When someone special gives you a very special gift, a cherished item, glimpse of knowledge or in this case a very special recipe, the recipient does what they can to preserve it. This special recipe was given to my husbands mother years ago from a lady they went to church with. Written out on two small sheets of paper were “Fresh Coconut Cake” and the ingredients and amounts to be used and some directions. So, in an effort to retain this wonderfully delicious recipe and to aid bakers both new and old, I am adding notes and tips that I have utilized to make this cake. It is important to know that I am putting her original ingredients first and if I have chosen to use a different one, I will note it accordingly. The last time I made this cake was about a month ago for my husbands birthday. I continually get requests for how it is done, so without further adieu, here are the steps to making a “Fresh Coconut Cake.”
Step 1. Prepare the coconut
When purchasing a coconut, I prefer a large one and I shake it to ensure lots of liquid in it. If you hear none, it is old and dried out. It should sound “sloshy.” As you prepare your coconut, use eye wear and wise judgement when doing this as it requires good strength and mindfulness of how tools are held so just BE SAFE! (I sound like a mother don’t I? ;) )
1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Using a pointy tool (like a candy thermometer), poke holes in the “eyes of the coconut.” There are three. I like to use all three if they are soft enough to puncture. You need to puncture at least two of them. The bigger they are the quicker the milk comes out of the coconut. I recommend putting a strainer at the top of your collection bowl to catch any of the outer layer of the coconut. Ideally I hope to obtain 1 cup of liquid but less is okay, as I would just add whole milk to bring it up to a cup. Usually, I don’t have to do that though.
3. With a hammer in hand and the coconut wrapped in a plastic bag set on a cutting board, bust open the coconut by hitting it at the natural ring around the center of the coconut. Then put the two haves flat in the bag and bust a little more into some chunks. Take the chunks of coconut with the shell on and place on a sheet pan and bake in oven for 10 to 15 minutes to help the coconut come away from the shell.
4. Once out of the oven, allow to cool briefly and then begin CAREFULLY!!! removing the shell from the coconut. I use a knife to gently get the coconut and whittle it slowly under the coconut slightly turning the knife, rocking it like to lift it off.
Fresh Coconut Cake – Step by Step to Deliciousness: Get that Coconut!
5. Next, peel the brown layer of skin off the back of the coconut meat. You need a hardy peeler for this!
6. Rinse the coconut briefly under cool water (not hot – don’t want to loose any oils!) and get any tiny pieces of brown off. Shred the coconut. I use a food process for this. It goes MUCH quicker this way!
7. In a blender, put in one cup of the shredded coconut and add it to the reserved coconut liquid and turn on high for about 2 minutes to start making the coconut milk. Then strain off the coconut from the milk. Reserve the strained coconut. Put the milk in a sauce pot and over medium low heat, reduce to one cup. If you don’t have a cup full amount reduce for about 5-8 minutes. Set aside.
Fresh Coconut Cake – Step by Step to Deliciousness: Milk Makin’
Now you have completed step one of preparing the coconut. You have 1 cup of homemade coconut milk, finely granulated coconut and the remaining shredded coconut. All three components you will reuse in this cake, so set them aside for now and we will begin making the layers.
Step 2. Make the cake layers.
These cake layers are simple components of a standard yellow cake. If you’ve baked before, this is a no brainer.
Here are her ingredients for the cake layers. She didn’t have directions on how to make the layers, so I’ve added what I do below:
3/4 C shortening (I prefer to use softened unsalted butter)
1 1/2 C sugar
3 eggs (divided)
2 1/4 C sifted cake flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 C milk (Whole)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Divide the egg whites from the yolks and whip egg whites on high to almost stiff and set aside.
3. Beat shortening/butter into sugar thoroughly, then add the eggs and vanilla extract. In a sifter, add the flour, baking powder and salt. Alternate adding the flour, baking soda and salt into the batter along with the milk to finish the batter. Lastly, remove from the stand mixer and incorporate the egg whites into the batter by hand. This helps the cake be even more fluffy! Pour the cake batter, dividing evenly, into three greased and lined cake pans and bake until lightly browned and begins to pull away from the edges. I grease mine by putting coconut oil on the pan bottom and up the sides using paper towel and then put in a liner of cut out circular wax paper and grease the top of it. Makes for it coming out much easier. As soon as you get them out of the oven, flip onto a cooling rack and then slowly and carefully pull the wax paper off and allow them to cool. Set aside while you continue on building your elements of deliciousness!
Fresh Coconut Cake – Step by Step to Deliciousness: Three Cooling Layers
Step 3: Make the Filling.
My husband contents this key component is what sets this cake apart from all the rest! This filling is wonderfully awesome and really balances out the sweetness in this cake. You will want to do a taste test on it I’m sure ;)
Here are her ingredients and directions for the “Filling.”
1 C milk from coconut
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 C sugar
1 egg white
coconut grated (I use the tiny grated coconut that was used in the milk making process, it is just under a cup)
Mix sugar, flour and milk. Cook over low heat until thickened. Remove from heat. Beat in egg white, then coconut. Cool. Put between layers. She said it well, no use to rehash. Here’s how it looks visually:
Fresh Coconut Cake – Step by Step to Deliciousness: heat up filling to thicken it up.
So, you’ve prepped the coconut, made layers, made an awesome filling with two components of the coconut and now it is time to make the icing.
4. Make the icing
Here is her Recipe and Directions for making the icing. My notes are in the non-bolded font.
1/3 C water
2 C sugar
1/4 C white Karo Syrup (I make my own for this lil batch. See here to getcha’ started. For me to make the amount I need, simply use the directions from food.com with this amount of ingredients: 1/4C sugar; 1/2 T water; pinch salt; pinch cream of tarter.)
1/2 tsp cream of tarter
1 scant cup confectioners sugar
3 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla
Cook together water, sugar, salt and karo, until it spins a thread. The “spins a thread” is a particular stage in the cooking process of the sugar and water. You will probably want to use a candy thermometer for it. About.com explains it well here. Remove from heat and add cream of tarter. Pour gradually over beaten egg whites (almost stiff, not to point of meringue-yet). Beat until smooth. Add sifted confectioners sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth and thick enough to spread. (Beat a lot! Until thick almost like marshmallow cream.) if you’ve seen Alton Brown on Food Network’s Good Eats show, you may have seen him make homemade marshmallows. That’s what this looks like. It gets all sticky and gooey and oh so tasty! Here’s more pics!
Fresh Coconut Cake – Step by Step to Deliciousness: Syrup added to whipped whites and has been whipped and whipped and now resembles the beginning makings of marshmallow creme.
You have now completed making your cake components. Now, let’s assemble!
Step 5. Assemble the cake!
On your cake plate down pieces of parchment paper around the edges of the cake plate. Then, put on one layer, then add half of the coconut creme filling, then another cake layer then the other half of the filling then top with final cake layer. Frost the entire cake, top and sides, with the icing. Cover densely with shredded coconut. (Any remaining coconut can be stored in the freezer for several months if airtight and recommended freezer bag.) Pull out the parchment paper, cover with cake plate topper and allow to set up for a few hours and “get happy,” but is best the next day at room temp. AWESOMENESS!!!
More pics of the process…
So there you have it. A delicious cake for a simple meal to a fancy occasion. It is so worth the time and effort to use the freshest coconut. You will not be disappointed.
Happy baking y’all!