Southern Manhattan Coconut Cake (more or less)
Posted: 31 December 2010 04:29 PM   [ Ignore ]
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The wonderful hub had been wanting a coconut cake and, as my friend Pen-Pen’s mother’s friend says, “It’s just not Christmas without a coconut cake,” so I couldn’t possibly refuse.  Due to some slack inventorying on my part, however, I was out of cake flour, and it had snowed (we’re in NC), so I wasn’t likely to be getting any. 

So I did an exeriment and made it with the unbleached all purpose called for in the carrot cake. I thought maybe it would work better if I used the creaming method (I thought maybe that’s why all purpose didn’t work as well with Rose’s was the mixing method).  I think it worked rather well, on the whole, but the cakes have decent sized dips.  I’ve gotten dips with cake flour upon occasion, so I’m thinking perhaps, if I must do it again (1) let the cakes sit about 40 minutes before baking or (2) use 1/8 t. less baking powder per layer.  Also made some unfrosted little loaves for ‘just cake.’  You can see the unbleached AP crumb.

The hub says the unbleached AP texture is like ‘an old fashioned cake,’ which is just what he wanted in the coconut cake, but that for cakes, generally, he prefers the cake flour texture and Rose’s mixing method.  ‘That woman [Rose, not me, certainly] knows what she’s doing,’ is, I believe, the accurate quote.

This was a ‘home cake’ and a specific sort of frosting was wanted, so I mixed 2-1/2 sticks of butter, 1 can of coconut milk boiled down to 1/2 (boiled with 1/2 c. sugar and vanilla beans), 1c. milk thickened with flour (to lighten everything) and about 3c. unsweetened coconut, and about 1/4 c. raw honey (becuase it’s solid at room temp). It’s very wonderful and not too sweet.

I also didn’t use the coconut extract in either the cake or frosting—didn’t have it, couldn’t find it, and I have a ‘thing’ about extracts, so it is very coconutty without being overwhelmingly coconutty.

Pen-Pen at work said the frsoted was ‘The Bomb,’ and it is very wonderful!

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Posted: 01 January 2011 07:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Anne which coconut cake is this?  Your description of it is making my mouth water.  I am not a huge fan of coconut,  but I think that you have convinced me to make a coconut cake.  How was the consistency of your icing?  How much flour did you add to the milk to thicken it.  It really sounds wonderful.  I just might have to try it when I make my coconut cake.

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Posted: 01 January 2011 09:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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It sounds delicious!  Your layer cake looks just perfect- so straight and even.  And I love the close-up of the texture.

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Posted: 01 January 2011 11:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Thank you both so much!

Your layer cake looks just perfect- so straight and even.

Much appreciated, but it’s some stealth camera work, to be sure!!  Oh, those layers have quite a dip in them.  I could rasie goldfish!!!  But that’s because of the unbleached AP, no doubt.  If I ever have to use it again, I’ll have to let it expel some leavening before baking (or just use less).

Anne which coconut cake is this?

This is the Southern Manhattan Coconut Cake from RHC.  If you don’t like coconut much, simply skip the extract, and the coconut flavor of the cake itself is very mild.  It’s just a very, very moist, delicous, amazing white cake with a hint of coconut.

For the frosting, which is about the texture of cooked buttercream (the thickened milk lightens the butter, texture-wise, about as much as the eggs, but it’s less rich—no floury taste or anything, though), this is more precisely what I did (generally precisely, I should say, as I didn’t measure anything because it’s all very easy to adjust):

1. I cooked down a can of coconut milk, with a vanilla bean thorwn in, to about 1/2. Takes around 1/2 hour.  Let it boil and just pass by every couple of minutes to give it a stir.
2. When it was about 5 minutes away from being done, I added the sugar to it and stirred it constantly so it would dissolve (all my sugar has been whirred in teh food processor to make it supah-fine.
3.  Then it wasn’t as thick as I would have liked it, so I stirred about 2T. flour into a little of it and slowly added the rest to that and cooked it until it was thick.  It was a somewhat unattractive gray color and it separated a bit, but don’t worry—the frosting is white and beautiful!
4.  I let this get good and cold and pitched it into a bowl with 2-1/2 sticks of butter and mixed it up.  Too buttery tasting, so I decided to lighten it with the thickened milk—this is such a great thing to do, and the frosting is always delicous from it.
5.  I took 1c. of milk and mixed a little of it into 3T. or so of flour and then added the rest gradually (so it didn’t get too lumpy).  Stirred until it was really thick and let it cool to room temp.  It might be a little bit lujmpy, anyway, but it’s okay.  It all mixes in and gets really smooth.
6.  When it was almost at room temp, I added 1/4 c. raw honey (the heat will soften the honey, but when it’s cold and room temp, the honey will be solid again, so it does’t make the frosting runny), because it was hardly sweet at all and needed to be a little sweeter, but I didn’t want anything grainy.
7.  Mixed that in with about 2-1/2 cups or so of unsweetened coconut, and it was just amazingly perfect.  Next day, the dried coconut was integrated more into the frosting—more of a oneness. 

It works quite well with the cake, and you are free to estimate here and there and sweeten to taste, and balances the perfect coconutty-ness with the cake.

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