The Real Coconut Cake

I used to just call it Coconut Cake but I decided to call it "The Real Coconut Cake" from now on and with legitimate reasons. Yes, it is the usual 3-layer affair with cream cheese frosting but I take pride in my version because I use only fresh young coconut for the cake and I think I’m the only one who does that.  It’s not the sweetened coconut flakes that you get from the baking aisle at a grocery store but unsweetened, succulent, freshly grated young coconut. I’ve been making my coconut cake this way and it’s been on my most requested list since I started making it.  I can switch from using angel food to sponge or chiffon cake base with the same delicious results.  It’s all about the young coconut!  And of course the frosting which is not cloyingly sweet that you want to eat more of it.

So I made this for Claudia's birthday which is yesterday but we decided to celebrate today when the whole gang's present.  So far I've been making her birthday cake every year and she loves coconut so what could be more fitting than coconut cake - "the real coconut cake"?  
The Real Coconut Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

For the cake
5 extra large eggs, separated (at room temperature)
1 1/3 cup sugar (sifted)
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp coconut extract
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup whole or 2% fat milk
1 1/2 cup shredded young coconut, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Sift together flour, baking powder and baking soda- set aside.
In another large bowl, beat the sugar, butter and oil until light and fluffy.
Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Beat in vanilla, almond and coconut extracts
Add flour mixture alternately with milk making sure to beat well after each addition.
Stir in shredded coconut
In another bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until stiff
Gently fold into the flour mixture
Divide equally into three well greased and lightly floured pans and bake for 20-22 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched lightly-better yet, insert a skewer or toothpick in the middle of the cake, when it comes out clean then the cakes are done. Baking time is shorter when using three pans
Remove from pans and transfer to wire racks to cool completely

For the frosting:
2 pkg cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tsp coconut extract
2 cups shredded young coconut, chopped

Using an electric mixer, cream together cream cheese and unsalted butter
Add sifted confectioner's sugar and continue beating until creamy and smooth
Add coconut extract and beat a minute more
Chill before using

Assembling the cake:
Place one layer on a serving plate
Spread prepared frosting evenly on top
Place the second cake on top and repeat the process until the third cake
Spread the rest of the frosting all over the cake evenly with a spatula
Gently press the shredded coconut all around the cake
Chill before serving and make sure to refrigerate any left over cake


For the young coconut, you can either get them fresh. Scoop with a spoon from the shells, cut into thin strips before chopping into small pieces or get the frozen ones at the Asian market. Just thaw, drain then spread in a baking pan and bake in the oven at 400 degrees F for about 18 minutes. The process does not toast the coconut- just to dry the exterior without taking away the moisture inside. 
Here’s another case of the old phrase “the proof of the pudding cake is in the eating”.  It wasn't even enough for everyone.


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