Sunday, October 24, 2010

Toasted Coconut Cake - 4 Tiers, Custard Filling, Buttercream Icing and 1/2 the Calories

Calories, calories, calories...

Beware, your ass will get bigger just reading the recipe.  

But, I found a way to cut the calories in half... 

Instead of a round 4 tier cake, I made 2 round cakes, cut them in half and made a half moon shaped 4 tier cake (I cut the recipe in half, thus, half the calories).  This ultra rich complex cake was a special occasion cake (only way to justify the calories), and was a special request from my wife.  This is the cake Jackie wanted for her birthday cake.

So, with the understanding that, "How Many Times Does She get an opportunity To Celebrate the Anniversary of her 29th Birthday???", here we go...

You may think this recipe sounds familiar.  It was featured as Bobby Flay's contribution of a Throwdown episode of his TV show.  Coconut everywhere, the cake is coated with a coconut flavored simple syrup, the filling is a wonderful coconut custard and the outer icing is a coconut buttercream; with layers of toasted coconut within and without.

just imagine!

And just to make it a bit more complex, I saved the simple syrup that I made from my  Candied Orange Peelsjust a few days ago.  Just a hint of orange citrus flavors.  So, if you are paying attention to my posts this weekend, this is indeed a leftover recipe. 
And here's my ad... (BTW, remember I am hosting a contest for BSI this week. This would certainly qualify, as I used my leftover Orange Peels as the flavoring for the bread pudding. Click HERE to see the details of my BSI secret ingredient contest (along with a great prize). But I digress from the recipe).  The deadline is Sunday night (tonight), I already have several entries, with promises for more to come.
OK, back to the cake.

Here's my commentary...  The cake is incredible.  Restaurant quality and then some.  But, know that it is very time consuming.  I probably had at least two hours hands on work, and over three hours counting baking and assembling all the ingredients.  I made a couple of small changes to the original recipe (you can see that on the Food network site by clicking HERE).  I increased the amount of the simple syrup that gets into the cake by taking a chopstick and poking holes into the cake for the syrup to ooze into.  Kind of like when you make a Rum cake and want the rum to pour into the cake.  And other BIG change was the buttercream frosting.  I made it as directed in the original recipe, and it was like eating a stick of butter.  Flavored butter for sure, but much too much butter.  So, I added a 1/4 cup of heavy cream (why not, in for a penny, in for a pound calorie-wise), and half again as much of the amount of powdered sugar.

OK... Here's what I did...

Toasting Coconut is easy...
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut

  • Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees
  • Spread the coconut evenly onto a baking sheet and toast until lightly golden brown, stirring once, 8 to 10 minutes. 
  • Turn off the oven and let the coconut sit in the oven until very dry and crunchy, about 15 minutes longer.
Coconut Simple Syrup is also easy:
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut

  • Bring water and sugar to a boil. 
  • Stir in the coconut, 
  • remove from the heat and let sit for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours. 
  • Strain the liquid into a clean saucepan, 
  • bring to a boil and let cook until the mixture is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. 
  • Let cool.

And one of the beautiful things that sets this recipe apart is the Coconut Custard:
3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons coconut rum (recommended: Malibu)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • Combine the milks and vanilla bean and seeds in a medium nonreactive saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat.
  • Whisk together the yolks, sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl. Slowly whisk the warm milk into the egg mixture then return the mixture to the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly, until thickened. 
  • Scrape the mixture into a bowl and whisk in the rum and vanilla extract. 
  • Let cool to room temperature then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours.
  • Combine the custard and cream in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form.

The Coconut Filling is mostly the Custard made spread-ably creamy
3/4 cup coconut custard (recipe above), cold
3/4 cup very cold heavy cream

  • Just mix and keep cool until ready to assemble the cake.

The Coconut Buttercream Frosting with my changes
3 stick unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup heavy Cream
3/4 cup coconut custard (recipe above) (cold)

Pinch fine sea salt

  • Beat the butter and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. 
  • Add the Cream, coconut custard and salt and beat until combined and smooth.

And finally, the Cake:
2 tablespoons softened butter, for pans
2 1/4 cups cake flour, plus more for pans
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces, slightly cold

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  • Butter and flour 2 (9 by 2-inch) round cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper.
  • In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. 
  • With mixer running at low speed, add the butter, one piece at a time and continue beating until mixture resembles moist crumbs. 
  • Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed until the mixture is pale and fluffy, about 1 1/2 minutes. 
  • With mixer on low speed, add remaining 1/2 cup of the milk mixture, increase speed to medium and beat 30 seconds more. 
  • Scrape sides of bowl and mix for 20 seconds longer. 
  • Divide the batter evenly between two cake pans and smooth the tops using a rubber spatula.
  • Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 22 to 24 minutes. 
  • Cool in the pan on baking rack for 10 minutes. 
  • Run a small knife around the side of the pan and invert cakes onto the baking rack, removing parchment paper, and let cool completely, about 45 minutes.

To Assemble this AMAZING Cake:

Ok, I made the biggest changes with this step, as I cut the above recipes in half.  I was hosting a small dinner party, just 4 of us.  I really wanted to enjoy this special occasion cake, but I did not want lots of leftover cake.  If it is in the house, I will eat it.  1/2 the recipe, half the cake gave everyone a slice, and two slices leftover for a bad boy breakfast (right before a 6 mile walk).  I will give the instructions for a full size cake, and the show my changes in italics.
  • Using a long serrated knife, slice each cake horizontally into 2 layers. 
  • I made two thin cakes, and sliced the vetically into 4 equal size half moon shapes
  • Place the first layer on a cardboard round cut side up and brush with some of the coconut simple syrup. 
  • I poked a dozen holes into the top of this cake and spooned a bit of the syrup into the cake
  • Spoon 1/3 of the coconut filling onto the cake and using a small offset metal spatula, spread it into an even layer, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge of the cake. 
  • Repeat with 2 more layers. 
  • Brush the cut side of the reserved cake layer with the remaining syrup. 
  • Place the final layer on top of the cake.
  • Frost the sides and top of the cake with the buttercream. 
  • Pat the coconut onto the sides of the cake and sprinkle the remaining coconut on the top of the cake. 
Phew... Complex, complicated and worth it.  I really LOVED the taste of the custard filling.  The syrup laced inside the cake was an excellent touch, adding more layers of coconut flavors in every bite (not just the frosting).  And what can be said about the coconut flavored buttercream other than OMG!

Special occasion, certainly not an everyday cake.  But when you have a special celebration, absolutely worth it!

And about the only thing that could make as beautiful a presentation as the cake would be my infamous Raspberry Chipotle Sausage stuffed spiral cut Pork Loin, with a bacon Lattice (pork, wrapped in poek, wrapped in pork)...

But that's a post for another day...

The assembly of the cake is important... here's a few photos that will give you a better idea of what I did and how...



  1. Wow, what a birthday cake! It looks so good, a little time consuming , but worth it I'm sure.

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    Thank you,

  2. Oh-my-gosh that's a beautiful cake Dave! I'm totally impressed.

  3. Wow. This looks amazing! I am coconuts over coconut! As you may have seen, I love cooking with coconut and coconut rum! I am actually having coconut cake for my wedding cake in 12 days! But I will also be sure to try this!!! Thanks for sharing!

    Robyn aka grillgrrrl

  4. OMG Dave - that looks amazing!! Totally insulin worthy - but I think I love your bacon lattice better! :D

  5. Your wife is indeed a lucky woman. Happy Birthday and I would give a weeks paycheck for a cake like this.

  6. MMMMMMM so decatant... love coconut cake!!

  7. Happy birthday to your wife!! Awesome cake, and I like how you just made half! I can't have frosted cake in my house because I am the one who eats the leftovers!

  8. You were right. I just gained ten pounds just looking at that fabulous cake! Happy b-day to one lucky lady who has a husband who can COOK!

  9. if you cut the cake recipe in half, just give me the other half and i'll be happy

  10. Beautiful cake Dave. Happy Belated Birthday to Jackie, but if I recall the whole month of October is her birthday.

  11. I'm a cake girl (seriously, I even had a shirt specially made for me that says "real girls eat cake") and this is my kind of cake! The more complicated, the better, the more time, the better. I get impatient with real food but have endless patience when it comes to cakes. I had to LOL on "half the calories!" You are so funny!

  12. Wow. I'm impressed. There is no way I could make a cake like this now. My husband is going to have to wait a good few more birthdays before he's lucky enough to get something like this.