Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Coconut Cake with Lime Curd (Page 728)

  • Date: Sunday, March 23, 2008 -- 4pm
  • Location: Palo Alto, CA
  • Kitchen: Emilee and Brian's Apartment
  • Fellow Chefs: Matty
  • Dining Companions: Emilee, Brian, Alison, Nick, etc...
  • Recipe Rating: C+

Emilee suggested coconut cake for Easter, so I offered to make this one from The Book. I love cake and I love coconut, but this endeavor was a huge disappointment. For the first time in my entire life of baking I had to remake the cake layers. Want to see attempt number one? Here they are:

They look delicious, no? That first attempt was a disaster! I have made many, many cakes, and I have never in my life seen anything like this. The batter looked off to me -- much too runny. But I poured it into the pans and put it in the oven anyway. Immediately one of them began lifting out of the pan. It was like some alien life form was in the oven. The one cracked all through the middle rose out of the pan from the center, like a cake volcano. Then it rose too much in the middle and split in half. All three layers collapsed into thin little cake layers that were dense and gummy. What happened? Hard to say. The recipe said to sift the flour before measuring, and I did. I sifted through a very fine sieve and perhaps I introduced too much air into it, because there just wasn't enough flour. The batter was extremely soupy. It was late at night when I made these layers and I was none too happy about having to make them again, but I had no choice!

On attempt number two I didn't sift. And I used half all-purpose flour rather than all cake flour. It was much better, but still not all the way to good. The layers at least looked like cake that time. This cake had a problem that I have had with cakes from The Book before: the layers were much more like pound cake than a nice fluffy, tender cake. They were extremely dense, which didn't go well at all with the curd filling and light frosting.

Speaking of the curd and frosting, they were the only things that saved this cake from the D range. The lime curd was delicious, although notably too thin in consistency. Consequently it kept oozing out from between the layers, and it required some careful frosting technique to not end up with curd squirting out the sides of the cake. The frosting was a simple seven-minute-type frosting. It was light, and tasty, and paired well with the coconut. If the layers had been replaced with fluffy yellow cake layers, this cake could have been quite good. As it was, it was borderline embarrassing to serve. Definitely a disappointment.

The recipe in The Book is almost exactly the same as this one.

I have already rambled long enough, but one quick anecdote: Apparently my students behaved so badly for the substitute last week that one of them actually emailed the person who filled in for me apologizing for the behavior of the class. Wow. That's pretty bad.


Stacy said...

Oh, perfect timing on this one! I was just considering making this one for a potluck.... Maybe I won't.

It sounds so utterly fantastic, too.

Magdalen said...

Is there any chance this improves with time? I ask because there's a coconut ice box cake recipe in "The Cake Mix Doctor" that stresses the need to make it and then leave it alone for up to five days in the fridge. (Self control is actually listed in the ingredient list!) Now, there are some differences: the Doctor's recipe does use a cake mix (sorry, just want to make that clear) and the frosting is rather wet, being unsweetened coconut with sour cream. But the curd sounds like it is meant to soak in...

I may just have to make it for myself and see what happens.

michelle @ TNS said...

so sad! i also rarely lose a cake and am bitterly disappointed when i do. for future reference, i just made much the the same cake using a dorie greenspan recipe and it was quite delicious.

Teena said...

Stacy: Yeah, it sounded so good, but it was really a let-down!

Magdalen: No, even time didn't improve this cake. It was so dense that even with time the curd didn't soak in.

Michelle: Thanks for the suggestion! Yeah, Dorie Greenspan's recipes are usually excellent!