I either love this cake or I hate it. Obviously, its delicious. Ina Garten made a name for herself with her coconut cupcakes, so the cake version is a no brainer. I've been wanting to make this cake for the longest time. Still stranded in my home by the Atlanta snow storm, and finding myself with all the ingredients on hand, it was time to try it.
But being completely uptight and slightly OCD about keeping my kitchen clean, this cake just about killed me. I have all sorts of tricks for organizing myself when I set up the kitchen to cook so that I don't find huge messes to clean up when I'm done. But sifting a pound of confectioners sugar... well, I met my match. I was unable to walk away from this cake without a fresh coating of powder all over my counters and cabinet fronts. Then applying the coconut to the cake was not exactly the neatest task. But I got it done with minimal damage.
As someone who cannot frost a cake to save her life, this cake rocks. You can barely tell that my frosting job is uneven. I love that I covered my haphazard work with coconut. One of the reasons I love cupcakes so much is because to ice them all I have to do is pipe some icing on. My frosted cakes always look a little less than spectacular. Except this one.
The cake itself was much more dense than I would have expected. I anticipated it as I was putting the batter together, but I think the real culprit was cooking time. Ina says to bake this for 45-55 minutes. I started with 45, pulled the cake out at 43 and wish I would have pulled it at 40. It's still good. I really love the almond extract and coconut in the batter of the cake. It's just more dense like a pound cake. Small slices were in order. The recipe says it serves 10-12, but I think I could serve a whole lot more. If I cut this in what I call a "wedding slice", I could serve at least 20.
One of the benefits of being housebound this week has been playing with my camera. I finally started shooting on manual this week and going outside to shoot my cakes against the glare of the sun and the snow has helped me figure out a few things about the workings of my camera. I know I still have a long way to go, but I'm making progress. And I'm ok with not taking any more snow pictures for a while.
Barefoot Contessa at home
for the cake:
- 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing pans
- 2 cups sugar
- 5 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
- 3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting the 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, at room temperature
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 6 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
- Preheat the oven to 350∘. Grease two 9 inch cake pans, then line with parchment paper. Grease them again and dust lightly with flour.
- In the bowl of an electic 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, beinning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in the 4 ounces of coconut witha rubber spatula.
- Pour the batter evenly into the two 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 on to a baking rack to finish cooling.
- 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 (don't whip).
- To assemble, place one layer on a flat serving plate, top side down and spread with frosting. Place the second layer on top, top side down and frost the top and sides. To decorate the cake, sprinkle the top with coconut and lightly press more coconut to the sides. Serve at room temperature.