Sunday, May 4, 2008

Coconut Cake - Modified

I have been unimpressed of late. I use google reader (the best web service EVER) to scan over 100 food blogs on a daily basis. This list includes which compiles beautiful photos of food from across both the web and the world. Despite the plethora of sources of inspiration, I have been coming up empty handed.

I am unimpressed with the multitude of cheesecake pops that have been plastered throughout the blog world recently. Dont get me wrong, they look wonderful, but I am not entirely certain why 45 people are all making the same thing. I get that its a club bu
t it makes the web monotonous and, lets face it, the food blogs all exist to please me.

Recipes also have become more complicated. It seems the days of wowing people with out of this world chocolate cupcakes have gone the way of railroad transportation. Now they are all cream filled or decorated to the hilt and inevitably require a list of over 30 ingredients. Even brownies appear to involve single origin cocoa powder and other specialty items that run up the price of the tasty treat. I never thought I would say this, but perhaps I am not "bougie" enough for this new food world that is emerging.

What ever happened to making simple recipes that highlight the pure flavors of quality ingredients? I recently made a coconut cake to bring to a friends BBQ. The dinner menu was kind of Cuban with fried plantains, seasoned black beans, and some of the best barbecued pork I have had in quite a while. I decided to go along with the tropical theme and began researching recipes on the web. I was disappointed to see that most recipes called for sweetened dessicated coconut, an ingredient that I feel doesnt represent the natural flavors of coconut at all.

Most recipes also included sweetened cream of coconut. A few years back after returning from Puerto Rico I was in love with pina coladas and searched for drink recipes. The majority of the concoctions also called for this sweetened cream of coconut but when I looked at the ingredient list I found that they didnt actually include any real coconut! Why should I use fake coconut to flavor my cake? What would flavored corn syrup add to my dessert?

I decided to change up the recipe a bit and substituted real fre
sh coconut for the dessicated version and used coconut milk in the cake instead of the sweetened cream of coconut. The result was a cake that highlighted the floral quality of fresh coconut and that had no need to mask simulated coconut flavor with an immense amount of sugar . Due to the use of coconut milk, the cake was not as fluffy as the original version and in the future I may use low-fat coconut milk to combat the increased cake density. While this cake involves more steps than I usually utilize, the ingredient list is relatively short and draws attention to the star ingredient, coconut.

I used some of the tangerines I had laying around to make a tangerine curd to fill the cake with. The fresh tangerine complemented the coconut flavor without overpowering it. The curd was also wonderful as a topping for my toast. The tangerine curd is on the first piece of toast in the following photo (also pictured is Archer Farms brand California Apricot Jam and Trader Joes brand Citron Honey).

Coconut Cake

2 3/4 cups all purpo se flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup canned sweetened cream of coconut (such as C oco L├ępez)*
4 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
Pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt in medium bowl.

Beat together sugar, butter, and coconut milk in large bowl until fluffy.

Beat in egg yolks and vanilla extract.

Add the dry ingredients incrementally until fully com bined and then add buttermilk and beat until just incorporated.

Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites with pinch of salt in another large bowl until stiff but not dry.

Fold the egg whites into the cake batter.

Divide cake batter b etween prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 m inutes. Cool cakes in pans on rack 10 minutes. Run small sharp knife around pan sides to loosen cakes. T urn cakes out onto racks and cool completely.

Tangerine Curd F illing
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh tangerine juice
1/4 cup tangerine zest
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature

Whisk eggs, yolks, sugar, lime juice, lime peel, ginger, and salt in large metal bowl to blend.

Place bowl over saucepan of barely simmering wat

er. Whisk constantly until curd thickens, 12-15 minutes. The curd will thicken as it cools but should be thick enough at this stage to hold the lines of the whisk.

Remove bowl from over simmering water; whisk butter into curd.

Strain through fine strainer set over bowl; discard solids in strainer. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface of curd; chill overnight.

Frosting and Cake Toppings
I used a butter cream frosting and added a bit of coconut milk to the mix for flavor.
I also grated fresh coconut to place of top of the cake and surrounded the cake with larger chunks of coconut flesh.


Alejandra said...

I really love the idea of a tangerine curd! I've been experimenting with lemon curds for the first time, but this sounds delicious. I will definitely be trying soon. (Am also with you on the seeing the same posts all over the place).

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