Tuesday, August 9, 2011

(easy-ish) Taste of the Tropics Cake

BY: SAMUEL PARKS (August 2011)

(Taste of the Tropics Cake made for Dad's 51st birthday)

Coconut, Lemon, and Rum Oh My!  This simple yet elegant and delicious cake combines the flavors of the tropics in a visually appealing package that is sure to impress even the most jaded diner.  Try it on your friends and family and they’ll beg you for the recipe (which is the primary reason I’m putting it online). Enjoy!


·         1 box DUNCAN HINES (not betty crocker) Yellow Cake Mix
o   replace the water called for in the mix with buttermilk (make sure the buttermilk is warm)
o   replace the oil called for in the mix with melted butter
o   add one extra egg (four total)
·         2 tbs. rum
·         1 tsp coconut extract

Filling (lemon curd)
·         4 lemons
·         1 ½ cups sugar
·         4 eggs
·         ¼ cup unsalted butter
·         1/8 tsp kosher salt
·         ½ cup lemon juice

Frosting/ Topping
·         1 pint heavy whipping cream
·         ¼ cup sugar
·         1 tsp vanilla extract
·         ½ lb. toasted coconut (purchase a 1 lb. bag of sweetened, shredded coconut)


1.      Preheat the oven to 340 degrees.  Butter and flour two, 8 inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper.
2.      Thoroughly melt the butter in the microwave or in a small sauce pan.
3.       Add the melted butter to your mixing bowl with approximately ¼ cup of the cake batter mix.  Combine until creamed together.
4.      Add the warm buttermilk to the butter mixture and mix until well combined.  (if your buttermilk is cold, the butter will re-solidify and form a lumpy batter)
5.      Divide the remainder of the batter mix into fourths.  Add the first, fourth of mix to the butter mixture until combined. 
6.      Add one egg and mix until combined.
7.      Repeat above two steps until all of the eggs and batter mix have been incorporated.
8.      Add the rum and coconut extract to the batter and stir to combine. 
9.      Divide and pour into the prepared pans.
10.  Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the thickest part of the cake, comes out cleanly.
11.  Remove to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before decorating.

Filling (lemon curd)
1.      Using a microplane, zest the four lemons to remove only the outermost layer of the skin. (DO NOT remove the white portion called the pith, this is very bitter and will distort the flavor of your filling)
2.      Combine the zest with the sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade attachment, and process until the zest and sugar for a very loose and evenly distributed paste.
3.      Using a separate bowl, combine the sugar with the butter and cream.
4.      Add the eggs and continue to mix until well combined.
5.      Add the lemon juice and salt.  Mix until well combined.
6.      Transfer the mixture to a small sauce pan and heat over low heat (for my electric stove this was approximately a setting of 3.5) for approximately 10-15 minutes until thickened.
7.      Chill until cooler than room temperature.

Frosting/ Topping
1.      Whip the heavy cream on low for approximately 3-4 minutes.
2.      Add the sugar and steadily begin to increase speed to medium.  Continue to whip for 3 minutes.
3.      Add the vanilla, and increase the speed to high.  Whip until stiff peaks are formed.
4.      Toast the ½ lb. of the coconut in the oven on 350 degrees for approximately 12 minutes until well toasted.  Make sure to stir the coconut occasionally.

Assemblage Instructions
1.      When the cake is cool, remove from the pans and carefully remove the top “domed” section using a long serrated kitchen knife of cake level.  (a cake level is a specialty tool that can be found in most craft stores.  Essentially it is a long serrated knife attached to two leveling feet that ensure an even cut every time) You should be left with two level sections.
2.      Mix the remaining, UN-TOASTED coconut with the chilled lemon curd.  Slowly pour onto the top of one of the cakes.
3.      Carefully place the remaining cake onto the top of the cake-lemon curd structure.
4.      Frost the outside of the cake with the whipped cream.
5.      Using your hand, gently coat the outside of the cake with the TOASTED coconut.

Pair with a chocolate milk stout and enjoy!

Note: because of the whipped cream frosting make sure that this cake is kept chilled in the refrigerator.

Eat good food.  Drink good beer.  And above all, stay classy.

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