This cake got made for the most boring of reasons: I had most of a bag of sweetened shredded coconut left over from something else, and I didn’t want to throw it out. Fortunately, the cake itself is far, far more interesting. Before making this, I don’t think I’d ever had this classic.
At first I assumed that was natural, seeing as I’m not Italian. But then I learned that the origins of this cake are largely unknown, except that it seems to hail from America’s Deep South rather than Italy itself, and no one really knows how it got its name.
Then, it made much less sense that I’d never had it, given where I grew up and all, but the most important thing is that I’ve had it now. Better late than never! Suffice it to say, this is a wonderful cake that everyone should know how to make. The batter, studded with shredded coconut and chopped walnuts, turns out a very delicious cake! It’s light and fluffy, flavorful, and lightly tangy with that cream cheese frosting. Enjoy!
Source: Cooking From the Hip by Cat Cora
2 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
12 tbs unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs, separated
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
8 tbs unsalted butter, softened
1 tbs vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
First make the CAKE: place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 350 F. Cut a circle to fit each of two 9-inch round cake pans. Grease the pans, fir the parchment into the pans, then grease the parchment.
Whisk together the cake flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, then set aside. In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to cream together the butter and 1 ½ cups sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add one-third of the dry ingredients and mix well. Then add half the buttermilk, beating on medium speed and scraping the size of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Repeat, alternating the remaining dry ingredients and buttermilk. Add the vanilla, coconut, and toasted walnuts and stir until just combined.
In a separate bowl, with clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the remaining ½ cup sugar, then beat until the sugar is incorporated and stiff peaks form. By hand, fold in one-third of the egg whites into the cake batter until incorporated. Fold in the next third of egg whites until incorporated, then the final third. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans.
Bake until the top is golden brown and a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Set the cakes on racks and allow them to cool completely before removing them from the cake pans.
Meanwhile, make the FROSTING: in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla at medium speed until creamy. Add the confectioners’ sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating on low speed until blended. When all the sugar is incorporated, beat at high speed until smooth. Stir in ½ cup walnuts.
Place 1 cake round on a serving plate or cake stand. Place a mound of frosting on top, then use an offset spatula to spread the frosting evenly across the entire cake. Place the second cake round on top, then mound the remaining frosting on top of the cake. Use the offset spatula to spread the frosting evenly across the top and down the sides. Press the remaining ½ cup chopped walnuts on the top of the cake. For best results, refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes to firm up the frosting.