A few years ago my boss brought a cake to school. Everyone thought it was heavenly and were not in the least surprised to discover that her grandma made it. Ever since that day (and a few more cakes from Grandma) I have wanted that recipe. I don’t want to say that I was obsessed with getting my hands on it, but I fondly remembered those cakes—often! I asked here and there and finally, she brought me a sweet little hand written recipe. I was ecstatic to finally have my hands on it so I could make my very own cake!
And I read it.
Let me just say, when one is used to a Betty Crocker mix that this can be a shock to one’s system. I had the recipe in hand for two weeks before I had the courage to make it. I even had to have a trusty assistant because I didn’t feel capable of tackling this recipe alone. Yes, that’s right, I was intimidated by a recipe that is made by a sweet little senior citizen regularly. I will say that I appreciate the trouble that she took to write it out for me. Heck, that was more trouble that making a cake by a mix.
To start with here are the cake ingredients. No mix here people! I’m going to add the recipe for the cake first, followed by a few pictures. I will say that I’m sure that Grandma cracks her own coconut and shreds it herself, hence the title, Fresh Coconut Cake. After you see all the steps, you won’t be shocked if Grandma has a palm tree growing in the back yard that she harvests herself. We bought the kind in a package.
- 3 egg whites
- 1 1/2 C. Sugar
- 3/4 C. Shortening (part butter)
- 1 Tsp. Vanilla
- 3 egg yolks, well beaten
- 1/4 C. Grated coconut
- 2 1/4 C. Cake Flour
- 2 1/4 Tsp. Baking Powder
- 1/2 Tsp. Salt
- 3/4 C. Coconut Milk
Sift dry ingredients together. (We were lazy and didn’t look for the sifter) Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Beat in 1/2 C. sugar 2 Tbs. at a time. Set this aside and cream shortening, adding vanilla and then beat in 1 C. sugar, then egg yolks. Beat well and then stir in coconut. Add this to the dry (sifted) ingredients alternately with coconut milk. Fold in egg whites. Spoon into two 9″ cake pans lined with wax paper. Grandma added that this is much moister when made into three layers but my trusty assistant felt that we would be lucky to make two work.(we also were unsure as to how to make this into 3 layers but I digress) We sprayed with Pam and baked at 350º for about 30 minutes.
OMG. Now the part that had me frazzled. Grandma’s frosting seemed to have too much multi-tasking for me. I’m good at that, don’t get me wrong, just not so much when one task involves fire. This is a basic Seven Minute Frosting recipe. I love the deceptively easy name! I have zero pictures of the frosting making because it took all four hands to get it underway.
- 1 1/2 C. Sugar
- 1/2 C. Water
- 1/8 tsp Salt
- 3 egg whites
- 1 1/2 tsp. Cream of Tartar
- 1 tsp. white Vinegar
Boil 1 C. sugar, water and salt together. Place a lid over syrup to melt sugar crystals on the side of the pot. Remove lid and wipe with a paper towel to remove crystals. (I’m a little scared of being scarred by boiling liquid so I didn’t do too well at this) Boil to spin a thread. (this is what got me. I will elaborate later) This is pretty much boiling it for about 4 minutes or until it is 242º (soft ball stage) *The thread part you spin is very sticky and will stick to your teeth like super glue should you think you will taste it. Really. *
Meanwhile, beat the eggs and cream of tartar til you get stiff peaks. Then slowly add the sugar. Pour the boiling syrup over the egg whites, beating in about half at a time. (I gagged when I realized I had been coveting raw egg whites!) Add the vinegar at the end, which is not tasted at all. The eggs are cooked by the hot syrup and I Googled the chances of getting salmonella from this and it is pretty much zero.
Was it as good as Grandma’s? Of course not. I’m sure I can improve. Her cake is moist and rich with flavor. More than that, I know her cakes are baked with love for the people she is making them for.