A moist and tender coconut cake is covered with a white chocolate cream cheese frosting, making for a fulfilling and beautiful end to a most special meal.

Serves
42

Preparation

1hr
15min

Cooking

35min

Skill level

Mid
By
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Ingredients

Cake

  • 1½ cups (150 g) sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1½ cups (375 mL) low fat (2%) milk
  • 4½ cups (675 g) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 4⅓ cups (870 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp fine salt
  • Finely grated zest of 2 limes (optional)
  • 2¼ cups (510 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into pieces
  • 8 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 tsp (15 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1½ tsp (7.5 ml) coconut extract

 

Frosting

  • 350 g (12 oz) white couverture/baking chocolate, chopped
  • 2 x 250 g pkg cream cheese, room temperature
  • 450 g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups (520 g) icing sugar, sifted (divided)
  • 3 tsp (15 ml) vanilla extract

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

Serves about 70 as a treat, or 42 as a plated dessert.

Allow time to cool cakes completely before icing. The cakes can also be baked ahead and chilled or frozen, uniced (see below). The two iced layers need at least 2 hours chilling time before final stacking. 

You will need two cake boards (23 cm and 15 cm) for assembly.

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F). Lightly grease three 15 cm (6 in) round cake tins and three 23 cm (9 in) round cake tins. Line the bottom of each with parchment paper and dust the sides with flour, tapping out any excess.

2. Pulse the coconut in a blender or small chopper and stir it into the milk to soak.

3. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl or into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Add the grated lime zest (if using). Add the butter and start mixing on low speed but then increase to medium-low, and work in the butter until pieces are no longer visible and the mixture looks like crumbs.  Since this is a large batch of batter, you may need to use a spatula to reach down to the bottom of the bowl and redistribute the mixture.

4.  Whisk the eggs, vanilla and coconut extract into the soaking coconut and add this all at once to the dry mixture. Again starting on low speed, mix the liquids in and once blended, increase the speed to medium and beat the batter until smooth, about 3 minutes (it will be thickly fluid).

5. To ensure cake layers that are the same height, it is best to weigh your batter into the tins. First weigh the batter as a whole (it will be around 3 kg). Then place a 23 cm (9 in) tin on the scale and pour or ladle 667 g into it.  Repeat with the other two 23 cm (9 in) tins.  Place a 15 cm (6 in) tin on the scale and pour or ladle 333 g into it and repeat with the remaining tins and batter.  (If there is leftover batter, divide using the same ratio.)

6. Bake the cakes for 25 to 30 minutes, until a tester inserted in the centre of each size of cake comes out clean (the smaller takes about 25 minutes, the larger takes 30 minutes). Cool the cakes in their tins for about 20 minutes, then run a palette knife around the inside of the pan and turn out onto the rack to cool completely. The cakes can be baked a day ahead, wrapped and then chilled until ready to assemble, or they can be frozen and thawed in the fridge overnight if baking further ahead.

7. For the frosting, melt the white chocolate by stirring it gently in a metal bowl placed over a pot of barely simmering water (medium-low heat) until smooth. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

8. Using electric beaters or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter. Add ½ cup (65 g) icing sugar and beat at medium-low speed until smooth. Add the white chocolate and vanilla and beat in. Add the remaining icing sugar and blend first at medium-low speed until smooth and then at medium-high speed for about a minute to fluff up the frosting. If the frosting seems too soft to use at room temperature, chill it for 30 minutes to an hour before using.

9. To assemble the cake, place a 23 cm (9 in) cake layer on a cake board of the same size or slightly larger than the cake. Dollop the frosting on top of the layer and spread to the edges, making the frosting as level as possible. Repeat with the remaining 2 cake layers. Spread an even but not-too-thick layer over the top and sides of the cake, taking time to ensure the sides are 90° to the top and that the top is flat and the edges are crisp. Chill this while repeating the same assembly steps 15 cm (6 in) cake layers (be sure the cake board beneath this tier is no larger than the cake itself.  Chill this tier while going back to the 23 cm (9 in) cake.

10. To finish frosting, dollop and spread frosting on top and to cover the sides of the 23 cm (9 in) cake, ensuring complete coverage. To create a pretty yet rustic look, hold the tip of your offset spatula against the base of the cake and spin the cake wheel, holding the offset level but pull it upwards to the top edge of the cake. At any point, you can go back and touch this up or do it again – it does not have to be an uninterrupted line.  Repeat this on the top of the cake, like a record needle on an album, but starting from the centre and working outward.  Chill this cake tier while you repeat the same with the smaller cake tier. Chill these for at least 2 hours before stacking (or if transporting, it may be easier to stack them on-site).

11.  To complete the assembly, carefully place the smaller tier on top of the larger tier (no dowelling or supports are needed). If you dent the frosting in doing this, it can be easily mended with a swish of an offset.  Add finishing décor as you wish (such as fresh flowers), or the cake is lovely as-is, perhaps with a simple topper.