Saturday, March 31, 2012

Wilton Cake Course Cake #2- Coconut!

This cake has quite the story. For our final class of the Wilton Cake Course 1, we were required to bring in a cake so that we could decorate it. I did some searching, and what caught my eye was Bobby Flay's Throwdown Toasted Coconut Cake with Coconut Filling and Coconut Buttercream. What a name! You can see that there's no toasted coconut on top, but I needed a flat surface to do decorations. So I spent all day making this multi-step 4-layer cake that turned out beautifully. Here's the catch: the classroom we were in was very warm, and the cake was sitting out for about 2 hours, which resulted in the icing and filling getting very soft. Jaylene and I were 4 turns and 1 minute away from my place when.... schloopp. Top 2 layers just slid right off. So in the midst of my panic, I was able to open the carrying box and shove the top layers back on- leaving a not so pretty looking cake. Hand-print on the side, layers uneven.... NOT IMPRESSED!! Because the icing was so soft I managed to somewhat put it back together when I got up to my apartment, but I could not completely fix the unevenness. The picture isn't the greatest but it was my one chance to snap a picture of the whole cake before it got gobbled up!

This cake was not at all like the last cake I made for the course (not that that one didn't taste good!). It was light and fluffy with a perfect crumb while still being able to withstand being stacked. The coconut filling was delicious, like a whipped pudding, and I could have eaten all of it on it's own! The only thing that I would say about this cake is that despite the 3 coconuts in the name, it didn't actually have a strong coconut flavour like I was expecting. The cake was fantastic, but I was really hoping for that coconut flavour to shine through. In the recipe below, I've added and starred a couple ingredients that I might use next time to try and bring out that flavour, but because I haven't tried it yet, I can't guarantee that it will work!

As mentioned before, the cake is made in stages. I've separated each ingredient list with the corresponding instructions, so that you don't have to keep scrolling up and down. They are in order of how I made them.

Coconut Simply Syrup:
1 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup flaked coconut

Bring water and sugar to a boil. Stir in the coconut, remove from heat and let sit for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours. Strain the liquid into a clean saucepan, bring to a boil and let cook until the mixture is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Let cool completely. Set aside.

Coconut Custard:
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons coconut rum (such as Malibu)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Combine the milks and vanilla bean and seeds in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Whisk together the yolks, sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl. Slowly whisk the warm milk into the egg mixture then return the mixture to the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly, until thickened. This will happen quickly- make sure not to burn. Press the custard through a mesh sift into a bowl to remove any clumps or cooked egg bits. Whisk in the rum and vanilla extract. Cover custard with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap down into the bowl so that it is touching the custard. This will prevent a skin from forming on the surface. Refrigerate custard until cold, at least 2 hours. *This is not the filling yet, instructions to come after the cake.

1 1/2 cups cake flour, plus more for pans
3/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
3/4 teaspoon coconut extract*
1 cup and 3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 tablespoon and 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at cool room temperature
** Measurements might look odd because I cut the original recipe into 2/3. This recipe makes enough for 2 6-inch cake pans; the original makes enough for 2 9-inch pans.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Use shortening or butter to grease pans and then sprinkle flour on top.

Whisk together the milk, egg whites, vanilla bean seeds and extract in a medium bowl.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. With the mixer running at low speed, add the butter, one piece at a time and continue beating until mixture resembles moist crumbs. Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture to the crumbs and beat at medium speed until the mixture is pale and fluffy, about 1 1/2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the remaining 1/2 cup of the milk mixture, increase speed to medium and beat 30 seconds more. Scrape sides of bowl and mix for 20 seconds longer. Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans and tap the pans on the counter a few times to even out.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 22 to 24 minutes. Leave in the pan on a baking rack for 10 minutes. Run a small knife around the sides of the pans and invert cakes onto the baking rack. Let cool completely.

Coconut Filling:
3/4 cup coconut custard, cold
3/4 cup very cold heavy cream
1 teaspoon coconut extract
3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut*

Combine the custard, cream and extract in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Fold in shredded coconut.

Coconut Buttercream:
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened (1 1/2 cups)
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup coconut custard
pinch sea salt
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract*

Beat the butter and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the coconut custard, extract and sugar and beat until combined and smooth.

To Assemble the Cake (finally!):
Using a long serrated knife, slice each cake horizontally into 2 layers. Brush each top side of the layers with the coconut simple syrup. Spoon 1/3 of the coconut filling onto the bottom layer and using an offset metal spatula, spread into an even layer, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge of the cake. Repeat with the 2 other layers.

Frost the sides and top of the cake with the buttercream. *If you are not decorating the cake like I did, you can pat toasted coconut onto the sides of the cake and sprinkle the top.

Source: adapted from Bobby Flay (visit if wanting to do a larger cake)

Now... you didn't think I would let you go without showing you the flowers I was taught to make in the course! The following day I spent an hour practicing- they're so much fun to make!

They're so pretty! My favourites are the white ones with the pink center. Once you get the hang of them, they're very easy and quick to make, but look so professional!

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