- improve my baking skills
- NOT bake (and eat) something on the remaining days of the week
I took a cake decorating class last year and while I thought it was fun, I don't actually like decorator frosting, which is composed of shortening, powdered sugar, flavoring and food coloring. I just don't like the taste or texture the shortening gives it. You can make a similar frosting with butter, which tastes a lot better, but it melts too easily to pipe well. Especially for a slow-poke decorating newbie like me. Soooo, my current goal is to be able to make very tasty and (hopefully) pretty cakes with real frosting. From scratch, that is, since I'm not too fond of the mixes I've tried, either.
Sometimes it's hard
I am a coconut fiend, so I decided to start with a coconut cake. I used a basic cake recipe from my 1947 Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book (which I guiltily admit that I bought for my mom as a gift and then ended up keeping). I used half vanilla and half coconut extract for flavoring and since it is apparently assumed that I add booze to everything, I went ahead and boozed this one up. I made a simple syrup from water, sugar and coconut rum and brushed it lightly over both (baked and cooled) layers of the cake before I frosted it. It's what Julia Child would do. Julia is my hero, even if she did get stuck in a chimney once, which is a pretty idiotic thing to do. But I nearly died on a treadmill, so who am I to judge? Stupid margaritas.
I frosted the cake with "Fluffy White Frosting" from the same cookbook, which is just a version of boiled or seven minute frosting. I used coconut extract in the frosting, but I think vanilla would have been a better choice. I then coated the whole thing in toasted coconut. Oh, and I also added some toasted coconut between the layers when I frosted it.
Taste results: I have to say, it was pretty darned good! The cake is very tender and slightly coconut-flavored (I was worried I might have overdone it between the extract and the coconut rum). The frosting is, as the name implies, fluffy and white, but is mild enough to let the coconut shine. Some of these egg-white frostings turn sticky on humid days, but this one remained, well, fluffy and white even a day later. My one complaint is that the cake recipe was intended for 2-8"x2" round cake pans and I have 9" cake pans, so the layers are a little thin. It seems to me that a trip to the restaurant supply store could fix that problem right up!
Finally, here she be, my little coconut cake.