May is only a few days away, and I for one can’t wait for all the May flowers these April showers will bring (and hopefully, too, the end of April showers). Spring is finally here, and last weekend was a celebration of all that mild weather, a whimsical season, and of course, Easter!
I celebrated the holiday up in Connecticut at my boyfriend’s parent’s house with him and some friends, and as every trip to their home always is, the weekend was filled with deliciousness and decadence, lots of sweet treats and home cooked meals and wine, oh the wine.
For Easter, Adam’s mom made an oustanding Coconut Cake with Toasted Coconut frosting, and was nice enough to offer that I help frost and decorate it. For those who don’t know, baking runs neck in neck with cooking as one of my favorite things to do; I only steer clear from it as much as I do for the sake of my own and my friends’ waistlines! But in this case, it completely made my day to spend a leisurely half an hour spreading thick, creamy frosting over two layers of moist walnut-studded cake, gently toasting shredded coconut until it was warm and golden and fragrant, and sprinkling it from a distance onto the soft white peaks of icing.
My friend Graham is an amazing photographer, and happened to capture some of the cake decorating process…
Once the cake was frosted and decorated, we chilled it so the icing and coconut would set, and when we broke it out later, it was center stage of the dessert spread. The cake itself was soft, moist, lightly perfumed with coconut flavor, having the slightest touch of texture and crunch from the walnuts. Raw coconut in the filling between two layers of cake added even more chew, and the toasted coconut on top added layers of buttery richness and a different note of coconut flavor that contrasted but still complemented the flavors of the cake itself.
Toasted Coconut Cake
- 1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
- 1 (3.5 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
- 1 1/3 cups water
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 4 cups flaked coconut
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoons milk
- 3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans.
Blend the cake mix, pudding mix, water, eggs and oil in a large mixing bowl. Beat at medium speed for 4 minutes. Stir in 2 cups of the coconut and the chopped walnuts. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes. Let cakes cool in pans for 15 minutes then remove and finish cooling on rack.
While the cake is cooling, make the frosting. Start by toasting the remaining 2 cups of flaked coconut in a toaster oven or saute pan over low heat until golden brown. Transfer the coconut into a new bowl to cool.
Cream the remaining 2 tablespoons butter or margarine with the cream cheese. Add the milk and confectioners’ sugar alternately, beating well. Add the vanilla and stir in 1 3/4 cups of the toasted coconut.
To assemble the cake, start with the first layer. Using a serrated bread knife, you may choose to cut the top of the bottom cake layer off to make it flat, if it has puffed up slightly. Using a flat knife or spatula, spread the top of both cake layers with an even coating of frosting, about 1/4 of an inch thick. Stack them and then frost the sides of the cake. Sprinkle the cake on top with the toasted coconut, and gentle sprinkle the sides or use the palm of your hand to gentle press the toasted coconut into the sides. Chill to set frosting before serving!