Yes, here I am again, posting this month's cake at the last possible moment. I guess old habits are hard to break! Martha's cake recipe for May is the Teatime Coconut Layer Cake. I was really looking forward to this cake because it sounded light and refreshing - perfect for the warm weather we're getting into. Had I read the recipe more carefully, I probably could have surmised that "light" does not really describe this cake, but that realization came later.
As with previous cakes, this recipe calls for an incredibly well stocked kitchen. In this case, 3-9" round cake pans are called for in order to bake the 3 layers at the same time. I have one 9" pan, and I decided to make do with just one. You'll see that this decision resulted in uneven cake layers, but I'm not sure that really mattered to me all that much! Mixing the cake recipe went smoothly and produced an airy white cake - largely due to the 14 (!) beaten egg whites that were folded in. I attempted to visually estimate 1/3 of the cake batter with each round, but not surprisingly, the last cake was a bit on the small side. I could have measured out all the batter and divided by thirds, but I was afraid that I would break down the egg whites too much in the process.
While the cakes were baking, I cooked the coconut syrup (basically a simple syrup with coconut cream and extract added in) that was to soak the 3 cake layers. There isn't any coconut flavoring to the cakes themselves, so I was hoping that the syrup would generously add coconut flavor to the cakes. Since I was cooking the 3 cakes in sequence, I also had enough time while they were baking to mix up the buttercream. Let me rewrite that to read BUTTERcream - yes, 8 whole sticks of butter are called for in this recipe. Remember when I said this cake wasn't so light after all?!?
(As an aside, let's do a wee bit of math here. The entire cake recipe is supposed to serve 10 to 12 people. Let's be conservative and say that we'll cut smaller pieces to serve 12. That means, if we assume all of the buttercream is used to make the cake, that each person will consume 2/3 of a stick of butter with their piece of cake. Now, I'm not one of those folks who advocates a low-fat diet - not at all - but lordy!)
The buttercream recipe went pretty smoothly as well... I had a moment of panic when mixing when I thought it was going to separate, but perseverance won out and it was soon creamy and fluffy. I proceeded to soak each of the 3 layers with the coconut syrup and begin the assembly process. After soaking each cake layer with syrup, buttercream is layered onto the cake, followed by a sprinkling of coconut.
Once all 3 layers are stacked and ready, the "crumb coat" of frosting is applied and then the cake gets chilled.
The recipe calls for the next layer of frosting to be applied, and then the cake gets chilled again before the decorative frosting begins. I didn't have the frosting tip called for to make the same design in the recipe, so I improvised with a small basketweave tip. I found that there was a lot more buttercream than I needed to decorate the sides of the cake - either I was too stingy while icing the layers, or the recipe is designed to make more than is needed. Given the math we did above, let's hope the recipe makes more than we're supposed to use! So, given that I had extra buttercream, I decided to have some fun and practice my piping on the top of the cake, which would eventually be hidden by a layer of coconut. Here is the silly lattice design I ended up with:
It isn't very pretty, but I was using it more as an exercise in piping. I don't have very steady hands (be thankful I'm not a surgeon!), and this is very apparent in the not-so-straight piped lines. I quickly hid the practice top with the called for sprinkling of coconut, and the cake was finished!
The verdict? Both Jerry and I thought the cake itself was tasty - moist and light - but I didn't really notice the flavor from the coconut syrup. The buttercream definitely tasted like coconut, but it was just too much. Perhaps it was because I *knew* how much butter was in the recipe, but I just couldn't eat more than a small amount of the buttercream. Both of us finished our cakes with a pile of buttercream left behind. Because of the name of the cake, I was expecting light and coconut-y. If I were to make this again, I would add coconut flavor to the cake itself and make a whipped cream based frosting to keep it light and airy - like the cake.
This cake was another time consuming project. I spread it out over 2 days so that I wouldn't go too crazy, but I wouldn't recommend this one as a spur of the moment dessert. And, I'm not the only one taking on the cake of the month project - see other folks rising to the challenge!