Sunday, August 30, 2009

Coconut Layer Cake

I finally got my book ! It came in the mail yesterday afternoon, and I spent a good part of the evening reading through each recipe. Wow. I went back and forth, trying to decide where to begin. I debated starting with some of the desserts with that is still in season, but I eventually landed on the Coconut Layer Cake, the very first recipe in the book.
After church this morning, I picked up the few ingredients I did not have on hand at home: heavy cream, eggs, and unsweetened coconut flakes. I gathered everything together on the counter, put I Love Lucy on the television, and started on the recipe.
To say that my cake was rustic would be an understatement. The rum syrup made the cake so soft that it began to disintegrate, and the cake could barely hold the coconut custard in its place. Luckily, the whipped cream topping managed to smooth over most of my errors, and the toasted coconut further camouflaged the mess beneath. Despite its appearance, the cake was incredible. David Lebovitz sure knows what he is doing!

Coconut Layer Cake
Serves 10-12
Adapted from Room for Dessert

5 eggs, separated, at room temperature
1/2 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup plus 1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split
5 egg yolks
1 cup unsweetened dried coconut

2/3 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons dark rum

1 1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups unsweetened dried coconut, toasted

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly butter only the bottom of a 12-by-18-inch sheet pan. Dust with flour. Whip together egg yolks and water for 1minute. Lower speed and add sugar and vanilla extract, the increase mixer speed to high and continue beating for 5 minutes, until a ribbon forms when you lift the whip. While the egg yolks are beating, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Once egg yolks form a ribbon, beat egg whites in another bowl until they form soft, drooping peaks. Incorporate flour mixture into egg yolk mixture by sifting dry ingredients over yolks with one hand and folding with a whisk with the other. Fold in beaten egg whites. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 15-18 minutes.

Stir together cornstarch and 1/4 cup milk with a fork. Measure 1 /14 cups milk and sugar into a saucepan. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into the milk, add pod, and warm over medium heat. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks. When milk is hot, whisk in slurry of cornstarch and continue to cook over medium heat until mixture thickens. Whisk some of thickened milk into egg yolks, then add them to rest of mixture in saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is very thick. Remove from heat and strain into a clean bowl. Remove vanilla pod, stir in coconut, and cool completely.

Heat water and sugar in a saucepan until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add rum.

Slice cake horizontally into three equal layers. Place a layer of cake onto a plate. Soak cake with 1/3 cup rum syrup, using a pastry brush. Evenly spread 1/2 coconut custard on top of the cake. Cover with a second layer of cake. Soak second layer with another 1/3 cup rum syrup. Spread remaining coconut custard over soaked cake layer. Place final cake layer on top and soak with rest of syrup. Allow cake to sit in refrigerator overnight.

Whip cream until it forms soft peaks, then whisk in sugar and vanilla. Coat cake completely with whipped cream. Cover top and sides with toasted coconut.


  1. Yum! And errors give character

  2. Errors or no... it looks delicious!

  3. errors are the soul of creation and this my friend is a fantastic creation!