It's a tradition of sorts for Joel and I to have a Pepperidge Farm coconut cake on our anniversary. There have been years that we've had a different "birthday" cake or pie, but usually it's coconut, and there are always candles. Always. This year, I decided to bake a coconut cake, complete with cracking a fresh coconut. It was fabulous...
And, my sous-chef-in-training LOVED using a hammer in the kitchen!
It was pretty fun when Erik and I realized that one of the pieces broke into a "C" shape during the cracking, hulling and peeling process!
Fresh Coconut Cake
(recipe adapted from Better Homes & Gardens, April 2010)
5 eggs (at room temp)
1 c. unsalted butter (room temp - I used 1/2 salted and 1/2 un.)
1 c. whole milk (room temp)
3 c. sifted cake flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. sugar
1 Tbs. vanilla
3 egg whites (at room temp)
2 c sugar
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
3/4 c. hot water
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
1 fresh coconut, husked, peeled and shredded (use your food processor) about 3-4 cups
Cakes: Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Let eggs, milk and butter stand at room temp for 30 mins. before beginning. Combine dry ingredients in one bowl. Prepare 3 8-inch pans with parchment in the bottom and grease & flour all pans. In Kitchenaid, beat butter for 30 seconds, add sugar and vanilla and beat on medium about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Then add flour and milk alternately, beating on low until just combined. Batter should be satin-smooth when ready. Divide between three pans and bake 20-25 minutes. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes, then remove from pans to cool completely.
Coconut: Pierce eye of coconut to drain coconut milk, then strike all over with hammer, on a towel until husk cracks. Remove husk, and then peel brown skin from coconut meat with vegetable peeler. Shred coconut with grater attachment in your food processor.
Frosting: Combine sugar, cream of tartar and water in medium pan over medium-low heat until sugar is dissolved. Cover and bring to boil, then boil 2 minutes. Attach candy thermometer and cook, without stirring until 240-degrees F (5-10 mins). If your candy thermometer is broken and you let this reach 250 (like I did), the frosting will be less fluffy/lower in volume, so test that thermometer and keep an eye on the syrup. Meanwhile, in Kitchenaid with whisk attachment, beat eggs until frothy, then add the 1/4 tsp. salt and beat on high until stiff peaks form. When the syrup is 240, stream it into the eggs whites with mixer on low. Beat in the vanilla and increast spped to med-high. Beat until light and fluffy (3-4 minutes).
Assemble cake by layering frosting and cake layers, then frosting the whole cake with the remaining frosting. Finally, apply the coconut to the top and sides of cake with your hands quickly and press down to "stick." Enjoy!! Serves 16.
To choose a good coconut, make sure it feels heavy for its size (compare others), and shake it. You should hear the coconut milk sloshing around inside. If the one you pick is bad, return it to the store for another! Really, the fresh coconut is worth the trouble (we had fun doing it).