Last week was Lauren’s birthday and I decided to make her a cake to celebrate! Truth be told, I had been wanting to make a cake for a while and this was the perfect opportunity! I’d seen different versions of coconut cake made a few times on the Food Network so I knew I wanted to try one of those recipes. I eventually decided on this one because it was the simplest. Some of them called for more exotic ingredients and difficult techniques.

I only had two bites of the cake, but it was wonderful! As you’ll see in the recipe, there’s an awful lot of butter in this cake so it’s not terribly healthy. However, I figure everyone’s allowed a little fun on their birthday 🙂

Also, there’s a little tip at the bottom of this post for creating parchment paper circles for cake pans. It’s worth checking out!

Coconut Cake
from Ina Garten, Foodnetwork.com

3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
2 cups sugar
5 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup milk
4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans, then line them parchment paper. Grease them again and dust lightly with flour.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl once during mixing. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. The mixture might look curdled; don’t be concerned.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter in 3 parts, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in the 4 ounces of coconut with a rubber spatula.

Pour the batter evenly into the 2 pans and smooth the top with a knife. Bake in the center of the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until the tops are browned and a cake tester comes out clean. (I found that my cakes were finished by about 32 minutes so I’m not sure how accurate the cooking time is for this recipe) Cool on a baking rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a baking rack to finish cooling.

Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from Joy of Cooking

The recipe below yields about 2 cups of frosting. I had to make 2 batches to frost the layers, top and sides of the cake.

8 oz cold cream cheese
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla on low speed just until blended in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Then add the confectioners’ sugar one-third at a time and beat just until smooth and the desired consistency. If the frosting is too stiff, beat for a few seconds longer; do not overbeat.

I saw this great tip on Good Eats ‘n Sweet Treats recently and tucked it away in my mind hoping I would remember to give it a shot when I made Lauren’s cake. I sat down to make two rounds for my cake pans and will admit I was skeptical that it would be as easy as it looks. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that it was! I definitely recommend this trick as an alternative to tracing the bottom of the cake pan and then cutting out the circle.

I’m not going to post all of the steps here, but if you’re interested, just click the link to Good Eats ‘n Sweet Treats above. Her site has the tips along with corresponding pictures to help you the first time you give it a shot. I will include my “finished” shots to prove it worked for me!

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