For those of you who have never seen a southern coconut cake, I should explain that they are huge. Not just in diameter. They tower over everything. Set one on a buffet table, and it is automatically the center of attention.
So I baked the cake. It was four feet tall. That might be a slight exaggeration, but I'm certain it exceeded one foot in height. It was so tall that I had to put wooden skewers in it to keep it from becoming the leaning tower of coconut cake. There's no telling what they did to the original to take that fantastic photo.
On Mother's Day, I proudly served the cake. Have you watched the cake competitions on The Food Network? You know how they have to move their cakes to a display table and everyone holds their breath hoping it won't collapse? I almost needed help carrying the thing to the dining table. Worse, though -- we hated it. It was dense and heavy, and unappealing. My father, who loved desserts and never criticized anything I baked because it might discourage me from learning to cook -- hated it. Everyone disliked it except my mother. She bravely froze it and had her own private little teatime with tiny slices of that monster for an entire year.
So, when I set out to bake this coconut cake, I was determined to keep it light. I'm still totally in love with raw coconut oil, so I knew I would use that instead of butter. Last weekend, I gave it a try. With the notion of a Mounds bar in the back of my mind, I made both chocolate and white icing. Oy vey! It looked like a coconut volcano. My company thought it tasted good, but it was a mess.
I confess that I have a fascination with cakes that are missing ingredients. One of my favorite cakes has only two tablespoons of flour in it! It's made in a food processor, which I also find intriguing. The blade whips the sugar and eggs into a light froth. So I tried that method, but it turned out dry. Unbearably dry.
The third time was the charm. This cake recipe is light with just a hint of coconut. It doesn't tower to the ceiling, and frankly, it's sweet enough to eat plain with a lemon curd or whipped cream and some fruit. Best of all, it's made in the food processor and couldn't be easier to make. I'm sure I'll be playing with it again!
I kept the icing light, too. This is definitely a cake for those who like sweets! Seven Minute Icing has long been one of my favorites. I always worry about salmonella in the eggs, though. I've made many frostings in a double boiler with steam wafting up at me, and a hand-held mixer throwing frosting everywhere. This version heats the egg whites first to kill the salmonella, but lets a stand mixer do the hard part.
2 8-inch cake pans
1 whole egg
3 egg whites
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup coconut milk (unsweetened)
1/2 cup raw coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
3 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups flour plus extra for dusting the pans
Preheat the over to 350. Use a bit of coconut oil to grease the pans and then dust with flour.
Place the egg, egg whites, and sugar in the food processor and spin a couple of minutes. Add the coconut milk and spin again. Add the coconut oil, vanilla, salt, and baking powder and spin. Finally add the flour and spin until thoroughly mixed. Pour into the baking pans. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the cake pulls away from the edge of the pans and a tester comes out clean.
2 large egg whites
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon corn syrup
Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl that fits your electric mixer. Place the bowl inside a large pot with about an inch of bowling water. Stir with a whisk (note, do not whisk, just stir to combine the ingredients). Stir continuously until the ingredients reach 160 degrees.
Remove from heat, dry the bottom, insert into mixer, and beat until the egg white mixture forms firm peaks. Cool to room temperature and ice your cake.
Spread icing on the bottom layer. Sprinkle with coconut. Slice the strawberries in very thin slices and lay on the icing in one layer. I added a little bit more icing on top of the berries, but beware, they like to stick! Place the top layer on the cake. Add more icing. Sprinkle coconut flakes in the middle of the top. Slice strawberries in half and press around the bottom.
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