A special someone celebrated a birthday last week and he went against tradition and asked us NOT to get a Dairy Queen ice cream cake this year. Instead, I was given the task of coming up with something delicious. One of his favorite desserts is coconut cream pie, so I tried to translate that into a cake version because every birthday needs a cake!
This cake recipe is the perfect texture; not too dense, but not so light that it crumbles apart. It was perfect. Even on the second and third days it didn’t get dry. The coconut custard filling was creamy perfection and the coconut milk in the buttercream leant the perfect subtle amount of coconut flavor. I particularly loved that it wasn’t over-the-top sweet and that the coconut flavors weren’t offensive or overwhelming. My sister even took a slice home, which never happens. She’s the kind of crazy that prefers box mixes over anything homemade! Perhaps this cake changed her mind?
Coconut Cream Cake
For the Cake:
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 and 1/3 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 and 2/3 cups sugar
- 1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk
- 4 large eggs separated
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tsp coconut rum
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup coconut custard I ended up using pretty much all of it
- 3/4 cup cold heavy cream
- 1 cup butter
- 1/3 cup coconut milk
- 4 cups icing sugar
- 1/4 tsp coconut extract
- 1 cup toasted coconut for the top of the cake
For the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (9-inch) diameter cake pans and line the bottom with parchment.
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine.
In a separate large bowl, beat the sugar, butter and coconut milk until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
Beat in the egg yolks and vanilla extract.
With the mixer on low speed, beat in half the dry ingredients, followed by the milk, and the remaining dry ingredients, and the coconut, scraping down the sides in between each addition, just until blended.
Using clean, dry beaters, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt in another clean large bowl until the egg whites are stiff but not dry.
In batches, fold the beaten egg whites into the batter, being careful not to deflate the whites. Divide the cake batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. Spread the batter with an offset spatula to level the batter in the pan.
Bake the cakes for 40 to 45 minutes, until a tester inserted into center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans on a wire rack, about 10 minutes. Gently run a small sharp knife around the pan sides to loosen the cakes. Turn the cakes out onto cooling racks and cool completely.
For the Custard:
Combine the milks in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat.
Whisk together the yolks, sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl. Slowly whisk the warm milk into the egg mixture then return the mixture to the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly, until thickened. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and whisk in the rum and vanilla extract. Let cool to room temperature then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours.
For the Filling:
Whisk the cream and custard until soft peaks form.
For the Buttercream:
Combine butter, coconut milk, icing sugar and coconut extract and beat until light and fluffy.
To Assemble the Cake
Slice each cake horizontally into 2 layers. Reserve 1 of the flat bottom layers for the top of the cake.
Spoon 1/3 of the coconut filling onto the cake and using a small offset metal spatula, spread it into an even layer, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge of the cake. Repeat with 2 more layers. Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake.
Frost the sides and top of the cake with the buttercream. Top with toasted coconut.