Sunday, March 25, 2012

Coconut Layer Cake

I love all things coconut, but for some reason had never made a coconut layer cake.  It seems like every cookbook I own has some version of a coconut cake, so I had some trouble deciding on a recipe.  I went with America's Test Kitchen's (Cook's Country) recipe, and damn was it good.

The frosting is a Swiss meringue, super fluffy and decadent.  The cake itself was made using the reverse cream method, which kicks all kinds of ass if you want a mile high super moist cake.  This cake is monstrous, so make it for a crowd.  I had my parents and sister over (5 adults, 2 kids), and we still could just eat half of it.  Enjoy!

Coconut Layer Cake
from America's Test Kitchen

For the cake:
1 large egg
5 large egg whites
¾ cup cream of coconut
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract
2 ¼ cups cake flour (9 ounces)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 12 pieces softened

For the frosting:
4 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1 pinch table salt
1 lb unsalted butter , each stick cut into 6 pieces, softened
¼ cup cream of coconut
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut, toasted

For the Cake: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, then line bottoms with parchment, grease parchment and dust with flour.  Whisk egg whites, whole egg, cream of coconut, water, vanilla, and coconut extract in a large measuring cup (this makes it easier to add to the batter later).

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Mix on lowest speed to combine, about 30 seconds. With mixer still running on lowest speed, add butter 1 piece at a time, then beat until mixture resembles coarse meal, with butter bits no larger than small peas, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes.

With mixer still running, add 1 cup liquid. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 45 seconds. With mixer still running, add remaining 1 cup liquid in steady stream (this should take about 15 seconds). Stop mixer and scrape down bowl with rubber spatula, then beat at medium-high speed to combine, about 15 seconds. (Batter will be thick.).

Divide batter between cake pans and level with offset or rubber spatula. Bake until deep golden brown, cakes pull away from sides of pans, and toothpick inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes (rotate cakes after about 20 minutes). Do not turn off oven.

Cool in pans on wire racks about 10 minutes, then loosen cakes from sides of pans with paring knife, invert cakes onto racks and then re-invert; cool to room temperature.

While cakes are cooling, spread shredded coconut on rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven until shreds are a mix of golden brown and white, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring 2 or 3 times. Cool to room temperature.

For the Buttercream: Combine whites, sugar, and salt in bowl of standing mixer; set bowl over saucepan containing 1 1/2-inches of simmering water. Whisk constantly until mixture is opaque and warm to the touch and registers about 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.  If you're using pasteurized egg whites you can stop as soon as the sugar is dissolved, but 160 is the temp needed to kill bacteria, so I always go to this temp.  I have had good luck with Trader Joes pasteurized egg whites, they always whip up so you can certainly try these instead of plain whites.

Transfer bowl to mixer and beat whites on high speed with whisk attachment until barely warm (about 80 degrees) and whites are glossy and sticky, about 7 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-high and beat in butter 1 piece at a time. Beat in cream of coconut and coconut and vanilla extracts. Stop mixer and scrape bottom and sides of bowl. Continue to beat at medium-high speed until well-combined, about 1 minute.

To Assemble the Cake:

With a long serrated knife, cut both cakes in half horizontally so that each cake forms two layers.
Put a dab of icing on a cardboard round cut just larger than the cake. Center one cake layer on the round.  Place a large blob of icing in the center of the layer and spread it to the edges with an icing spatula.  Hold the spatula at a 45-degree angle to the cake and drag it across the surface to level the icing. Repeat steps 3 and 4 with remaining cake layers.  To ice the sides of the cake, scoop up a large dab of icing with the tip of the spatula and spread it on the sides with short side-to-side strokes.  Sprinkle the top of the cake with coconut. Then press the coconut into the sides, letting the excess fall back onto a baking sheet.

Linked to:
Sweet Indulgences Sunday 
Melt in Your Mouth Monday


  1. This cake is gorgeous! I love coconut layer cake. Perfect for spring!

  2. It looks good and bet it tasted amazing! Love everything coconut!

  3. Stopping by from Sweet Indulgences Sunday!

  4. This looks so yummy. I love coconut anything, I just posted a coconut bundt on my blog.
    But this looks like a recipe I need to make soon.

  5. Ooohh this looks so good! I LOVE anything with coconut, and this cake looks so beautiful!

  6. I have made this my only coconut cake recipe. It's the one truly coconut cake. Thank you. My son in law loved it and when he said it was better than my daughter's I almost passed out. He never days that. This is for the true coconut lover!! Thank you!👏👏


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