Over two years ago my sister, Brooke, emailed me a recipe for the Barefoot Contessa’s Coconut Cake. It was for one of those recipe email exchanges that no one ever really follows through on–you know: email to 10 of your friends and have them send a recipe to the person who sent you the email and in return you’ll get 100 recipes from your friends’ friends? This may have been the only recipe I received. Printed it is two pages and the ingredient list scared the bejeezus out of me (turns out I’m intimidated by lengthy ingredient lists).
So, since we’re doing the Whip Up Something New Challenge and my mom’s birthday was last weekend, I decided to skip the boxed cake and make Ina’s Coconut Cake. How’d it turn out?? (ps, even though recipe was sent to me via email, I also found on Barefoot Contessa’s website–directions below are straight from her recipe [my asides noted as such]).
3/4 pounds [3 sticks] unsalted butter, at room temp plus more for greasing pans
2 cups sugar
5 extra large eggs at room temp
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting pans
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup milk
4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
For the frosting:
1 pound cream cheese [16 oz], room temp
1/2 pound [2 sticks] unsalted butter, room temp
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 pound confectioners’ sugar, sifted
6 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, then line them with parchment paper. Grease them again and dust lightly with flour. [more on this later]
[I’ve learned the way to tackle recipes with many ingredients is to gather everything together ahead of time so you’re not constantly starting and stopping. Apparently I’m not the only one as there’s a fancy French term for this: mise en place].
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl once during mixing. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. The mixture might look curdled, don’t be concerned.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter in three parts, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold the 4 ounces of coconut in with a rubber spatula.
Pour the batter evenly in to the 2 pans and smooth the top with a knife. Bake in the center of the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until the tops are browned and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a baking rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a baking rack to finish cooling.
[I don’t grease and flour pans–instead I use Cake Release by Wilton. It’s a little goopy, but after so many disasters of cakes sticking to pans during my cake decorating class, I’ve never used anything else since and usually have good results.]
[Batter was much thicker than a boxed cake, but I gotta admit those rounds came out beautifully! The strips around the pans below are Bake Even Strips (also Wilton). Don’t know if they really do anything or not but supposedly they’re supposed to keep your cake from getting the doomed top. I did have some crispiness around the edges that I cut off with a serrated knife, but that’s probably more due to overcooking the cake just a few minutes too long–oooooor the fact that I used 8 inch pans instead of 9.]
For the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and almond extract on low speed. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until just smooth .
To assemble, place one layer on a flat serving plat, top side down, and spread with frosting. Place the second layer on top, top side up, and frost the top and sides.
To decorate the cake, sprinkle the top with coconut and lightly press more coconut on the sides. Serve at room temperature. [I grabbed a handful of coconut and patted around the sides of the cake and then sprinkled remaining on top]
Everyone raved about the cake, and when I took the leftovers to work, the cake disappeared immediately. I found it it be a little dry and much denser than a boxed cake. Some of this is because it wasn’t quite room temperature, but I wasn’t sure how long the cream cheese could sit outside of the fridge? I really liked the almond flavoring, but it certainly wasn’t overpowering.
So what do you think? Worth the time and effort or easier just to buy from the box? I really enjoyed taking the time to make this cake, but I had the time to do so–something that’s uncommon for me. I’m undecided as Duncan Hines does make a pretty dang yummy cake!
If you try the recipe, let me know how it turns out for you!
Nom Nom Nom,
Every weekend, Beth Fish Reads hosts Weekend Cooking. “Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.” Hope you’ll join the fun!