With the radio up, well I’ve seen the sunrise: Coconut Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

May 11, 2010 § 6 Comments

Today is a special day: not only is it Dean’s Date — the day every student at Princeton runs frantically to turn in end-of-the-semester papers — but it’s someone’s 20th birthday. Today, I bring you a very special cake, for a very special person. She’s one of the few people who will erg with me to an entire playlist of Taylor Swift in the middle of winter. She knows the words to Big Green Tractor and Chicken Fried just as well as I do. She will paint herself blue to be Avatar with me and, to this day, is the only person who has ever worn my metallic silver leopard print spandex. Bambi, this one’s for you.

Firstly, a big thank you to Alyx over at Passively Astonished. She saw through Twitter that I was desperately searching for coconut around here and generously offered to bring some down from New York City on Monday when she visited the team. Not only did she bring huge, gorgeous flakes of unsweetened coconut, but she also brought me coconut milk, which is one of my new favorite ingredients.

The cake was originally modeled after this Ugly as Sin Coconut Cake from Willow Bird Baking. I left out the sour cream as the recipe said the cake would turn out well with or without it and, well, I just didn’t have any. I made two cakes and cut the domes off the tops in order to make a layer cake. I skipped the coconut pastry cream, which I definitely want to try another time. Instead, I used a cream cheese frosting, which I also found at Willow Bird Baking. Between the two cake layers are fresh raspberries, with a layer of cream cheese frosting on each side. Then the entire cake is topped with a coating of cream cheese frosting. Flakes of coconut adorn the entire side of the cake and pink lettering completes the look. I was very surprised with how well the writing looks on the top of the cake — I guess my newly purchased icing tips really made the difference. After the writing was done, I excitedly texted half of my contact list saying that this cake was the prettiest thing I’ve ever made. Cake decorating has always been something I’ve struggled with—I always feel that it doesn’t look good enough and end up adding more and more decorations until the end product has too many conflicting flavors. That was not the case here: I had thought of making mini cupcakes instead of a whole cake as I didn’t think the girls could eat that much. By the end of dinner, there were maybe a couple pieces left, which Emily is saving for tomorrow.

Coconut Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Raspberries

Recipe by:Fine Cooking (cake), adapted by Willow Bird Baking
Yields: 9-in. 4-layer cake

Cake Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature (I left this out)
6 large egg whites, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in middle of the oven. Grease and line with parchment two 9×3-inch round cake pans. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt, set aside. Mix the coconut milk and vanilla, set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes (scrape down the bowl). Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until incorporated. Add half the coconut milk and mix thoroughly. Continue to add the flour and coconut alternately, ending with flour. Add sour cream and mix until incorporated. Set aside in a large bowl if you don’t have a spare bowl for your mixer.

Beat the egg whites on high speed for 2-3 minutes, until it forms soft peaks. Don’t overdo it or the whites will get too stiff and not fold into the batter smoothly. Stir 1/3 of the egg whites into the cake batter to lighten it. Gently fold the remaining whites into the batter.

Divide evenly in the prepared pans. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the tester comes out clean. Cool on rack in pan and then invert to use.

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:

1 pound cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

Cream Cheese Frosting: In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.
Note: This makes a lot of frosting, but I used almost all of it. I actually made two half batches. For the second batch, I left out the butter and you couldn’t taste the difference. The frosting set up well with a little time in the fridge.


Fresh raspberries
Large unsweetened coconut flakes

Also, the picture with the lit candles was taken by Yuna Sakuma!

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§ 6 Responses to With the radio up, well I’ve seen the sunrise: Coconut Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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