I love coconut milk, and I adore the aroma of coconuts. Even so, it is a rare occasion that I actually make something with it. 

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What’s even rarer is for me to bake a biggish, celebratory-like cake such as this one. It is because it is not essential to bake such cakes when it is not a special occasion. Then again people say everyday should be a celebration because we are alive and well! Hooray! (Erm, no..). Speaking of coconuts, I have big bags of shredded coconuts that needs to be used up. You see, I once had this business of selling baked coconut shortbread hearts, but then one day they turned out quite bad and as a result, my business ended there and then. What a shame. *tear*

 

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COCONUT CAKE

Cake Ingredients:
16 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
5 eggs

Frosting Ingredients:
4 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup fresh coconut water
3 cups freshly grated coconut

Directions:
Note: This frosting isn’t supposed to keep too well, so it’s best to frost the cake the day it’s being served. However, to spread out the work, you can make the layers in advance. Really, I should also admit that we ate this cake for days after I made it and it stayed delicious, so while I’m sure it’s best to eat it the day you frost it, I wouldn’t toss the leftovers (if there are any, that is.)

Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9″ cake pans (I use Wilton’s Cake Release), line with parchment paper rounds, and grease the parchment paper as well. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate small bowl (or measuring cup), whisk together buttermilk, coconut milk, and vanilla. Finally, in a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until pale, light yellow, and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each egg. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk mixture with the mixer on low speed before increasing the speed to high and beating for a few seconds to smooth out the batter.

Pour the batter evenly into the two prepared cake pans, bang on the counter to remove air bubbles, and smooth the tops with a spatula. Bake until a toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs, about 30-35 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for about 20 minutes before turning them out onto a rack to cool completely. Wrap the cake layers and freeze until firm to make them easier to manage (at least 30 minutes). Once firm, use a large serrated knife to carefully cut each cake layer in half horizontally to create four layers. Rewrap and refreeze these layers until you’re ready to assemble the cake.

Make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer, use the whisk attachment to beat the egg whites and cream of tartar together until soft peaks form. Let this sit while you boil the sugar, syrup, salt, and water together in a saucepan over high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and cook until a candy thermometer reads 250 degrees F, about 4-5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, drizzle in the hot syrup and add vanilla extract. Turn the mixer to high speed and beat until the frosting has stiff peaks and is only slightly warm, about 3 minutes.

Assemble the cake: Place one cake layer onto a platter or cake decorating turntable. Drizzle 3 tablespoons of coconut water over the cake layer and spread it around. Spoon about 1 1/4 cups of the frosting onto this layer and spread it thick, letting it spill a bit over the edges all around. Top with 1/2 cup of grated coconut. Continue layering cake layer, coconut water drizzle, frosting, and coconut. On top of the cake, drizzle the last 3 tablespoons of coconut water before covering the whole top and sides of cake with the remaining frosting. Spread it thick and billowy and use a cupped hand to lightly press grated coconut all over the surface of the cake — it’ll hide any frosting imperfections! Store cake in the fridge. Serve either chilled or after letting it sit out for about 20-30 minutes to take the chill off.