Sandra Lee one day, she made her Tapioca Cake and it just set me off. I got crazy mad and when I get like that because of her, I have to cook or bake something that she would consider "monkey business". Later that day, I saw the Coconut Cake Revival episode of Good Eats. When Alton Brown went into his stirring speech about the coconut cake, I teared up and knew I had found my recipe for this battle.
Mr. Hairball and I had never been big huge coconut fans until we had this cake. We didn't dislike it or anything but, we never made a point of seeking out dishes made with coconut. Now, whenever he questions why I am watching Sandra Lee and shouting obscenities at the television, I just say coconut cake and then he remembers that he never would have had the chance to enjoy Alton's cake if I hadn't become so violently angry that day.
Last week, I made up some coconut extract, milk, and cream. Yesterday, I shredded up more coconuts and made up more coconut milk, coconut cream, and baked the cake. Due to some technical difficulties beyond my control, assembling and frosting the cake had to wait until today. The coconut milk and cream I made this week is for future use. The extract needs 5-7 days to do its thing so when you first make it, you have to plan ahead. After you have your extract made, you will have enough for more than one cake so future cakes can be made all in the same day.
Now some of you are saying you'll just buy the extract, milk, and cream and go from there. You can of course do that, but I highly encourage you to make your own at least once. After tasting this cake made the old fashioned way, I can't go back to the store bought flaked and sweetened stuff as there is a huge difference to my taste buds. Fresh unsweetened coconut tastes completely different to me than the sweetened dried version available at grocery stores.
First, I strongly suggest watching the episode of Good eats if you plan to make this recipe. I have both parts of it here for your convenience. Each part is a little over ten minutes. I'm not going to go over everything he does as I don't want to bore you by repeating every single thing that Alton has said. I will point out where I did something a little different or where I think a point may be unclear or was not covered in Alton's show.
This is my coconut milk and cream that I made last week, mixed together and froze. The chunks are where it is still frozen.
Okay, I've tried a couple of times to use Alton's method of baking the coconuts to crack the shells to make it easier to extract the meat inside. All of my coconuts have been of the rebellious sort and refused to bow down to my will on this matter, so I had to get medieval on them. After I drilled the eyes and drained the coconut water, I got out my meat mallet and used the flat side to hit the coconut along the seam until it cracked and then did as Alton says to get the meat out. You'll notice that my coconut did *not* crack along the seam. LOL
Your coconut shell may decide to be stubborn about breaking away from the brown husk. If that occurs, you can extract the meat by using a knife with a flexible blade and score the meat of the coconut like you do a mango and just do your best to pop or peel the pieces and then remove the brown husk. If you can't get every tiny speck of the husk off of the meat, don't worry about it. If anybody gets snarky with you about this, just look them square in the eye and say one or more of the following:
A)*Look extremely shocked* " I know your Mama taught you better than that!"
B)"It's never a wise move to make the person who prepares your food angry."
C) "Bite me"
D) "Oh yeah?" *Drop pants/lift skirt and moon them*
The coconut is going to be shredded up anyway so just use the ugly bits for making the coconut milk and cream and save the prettier parts of the outside of the cake.
It's going to make a mess so be prepared for something like this after you have finished cracking and peeling your coconuts. Don't be surprised if you find small bits of coconut scattered about your kitchen and on yourself.
My blender died a while back so I after letting the coconut soak like Alton said, I just buzzed up my coconut milk and cream in my food processor. Then, I dumped the mixture into a fine sieve, and applied pressure with the back of a spoon to extract all the coconutty goodness into the bowl below. The rest of the cake I did as Alton instructed.
Depending on the humidity on the day you make this, your frosting may need to be beaten a little longer. In the past, I've had hand mixers that just couldn't incorporate enough air to take this frosting to the desired end state. (Here's some nice pictures I found for further reference of what your frosting should look like.) When that occurred, I would follow the directions as stated and then pour it into the bowl of my stand mixer and beat it on the highest speed for a minute or two to finish it off. Real life doesn't always work out nicely like it does on TV so we just have to be prepared to roll with the punches!
Here's the finished half of the cake that I set aside for Mr. Hairball's office.
It doesn't look perfect but this cake is unbelievably good. I really hope you decide to try this recipe for yourself.