Week 24 - Coconut Cake
From the very start of this cookbook challenge there were a few recipes that I knew I wanted to try. At the top of my list was coconut cake. I've had coconut cake only a handful of times and always enjoyed it, but have never made it before. I chose "Fluffy Coconut Cake" from the 2005 book "I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence" by Amy Sedaris.
This book is very funny and full of recipes, entertaining hints and crafts. I initially was drawn to this book because of the fun retro photography and its overall kitschiness. After I started reading the book, I was pleasantly surprised to find the recipes are actually really great. The recipes are comfort foods and desserts found in many of the vintage cookbooks from the 60s and 70s.
This recipe has three sections to it; the cake, filling and frosting. The recipe for the cake portion was for a Genoise cake. It was pretty easy to make but I mistakenly used all purpose flour instead of cake flour. As a result the cake was not as fluffy and high as it could have been although it was still very light and sweet.
For the filling of the cake I made coconut pastry cream. This was a bit more time consuming because it required some cooking over the stove, but still was relatively simple to make. The resulting filling was basically a thick coconut-flavored pudding. This particular recipe made a huge amount of the filling, much more than I needed for this double layer cake. I didn't just want to throw away the extra, so I froze the rest of the filling to be used for a future dessert.
The frosting for this cake was a Swiss meringue buttercream. I've never made this before but had read that it could be very temperamental. Boy, was that an understatement! The recipe says to mix the egg whites and sugar together and then heat the mixture over a double boiler. After that it said to whisk the mixture until it holds stiff peaks. This was where I knew things might not be as easy as I had hoped. I whisked it for about 40 minutes and it never got beyond the soft peak stage. I decided to stop at that point and add the butter, as instructed.
When it came time to decorate, I knew I was in trouble. Rather than a nice smooth buttercream, mine had broken and separated into a cottage cheese-like consistency. Since it took so long to make this batch, I had no desire or time to make it again so I decided to press on. I spread it on my stacked cakes, as best I could but it would not smooth out and didn't look great.
Fortunately, since I covered the cake with shredded coconut I managed to hide my less than stellar frosting job.
Despite the issues, the cake was delicious. Even with my issues with the buttercream it still tasted wonderful. I have since learned that there are some things that I can do to rescue broken buttercream, which I may try, if I ever make it again. This cake was time-consuming so I'm not sure I would make it again, but I am looking forward to trying some of the other great sounding recipes in this book.
Cookbook: "I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence" by Amy Sedaris, published in 2005
Recipe: Fluffy Coconut Cake
Difficulty: This was time consuming and I found the buttercream to be pretty temperamental
Alterations: None, although I did mistakenly make the cake with all purpose flour rather than cake flour
Results: The buttercream broke, but overall that cake was delicious
Make Again: Probably not. It was difficult and frustrating to make, so I would try to find a simpler recipe if I wanted to make coconut cake again.