Find this recipe in our cookbook, Desserts from the Famous Loveless Cafe (on sale!)
Just look at it. Is your mouth watering yet? Are you making mental notes of the ingredients you have in your pantry? Are you wondering if the need to make this unbelievable cake is reason enough to throw a dinner party? No need to be ashamed. This is always our reaction, too. Usually we serve this cake with a sweet cream cheese frosting here in the cafe, however, the classic Southern presentation (and the one you’ll find in our Dessert Cookbook) is with a light and fluffy meringue frosting. Either way, this is one cake you’ll definitely want to try.
Southern-Style Coconut Cake
Makes a double-layer 9-inch cake; serves 12
4 egg whites
1⁄3 cup milk
1 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1⁄3 cups self-rising flour
1 3⁄4 cups sugar
1 1⁄2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
3⁄4 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
*Seven-Minute Meringue Frosting (see recipe below)
2 1⁄2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 9-inch cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper and grease the paper. In a small bowl, whisk the egg whites, milk, and vanilla together just until blended. Place the flour and sugar in a large bowl and blend with a mixer on low speed for 30 seconds to combine. Add the butter and coconut milk and mix to combine. Scrape the bowl, raise the speed to medium, and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg white mixture in two or three additions, scraping the bowl and blending thoroughly. Divide the batter between the pans. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Turn the layers out onto a wire rack and cool completely before frosting.
To decorate the cake, place one layer, bottom side up, on a cake stand or dessert platter. Top with 1 cup of the frosting, spreading it evenly to the edges. Sprinkle 1⁄2 cup coconut over the frosting and top with the second layer. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Cover the cake completely with the remaining 2 cups coconut by sprinkling it on top and pressing it lightly onto the sides.
*Baking Tip: Self-rising flour is a Southern staple, since it’s what we almost always use in biscuits. If you don’t have any on hand, you can substitute 2 1/3 cups cake flour and 3 ½ teaspoons baking powder.
*Seven-Minute Meringue Frosting
Makes about 4 cups
4 egg whites
1⁄4 teaspoon cream of tartar
11⁄4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat lightly to blend. Set aside. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons water. Stir with a spoon to mix. If any sugar clings to the side of the pan, use a wet pastry brush to wash it down. Set the pan over medium-low heat, cover, and slowly bring to a boil. (You’ll have to peek to see when it reaches a boil, but do not stir.) Allow the syrup to boil for 1 minute, covered. Remove the lid and insert a candy thermometer. Continue to cook until the syrup reaches 238°F, which will happen pretty quickly. Turn the electric mixer to medium-low speed and slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites as you whip them, trying to avoid hitting the beaters, which might splatter. Continue to whip until the egg whites are almost stiff but droop slightly at the peak when the beater is lifted. Beat in the vanilla until well mixed. Use at once.
Excerpted from Desserts From the Famous Loveless Café by Alisa Huntsman (Artisan Books). Copyright 2011.