Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Ina’s Coconut Cake Topped the Birthday Surprise!
And so it was a couple weeks ago, when our friend Susie was the target of a surprise birthday party on her actual birthday, but a year before one of those big decade milestones we really don’t like drawing attention to.
Susie’s daughter-in-law Courtney and her son Josh, with the conspiring talents of Susie’s (and our) good friend Mary, invited thirty people to their home on a weeknight after a workaday, directed us to out-of-the-way parking places, hid us all quietly (miraculously!) in a closed off den, and plotted how to get Susie to open the door on cue.
(The fact that Mary had -- just the night before -- baked a beautiful coconut cake, Susie's fave, for us all to share at a Wing Night certainly diminished the prospect of Susie even dreaming anyone might have anything up their sleeves. She was feted royally -- with singing, prezzies, even a tequila!)
And it all worked just as planned. (Knowing the party conspirators, I bet they had a Plan B in their back pocket, just in case; that’s why they’re so good at it!)
Courtney baked Ina's celebrated version of Susie's favorite cake. She made two double-layer cakes to accommodate the crowd, and even the most calorie-conscious among us couldn’t resist. Courtney’s cake did not disappoint: moist, creamy, sweet, but not cloying. Delectable. Food for the gods.
Ina Garten's Coconut Cake
• 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
• 2 cups sugar
• 5 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
• 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
• 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 cup milk
• 4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
For the frosting:
• 1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
• 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
• 1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
• 6 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans, then line them parchment paper. Grease them again and dust lightly with flour.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl once during mixing. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. The mixture might look curdled; don't be concerned.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter in 3 parts, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in the 4 ounces of coconut with a rubber spatula.
Pour the batter evenly into the 2 pans and smooth the top with a knife. Bake in the center of the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until the tops are browned and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a baking rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a baking rack to finish cooling.
For the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and almond extract on low speed. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until just smooth (don't whip!).