Sunday, May 26, 2013

Vanilla Almond Coconut Cake

I've had quite the hankering lately for coconut cake. As soon as I decided I was going to make one, they started popping up everywhere--on the covers of magazines, and on a few of my favorite food blogs (I particularly liked this one from Completely Delicious and this one from Willow Bird Baking). Feeling a bit discouraged, I decided to make one anyway. It was perfectly lovely, but nothing special and, therefore, not good enough. I waited.

I waited for inspiration for something that would stand out and, lucky for me, I woke up one morning with a fantastic idea: vanilla almond coconut cake (sometimes I dream in recipes). And let me tell you, it was well worth the wait.

With a nutty flavor and texture, flecks of real vanilla bean, a thick coconut pudding filling, and the best cream cheese frosting you will ever taste, this cake is a real winner. Maybe even better than the ones on the covers of those magazines ;)

Vanilla Almond Coconut Cake
makes one four-layer 9" round cake

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped, pod removed
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
3 eggs
2 cups almond meal
1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour, containing xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cup whole milk
1 recipe prepared and cooled coconut pudding
1 recipe swiss meringue cream cheese frosting (recipe follows)
2 cups toasted sweetened, flake coconut, for garnish
slivered almonds, for garnish, if desired

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease two 9" cake pans

Cream together butter and sugar. Add vanilla bean scrapings and almond extract. Scrape down bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, combining between each addition.

In a separate bowl, stir together flour, almond extract, salt, and baking soda. Alternately add this mixture with the milk until the mixture is smooth.

Divide cake between pans. Bake 30-40 minutes, until cake springs back when poked.*Cool completely before filling and frosting.

*Check the cake for doneness. Do not pull it from the oven based on color--almond meal will cause the cake to be darker than you're used to.

Swiss Meringue Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup egg whites
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature, cut into a few pieces
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped, pod removed
1 cup powdered sugar

Set a stainless steel bowl over a pot of simmering water (about an inch worth-make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water).

Pour the sugar and egg whites, into the bowl and whisk constantly. Check the temperature every few minutes, while whisking, until it reaches 160 degrees F.

Pour hot sugar-mixture into a bowl of a mixture fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high until stiff peaks form and the mixture is cool.

With the mixer still running, add the butter, one piece at a time, until it is all fully incorporated. Add the cream cheese and vanilla bean seeds and mix until smooth.

Turn off the mixer. Add the powdered sugar and turn the mixer on low and mix until fully incorporated.

To decorate the cake: Cut cake layers in half (this is easier if they are quite cold, but not completely frozen). Top first layer with a bit of coconut pudding. Repeat with remaining layers, stacking one on top of the other.

Frost the top and the outside of the cake with the swiss meringue cream cheese frosting. Press toasted coconut around the sides of the cake. Decorate the top with slivered almonds, if desired.

Store cake in the refrigerator for up to one week. Though perfectly delicious on the first day, this cake is even better on the second, third, or fourth, as he cake softens due to the coconut pudding.

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About Me

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Salt Lake City, Utah
As a pastry chef by trade and by hobby, being diagnosed with Celiac Disease has not been easy. But through some experimental baking and a whole lot of faith, I'm living a full(er) life.