I was gone at a conference (just for one night) and I knew that my husband was planning to bake something while I was gone. My husband likes to bake as much as I do, but I usually take over the kitchen so he doesn’t get much opportunity. I wasn’t sure what he was making, but he’d warned me a couple of days in advance that he’s used all the coconut and 3 cups of sugar. Ok…
When I got home from my conference, he was still working on the cake (in fact, we had to go to the store to get a few extra ingredients). He ended up making a triple layer coconut cake, which had coconut infused every step of the way. He had started by processing 1 cup of coconut until finely ground and then added 3 cups of sugar, then he let it infuse for a couple of days. He also made coconut custard, and added coconut milk and coconut rum to the cake.
This cake is quite a production. We actually ended up eating it the next day, because the coconut custard filling takes several hours to chill. If you want to eat the cake the same day you baked it, I would first make the coconut custard and then make the cake and the frosting while the custard chills. My husband had made the coconut-infused sugar several days in advance, but you could certainly use regular sugar in the cake. This cake was absolutely a cake with great coconut flavor. Many cakes that call themselves coconut cake just don’t have that strong of coconut flavor. This one doesn’t disappoint! If you love coconut, this is the cake for you!
Triple Layer Coconut Cake
Coconut oil, for the pan
4 1/2 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting the pans
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
11 ounces butter, room temperature
2 1/4 cups coconut infused sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk*
7 egg whites (reserve 4 yolks for the filling)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/3 cup coconut rum
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted
4 egg yolks (reserved from the cake batter)
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk*
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon coconut rum
1 teaspoon vanilla
16 ounces powdered sugar
Toasted coconut, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease three 10-inch round cake pans with coconut oil. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper circles and then grease the parchment. Dust the pans with flour.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and coconut infused sugar on medium until light. In a separate bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, egg whites, and vanilla. With the mixer running on low, add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk/egg mixture (in two batches), beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pans and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack. Brush the cooled layers with the coconut rum.
Make the coconut custard filling: whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and salt together in a large heavy saucepan. Then whisk in the butter, coconut milk, milk, and vanilla. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. Transfer the filling to a clean metal bowl set over an ice bath. Once cooled, stir in the toasted coconut and refrigerate at least 3 hours (or overnight).
Make the frosting: in a large mixer bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, coconut rum, and vanilla on high until smooth. Reduce the speed to medium and gradually beat in the powdered sugar. Continue beating until smooth.
Assemble the cake: Place a one cake later, bottom side up on a serving plate. Spread half of the coconut custard on the cake. Top with another cake layer, bottom side up, and spread the remaining coconut custard on that later. Top with the final cake layer, top side up. Frost the top and side with the frosting. Decorate with toasted coconut. Store the cake in the refrigerator.
Cake recipe from Emeril Lagasse
Frosting recipe from Food 52
*Use unsweetened coconut milk that comes in a can, rather than what is available in cartons in the dairy section of the grocery store. I usually find canned coconut milk in the Asian/Thai section of the store.