Saturday, May 17, 2014

Peachy Coconut Cake

Linda's Peachy Coconut Birthday Cake

I created this Peachy Coconut Cake for my dear friend Linda who volunteers with me at the Wednesday Community Meal. We threw a little surprise birthday party for her last Wednesday and because the weather was unusually hot, I wanted to make her a cake that was tropical and unexpected.

Using a highly rated peach coconut cake recipe from the Epicurious website as my inspiration, I changed the recipe to suit my taste. I could tell that the white coconut cake recipe, calling for a full cup of sweetened cream of coconut, as well as buttermilk and sour cream was a winner so I followed that to a tee.

What I wasn't so fond of was the frosting recipe which was made with just whipping cream and more cream of coconut. It seemed to me that this was a frosting that would weep and not hold up or look so pretty on a hot day. My solution was to make a lightly sweet cream cheese icing since it would hold up better and you can't go wrong with the combination of peaches, cream cheese and coconut. These flavors are so good together.

For the peach filling, I used 2 pounds of frozen sliced peaches that I cooked with bit of sugar, vanilla and lemon juice. After cooking for about 10 minutes, I drained them and saved every drop of their sweet peach infused juices for soaking the cake layers.

In the end the cake looked pretty, tasted great and Linda loved it. Here's the recipe:

Peachy Coconut Cake

For the cake:
2 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 cup canned sweetened cream of coconut (I used Coco Lopez. Look for it in the mixed drink aisle of the grocery store.)
4 large eggs, room temperature and separated
2 teaspoons vanilla

For the filling:
2 pounds of ripe peaches, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices (I used frozen)
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the frosting:
2 8-oz. packages cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees and grease, flour and line with parchment two 9-inch cake pans that have at least 2-inch sides.

In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In another medium-sized bowl whisk together the buttermilk and sour cream. Set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar.

Measure out your cup of cream of coconut.

The cream of coconut looks kind of strange but don't worry.

Add the cream of coconut, vanilla and 4 egg yolks to the butter mixture.

Mix well to combine.

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and 1/3 of the buttermilk mixture and beat until combined. Repeat this step two more times until you have added it all.

The batter will look like this.

Whip the egg whites until stiff but not dry.

This looks just right.

Add the egg whites to the batter.

Fold the egg whites into the batter until they are thoroughly combined.

Divide the batter among the two prepared pans and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the baked cakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack.

Don't attempt assembling the cakes until they are completely cool. Whenever I've tried to rush the cooling step, I've regretted it. Trust me, trying to slice a warm cake horizontally will make you want to cry.

Put the 2 lbs. of sliced peaches into a large sauce pan. I used frozen peaches.

Add the sugar, lemon juice and vanilla.

Cook the peaches over medium high heat until the juices are bubbling and beginning to reduce. This takes about 10 minutes. Also, do your best to stir the peaches gently and not break them apart.

Drain the peaches, reserving all of the liquid. Let the peaches and liquid cool before assembling the cake.

Spread the cup of sweetened flaked coconut on a lined sheetpan and toast in a 350 degree oven until golden brown, stirring every so often. Don't walk away because this takes only about 5 minutes.

Make the cream cheese frosting by whipping together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and whip again. Finally add the heavy cream and whip until the frosting is light and fluffy.

To assemble the cake, slice the layers in half. Place one half on a platter, cut side up and brush on 1/4 of the reserved peach juices.

Add 1/4 of the frosting.

Spread it out to the sides, keeping it from going over the edge.

Add 1/3 of the peach slices.

Repeat for the second layer.

And, for the third layer. Try to save 3 or so pretty peach slices for the top of the cake.

Soak the top of the cake with the remaining peach juices and ice with the remaining frosting.

Sprinkle on the toasted coconut and top with the reserved peach slices. Keep the cake refrigerated until you are ready to serve. This cake is ready to take to Linda's surprise party at the Wednesday Community Meal.

Happy Birthday Linda! (Thank you Leslie for the great photo!)

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