Friday, October 21, 2011

Vegan MoFo Day 21: Great Aunt Pearl's Coconut Cake

My grandfather loved coconut cake. Occasionally, his sister, my Great Aunt Pearl, would make it for him. I decided to try reworking her recipe for today's post.

The original recipe was for a white cake with a lot of egg whites in it. I decided to start with a vegan white cake recipe which I knew would work - Kittee's Vanilla Double Layer Cake. To match the flavor of the original, I used 2 t vanilla and 2 t lemon extract. (The cake is a little more brown than white as I used unrefined cane sugar. I wasn't heading out into a rainy night to buy beet sugar just to keep it white.)

While the cake was baking, I made a syrup from 1 c sugar + 1/2 c water, cooked until it reached thread stage (around 225-230 F). I added coconut extract - starting with 1 t and going up until I was happy with the taste. After the cake was out of its pans and cooling on racks, I pierced it repeatedly with an icepick (fun times!) and then poured the warm syrup over it - in stages, letting it soak in. (If I had more time, I would have let the layers cool, sliced each in half to make four layers, and then proceeded with syrup soaking.)

There are debates about proper coconut cake icing - seven minute frosting, cream cheese, whipped cream, etc. Aunt Pearl used seven minute frosting, which is heavy on eggs. Happily, Julie Hasson's magical vegan meringue (recipe on the subscriber side of Everyday Dish) is quite close to seven minute frosting in taste and texture, and worked wonderfully. Before the frosting set up, I covered the whole cake with coconut. For real authenticity, one would use freshly grated coconut. I went for the packaged stuff in the interest of time.

My mother's variation: Use pineapple juice to moisten the layers instead of syrup. (Don't overdo it. You don't want them to be soggy.) Fill the space between layers with crushed pineapple.


Jeni Treehugger said...

That looks divine!!
There's always room in my life for another cake recipe.

panda with cookie said...

That looks like the coconut cake my grandmother makes, even the color. I must try this cause that stuff is good.

JohnP said...

I took most of it to work, and it was devoured in seconds, with many people commenting upon its authenticity. Julie's meringue is so close to seven minute frosting. Esp with coconut on top, you can't tell any difference.

Amey said...

wow John, that cake looks serious! I love the pineapple version too... it's just endlessly tropical! :)