EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 29, 2013

Coconut Cake is a treat for the holiday

Pat's Kitchen
Patricia Altomare

---- — This memorable cake will make a sweet finish to any meal. If you have never made a homemade cake from scratch, try it once and see what you think.

I must admit that I use cake mixes frequently and “doctor them up.” But when it is a special occasion and I have guests I want to impress (don’t we all love that wow factor), I go all out. What makes this more “do-able” is that I bake the cake layers a couple days ahead.

The frosting recipe used here is called a 7 Minute Boiled Frosting. The reason I like it is that it is not overly sweet, which goes well when using sweetened coconut, plus it is very fluffy and easier to get the coconut to adhere to.

3 Layer Coconut Cake

Ingredients

31/3 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

11/2 cups whole milk

11/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract

21/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

13/4 cups sugar, divided

7 large egg whites, at room temperature 30 minutes

Frosting

3 large egg whites, at room temperature 30 minutes

21/4 cups sugar

3/4 cup water

11/2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

53/4 cups sweetened coconut; divided

Cream of coconut (to brush on cake layers)

Cake Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with racks in upper and lower thirds. Butter and lightly flour three 9-by-2-inch round cake pans.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

Stir together milk and extracts. Beat butter and 11/2 cups sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. At low speed, add flour mixture in 3 batches alternately with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until each addition is just incorporated.

Beat egg white in another large bowl with cleaned beaters at medium speed until they just hold soft peaks. Beat in remaining 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, then beat until whites just hold stiff, glossy peaks. Stir 1/3 of whites into batter, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.

Spread batter evenly in pans and rap pans on counter several times to remove any air bubbles.

Place 2 pans on upper rack and 1 pan on lower rack and bake 20 minutes. Switch position of pans and bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of each layer comes out clean, 10 to 15 minutes more.

Cool cakes in pans on racks 5 minutes, then run a knife around edges of pans and invert cakes onto racks. Cool completely.

Note: Cakes can be made up to two days ahead, kept wrapped in plastic and refrigerated.

7-Minute Frosting Instructions

Beat together egg whites, sugar, water, corn syrup, cream of tartar, and salt in a large deep bowl with a handheld mixer until combined. Set bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat mixture at high speed until it holds stiff, glossy peaks, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove bowl from heat, then add vanilla and beat until frosting is cooled and very thick, 6 to 10 minutes.

Transfer 21/3 cups frosting to another bowl and stir in 2 cups of the coconut to make filling.

Put 1 cake layer on a cake plate. Brush top with cream of coconut, then spread with half of filling. Repeat with second layer, more cream of coconut, and remaining filling, then top with third layer. Brush top with cream of coconut, then cover cake with remaining frosting and coat with remaining coconut, gently pressing to help adhere.

Decorate

Mix about 2/3 cup of coconut with a couple drops green food coloring until it’s the shade you like. Put on top of cake in three separate mounds with room in centers for gumdrops or jelly beans.

Alternative Recipe

Using cake mix (18.25 oz.), add 1/2 cup cream of coconut, 1 cup whole milk, and 3 eggs. I like to let it beat on medium low speed for about 6 minutes. Use three, 9-inch pans and bake 18 to 23 minutes at 350 degrees.