Thursday, July 5, 2007

Woolly Coconut-Lime Birthday Cake

This was my birthday cake. I had been craving lime and coconut, I think because I associate those flavors with trips to Mexico and summer was nowhere to be seen when my birthday rolled around a few weeks ago. This cake turned out to be exactly what I wanted, and I won't change a thing the next time I have an excuse to make it. The cream cheese frosting wasn't too sweet, and it was heaven with the lime curd (I was having an impossible time not eating spoonfuls of each while waiting for the crumb coat to chill.) The cake actually tasted of coconut too (just like the recipe promised) without any annoying coconut flakes in the batter itself. The half-toasted sweetened coconut smashed on the outside was actually WAY better than I was expecting. It was chewy-crunchy, which added a great contrast to the cake, but it also added a lot more flavor than I had anticipated.

(It is warm outside, my windows are open, I have wobbly-tired legs from a fifty mile bike ride today, and I am listening to Neil Diamond while I write this. Meow.)

I had searched high and low for a recipe that used coconut milk instead of "cream of coconut" (which I find a little scary - it contains several mystery ingredients), but I wasn't having much luck. I was surprised when I saw that the Cooks' Illustrated recipe even called for the stuff, but then they explained themselves (yay Cooks' Illustrated!). Apparently when they were testing recipes with coconut milk they had wildly varied results. With a little research they discovered that from can to can, coconut milk's fat content can vary as much as 33%. Hence, the cream of coconut.

Martha's Lime Curd, (slightly modified) from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

- 8 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp lime juice
- 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp lemon juice (I actually used more lime juice - I only had 1 lemon)
- zest of 2 limes
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 sticks cold butter, cut into pieces (10 Tbsp)(I used salted)

Put yolks, juice, zest and sugar in heavy saucepan. Whisk well to combine, then cook over medium-high heat, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon until mixture coats back of spoon and is 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer (about 8-12 minutes).

Remove from heat. Stir in salt. Add butter pieces gradually, stirring until mixed well. Press through sieve into bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing onto surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate at least one hour.

Coconut Cake, (modified slightly) from Baking Illustrated.

- 2 1/4 cups (9 ounces) cake flour (I used 9 ounce AP flour)
- 1 egg
- 5 egg whites
- 3/4 cream of coconut (Coco Lopez)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tsp coconut extract
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 sticks butter (12 Tbsp), softened but cool, cut into 12 pieces
- 2 cups packed sweetened shredded coconut

Oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.

In a large measuring cup, mix egg and egg whites with a fork, then mix in cream of coconut, water, and extracts.

In bowl of mixer, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add butter one piece at a time, and mix until resembles coarse meal with no pieces bigger than a pea, about 2 - 2 1/2 minutes.

With mixer running, add a cup of the liquid mixture. Beat on med-high until fluffy, about 45 seconds. With mixer still running, add remaining liquid in steady stream over about 15 seconds. Scrape down bowl and beat for another 15 seconds.

Divide batter between pans. Batter will be thick - spread with spatula. Bake for about 30 minutes, until toothpick is clean. Remove cakes, and toast coconut spread on baking sheet for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until half of coconut is golden, half is still white.

Cool cakes on wire racks, remove from pans after 10 minutes to finish cooling.

Ina Garten's Cream Cheese Frosting, (slightly modified) from the Barefoot Contessa at Home

- 1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
- 2 sticks butter at room temperature (I used salted)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 pound powdered sugar

Beat together everything except the sugar. When it is well combined, add the sugar, and beat until smooth.

Assemble and eat! (I put a thin coat of frosting on the bottom layer before the lime curd.)


Rachel said...

This looks super yummy! I love the toasted coconut.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Happy Birthday, Mallow!!

What a wonderful way of celebrating it - this cake is scrumptious!

We love limes here in Brazil.

sher said...

That is just heaven on a plate! Drool!

Tartelette said...

Happy belated birthday!!SOunds and look incredible. Allow me to put it in my recipe biox. Will have to modify for the husband but still...awesome!