Monday, April 11, 2011

Coconut Cake

I saw this cake a few days ago on Velva's blog, Tomatoes on the Vine, and knew I would be making it soon.  

This is a Thomas Keller recipe.  If you know who he is, I tip my hat to you.  I realize that not knowing who he is makes me some sort of culinary dim-wit.  I'm more acquainted with Chef-Boyardee, or the Jolly Green Giant.  But this Thomas guy certainly knows his cake!

There are a lot of steps to this recipe, but it's really not that complicated.  Just don't leave out the salt...sheesh!  It was still good even though I did forget. 

One of the steps involved dropping the warm cake face first onto the cooling rack...

...fortunately it stayed together!

Here's the recipe for you...make it if you get a chance.  It's delish!

One 15-ounce can coconut milk (not "lite")
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup egg whites, at room temperature (from about 6 large eggs)
2 cups granulated sugar
12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
Meringue (recipe below)

Pour the coconut milk into a small saucepan and whisk to blend.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the milk has reduced to 1 cup.

Meanwhile prepare an ice bath in a medium bowl and set a small metal bowl on top.

Pour the coconut milk into the small bowl.  Once the milk is cool, remove from the ice bath and stir in the vanilla.

Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees F.  Butter two 9-inch round cake pans.  Line with parchment paper, butter the parchment, and coat with flour, tapping out the excess.

Sift the cake flour and baking powder together into a bowl.  Stir in the salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the whites on medium speed, until they begin to froth.  With the mixer running, slowly add 3/4 cup of the sugar, then increase the speed to medium-high and continue to whip until medium peaks form.

Remove from the mixer.  (if you have only one bowl, transfer the whites to another bowl and wash out the mixer bowl.)  Switch to the paddle attachment.

Put the butter in the mixer bowl and beat on medium-low to medium speed to soften, about 1 minute.  Scrape down sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, add the remaining 1-1/4 cups sugar, and mix on medium speed until light and creamy, stopping to scrape the sides as needed.  3-4 minutes.

From this point, it is important not to over mix the batter.  Each addition does not have to be completely incorporated before you add the next; there may be some visible streaks remaining.  Add half the dry ingredients to the butter and mix on medium-low to medium speed.  Add half of the coconut milk and mix.  Add half of the remaining dry mixture, then the remaining milk and finally the remaining dry mixture.  Remove the bowl from the mixer.  Scrape down the sides and the bottom to incorporate any ingredients that may have settled in the bottom of the bowl, and mix with the spatula so there are no longer any streaks.

Top the batter with one-third of the whites and fold in gently.  Gently fold in another third of the whites and finally the remaining whites.

Divide the batter evenly between the pans and gently smooth the tops.  Bake until a cake tester or wooden skewer comes out clean, 26 to 28 minutes.  Let the layers cool on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes, then turn out of the pans and let cool completely.  

Meanwhile, spread the coconut on a baking sheet and toast lightly in the oven, 6 to 8 minutes.  Transfer to a small bowl and let cool completely.

Lay strips of parchment paper around the edges of a cake stand or serving plate to catch any excess frosting or coconut when you decorate the cake.  Position one of the cake layers in the center.  Spread a 1/3-inch-thick layer of meringue evenly over the cake layer.  Sprinkle a light layer of the coconut over the meringue.  Top with the second cake layer.  Spread the remaining meringue evenly over the sides and top of the cake.  Sprinkle the remaining coconut on the sides and the top.  Pull away and discard the pieces of parchment paper.  This cake is best served the day it is made.

Recipe for Meringue:

1-1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons plus teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Combine 1- 1/4 cups of the sugar and the water in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat to 220F., stirring at first to dissolve the sugar.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium speed until they begin to look foamy, then gradually add the remaining 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar.  Increase the speed to medium-high and whip until the whites form soft peaks.

With the mixer running, slowly add the sugar syrup, pouring it down the side of the bowl to avoid the whisk.  Add the vanilla, and continue to whip until stiff peaks form and the bowl is cool.

*Just a note:  if you refrigerate this for very long, it makes the edges a bit tough.  But still yummy. 


Jennifurla said...

I saw this recipe too, it looks so tasty. I love that chef.

Lara said...

You got me drooling first thing in the morning! This looks divine! :)

Bo said...

Thomas Keller??? Who??? I saw this cake too...I am well familiar with the other two...This cake looks amazing!

The Japanese Redneck said...

I saw it on her blog too and thought it looked wonderful.

Brenda said...

I've never heard of Thomas Keller but this cake looks amazing. I'm a huge coconut lover and I could eat this cake by myself!

Sara said...

This looks awesome! I love coconut cake.

LittleAsianGirl BigAppetite said...

omggg i NEED to make this cake! it looks sooooo goood. yummmmm

Tammy Lou said...

I don't think that I've ever had coconut and meringue together although they are my favorite sweet things. Now I will definitely have to try this recipe!

Kim said...

I spied this gorgeous cake over on Velva's blog too. Yours turned out beautifully!

Anonymous said...

That cake looks wonderful-wish I could have a piece right now! :)

Mimi said...

Delicious. You did Velva and TK proud.

teresa said...

i remember this one, yours turned out SO pretty! i love coconut.

Debbie said...

Wish I could just pull that cake right through my computer! It looks delicious!!!

scrambledhenfruit said...

I drooled over this one when I saw it on Velva's blog too- it looks delicious! :)

Joanne said...

I love coconut and wish that more people in my life felt the same! This cake looks delicious!

Velva said...

Julie, you made this cake!!!! I am smiling ear to ear. It turned out beautiful. I tip my hat to you. I hope you liked it, as much as I did.

Thomas Keller owns the French Laundry in Napa Valley. If I am not mistaken, he has the only 3-star Michelin restaurant in the U.S... Unlike, many chefs he has not commercialized himself and he is utterly amazing.


Susan said...

Looks divine!


theUngourmet said...

I'm a dim wit too so don't feel bad. When I'm done here I'll be googling Thomas Keller. :D

Coconut makes me swoon...especially toasted coconut. This looks amazing!

Kerstin said...

I went to a Thomas Keller book signing, and he was very nice! This cake looks amazing and perfect for spring!

Monet said...

Even though the weekend is already packed, I want to make this cake! It looks heavenly! Thank you for sharing another great recipe with me. I hope you have a wonderful weekend, full of laughter and life. You inspire me with your passion and creative soul!

Chris said...

You know, I used to HATE coconut cake. But I have been loving curries, Thai food, and things with coconut milk and cream in them. I should re-visit the whole cake thing now.

Danelle said...

This would be perfect for Easter!

Reeni said...

I have a ton of coconut and coconut milk to use up! This looks delectable!

Monica H said...

I like that there's actually coconut milk in there. Ina's coconut cake was basically a white cake with shredded coconut in it- that doesn't make it coconut cake! This one looks great, I'll have to try it someday.

Katy ~ said...

Just put me in the dim-wit row, LOL. Regardless, this cake looks superb! Now I'm going to have to goggle Thomas Keller and see what all the fuss is about.

Ingrid said...

I have to make a cake for a co-worker. He asked for coconut. I was gonna go with Ina's but I'll try yours instead.