Coconut Layer Cake
What makes this update on the old-fashioned coconut cake so special is the shortbread cookie base and the layers of passionfruit curd. It takes some time, and there are no shortcuts, but it’s a labor of love you’ll want to make time and time again. In addition to basic baking supplies, you’ll need a mixer with a paddle attachment, a double boiler, an entreat ring, and an offset spatula.
Yields one cake.
- 3 ½ cups cake flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 extra large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups sour cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Butter two (8 by 2 inch) round cake pans and line bottoms of each with rounds of parchment paper. Butter the paper and dust pans with flour, knocking out the excess.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla. Add half of the flour mixture on low speed and mix until incorporated. Add sour cream and mix until combined. Add remaining flour mixing until batter is smooth. Remove bowl from the mixer and with a spatula, fold the batter from the bottom and up the sides to ensure the batter is evenly mixed and without lumps.
- Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake on the middle rack for 30 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes on a rack for 10 minutes, then invert the pans and release the cakes. Peel away the paper and cool cakes completely. Trim tops of cake so they are level and slice each cake in half to make four cake layers. Set aside until cake assembly.
Passion Fruit Curd
- 10 egg yolks
- ½ cup passion fruit juice
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
- Fill the saucepan of a double boiler with two inches of water. Place pan over moderate heat and bring water to a boil then reduce to a simmer.
- In a metal bowl, combine yolks, sugar and passion fruit juice. Whisk continuously until mixtures thickens and registers 185 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the salt and the butter until butter incorporated.
- Pass the curd through a strainer. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate the curd overnight.
- ¾ cup sweetened shredded coconut
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spread coconut onto a baking tray and place in oven to toast until golden brown, approximately 5 minutes. Watch carefully as the coconut will burn easily. Remove and set aside to cool.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and mix until incorporated. On low speed, add flour and salt, and mix until fully incorporated. Scrape the pastry dough onto a sheet of plastic and wrap tightly. Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.
- Remove pastry from the refrigerator to soften a bit. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry one-quarter inch thick and cut a circle using an 8 inch by 3 inch entremet ring. Place the pastry circle onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper and chill for 20 minutes.
- Bake in the preheated oven until dark golden brown, about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. The remaining cookie dough can be cut into small cookies or refrigerated for future use.
- 1¼ pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 5 extra large egg whites
- 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons coconut milk
- Let the butter come to room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Fill the saucepan of a double boiler with 2 inches of water. Place pan over moderate heat and bring to a boil then lower to a simmer. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the egg whites and sugar. Stir with a whisk until sugar is dissolved. Place the bowl over the simmering water and stir with a heat proof spatula scraping down the sides and cook until the whites register 160 degrees F on an instant read thermometer, approximately 5 to 8 minutes. Attach the bowl to the electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment and mix on high speed until the mixture cools and forms stiff, shiny white peaks.
- Change the whisk to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on medium high speed, beat in the butter one piece at a time allowing the butter to fully incorporate into the buttercream before adding the next. Continue whipping until all the butter has been added. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to ensure a smooth and evenly mixed buttercream. Add salt and coconut milk, and mix until incorporated. Cover and set aside until needed. (You can refrigerate the buttercream in a covered container for one week.) Bring the buttercream to room temperature then place it into the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, and mix until light and fluffy. Proceed with recipe.
- ½ cup coconut milk
- shredded coconut
- Place an 8 by 3 inch entremet ring onto a cardboard cake circle 9 inches round. Place one cake layer inside the ring. Brush cake with coconut milk. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a straight tip with buttercream and pipe a small band of buttercream around the inside edge of the ring (we call this a dam). Fill another pastry bag fitted with a straight tip with passion fruit curd and pipe the curd over the cake layer up to the buttercream dam. Place a cake onto the layer of curd and press the cake firmly and brush the cake with coconut milk. Repeat the piping of the buttercream dam and passion fruit curd. Add a third cake and brush with coconut milk. Repeat piping the buttercream dam and passion fruit curd. Top with the final cake pressing firmly and brush with coconut milk. Wrap the cake with plastic and place the cake in the freezer for 2 hours or overnight.
- Remove the cake from the freezer and discard the plastic. With a large offset spatula release the cake from the cake circle and lift it onto the toasted coconut pastry. Wrap a warm towel around the entremet ring then slide the ring up to free it from the cake. Place a mound of buttercream on top of the cake and with an offset spatula and using side to side strokes, push the buttercream over the top surface then around the sides of the cake to completely cover the cake with a thin layer of buttercream. (This is a crumb coat used to capture any loose cake crumbs before the final layer is applied). Place the cake in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or until the buttercream sets.
- Take the cake out of the refrigerator and scoop a mound of buttercream on top. With an offset spatula and side to side strokes push the buttercream over the top and around the sides of the cake making it as smooth as possible. It does not have to be perfect since you are going to cover the cake with coconut. Sprinkle the surface of the cake with shredded sweetened coconut and press gently to secure it in the buttercream. Press handfuls of coconut around the sides of the cake letting the excess coconut fall away from the cake. Clean the excess coconut from the cake circle. You may refrigerate the cake at this point overnight. Let the cake soften at room temperature for service.
You don't have to be a master baker like Metropolitan's James Barrett to make delicious French-inspired delights at home. Here are several favorites—some savory, some sweet—adapted by James for the home chef.