I have a fear of layer cakes. There—I said it. They always turn out lopsided and ugly. And don’t even talk to me about fondant. I can just imagine the crazy mess I would make with that. So today, I took on my fear of the layer cake (we’ll leave the fondant alone for awhile). This project has actually been in the making now for a good three weeks. My husband, you see, really likes layer cakes. They taste better, he says. Thus far, I’ve avoided the situation, but when we watched an episode of Bobby Flay’s Throwdown a few weeks ago, I was toast. In this particular episode, Bobby was making a coconut layer cake, and did it look spectacular! Pete wanted me to make that layer cake and, frankly, I was ready to give it a try.
The first thing I did, of course, was to print out the recipe from the Food Nework’s website. I knew I was in trouble when 3 pages of instructions printed out. Bobby, it seems, doesn’t skimp on quality or perfection. I was ready for the challenge, however, so we set about shopping for some ingredients.
The first things I needed to buy were some cake pans. How embarrassing that The Dutch Baker’s Daughter didn’t have something as basic as a 9” cake pan (I’m tellin’ ya—I avoid layer cakes). Given the complexity of this recipe, I actually needed more than a few things. Coconut milk, coconut rum, whole vanilla beans, cake flour…..this was becoming a pricy proposition. Every time I brought a new ingredient home, I would look over the recipe and find something else I didn’t have. So, three weeks later, I was ready. Little did I know that this endeavor would take an entire day….
For fear of this blog post becoming longer than necessary, let me post a link to the actual recipe:
Throwdown's Toasted Coconut Cake with Coconut Filling and Coconut Buttercream
Step one was the toasted coconut: In the oven for 8-10 minutes, so far this was easy.
Next came the custard filling. Believe it or not, I have never used whole vanilla beans before. I found these at HomeGoods for half of the price. Scraping out the seeds is easy, but I had to fish out the rest of the bean from the milk mixture. Oops.
This custard uses whole milk, coconut milk, and coconut flavored rum.
While the custard was chilling, I made the cake. This was a basic white, vanilla bean cake. I used six egg whites and a stick and a half of butter. Butter is a theme with this cake.
Bobby's recipe had me coating the pans with butter, flour and parchment paper. Given that the pans were non-stick, I think I went a little overboard. Crazy glue wouldn't have stuck to these pans.
They did turn out all pretty though, didn't they?
Next came the custard filling. This was made by simply beating half of the chilled custard with some heavy whipping cream.
The slicing of the cakes stressed me out just a little, but all was good. I used a long serrated knife. Earlier, I made a simple coconut syrup with water, sugar and coconut. This was spread over each of the layers to keep the cake moist. I really need one of those silicone basting brushes.
Four layers!! Can you believe it? So far, so good. What I've noticed about this recipe is that the cakes don't have the domed tops that some of my cakes have had in the past.
The buttercream frosting was easy. I just beat together the remaining custard with three sticks of butter and some powdered sugar. It was a rather stiff buttercream and it was easy to spread over the cake.
The toasted coconut pretty much coated the entire cake. Any imperfections are covered up with this step.
I was very happy with the results. Would I make it again? Only for a special occasion. This is a great cake, but time consuming and a little pricy. Still, I think I conquered my fear. Someday I may try fondant.....