Toasted Triple-Coconut Layer Cake

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Decorate Toasted Triple-Coconut Layer Cake with fresh flowers for the Easter table. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Decorate Toasted Triple-Coconut Layer Cake with fresh flowers for the Easter table.

Advocate-tested recipe

Toasted Triple-Coconut Layer Cake

Makes 8-inch layer cake. Serves 10 to 14. The recipe is from “Cakes From Scratch in Half the Time” by Linda West Eckhardt, who wrote, “If you love coconut and you crave a three-layer cake, this one’s for you. Not only does it have coconut in the frosting, it has cream of coconut and coconut extract to ramp up the coconut flavor. If you prefer a lily-white cake, don’t toast the coconut, but for a maximum nutty, sweet flavor, by all means try it toasted.” Her tip about the cream of coconut: “Open the can with a can opener then stir to mix it before measuring.” Corinne Cook said, “This is my daughter’s favorite baking book; however, the book is no longer in print. Tester’s note: When I tested this cake for the photograph, I used 9-inch cake pans instead of 8-inch pans so my layers are thinner then they should be. Use 8-inch pans if you have them.”

Baker’s Joy nonstick spray

4 large eggs

½ tsp. salt

½ cup (1 stick) room temperature unsalted butter

1¾ cups sugar

1 cup canned sweetened cream of coconut (such as Coco Lopez)

½ tsp. vanilla extract

½ tsp. coconut extract

2¾ cups sifted cake flour

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

1 cup buttermilk

Frosting

16 ozs. cream cheese, at room temperature

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

¼ cup canned sweetened cream of coconut

1 tsp. coconut extract

2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

Pinch of salt

1 (10-oz.) pkg. unsweetened flaked coconut

1. Arrange rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Spritz three 8-inch round, shiny aluminum cake pans with Baker’s Joy. Set aside.

2. Place the unbroken eggs in a bowl of hot tap water for 5 minutes before separating.

3. Separate the eggs, placing the whites in a large mixer bowl. Beat the egg whites with a pinch of the salt until stiff but not dry. Transfer whites to another bowl and reserve.

4. To make batter: Cream the butter, sugar and cream of coconut in a stand mixer until fluffy. Add the egg yolk, one at a time, and the vanilla and coconut extracts and beat on low speed. Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and remaining salt onto a piece of wax paper. Then, with the mixer running, at low speed, add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the egg mixture in thirds, alternately until just combined. Remove bowl from mixer and by hand fold in the beaten egg whites.

5. Divide the batter among the prepared pans and bake until a wooden pick comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool in pans on a rack for 5 minutes, run a knife around the edge of the pan to release cake sides and then flip the layers out onto the rack to cool.

6. To make Frosting: Wash out the mixer bowl, then combine the cream cheese, butter, cream of coconut and coconut extract in the bowl and beat on high speed until light and fluffy. Add the confectioners’ sugar and salt and beat until light. Refrigerate while the cake cools.

7. Toast the coconut by spreading it on a baking sheet and toasting until golden in a 400-degree oven for about 2-3 minutes; watch carefully and stir after 2 minutes.

8. Place a cake layer on a cake stand and add a generous dollop of frosting. Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting, then add a handful of toasted coconut and sprinkle evenly. Repeat with second and third layers, adding a couple of toothpicks to each layer to secure it. Finally, frost the sides of the cake and press the remaining toasted coconut onto the sides and top of the cake.

9. Store under a cake bell. (I refrigerated mine.)