainy. Whisk [1/4] of the whipped cream into the cold coconut custard until it is smooth and well blended. This lightens the custard a little so the rest of the whipped cream can be more easily incorporated. Whisk in the remaining whipped cream until it is well combined and the frosting is thick and fluffy.
4. At this point, if the frosting is nice and thick and of good spreading consistency, it can be used to finish the cake. If it seems too soft, chill it again to thicken it before using it. This custard-type frosting cannot be applied as thickly as a more traditional frosting. It will probably be only about a [1/2] inch thick.
5. Decorate the cake by sprinkling the sweetened coconut flakes on the top and patting them gently onto the sides. Store the finished cake covered in the refrigerator until about an hour before serving. Refrigerate any leftovers. This frosting is highly perishable and will sour after 3 days.
Tips and Techniques
Do not use low-fat coconut milk for this recipe. The consistency of the frosting may be too runny and the subtle coconut flavor will be diminished. Fat is a flavor carrier. Whenever naturally occurring fat is removed from an ingredient, much of the ingredient’s flavor is also removed. Fat also is a key factor in the texture of foods.
The coconut milk in this recipe is divided into 2 portions; one is combined with the sugar, the other with the cornstarch. Be sure to shake the can or stir the coconut milk well before you measure it out.
Use any good-quality white chocolate for this recipe. If the chocolate is already in chips or chunks, it won’t be necessary to chop it.