Thursday, November 13, 2008

Test Coconut Cake

I have been feeling a little out of sorts lately. I used to be able to read recipes and have a good idea of what they would taste like or what changing the quantity of an ingredient would or would not do. To an extent I can still do this with old recipes, but I cannot for the life of me gauge how much of xanthan gum does anything!

I found coconut flour at Whole Foods and I started to get ideas.

I really want to make a coconut cake for a party on Saturday. Not having a solid coconut recipe (or any cake recipe for that matter) under my belt, I decided to try to modify 3 and see what I could come up with.

Cake recipe 1 - Alton Brown's
Cake recipe 2 - Gluten free coconut cake
Cake recipe 3 - a composite of instructions found in Reilly's Gluten-Free Baking & Hagman's Gluten-Free Gourmet

I really wanted to stay true to the gf recipe from Epicurious, except that I have almond meal, not almond flour, so that was out.
I am a big AB fan, HUGE, so I thought I would half the recipe and throw in some gluten-free flours instead of the wheat flour.

4oz. (1 stick of butter)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup coconut flour
1/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca starch
1/3 cup sweet rice flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/3 cup coconut milk *full fat*
3 egg whites

1. Creamed the butter, then added sugar and creamed both till light and fluffy.
2. Alternated adding in the wet (coconut milk) and the dry (coconut flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, rice flour, baking powder, kosher salt all pre-mixed together) into the butter and sugar.
3. In a separate bowl, whipped the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.
4. Fold in egg whites.
5. Bake in a greased pan at 200 degrees F for 40 minutes.

The biggest problem I had with this was that once the wet and dry ingredients were added, the batter seized up. Halving the recipe should have only called for 2 egg whites, but I did three and then after folding those in, I whipped another 3 egg whites and folded those in. [6 egg whites total]

The batter was still pretty dense, but I tried to bake it off and see what would happen.

40 minutes at 200F resulted in a raw center.
20 more minutes, still not cooked.
I cranked the heat up to 350 and 25 minutes later, the cake was done.

The only smart part of this whole thing was that I lined the pans in parchment, so removal was pretty easy - but you can see some significant browning where the batter was not protected by the parchment:


I decided that since meddling with recipes was not going so spectacularly, that I was going to stay true to a frosting recipe so that I could at least get that down. I decided to make Alton Brown's 7 minute frosting and was plugging along with my homemade double boiler (metal bowl over sauce pan, with a folded side towel to be able to hold onto the bowl) and after 5 minutes of mixing became a little frustrated when no meringue was forming. I switched to an electric mixer and another 3 minutes of mixing, still nothing was happening.

Then I realized that I has used the last of the coconut milk in the frosting not the "coconut water" that the recipe calls for. My "duh" light bulb went off when I acknowledged that IF YOU ADD FAT TO EGG WHITES, NO MERINGUE SHALL FORM!

(Fats "get in the way" of the proteins in the egg whites being able to form a foam. No foam, no capturing of air bubbles and no increase in volume, aka no meringue.)

Frustrated beyond belief, I just laughed and though "um, ok, what am I going to do with this slightly opaque, sugary, egg white syrup?"
Butter! Butter could be the answer!

I beat 1 stick of unsalted butter until it was well whipped, lighter and fluffier.
I slowly poured in some of the cooled egg white-sugar-coconut milk syrup. (about half in total)
What formed was an icing, about the consistency of a cream cheese icing.
I refrigerated it for about 45 minutes while the cake was cooling.

1. I leveled the cakes with a serrated knife.
2. I put down about 1/3 of the icing on the first layer and spread it out with an off-set spatula, making sure not to lift up with the spatula! (Lifting up off the cake picks-up and pulls off crumbs and its easy to loose a chunk of cake. Holding the spatula parallel with the cake and slowly sliding it off the side lessens this.)
3. I put the second layer, cut side down, atop the first.
4. I frosted the rest of the cake. The frosting/icing was not super thick, so I allowed it to drip down the sides.
5. I covered it in shredded coconut.
6. I cut and served with a pool of pomegranate molasses. (The cake was really sweet and needed a little something tart to contrasts.)

Verdict: More work needed. I am thinking about cutting the sugar in the recipe down to just 1 cup. Others have tried it and said its not that sweet, but I like the idea of maybe pairing it with a key lime sauce.

1 comment:

  1. Attn. world:

    This was totally delicious.