I have never made a coconut cake before last week, and since then I have made three. I've never made one before this because, while I love the flavor and smell of coconut, the texture of shredded coconut makes my skin crawl and my teeth itch.
this cake was made with the Bon Appetit recipe x 1.5
My new friend Laura likes coconut cake, though, and it was her birthday so I gave it a shot. I used this recipe from Bon Appetit magazine, and it was very good. I loved using cream of coconut in the cake- it kept it very moist for days while the leftovers sat on the table slowly being nibbled away. It featured cream cheese frosting flavored with a bit of cream of coconut. (not to be confused with coconut milk).
I used farm fresh eggs from Eric's friend at work for Laura's cake.
Towering Coconut Layer Cake adapted from Tyler Florence for Food and Wine magazine
But then, inspired by the whole coconut bit and an article in my new Food and Wine magazine, I tried out another coconut cake for the restaurant. This cake was more angelfood-like, but was brushed with rum syrup (slurp!), and had light and airy italian meringue buttercream frosting.
I'll leave to you coconut fanatics to decide which cake is better, because both got rave reviews. It probably depends if you go for light and airy or dense and moist.
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tbs vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 1 T vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup AP flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 t kosher salt or 1/2 t regular salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter or spray 4 9-in cake pans and line with parchment rounds.
Using an electric mixer, mix the butter, sugar and eggs on high until the mixture is fluffy and tripled in volume. Gradually beat in the oil until fully incorporated.
In another bowl, sift the flour, salt and cornstarch. Fold these dry ingredients into the egg mixture until smooth.
Spread the batter evenly between the 4 cake pans, smoothing the top, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let cool on racks.
Make the Rum Syrup:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tbs spiced rum (i used white rum, it still tasted good)
Stir the sugar and water together in a small saucepan over high heat until the sugar is fully dissolved. Let cool then stir in the rum.
Make the Coconut frosting:
1 1/2 sugar
1/2 cup water
6 large egg whites
4 sticks (1 pound) butter, room temperature
1 1/2 tbs coconut extract
2 cups coconut flakes (I used sweetened), toasted.
In a saucepan, stir the water and sugar together over high heat until the sugar is dissolved. Then stop stirring and let boil until the syrup reaches 228 degrees on a candy thermometer. If you don't have such a thermometer, just boil until you can see the faintest tinges of gold starting in the syrup. This as always worked for me.
A few minutes into the boiling, start whipping the egg whites in a perfectly clean stand mixer bowl with the whisk attachment. Beat until stiff peaks form. When the syrup is ready, while running the mixer on medium high, gradually beat in the hot syrup. When it's all in, reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and beat until the egg whites have cooled to room temperature.
At this point, beat in the butter, a couple tablespoons at a time until it's all encorporated. If the mixture looks like its curdling, power through, it should come together in the end with enough beating. Mix in the coconut extract.
To assemble to cake:
Brush each layer with the Rum Syrup, spread each with about 1 1/4 cup frosting and stack. Frost the outside of the cake and then press the toasted coconut to the sides of the cake. If desired, you can also sprinkle toasted coconut between the layers, too. If you like coconut, that is.
If you don't like coconut flakes, you can just eat the interior like I did.