Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Coconut Cake with Raspberry Coulis (Page 729)


  • Date: Thursday, January 22, 2009 -- 7:30pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Fellow Chef: Matty
  • Dining Companions: Tom M, Chuck, Paul K, Beth, Lauren K, Jeremy, Ayelet, Michael L, Anne L, Daniel L, Kent, Sue, Allan, Ann E, Jim, Vladimir, Kitty, Muriel, Marc, Chris C, Prudence, Kate, Jonathan, Marlies, and John B
  • Recipe Rating: B+

This dessert was part of our spread at a party we hosted a couple weeks ago. I started by making the cake, which was a very typical white cake baked in one layer in a springform pan. While the cake cooled, I made a vanilla pastry cream on the stovetop, then stirred in some sweetened, flaked coconut. I chilled the pastry cream and then folded in whipped cream. To assemble the cake I split the cake into 3 layers with a serrated knife, then layered the coconut pastry cream between the cake layers. I covered the whole thing with whipped cream and sweetened flaked coconut. The cake was served with a raspberry coulis, which I made by pureeing raspberries and sugar. This cake was relatively simple to make and quite tasty. I have made pastry cream dozens of times, and this was the first time I ever had textural issues. So that may have been the fault of the recipe, but it also might have been my fault -- I may not have tempered the hot milk into the egg carefully enough. In any event, it was not a major problem. I put the pastry cream through a fine mesh sieve twice and it was fine. The cake layers themselves were excellent white cake. They had a nice crumb, and were very moist. The pastry cream was delicious (as it always is!), and the whipped cream was a nice way to frost the cake -- anything else would have made the dessert much too sweet. You would have to be a coconut lover (and a whipped cream lover!) to enjoy this cake, as it was very coconut-intense and packed with cream. The raspberry sauce seemed like an afterthought to me. It's just as odd thing to serve a big cake with a sauce on the side. I would have prefered to have a layer of raspberry filling inside the cake instead. But the raspberry flavor did go nicely with the cake, and provided some good contrast to all the coconut and sweetness.

This recipe isn't online.

When I was a graduate student at MIT, I was a TA for differential equations the same semester one of my friends was. On the first day of class he admitted to his students that he had never taught before, and encouraged them to send him any feedback they might have. I understand why he did this, but the outcome was pretty funny. A few weeks later he received an email from one of his students listing all the things he could improve about his teaching. That might even sound like it would be helpful, but this guy's email contained precious tidbits like, "You shouldn't wear black when you lecture. It doesn't look good covered in chalk." Can you imagine -- one of your students lecturing you about your attire?! I laughed and laughed and laughed.

I was reminded of that by an email I received yesterday from one of the graduate students in my course. He didn't comment on my attire, but he did list various criticisms of the course I am teaching. It was unsettling to receive such an email. I read it right before bed, and had trouble sleeping. I care a lot about doing a good job teaching my courses, so it makes me feel bad to have an unhappy student with a list of complaints about me. This morning, in the light of day, I was able to take what information was valuable from the email and then set it aside. Part of what seemed so odd about it to me is that I would never have written such an email to one of my professors, suggesting to them how to do their job better. It would have felt very disrespectful. It's good to have the information though, so I can try to better accommodate that student.


Kim of Stirring the Pot said...

I can't imagine how many dessert leftovers you had from your party!! I hope you sent your guests packing...
The Gourmet project is a huge undertaking and it is really cool to see so many different recipes featured on your blog.

Sara said...

I've taught before when I was in grad school and comments by students can be unsettling.

It's nice there was some constructive criticism. You should not let it bother you too much. A lot of students who are happy will probably not say anything.

Philippe said...

Teena, here is a new recipe you should add to your collection:
It's called "bacon explosion" and there is even an article about it in the New York Times:
I can't believe the Gourmet Cookbook doesn't include that recipe.

Teena said...

Kim -- Yeah, there were some leftovers, but my special gentleman and I managed to eat most of them ourselves (for better or for worse!)!

Sara -- I tried to take what was valuable from it and not let it bother me too much. No matter how hard you try, it seems there will always be at least one unhappy student.

Phillipe -- Wow, that looks... well... more than a little scary. Have you tried it yet? :)