Thursday, July 13, 2006
My mother requested a birthday cake.
She LOVES, has always loved, coconut cake. A friend's boyfriend made her a fabulous coconut cake and, since then, nothing has come close to the memory of that square dance birthday party cake. Not even the cake that we made in culinary school.
I set out trying to make the cake part of the coconut cake a little more interesting by adding some diced pineapple and a shot of coconut rum. Halfway through the baking, when I opened the oven to rotate the cake pans, the fumes from the alcohol burning off made me gag. So beware.
I toasted some coconut flakes for the outside, then set to work pumping up the frosting, a standard-issue buttercream. Not the wussy American-style butercream some chefs (Nigella Lawson, ahem) use, but a bastardized version of French buttercream with eggs cooked lighlty over the stove. Having left my thermometer at home, I simply took them off when they were quite hot to the touch (the goal being to cook them sufficiently without curdling them, easiest achieved by aid of a thermometer and by cooking a sugar syrup which is then added to the eggs and letting your Kitchen Aid do all the work). My mother, who was helping me cook, watched in shock as I took out the pound of butter I'd had her cut into pieces and began adding this to the cooked eggs and sugar. "How much?" she asked.
"All of it." Piece by piece I added the butter and when she commented on the frosting's runny appearance, I told her it would change. By the time the whole pound was added, we had lovely white buttercream, to which I added a liberal couple shots of coconut rum and a half cup of cream of coconut. Perfection.
The guests were due in about an hour. She watched as I sliced the cake in half, trimmed it, slapped some frosting in between, stacked it, frosted the outside liberally, and covered the whole thing in toasted coconut.
The cake was a big success--I was the only one who couldn't finish my piece! We served the leftovers the next day for my culinary-school-graduation party and everyone concurred: yes,I'd made the right choice for a profession.
Posted by so much cake so little time at 11:09 AM