Friday, March 22, 2013


What could be more Southern than coconut cake?  This is my own recipe and it's rich and filling, so two 8" layers go a long way.  Expect to serve 12-14 with this moist, tender and tight-crumbed cake that resembles poundcake. 

The French buttercream frosting is silky smooth and ultra rich.  If you've never heard of French buttercream, it's a vintage recipe, and it's not hard to make.  Back in the 60's we used to make it with shortening, and we called it "mock whipped cream frosting," but it's so much better made with butter.  Some people call it "custard frosting," because you make a pudding first, then beat it into the whipped butter/sugar mixture. 

Everyone has their own idea of what coconut cake should be.  Actually, I like them all, and I'm throwing mine in the ring as another option.  A perfect Easter dessert....I'm just sayin'

Coconut Layer Cake with Coconut French Buttercream Frosting
Rating:  9.5 out of 10

1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. Diamond kosher salt or table salt
1 cup whole milk
1 cup (8 oz.) unsalted butter, very soft
1 cup superfine sugar*
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. coconut flavoring**
2 tsp. coconut-flavored rum or regular rum
1/4 cup cold heavy whipping cream (optional)

*You can make superfine sugar by pulsing in food processor.  Measure sugar after it is pulsed to superfine, not before.
**The amount of coconut flavoring will vary according to manufacturer.  I used coconut flavoring from Spices, etc., recommended by Martha Stewart and Cook's Illustrated for its natural taste.  If you use a different brand, use less flavoring and taste your batter to determine if you need more.  With coconut flavoring, less is more.

Combine flour, salt and milk in small saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly till mixture boils and thickens.  Set aside to cool.

In bowl of stand mixer, beat sugar and butter on high till light and fluffy.  Gradually add flavorings and cold flour-milk mixture, beating till frosting stands in stiff peaks.  If desired, beat in heavy cream at end, mixing only till combined.  (Do not add cream until frosting is thoroughly whipped, and do not overbeat the cream once added.)  Refrigerate until cake is cooled, but let it stand at room temperature until softened before frosting the cake. 

Yield:  enough to thinly frost two 8" layers.  If you like thick frosting, you should double the recipe.

3 cups White Lily*** all-purpose flour, whisked, then spooned lightly and leveled
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup unsalted butter, soft
1/2 tsp. Diamond kosher salt
2 cups superfine sugar* (See note above about superfine sugar.)
4 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 tsp. coconut flavoring** (See note above on coconut flavoring.)
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk mixed with 1 Tbsp. vinegar or lemon juice)
2 Tbsp. coconut-flavored rum or regular rum
2 Tbsp. coconut water or lite coconut milk
1-1/2 to 2 cups sweetened coconut flakes, pulsed in food processor in batches till finely grated

***If you live in an area where White Lily flour is unavailable, you can use any low-protein flour or cake flour.

Heat oven to 350F.  Grease and flour two 8-inch round pans and line each with a parchment round cut to fit the bottom.  Sift flour and baking powder onto a sheet of wax paper. 

Beat butter, salt and sugar on medium speed of stand mixer till creamy and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating till yellow disappears after each addition.  Add flavorings with last egg.  On low speed, add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with milk and beginning and ending with flour.  Beat just till blended, being careful not to over mix.  Divide batter evenly between pans.  Bake 24-27 minutes, or till a toothpick inserted near center returns with just a few crumbs.  Cool in pan 5 minutes, then turn cakes out onto towel-lined racks to cool completely.  Remove parchment to hasten cooling. 

When cool, baste or spritz tops of cake with the rum and coconut water combined.  Frost with room temperature Coconut French Buttercream Frosting.  Sprinkle coconut over top and sides of cake.  Yield:  12-14 servings

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