A deliciously light and moist coconut cake, lightly covered in coconut swiss meringue buttercream and drizzled with coconut caramel sauce. This Triple Coconut Cake is a delightful tropical party in your mouth.
Triple Coconut Cake has been sitting on my list of things to bake for months now. However, I kept procrastinating because I felt that a cake so gloriously delicious (in my head) should be baked for a special occasion to feed many people. This week my sister suddenly decided to visit from New York and she loves cake almost as much as I do and what is a more special occasion to make a Triple Coconut Cake than when you are meeting your sister after 5 whole months!
I did think of dedicating this to my dad since Father’s Day is around the corner, but a coconut cake is hardly what a Keralite man will be thrilled about! I mean, coconut is our staple food. The flesh, the milk, the water go into almost every dish we prepare at home. From our breakfasts to our desserts, everything has coconut. So much so that, when I was in school, I would hate being on coconut grating duty especially on Easter and Christmas because, my parents would cook up a storm and the dishes required a ton of coconut milk which came from freshly grated coconuts which meant I was on duty. One of our Keralite friends used to go through two coconuts each day! That is 60 coconuts a month! That is more chocolate than I buy per month! In our house, it wasn’t so cuckoo bananas, partly because my mom had the good sense to not overdose on coconut because she believes in balance and she never cooked exclusively Keralite food at home, mixing it up with North Indian food, Chinese and even pizzas!
Anyway, the point I was trying to make by that long rant is that coconut is nothing special to Keralites. And so, although my dad has a serious case of the sweet tooth, I doubt he would care for the sublime deliciousness of this moist, light, not-in-your-face-coconut-y, coconut cake as much as he would enjoy something chocolate-y. So, it was for my sister! Sorry Popsy, you will have to head over to the previous recipe.
This is a tiny cake 4” layered cake that was polished off in 1 day. It is not too sweet, even with the light coconut caramel drizzle. The swiss buttercream as usual is smooth and light. I usually make a big batch of the plain stuff and keep it in the freezer. Then depending on the cake, I take out a portion, let it thaw for a couple of hours. Once it is room temperature, it is a matter of whipping it up to its smooth, fluffy self and adding a flavor whether it is coconut milk, or chocolate or a fruit syrup. Given my passion for adding booze to desserts, I was very much tempted to brush the cake with some coconut rum but alas, I restrained myself! Agreed that booze makes everything tastier (or maybe its only in my head) but teetotalers also deserve a delicious cake! The coconut flavor is pretty mild in each of the components separately but when they all come together, it definitely tastes tropical.
- Make sure to beat the butter and sugar for 5-6 minutes till very pale and fluffy
- Use coconut cream in the caramel and not milk. To make coconut cream, open a can of milk, pour into a jar and refrigerate overnight. The cream will sit on the top. Without shaking the jar too much, gently scoop out the cream.
- Cake flour gives a finer texture to the cake. You can substitute with AP flour but I would recommend measuring it since cake flour is lighter. Or you can make your own cake flour
- The yoghurt can be substituted by sour cream. I used regular yoghurt with 2% fat.
- The buttercream will make more than you need for this cake, but it stores well in the freezer.
Triple Coconut Cake
Ingredients – Makes 4 generous slices
For the Coconut Cake – adapted from Cardamom Cupcakes
1 ¼ cups (140g) – cake flour
1 ½ tsp (6g) – baking powder
¼ tsp – salt
1 egg white – at room temperature
½ cup (113g) – butter at room temperature (1 stick)
2/3 cup (75g) – sugar
1 large egg – at room temperature
½ tsp coconut extract
¼ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup (113g) – coconut milk
2 tbsp – yoghurt
For the Coconut Swiss Meringue Buttercream
¾ cup fine granulated sugar
2 egg whites
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) butter, slightly cold, firm but not soft.
¼ tsp coconut extract
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup coconut milk, room temperature
For the Coconut Caramel
½ cup sugar
Water for brushing sides
2 tbsp butter
6tbsp coconut cream
pinch of salt
Bake the Cake
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Oil three 4inch cake pans.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a clean metal or glass bowl, whisk the egg white till stiff peaks form. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium till pale and smooth. Scrape down the sides, add the egg and beat till incorporated completely.
Reduce speed to low, add flour and milk in three additions, starting and ending with flour and mix just until combined. Fold in yoghurt with a spatula. Finally fold in the egg white. Do not overmix.
Pour batter equally into prepared pans. Bake in the centre of the oven for approximately 22 – 27mins. Mine took exactly 25mins.
Remove from oven and let cool for 30mins, before you take it out of the cake pans. Once cooled completely, cut off the tops to make them equal and flat, wrap in cling wrap and stick them in the freezer so they can be frosted easily.
Whip the Buttercream
In a small metal or glass bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg whites. Place the bowl on top of a saucepan with simmering water (do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water). Heat the mixture for 5 – 6 minutes, till it registers 160F on a candy thermometer, or until the mixture is hot and sticky to the touch and the sugar is completely dissolved.
Carefully transfer the mixture into the bowl of a clean, non-greasy stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed till peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature.
Switch to a paddle attachment, reduce the speed to low and add the butter a couple of pieces at a time. Increase the speed to medium and mix until the butter is incorporated and the frosting is smooth and glossy.
Add the coconut extract, salt and coconut milk and whip for few more minutes on medium speed till combined.
If it is runny, stick it in the fridge for 15 minutes, then whip again till it stiffens
If it is curdled, take out a small portion, heat it in the microwave for 15seconds, pour it slowly back into the curdled mixture while whipping on slow. Then increase the speed till it stiffens.
Make the Caramel
Start melting the sugar in a very clean big saucepan on medium heat. Keep a bowl with water and a pastry brush at hand. Once the sugar starts to heat, you will see little crystals form on the sides of the pan. Brush them with water. This is so that the melting sugar does not react with the crystals and go crazy.
Just give the pan a swirl once in a while. Gradually the sugar will start to melt and then very fast it will start to change colour. Take it off the heat for a bit and swirl if you see it melting unevenly.
Once it turns a golden, amber colour take it off the heat and add the butter. Be careful as it will bubble up. Then add the coconut cream and salt. Stir till incorporated then place the saucepan back on the heat till just heated through.
Let cool completely and thicken a bit.
Triple Coconut Cake Assembly
Sweetened Coconut Flakes for garnish
Place cake on flat plate or cake stand. Slather buttercream and even it out with an offset spatula. Repeat with the other two cakes. Lightly coat with thin layer of buttercream. Let it come to room temperature. Drizzle the caramel on top of the cake with a spoon. Press the sweetened coconut flakes on the lower edges of the cake. Enjoy with people you love.