Saturday, May 29, 2010

I Am Not Gilligan

This blog post was originally going to be quite simple. I was going to tell you about baking a Coconut Cake; tell you that Hubs was so enamored of it that he ate 3 pieces in one sitting; tell you that I while I loved the toasted coconut garnish, I wasn't so thrilled with the coconut flavor of the cake itself. I would whine about the gray, rainy, cold day that didn't provide adequate lighting for a good photo. It was going to be a simple post telling you that the cake may be worth it if, unlike me, you were cuckoo for coconut.

Then, my fingers started typing. Suddenly, I was relating my failure of the day and my laziness with, here's my tale of a fateful cake...

The original recipe called for fresh coconut to be toasted to garnish the entire triple layer cake. While I had no experience cracking a real coconut and shaving out the flesh, I didn't think it could be that hard. After all, Gilligan did it. I managed to puncture the eyes of the coconut with a nail and pour out the coconut water. (Yes, water. A novice like me thought it would be coconut milk. *shrug*) I then followed the suggestion to warm the coconut in a 350 degree oven for half an hour. Whacking it with a hammer was oddly therapeutic, and the coconut cracked easily to reveal...nothing. Huh?!? Images in the magazine showed a thick layer of fresh coconut meat to shave into delicious flakes. The flesh of my coconut was less than a centimeter thick and gooey. Again, huh?!? I don't know what went wrong. Gilligan is obviously smarter than me. I had to resort to bagged, flaked coconut for my cake.

Worn down by the fleshless coconut, I decided that a triple layer cake was too much work for me. My version of the beautiful Cooking Light Fresh Coconut Layer Cake would not include fresh coconut and would not be layered. A 9x13 cake still tastes the same, doesn't it? Well, maybe not. There is that darn ratio of cake to frosting thing that true bakers take into consideration. I am not a true baker, but my Hubs is a true eater. He gobbled this cake like it was the last food left on the island. I guess that even though I am not Gilligan and not a huge coconut fan, my version of a 9x13 Coconut Cake wasn't so bad On My Plate.

3 cups sifted cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
2/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup warm coconut water (from 1 small brown coconut...if not 1 cup, add tap water)
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 large egg whites
4 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups toasted coconut (shaved fresh if you are as smart as Gilligan, but bagged works OK, if you are like me)

Preheat oven to 350°.Lightly coat 3 9x13 pan with cooking spray and flour.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; stir with a whisk. 
Place 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed for 2 1/2 minutes or until well blended. 
Add flour mixture and coconut water alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla.
In a separate bowl, beat 6 egg whites on high speed until foamy using clean, dry beaters.
Add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form (do not overbeat).
Carefully fold egg whites into batter; pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake at 350° for 20-35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. (This is where I am fudging it. I don't remember how long I baked the 9x13 cake & original recipe says 18 minutes for round pans.)
Cool in pan on wire rack.
To prepare frosting, combine 4 egg whites, cream of tartar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until foamy. 
Add 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. 
Combine remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan; bring to a boil. 
Cook, without stirring, until candy thermometer registers 250°. 
With mixer on low speed, pour hot sugar syrup in a thin stream over egg whites. 
Gradually increase speed to high; beat 8 minutes or until thick and cool. 
Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla. (This is SERIOUSLY AWESOME frosting. Really.)
Spread frosting over top of cake.
Gently press toasted coconut onto top of cake. 
Store cake loosely covered in refrigerator. (Serves 12-16)


  1. I am the Queen of Coconut Cakes... it's a big deal in the South.

    I've found it is tastier with a nice seven minute frosting, and, I make a custard with vanilla beans, let it cool and whip in heavy cream for between the three layers.


  2. Fran, it looks wonderful! I'm with you on coconuts. We buy young coconuts--they're not dried and brown like the regular grocery store ones. But you still need a huge cleaver to open them! Water inside--great for drinking! But the flesh? Yeah--how the hell do you bake with that? It's ooey and gooey. I always fall back on the bagged stuff--it's easy and tasty.

    I'll not hold it against you that you didn't do a 3 layer. It's a lot of work, especially after fighting a coconut!

  3. I think you must have gotten either an over-ripe coconut, or one that should have been on the tree longer. When we used to buy coconuts, the flesh was almost an inch thick, and firm enough to cut into chunks. I haven't bought one in a long time, but sounds good. Your cake looks amazing and I wouldn't worry about using the bagged stuff.
    I saw a special on TV about coconut water and apparently it is being bottled and sold as very trendy item. Maybe not around here, tho. ;o)

    Sandy in Winner


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