Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Southern Coconut Cake

Remember this cake?  

As my sister informs me that she LOVES coconut, it seemed only fitting that I share this recipe with you on her 27th Birthday.  It is delicious. (I have half of it still in my freezer...and thinking that it's only fitting to celebrate with her from afar by eating a piece! Edited to add: I did try a piece last night and both the cake and frosting are still delicious two weeks later!)

This is the first cake recipe I've used from Rose Levy Berenbaum's Rose's Heavenly Cakes.  And her Silk Meringue Buttercream is indeed worthy of the book's "Heavenly" title. The buttercream is composed of a creme anglaise sauce, Italian meringue, butter, and coconut.  It's involved but delicious.

You can simplify this by making the cake in the days before it's needed and freezing it, as well as making the creme anglaise up to 5 days in advance.  I love has easy it is to frost frozen cake layers. Complete the buttercream the day of serving and allow the frosted cake to come to room temperature before serving.

6 large egg whites, room temp. (3/4 cup)
1 1/3 cups canned coconut milk
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 tsp coconut extract
4 cups cake flour
2 cups sugar
5 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
16 Tbsp. unsalted butter (65-75 degrees)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees, setting the oven rack in the lower third.  Butter bottom of two 9x2 inch  round cake pans, top with rounds of parchment and then spray with baking spray with flour.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg whites, 1/3 cup coconut milk, vanilla, and coconut extracts until lightly combined.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer (using the flat beater), mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low for 30 seconds.  Add the butter and remaining coconut milk.  Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened.  Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1.5 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Starting on medium-low speed, gradually add the egg white mixture in three portions, beating on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition.  Scrape the batter in to cake pans (each should be half full) and smooth the surfaces evenly with a spatula. 

4. Bake for 30-40 minutes until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean and cakes spring back in center when gently pressed. Let pans cool on rack for 10 minutes.  Remove cakes by first running a metal spatula around the edge of cakes. Remove cakes and let cool completely on wire racks.

Silk Meringue Buttercream
4 sticks unsalted butter (65-75 degrees)
Creme Anglaise (recipe follows; make first)
Italian Meringue (recipe follows)
2 3/4 cup fresh or thawed and towel-dried frozen coconut (I used sweetened coconut and the results were fine.)

Creme Anglaise:
1/2 cup sugar
5 large egg yolks
1/2 cup canned coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coconut extract

1. Have a fine strainer positioned over a medium bowl.

2. In a medium heavy saucepan, combine the sugar and yolks.

3. In a small saucepan, bring the coconut milk to a boil. Add 2 Tbsp. to the yolk mixture, stirring constantly. Gradually stir in the remaining coconut milk and cook over medium-low heat, continuing to stir constantly, just until below the boiling point. The mixture will start to steam slightly and a thermometer will register 170 degrees fahrenheit.  Immediately pour the coconut milk through the strainer, scraping up any that is clinging to the pan.  With the back of a spoon, press the mixture through the strainer into the bowl.  Cool stirring occasionally.  Stir in the vanilla and coconut extracts.  Set a piece of plastic wrap, coated lightly with cooking spray, on the surface of the creme anglaise to keep a skin from forming.  Refrigerate up to 5 days or until ready to complete the buttercream.

Italian Meringue:
2 large egg whites, room temp.
1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar, divided
2 Tbsp water
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1. Have ready a 1-cup or larger heatproof glass measuring cup

2. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. 

3. In a small heavy saucepan, stir together the 1/3 cup sugar and the water until all the sugar is moistened. Heat on medium-high, stirring until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is bubbling.  Stop stirring and reduce the heat to low. (If on electric range, remove the pan from the heat.)

4. Beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. With the mixer off, add the cream of tartar. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually beat int the remaining 2 Tbsp. of sugar until stiff peaks form.

5. Increase the heat under the sugar syrup to medium-high and boil for a few minutes until a thermometer registers 248-250 degrees. Immediately transfer the syrup to the glass measuring cup to stop the cooking.

6. With the mixer off, add the syrup to the egg whites. Begin by pouring in a small amount of the syrup, immediately beat on high speed for 5 seconds. Add the remaining syrup in the same way in three parts. For the last addition, use a spatula to remove any syrup clinging to the glass and scrape off against the beater. (You can microwave the syrup for a few seconds if it hardens before being incorporated into the egg whites.)  Lower the speed to medium and beat for 2 more minutes. Transfer the meringue to a different bowl and wash mixing bowl.

Completing the Buttercream:

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for 30 seconds, until creamy. Gradually beat in the creme anglaise until smooth.  Add the Italian meringue and beat until just incorporated.  If the mixture looks curdled instead of smooth, it is too cold.  ALlow it to sit at room temp to warm to 70 degrees. Mix in 2 cups of coconut.  Transfer to an airtight bowl until ready to use.

Assembling the cake:

1. Place one layer of cake on a cake pedestal or platter for serving.  TIP: Cut thin strips of parchment or wax paper and carefully place them under the cake, to cover the bottom of the serving piece. This will aid in a clean platter, as seen in the picture below:

(After the cake is fully frosted, you can remove the paper strips.  See how nice the platter looks vs. the mess of coconut & frosting on the paper?)

2. Evenly spread 1 1/4 cups of buttercream on top of first layer and spread frosting to cover cake. Add second layer. Frost the top and sides of cake with remaining buttercream.  (Her recipe says you will have 1.5 cups left over...but I used all of mine.)

3. Use the rest of the coconut to cover the buttercream, carefully placing one handful of coconut against the side of the cake until covered. Then sprinkle coconut over top.

(Don't forget the candles!!!)


Sparklin said...

Sounds great! Will need to try this recipe!

Jen Kershner said...

Oh how I wish I liked coconut. I love the way it looks though!


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