Coconut Creme Cake

Well, hello there. 

Now that summer is in full swing, I decided it was about time I whipped up a seasonal cake to celebrate the season. Nothing screams summer like coconut. Well... maybe ice cream but we'll save that for another week. This week I was craving a creamy coconut flavor slightly inspired by the seasonal selection at Peet's. Have you tried the Coconut Black Tie yet?! 

I. Die. 
So good.

While I am still adjusting to West Coast living post my NY-to-CA move, one thing I am more than grateful is being able to enjoy my Peet's Coffee. After five years of being deprived of their delicious dark roasts, except for the occasional airport latte, I am once again addicted. And thankful. And definitely caffeinated. 

It's been almost three weeks since I hopped on an airplane and relocated to California and it still doesn't quite feel like reality. It's starting to sink in that my East Coast friends are across the country and my heart breaks a little that I will be missing out on New York summer fun. Commuting about two and a half hours each way to work certainly makes the days seem like a different life... but that's all about to change (along with the dark circles under my eyes.) By this time next week I'll be onto the next adventure and officially an SF resident. That being said, I had to take advantage of my parents' glorious kitchen space while I could. 

Coconut cake can tend to be dry and crumbly, but when done right its a creamy, subtle flavor that's entirely underrated. It might be my favorite flavor even, second to chocolate of course. This dense and flavorful white cake is brought to life with layers of shredded coconut, coconut custard, and whipped coconut buttercream. That just sounds dreamy doesn't it? I assure you it tastes even better than it sounds; like a coconut creme cloud. Scrumptious flavors and textures make this cake the perfect summertime treat. I can imagine this perfectly at a 4th of July celebration; maybe with a little raspberry sorbet? I can't wait to spend my 4th on the Central Coast of California with plenty of sunshine, family... and perhaps a little coconut cake. 

Super White Cake
(recipe adapted from Sweetapolita)

3 1/4 cups flour, sifted
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cupcold unsalted butter, cubed
1 1/2 cups whole milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon coconut extract, or 1/2 teaspoon LorAnn coconut flavor
7 large egg whites, room temperature (or 1 cup boxed egg whites)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Butter and line a 1/2 size baking sheet with parchment paper or 3 9" round pans.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and the sugar.  With the mixer running on low speed, add the cold butter one piece at a time.  Beat the mixture until all of the butter is incorporated. This should take about 3 minutes.  The mixture will have a crumbly, pebble-like texture.
In a medium bowl combine half the milk, extracts and lemon juice.  In a separate measuring cup, gently whisk the egg whites and remaining milk.  
Increase the mixer speed to medium and gradually add the extract mixture and beat for a couple minutes.  Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula and reduce the mixer speed to low. Gradually add the egg white and milk mixture.  Beat for another couple minutes. Check twice to ensure everything has been incorporated and then pour into prepared sheet pan. Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted and removed cleanly. Let cake cool for thirty minutes to an hour, then cover with plastic wrap and freeze until ready to assemble.

Coconut Custard
(adapted from Bobby Flay)

3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons coconut extract

In a small stockpot, simmer milk, coconut milk and vanilla over a low heat, whisking until combined. 
In a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch to create a gel like consistency. Gradually add one tablespoon of hot milk mixture at a time, to prevent eggs from curdling, and whisk thoroughly to bring eggs up to warmer temperature. Pour custard back into your pot and simmer over very low heat, whisking constantly. The custard will thicken quickly and remove from heat immediately. Whisk in coconut extract. Pour the custard into a small bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Make plastic wrap touch top of custard to prevent a "skin" from forming. Refrigerate for at least two hours or until ready to use. 

Coconut Buttercream

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk or coconut milk
1 teaspoon coconut extract of 1/2 teaspoon LorAnn coconut flavoring

In a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter until light and fluffy. Reduce speed and gradually add in powdered sugar one cup at a time. Add milk one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. Finally add in coconut extract whip for one to two minutes more. 

For deconstructed Cake Assembly: Follow instructions here to make this "naked" style cake. Otherwise, three 9" rounds with cake, frosting, custard, coconut flakes, cake, frosting, custard, coconut flakes, cake, frosting, coconut flakes!