Happy Holidays Everyone!! BIG WEEKEND coming up--always fun when Passover and Easter overlap! And it's time for another Famous Fridays, of course! This week's honoree has been called the "Diva of Desserts" and "the most meticulous cook who ever lived": Rose Levy Beranbaum, author of the famed The Cake Bible as well as 9 other award winning cookbooks. Seriously, if you want to learn to become a better baker, you should get yourself one of Rose's books, start at the beginning and work your way through! Trying to pick one dessert out of Rose's massive collections is like being in an amazing penny candy store and being told you can only pick one kind of gummy candy!! But since Easter is in a couple of days, I thought a relatively simple coconut cake, decked out for the holiday was in order!
What I love about Rose's books are her attention to detail. Nothing is left to chance--from ingredients to the right kinds of utensils to use to techniques. She gives lots of helpful hints along the way too and while some of her creations are incredibly complicated and intimidating to me, there are plenty of cakes, cookies, pies, breads etc. that are totally doable and don't leave you frazzled. This is one of those cakes.
What I love about this cake (other than all the Easter candy that tops it--how much do you love the mini-Cadbury eggs?!!) is how many different kinds of coconut join together to make it the wonderfully flavorful cake that it is. There's the cream of coconut, coconut extract and grated unsweetened coconut in the batter and the sweetened shredded coconut in the frosting. I'm telling you--this is one coconut filled cake!!
And it all comes together in a fairly straightforward way, baking up nice and golden brown in a simple single layer. The fun comes in the frosting and decorating part! First you spread a generous amount of whipped cream over the top of the cake--
Then you cover the whole thing in sweetened shredded coconut and leave as is, or continue in the decorating process and since it's Easter--what choice do you really have?!!
The cake is light, moist and full of coconut flavor and the whipped cream and coconut add just the right touch. And with those cute little bunnies and chocolate Easter eggs, who could resist?
Treat yourself to one of Rose's cookbooks and have a wonderful holiday weekend!!
Easter Bunny Coconut Cake-Famous Fridays
Prep Time: 20 minutes: Bake Time: 30-40 minutes; Decorating Time: 10-15 minutes
For the Cake
- 3 egg whites from large eggs, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup canned cream of coconut, blended in a food processor or blender and measured after blending so that any solids have been incorporated
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon coconut extract
- 1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar (you can make your own if you can't find this by grinding up ordinary sugar in a food processor until it's very fine)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened (desiccated) shredded coconut
- 2 cups cake flour
- 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
For the Frosting
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream,cold
- 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
- An assortment of peeps, chocolate eggs, etc. (optional)
1. Place oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 350ºF (325º if using a dark coated pan). Butter the bottom of a 9 inch round cake pan, fit the bottom with a parchment round and spray the whole thing with baking spray with flour. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together briefly the egg whites, 3 tablespoons of the blended cream of coconut, and the vanilla and coconut extracts.
3. Using a food processor, grind together the superfine sugar and the unsweetened coconut until the mixture is powdery. Set aside.
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix the coconut/sugar mixture with the flour, baking powder, and salt for 30 seconds on low speed. Add the butter and remaining cream of coconut and continue to mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Then increase the speed to medium and mix for about 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and on low speed add half of the egg white mixture and beat for 30 seconds. Then add the remaining half and beat for another 30 seconds. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top.
5. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the cake is just starting to shrink away from the sides of the pan and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Don't be upset if the center caves in slightly. You'll be covering it with frosting anyway.
6. Let cake cool in pan on a rack for 20 minutes. Then take a butter knife and run it between the sides of the cake and the pan to loosen it completely. Spray another wire rack lightly with vegetable cooking spray and and invert cake carefully onto it, removing parchment round in the process. Use original rack to invert again so that cake finishes cooling right side up. Let cool completely before frosting.
7. To make frosting: Chill a mixing bowl and the electric beaters or whisk attachment in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes. Pour the cold heavy cream into the bowl, starting on low speed and gradually raising the speed to medium-high until the cream holds a definite shape when you drop if from a spoon. Mound the cream on top of the cake and spread it all over the top. Sprinkle with the coconut evenly all over and then decorate with the eggs and peeps if using. The cake is best when served soon after it's topped with the whipped cream but can be made up to one day ahead and stored, covered in the refrigerator.
Note: Recipe adapted from Rose's Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum. I left the coconut powder out of the frosting and added all of the Easter decorations.