A cake for the coconut lovers… and the non-coconut lovers, too

I like a good layer cake as much as the next gal. I’m forever hearing terrific things about this book and seeing gorgeous, towering creations from its pages on other people’s blogs, which invariably lead me to think, 'Why don’t I do that?'. Yes, why don’t I? Well, for one, there are only two people in my household, which does not lend itself to rapid polishing-off of triple decker desserts. Two, I’m a little bit lazy. I didn’t even attempt this month’s Daring Bakers challenge, Dobos Torte, because slaving away over a complicated, zillion-layer affair did not appeal in the slightest.

The main reason I don’t make many fancy layer cakes, however, is because deep down I’m a simple girl who likes simple treats. Like this rhubarb coffee cake, or my favourite All-in-the-pan chewy chocolate cake, or this coffee walnut cake, the one-pan cake – iced and served from its tin – is king in my kitchen.

One of my favourites of this humble variety is a coconut cake which comes from Jeanne Lemlin’s terrific Vegetarian Classics. I’ve blogged about it before, but in that post the cake didn’t really get proper credit. You see, I made it for Edward’s 30th birthday (even doubling the recipe and turning it into a layer cake!) and it was really all about the icing job. The cake itself kinda got lost in the shuffle.

Now I want to bring the cake, in all its simple glory, to your attention. Because this cake, when topped with a simple, almond flavoured buttercream, just shines. I realize that coconut is not everyone’s favourite flavour; it causes considerably more consternation than chocolate or vanilla. But this is a subtly flavoured cake, one that can be enjoyed even by those who don’t worship at the altar of coconut (and I count myself in that category). This cake can make you a coconut believer.

Coconut Cake
Recipe can be found here.

Buttercream Frosting
Makes enough to ice the top of one coconut cake

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 /2 to 2 cups icing sugar
2 to 3 Tbsp water or milk
1/8 tsp almond extract
1/3 cup sweetened or unsweetened desiccated coconut (optional)

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon, sift 1 cup of icing sugar and cream it together with the butter. The mixture will be dry and powdery. Stir in 1 Tbsp of milk or water, then cream the mixture again until blended. Add the almond extract, then cream in the rest of the icing sugar. Add as much of the remaining liquid as you need to make a thick, glossy icing. Blend the coconut into the icing, if using, before spreading on top of the cooled cake.