Coconut Cake Diary, Part 2

Friday, 12:15 p.m.: The cake is completely cooled, which is key to successful icing application. In a makeshift double boiler, I heat egg whites, sugar, water and vanilla, until the mixture is 140 degrees and the sugar is dissolved. With an electric mixer, I beat the warm mixture until it transforms into a fluffy meringue, holding soft peaks. I spread a light layer of the white stuff on top of the cooled cake to create an adhesive, and then I mix in 1 cup of shredded coconut, which seems to be ineffective. I learn just a few minutes later that sprinkling the coconut on top of the finished cake has a more dramatic effect. The result is stunning, like newly fallen snow.

At last, chocolate coconut uni-layer success. (Kim O'Donnel)

I cut into my creation and the color contrast -- dark choc against snowy coconut -- is just as I had envisioned. The cake is as tender as I remember in the two-layer version, and the earthy chocolate loves the fatty tropical fruit. I miss the two layers not even a bit.

p>Very Good Chocolate Cake

Adapted from The Gift of Southern Cooking by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock

2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup hot (not boiling) water
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil or applesauce
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Tools: 9 or 10-inch springform pan or 2 nine-inch round cake pans

Preheat oven to 325. Butter, flour and line springform pan with parchment paper.
Sift together sugar, flour, salt and baking soda in a bowl. In another bowl, pour hot water over chocolate, allowing it to melt completely. In a third bowl, whisk eggs and oil (or applesauce), then add sour cream, vanilla and chocolate mixture. Fold wet mixture into dry, by thirds, incorporating after each addition. Divide batter evenly between the cake pans.
Bake about 55 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Transfer cake to rack and allow to rest for five minutes loosening the ring. To unmold, run a flat-edged knife between cake and sides of pan. Grab edge of parchment paper and carefully pull off bottom pan. Allow cake to completely cool before peeling off parchment and frosting.

Fluffy White Icing w/ Shredded Coconut
Adapted from "Perfect Light Desserts" by Nick Malgieri and David Joachim

2 egg whites
pinch salt
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup shredded coconut

Half fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Regulate heat so that water simmers gently but isn't boiling violently. Combine all icing ingredients in a heatproof bowl and whisk by hand just to mix. Place bowl over saucepan and whisk gently until egg whites are hot (140 degrees on an instant read thermometer) and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and beat the mixture with an electric mixer, on medium speed, until icing is cooled and increased in volume. It will turn into a marshamallowy fluff, almost meringue like.

With a flat knife, spread icing on top, starting from the center, working to the eges and sides. When you have sufficient coverage, sprinkle coconut all over the cake, pressing it into the sides.

By Kim ODonnel |  January 26, 2007; 5:13 PM ET Desserts
Previous: Diary of a Coconut Cake | Next: Southern Comfort: Mac and Cheese


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2 basic questions -- I recently bought a springform pan, but I haven't used it...

1. If you put the parchment paper on the bottom of the pan, then you would just butter & flour the sideds, correct? (Or perhaps butter the bottom so the parchment paper sticks?)

2. Do you cut a perfect circle to fit the bottom of the pan?

Posted by: C.T. | January 26, 2007 6:48 PM

This icing is much nicer than what I tried for 7 minute. Thanks!

PS I was going to cater my at home reception after eloping. In the end my sister and her friends did and I still thank them. I did allow my MIL to make the cupcakes for our cupcake cake and that was somewhat disastrous (she made them far in advance, froze them after frosting them, and stored them in several layers; guess when I found out?). If people cut corners you don't like, just save yourself the grief later and up front deal with telling them no. I thought it would give her something to do and what it did was give me, a normally sane person, something to cry over. Although my husband was smart and he handled his mother, got the cupcakes re-frosted, and I settled down.

Make sure to enjoy yourselves and to concentrate on the marriage. It will all seem crazy at times, but really, you just need your marriage documents, a credit card to replace whatever is needed, and each other. And sanity for the first year or so of marriage. Peace and tranquility.

Posted by: secretfun | January 27, 2007 9:44 PM

Interesting that you used Nick Malgieri's Seven Minute Frosting for your cake. If you had read elsewhere in his book you might have discovered the solution for your problem of the cake not dis-engaging from the Bundt pan. A couple of months ago I took a class with Nick Malgieri at L'Academie de Cuisine, and he made a devil's food cake in a Bundt pan (which he pronounces 'Boont', BTW) topped with this frosting. He recommends thoroughly spraying the inside of the pan with cooking spray and then coating it with breadcrumbs prior to pouring in the cake batter - even on non-stick Bundt pans. A few weeks ago I made this cake to take to a party, followed his directions and had no problem with it sticking to the pan. What did you do on the inside of your pan, Kim?

Posted by: Falls Church VA | January 29, 2007 12:39 PM

The cake looks delish! I think I will make it for Valentine's day.

Thank you for sharing with us.

Posted by: Danielle | January 29, 2007 1:18 PM

Looks great. What size pan?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 30, 2007 12:23 PM

RE: size of pan: Sorry about that. I mentioned in the body of the post that I settled on a springform pan, but forgot to mention in the body of the recipe. However, if you don't want to use a springform, try 2 nine-inch cake pans for a double-layer cake.
Fall Church: This is a helpful tidbit. I will note, though, this cake, in particular, is soft, with a fudgy consistency, does resist a lot of maneuvering, which is why I think it did't like the Bundt. However, I'd be willing to give the breadcrumbs trick a try.
CT: Yes, butter the bottom, so parchment sticks, and yes, as close to a perfect circle as you can get.

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | January 30, 2007 1:45 PM

Kim, any cake no matter how dense or moist is going to shrink a bit after it gets pulled from the oven. If you can keep the edge of the cake from adhering to the side of the pan when that shrinkage happens, the cake will just pull itself off naturally, with no juggling required. Maybe just a run of a knife around the edge to make sure it's fully clear before inverting. I think this is the idea behind Nick Malgieri's use of spray + breadcrumbs. As I recall, he also said there's no need to wait until the cake is fully cool before inverting it to remove from the pan. The shrinkage happens pretty quickly, in a minute or so after removing from the oven, so he usually inverts sooner rather than later.

Also, if you use a tube pan with a removable inside piece rather than a Bundt, if the sides clear and the cake drops when you invert the pan, you then have the chance to run a knife around the bottom before you pull that piece of the pan off.

Posted by: Falls Church VA | January 30, 2007 2:34 PM

In the frosting recipe is it SWEETENED shredded coconut like from Bakers? Or is it unsweetened like from Whole Foods? Thanks for any clues.

Also, you still didn't say (although I could've missed it) what size springform pan. I presume it's either a 9 or 10 inch.

Posted by: Meryl | January 30, 2007 4:05 PM


The poster at 12:23 today asked what size pan. Springform pans come in all sizes. I used my 4 and 5 inch springform pans last weekend for my daughter's snowman birthday cake. They come in all sizes.

Posted by: springform pan | January 30, 2007 7:10 PM

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