Friday, June 4, 2010

Pat Conroy's Coconut Cake and Weekend Cooking

This coconut cake was "heavenly" as noted by this stained glass window.

Seriously, the cake was great, but the stained glass? It was a window from the First and Summerfield United Methodist Church in New Haven, CT, where my daughter-in-law interned this past semester. It was a beautiful window and I thought I'd share it.

Before leaving for Connecticut, I read The Pat Conroy Cookbook. If the name is not familiar to the food bloggers, I know it will be to the book bloggers. Conroy wrote "The Prince of Tides," "Beach Music," and "The Great Santini," among many others. I love his writing. Beach Music is among my favorite books of all time. You can tell he enjoys good food and cooking, as he always included those aspects in his books.

The subtitle of his cookbook is "Recipes and Stories of My Life," and it is very true, he has as many, if not more short essays and memoirs of his life throughout the book, than he does recipes.

That could be a slight exaggeration, but his stories are plentiful throughout the entire cookbook and I loved reading about his life.

He is married to author, Cassandra King, and it just so happens that I have two of her books in my TBR pile, "The Sunday Wife," and "Those Same Sweet Girls." Both have been moved to the top of the pile. (I feel like she's an old friend, now, after reading so much about her in Conroy's cookbook.)
Coconut Cake is one of my favorite types of cake.  And this one had Malibu rum in it too. How can you go wrong with that?!

The cake was heavy and dense, which was just like it's supposed to be. (it was saturated with the rum sauce)

Does anybody remember those Duncan Hines commercials from about 25 years ago, where they made a big deal that their cake mixes made Light and Airy cakes, not heavy and dense? Like that was so special?

I like a heavy (not too heavy tho) moist HOMEMADE cake.....and this one hit the spot.

I suggest you read the cookbook and...make the coconut cake as well as many other recipes, such as the crab cakes. Yum.

There might seem like a lot of steps to this cake, but it's well worth it.

Coconut Cake

For the Rum Sauce:
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup coconut rum (I used Malibu Rum)
1/3 cup water
In a small saucepan, combine the ingredients and heat over medium heat, until the mixture comes to a slow boil. Continue boiling for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside until the cake is baked. The syrup can be made a day ahead and reheated when needed.

For the toasted coconut:
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (available at health food stores) (I have used sweetened coconut before and it's fine)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and toast until the edges turn a light brown, 3-4 minutes. Toasted, yet still pale shredded coconut will add another layer of flavor and slight crunch to the frosting. Check it carefully during the toasting; coconut can burn quickly. Total toasting time should not exceed more than 4 minutes. Remove immediately and transfer to another (not hot) baking sheet to cool.

For the Cake:
2 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup shredded coconut
2 large eggs
1 cup canned coconut milk well shaken.
1/2 pound ( 2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled.
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (1 Large lemon)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.
To make the cake, butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and sugar. Stir in the coconut.
In a another bowl, whisk the eggs and add the coconut milk and melted butter until the mixture is smooth. Stir in lemon zest and vanilla.
Using a wooden spoon, mix the egg mixture into the flour mixture until just blended.
Pour the batter (it will be thick) into the prepared cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees F until cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 55-60 minutes.
Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for about 20 minutes. Invert the pan an release the cake onto a clean work surface or a cake stand. When the cake is cool, cut horizontally into two equal layers, using a serrated knife and pressing down lightly on the top of the cake as you cut. Transfer each half, cut side up, to an individual plate and prink holes in several places on the surface. Rewarm the rum syrup and brush (or drizzle) the syrup over the cut surfaces of the cakes.

For the Frosting:
2 cups chilled heavy cream
powdered sugar, 2-4 teaspoons (or to taste)
1 cup untoasted shredded coconut
Whip the heavy cream and sugar together until the cream is almost firm (do not over whip). Fold the untoasted coconut into the whipped cream.
Frost the bottom layer of the cake with 1/3 of the coconut cream. Place the second layer on top of the coconut cream and frost the top and sides of cake with the remaining frosting. Sprinkle the top and sides with the toasted coconut.

I am going to submit this to "Weekend Cooking"

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth at Beth Fish Reads. It is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend.


Karen said...

Oh, man! It has been way too long since I've had a coconut cake! This looks amazing. We're going to have company either this summer or fall and I'm going to put this on the list to make it for them!

Jill said...

A favorite author and a favorite dessert...SOLD!!!

Beth F said...

Yeah, I get the heavenly (stained-glass and all) reference. Coconut rum cake? Wow. And stories from Conroy? I think I see a trip to the bookstore in my near future.

Yours looks so good and moist -- and homemade -- just the way I like it.

Margot at Joyfully Retired said...

I love to "read" normal cookbooks and one that includes stories is even better. I have one by Jan Karon that is similar and I have thoroughly enjoy it. I'm going to see if I can find it. Thanks for sharing the coconut cake. It looks so good.

I'm glad you entered Weekend Cooking. It allowed me to discover your blog. I love the combination of books and food. You're a person after my own heart.

Nise' said...

Oh my goodness, coconut heaven!

Anonymous said...

The only cakes, pies, cookies, candy bars my husband likes are ones that have coconut. I'll have to make him one of these cakes.

JoAnn said...

OMG that looks delicious!!! I love Pat Conroy's books, too, but have never looked at his cookbook. Sounds like I'm missing something for sure! If you haven't read South of Broad, his latest novel, I highly recommend it.

Heather said...

This looks so yummy. I'll have to make this for hubby for father's day. He loves coconut.

Kim said...

Oh...I wish I wasn't the only one in my family who likes coconut as this cake looks so delicious.
I have not read a thing by Pat Conroy, but his cookbook looks like something I should get my hands on!

Ingrid said...

Yum, that cake does look heavenly!

I really enjoy cookbooks that double as a memoir, makes for entertaining and yummy reading! Thanks for sharing!

Terri said...

I have GOT to make this cake. It looks amazing.

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