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 shortcuts...so, 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)