Spring is here, depending on where you live in the country. I’ve been watching my favorite in a series of shows on Food Network, the Spring Baking Championship. Season 4 is just starting but since I had not finished Season 3, I did a little binge watching last weekend. Coconut was used quite a bit in the various recipes so I decided to tackle a Coconut Cake from scratch.
I remember my Nana making coconut cake when I was a kid but I don’t have her recipe. It was really moist and the cream cheese frosting was to die for. I dove in to a recipe I found at Shugary Sweets. It’s very straight forward and easy to make. Just make sure your egg whites are at room temperature and your butter and cream cheese are softened. It’s mentioned for a reason. The mixing process is just as important as baking and decorating. The temperatures of the ingredients, and the order in which they are mixed, directly affects the outcome of the final product. Science!
The cake layers baked perfectly and after cooling completely, I was ready to frost. Actually, I became a bit impatient so when they were almost cool, I popped them in the frig for 10 minutes before putting my first layer on the stand. I used a cerated knife to trim the top of the layer to flatten it so I could add an even layer of frosting and my next layer would sit perfectly on top. Courtesy of various Food Network competitors, I used three techniques I learned by watching the shows. I filled a decorating bag with frosting to make a spiral of frosting on the bottom layer then smoothed it with an offset spatula. That really helped make a nice size, even layer of frosting for the middle. I then added the top layer of cake. I did not trim it because I wanted the cake to have a rounded top. If I were adding another layer, I would have trimmed it as well. Next, I did a crumb coat, a thin layer of frosting spread all over the cake. Think of it as a base coat. I wish I had known about this technique years ago. It would have saved a lot of frustration by stopping bits of cake showing through my final frosting layer. I then popped the cake into the frig for five minutes to cool.
Finishing up, I piped frosting in a circle around the cake. I do not have a revolving cake stand yet so it could have been smoother. I spread that evenly, again using the offset spatula. I kinda wished I could have stopped there because it’s one of the smoothest frosting jobs I’ve ever done. However, it wouldn’t be a coconut cake with out all of that yummy coconut on the outside.
I set the cake on a large baking sheet (to catch the excess coconut) and pressed handfuls of sweetened coconut all around the sides. I added toasted coconut flakes to the sweetened flakes for the top.
I really love this recipe. The cake is moist and light and there is a good balance between the cake and the frosting. Thankfully, I was able to divide it up between neighbors so I wouldn’t eat all of it.