Growing up, my mom was notorious for her coconut cake. Back then it didn't matter to any of us that it came from a box, was mixed with vegetable oil and was topped with canned frosting. It was good that's all we knew.
Fast forward to this year; for mom's 71st birthday, I decided to try my hand at a made from scratch coconut cake. I scoured the internet for a recipe and finally decided on one from Cooks Illustrated. I added my own touches and the cake turned out beautiful. Mom loved the intense coconut flavor both in the cake and in the homemade coconut buttercream. She was happy and I can't ask for much more than that.
Coconut Cream Cake
(adapted from Cook's Illustrated)
1 large egg, room temperature
5 large egg whites, room temperature
3/4 cup coconut cream (not cream of coconut)
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoon coconut extract
2-1/4 cups cake flour (9 ounces), sifted
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (6 ounces/1-1/2 sticks), cut into 12 pieces, softened, but still cool
Heat oven to 325℉. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and dust with flour. Beat whole egg and egg whites in large measuring cup with fork to combine. Add coconut cream, coconut milk, vanilla, and coconut extract; beat with fork until thoroughly combined.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Mix on lowest speed to combine, about 30 seconds. With mixer running, add butter 1 piece at a time, then beat until mixture resembles coarse meal, with butter bits no larger than small peas, 2 to 2-1/2 minutes.
Add 1/2 of egg mixture, increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add remaining egg mixture. Stop mixer and scrape down bowl with rubber spatula, then beat at medium-high speed until fully combine, about 30 seconds. (Batter will be thick.)
Divide batter evenly between cake pans and level with offset spatula. Bake until golden brown, cakes pull away from sides of pans, and toothpick inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, then loosen cakes from sides of pans with paring knife, invert cakes onto racks and then re-invert; cool to room temperature.
Coconut Buttercream Frosting
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
3 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon coconut extract
4-5 tablespoons coconut cream
Cream butter in a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Add powdered sugar, coconut extract, salt, and coconut cream. Beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add a little more sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add additional coconut cream 1 tablespoon at a time.