Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Lemon Coconut Cake- Goodness!

As I sit here on the couch, I realize that I am covered head to toe in Autumn fur. This kitty is a shedding MACHINE. The usual amount is pretty bad but due to the heat... it's out of control. I could knit a sweater out of what's currently on the couch. Spring cleaning has a new meaning. This simply reaffirms my love for the fall. 

There are a few perks to the spring weather. Flowers are in bloom; the warmth of the sun kissing goodbye to chilled breezes; puppy parks are packed; and citrus flavors appear in abundance. Of all these tastes, lemon reigns supreme in my book! It's extremely refreshing and versatile. It has the ability to be a perfect splash of a little something something or the star of the show. Lovely luscious lemon. 

For mother's day, I decided it was time to welcome lemon to the kitchen with a Lemon Coconut Cake. (oh mom... adorable) It seemed appropriate to have a dessert that was light and happy on such a sunny afternoon. Plus, to make it extra cutsie, we bought a Mediterranean ceramic candle holder decorated with lemons and a lemon based hand soap for her house. Coordination on coordination! 

This recipe is slightly modified from What2Cook. I used a different base cake because I wanted to use 6-inch rounds instead of the standard 9 inch. No sense in four people trying to eat all that cake! For the "full size" version, simply click on the original post. 

This cake boasts three layers of awesomeness. It's a white cake so it's a clean slate for flavor.  There's a perfect touch of lemon zest folded into the batter. Not too much now! We're not making a sour patch here. In between each layer of cake is a good dollop of lemon curd. You can purchase pre-made lemon curd but the home-made stuff is far more addicting. As a bonus, you determine how thick the lemon curd is if you make it from scratch! Keeping it all together is an incredibly smooth and mellow cream cheese frosting. It compliments the slight tartness of the citrus with it's cool texture and mild sweetness. 

And of course... as if this cake couldn't be anymore charming... it's garnished with toasted shredded coconut. The coconut adds subtle texture and pockets of natural sweetness. Heaven! 

There is one little detail I would like to point out.... I made a mistake and managed to cover it up. The final layer of this cake, on top of the cream cheese frosting, is supposed to be lemon curd. Because I made a smaller cake, I halved the original amount of lemon curd to 1 1/2 cups. You still need that full 3 cups if you want to make it all the way through the cake. In a rush, I ended up making a lemon glaze out of lemon juice, confectioner's sugar, butter, and a dash of cornstarch. It's not as pretty but oh me oh my... this cake brought it's A game. Even my big brother said, "this is a good cake."

Thank you lovely luscious lemon!

Lemon Coconut Cake

To put it all together, frost the bottom layer of the cake with a very thin layer cream cheese frosting. Spread a big dollop of lemon zest on top. Sprinkle some toasted coconut (optional). Add the second layer of cake and repeat. And the third layer and frost the entire cake with cream cheese frosting, keeping it thinner at the top. Add the final dollop of lemon curd and spread smooth. Decorate the sides with the toasted coconut.

White Cake
from The Food Dash

1 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour (sift first, then measure)
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup salted butter, room temp
3/4 cups granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
Zest of 1/2 lemon (approx 1/2 tbsp)

Preheat oven to 350F; grease, line and flour three 6" round cake pans with parchment paper.

In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Using a mixer, beat the butter until creamy and add in sugar gradually, beating it until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one a time, beating well after each addition. Add in the vanilla extract and beat until well combined.

Add in the dry ingredients and milk alternately, starting and ending with the dry ingredients until it is well mixed (but not overmix!). Pour into prepared pans and bake in preheated oven for 20 mins or so, or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.

Lemon Curd
adapted from Ina Garten
makes 3 cups

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter

Remove the zest of 3 lemons, being careful to avoid the white pith.

Put the zest in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the sugar and pulse until the zest is very finely minced into the sugar. Cream the butter and beat in the sugar and lemon mixture. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice, salt and cornstarch. Mix until combined. Pour the mixture into a 2 quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. The lemon curd will thicken at about 170 degrees F, or just below simmer. Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate.

Cream Cheese Frosting
from What2Cook

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until blended; stir in vanilla.

Toasted Coconut
1 1/2 cups shredded or flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Evenly spread coconut in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place coconut in oven. Check after about 2 minutes. Continue checking every minute until the coconut is the desired color. Gently shake the pan to get all sides toasted. Remove from oven and cool.