Thursday, March 21, 2013

Coconut Lime Cake

Coconut by Harry Nilsson
Come on.  It's a no-brainer.  There's only one song that pops into your head when making coconut and lime ANYTHING!  And when it pops in - it STAYS!  Over and over again.  And you know what?  This song is one that is welcome to stay and play over and over and over again in my  head.  I loved it back in the early 70s and I love it today.  That opening arpeggio puts a groove into your step and happiness in one's heart.  One chord, folks.  There's only one chord for the whole song - played in arpeggio.  Thank you, Mr. Nilsson, for this simple delight!  Put this lime and coconut recipe together and you will be feeling all better - no doctor call necessary!

This song slams me back on Keenan Street in Warren, PA - 1972.  It took maybe 3 seconds of hearing those opening arpeggio notes and I'd be up on my feet getting my funky little moves going.  If you know me, and know my body type, and if you're trying to imagine what I would look like trying to get those funky moves going, would you do me a favor?  Would you just give me nice, long legs in your imaginings?  Thanks!  I appreciate that!  It makes for a nicer image.  After all, it's how I imagine I'm looking whenever I dance.  Reality is no friend when a short-legged pudgy girl wants to groove.  You hearing me on this one?  Good!

  I remember being a little puzzled the first time I heard this song.  "Is this guy being serious?" I wondered.  "What does it MEAN?"  I was all about the MEANINGS of songs - of lyrics, thanks to an English teacher from junior high.  We spent entire class periods listening to the Moody Blues and writing interpretations.  What were they trying to tell us?  With Don McLean's "American Pie" coming out earlier that year, we were all about looking for the meanings behind things - finding hidden riddles and subversive content.  I've heard all the theories.  And I don't care, really, what he was trying to say or if there was some big story.  I just know that the "nature" of the song appealed to my "nature."  Plain and simple.  
Listen - Groove - Be Happy!

So limes and coconuts - coconuts and limes!  You remember me telling you about the singing limes in my fridge?  I had purchased a large bag of them at Costco with all these plans for them.  One of those plans was to answer a challenge given by a friend to come up with my own version of a Coconut Lime Cake.  Today's post is my result of that challenge.  

I have a thing about coconut.  I love it - toasted.  In my research to make this cake I came across all these pictures of coconut-themed cakes that were bright white and beautiful.  But it made me sad to think of not having any toasted coconut at all.  I finally persuaded myself that it was OK to toast some of the coconut.  And I'm happy I did.  

Coconut Lime Cake
makes one 8" double-layer cake

1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened (114 g)
1 1/2 c. sugar (300 g)
zest and juice of three limes
2 c. cake flour (223 g)
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1 c. shredded coconut, I prefer to use desiccated or medium shred
pinch of salt
1 1/2 t. coconut extract (check your natural foods aisle)
1 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. cream of coconut (check your cocktail mixers aisle)
3 egg whites, beaten stiff
additional sugar for lime syrup

1 c. softened unsalted butter (227 g)
3 1/2 c. powdered sugar (410 g)
3/4 c. cream of coconut
1 t. coconut extract
3/4 c. desiccated coconut, or coconut of your preference
1 c. of regular shredded, sweetened coconut, toasted in 350 degree oven for 8 minutes.

These are the coconut ingredients I use - along with a small amount of the regular shredded coconut.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Coat 2 - 8" cake pans with cooking spray.  I also like to use a parchment circle liner on the bottom of the pan, which I also give a light spray.  Set aside.

For the cake:
Place the butter and sugar into a large mixer bowl along with 2/3 of the lime zest and beat until light and fluffy.  This will take about 5 minutes.

In a separate bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Whisk the desiccated coconut into the sifted mixture.  Set aside.

Measure out the buttermilk and set aside.

When the butter and sugar are thoroughly creamed, add half of the dry ingredients and mix just until the ingredients begin to come together.  Add half of the buttermilk and mix just until the ingredients begin to come together.  Add half of the remaining dry ingredients and mix just until the ingredients begin to come together.  Add the remaining buttermilk and cream of coconut and mix in the same fashion.  Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix just until blended.  Stir in the coconut extract and then fold in the beaten egg whites.  Be careful not to over mix.

Divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans and bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove and let cool completely on a wire rack.  Remove the parchment from the bottom of the cake circles if you used it in your pans.

Make a lime simple syrup by mixing together an equal amount of sugar as your lime juice in a pan and heating and stirring until the sugar dissolves completely.  For instance - if your limes yielded 2/3 c. of juice, you'd use 2/3 c. of sugar to make the syrup.  Set aside.

Make the frosting by creaming together the butter and powdered sugar in a mixer bowl until light and fluffy.  It's so important to take the time to make sure the sugar and butter are creamed well.  It'll take about 3 - 5 minutes to do it.  Add the cream of coconut and coconut extract and mix well.  Set aside.

Using a serrated knife, level off the top of your cake rounds.  Place one round on a cake plate, cut side up.  I like to place strips of wax paper or parchment paper around the edges to help keep the plate clean while I frost and decorate.  They remove easily when I'm done.

Brush the surface of the cake with the lime syrup.
Place a large dollop of the frosting on the center of the cake round and spread out evenly over the top of the cake.  An offset spatula works great for this.  Sprinkle the top of the frosting with 1/2 c. of the dessicated coconut.  Place the other cake round on top, cut side DOWN.  This will give you the nice flat bottom of the cake as a smooth surface to decorate on the top.  Brush the surface of this cake round with lime juice as well.  You will have some syrup left over (add to club soda for a delicious homemade  lime soda!)

Finish frosting the cake with the remaining frosting, working over the top of the cake and then down the sides.  Crush the toasted coconut a bit with your hands and sprinkle around the outer edge of the frosted cake top.  Sprinkle the remaining desiccated coconut into the inner center of the cake top and then top with the remaining lime zest.  Enjoy!