Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Chef and The Photographer turns 1!

Wedding Cake

I was hoping to get this posted on the actual anniversary of my blogs beginning but I'm a little late... what's new? It actually works out pretty well though, because my wedding anniversary is very close to the blog anniversary, so for this post I have chosen to post the recipe for my wedding cake. I made one today (a smaller version of course) in celebration of my husband and my 2nd wedding anniversary (this last Tuesday). Two years ago we were on the beach of Maui exchanging vows. Just as they always say not to do, I was one of the crazy ones who made their own wedding cake. My advice to future brides? Don't do it! I was up for a few hours the night before my wedding frosting and finishing my own cake (of course there were a few issues). For this post and for my anniversary I decided to remake the coconut cake that I served at my wedding. It is a great cake, not too sweet, full of coconut flavor and filled with pastry cream. For my wedding cake I used a buttercream frosting because it held up better for the time it was sitting out, but in this cake posted below, I just used some lightly sweetened whipped cream. This cake posted is a small 4" cake (perfect for two of us without too many leftovers) but I had a lot of batter left over that I cooked in a few more pans, filled with leftover pastry cream and froze for later. I always like to have a few desserts on hand in the freezer for when the craving strikes! An assembled and unfrosted cake freezes well, and I think it even makes for a better cake as the layers have a chance to meld together and I think the texture of the cake becomes even a little more tender. It's important to make sure the cake is well wrapped if frozen. The easiest way to do this is freeze it unwrapped, and once it's solid, wrap in plastic wrap and foil, or if you have a food saver, it works great, as long as the cake is frozen solid.

Coconut Cake

Coconut Cake (cake adapted from The Haili'imaile General Store Cookbook)
The full recipe makes one large 10" cake. If you don't have a cake pan that large, divide it into either 2 8" cake pans or 2 9"cake pans. Any leftover batter could be used to make a few cupcakes.

3 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 TBS and 2 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
3/4 cup unsalted room temperature butter (1 1/2 sticks)
seeds from 1 vanilla bean or 1 tbs vanilla extract
1 TBS light rum (dark can be substituted)
2 1/3 cups sugar divided
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
2 cups shredded dried unsweetened coconut toasted (toasting optional)
8 egg whites (reserve 4 of the yolks for the pastry cream)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare whatever pans you are using (8-10" cake pans) One 10" will be pretty full with a little batter left over or you can split it between two pans or you can use smaller cake pans, you'll just have more batter left over which you can use for cupcakes. You want to grease the pan and then either flour it lightly or my preferred method, cut a circle of parchment paper to fit the bottom, it makes cake removal a lot easier.

On a mixer or by hand, cream together the butter and 2 cups of sugar (the last 1/3 cup is for the egg whites) and seeds from the vanilla bean (if using). Cream until light and fluffy about 7-8 minutes on medium high speed. Add the rum and vanilla extract (if using). Let it mix for a few minutes until the mixture looks homogeneous and smooth. Mix together and sift the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Add the dry mixture to the butter in three additions alternating with the coconut milk, mixing just until incorporated. In a clean bowl, make sure the whites are at room temperature and your bowl and whip are free of fat. Whip the whites, adding a little sugar once the whites get foamy then let them whip to soft peak, and slowly sprinkle in the rest of the 1/3 cup of sugar. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites to the rest of the batter, to lighten it, make sure that you're folding and not stirring so the egg whites won't quickly deflate. After the first third of the whites are folded in, fold in the rest of the whites, fold until you no longer see streaks of egg whites. Fold in the coconut last. If you have time, toast the coconut(in a 350 degree F oven) because it will bring out more coconut flavor, but make sure it's cooled before adding it into the batter. Divide the batter evenly among pans, the pans should be 1/2- 3/4 full and bake until the you start to get some color on the top of the cake. To test for doneness, you can insert a wooden skewer (or toothpick) into the center of the cake, and if it comes out clean or with a few crumbs attached, the cake is done. You can also just press gently on the cake and if the fingerprints bounce back and disappear, then the cake is done. Let the cake cool briefly in the pan and then turn it out and let the cake finish cooling on a cooling rack. The cakes can be made a day before assembly- they are easier to cut when they aren't fresh out of the oven.

This pastry cream is a great all purpose pastry cream that can be used as a tart filling to top with fresh fruit, to fill cream puffs, as a filling for a cream pie or as layers in cakes!
Pastry Cream from Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard
enough to fill one full size 10" cake above
2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
5 TBS cornstarch
pinch of salt
4 egg yolks
1 TBS butter
Seeds from half vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract
Optional:some citrus zest- lemon, lime or orange... about 1/2 tsp.

Heat the milk in a medium sized pan over medium high heat, add 1/4 cup of the sugar to the milk (and the seeds from a vanilla bean if using). In another bowl mix the the yolks, cornstarch, sugar and salt together. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and light in color, you shouldn't see lumps of sugar or cornstarch. Don't let the yolks and sugar sit together unattended for too long. The sugar begins to draw the moisture out of the yolks and you will end up with little bits of hard yolk. After the milk is at a scald (right before a boil) take the pan off the heat, pour half of the milk into the egg mixture and very quickly whisk until all combined and quickly (so the milk doesn't cool off) return the whole mix back to the pan. Scrape the bowl to make sure you have everything in the pan and put the pan on the heat again (still at medium high) and keep whisking! Continue to whisk, until it comes to a boil, and let it boil for 30 seconds. It's important that the mixture comes to a FULL boil or the pastry cream won't thicken properly. It's important that as you are whisking you are getting all of the bottom incorporated, if anything is allowed to sit still for too long you will have lumps in your pastry cream. Take it off the heat after it has boiled for 30 seconds and stir in your zest, vanilla extract (if using) and butter. Make sure it is thoroughly combined and put it into a CLEAN bowl to cool. You can also lay a sheet of plastic wrap down on a sheet pan and pour the custard out to cool then cover with another sheet of plastic wrap (to avoid it forming a skin), and let cool completely (put it into the refrigerator). Before spreading on the cake, put the pastry cream back into a bowl and whisk the cream until all the lumps disappear and it looks smooth and shiny. It's important to not over whisk it, you'll see the pastry cream get thin and runny and it won't thicken back up properly because you've broken down too many starch bonds. It is important to whisk thoroughly because after it is cool, it will seem very rubbery and easily crumble, so by whisking you will make it easily spreadable and smooth once again.

You can make this cake two layers, three layers, four layers or even 5! It's up to you. In my picture, I have four layers of cake and three layers of cream. I had two smaller cakes that I cut in half horizontally (make sure to trim some off the top so you have all flat and even layers). Spread about a 1/4 " of pastry cream between the layers and then once the layering is complete make sure to let the cake chill (or freeze for later- wrap it well) for a few hours before frosting. This will make the cake sturdier and also allow for everything to meld together. Once the cake is ready, whip some heavy cream (for a 10" cake I would start with two cups of unwhipped cream and 1/2 a cup less for a 9" or 3/4 cup less for an 8"). Add some powdered sugar and vanilla to taste. You want to whip the cream until it can keep a point when lifting the whisk out of the bowl, but not too much because the cream will become grainy and the texture won't be as smooth. If you are frosting the cake and the cream is too soft and runs off the cake, whip it some more. Keep in mind as you are frosting the cake and going back and forth with your spatula it will continue to whip the cream. After the cake is frosted you can leave it as is or for another dose of coconut, cover the out side in sweetened shredded or flaked coconut. I just recently saw flaked coconut in the store (what I used on this cake below) and discovered while it is sweetened, it's not quite as sweet as the shredded sweetened coconut that I'm used to seeing. Make sure to keep the cake in the refrigerator and not on the counter- with all the pastry cream and whip cream it can spoil. The cake will last for a few days, but the whip cream begins to soften or break down so it's best to frost the same day you plan to serve it. An alternative frosting would be buttercream (the caramelized butter frosting would be really nice as well...)

Coconut Cake


Anonymous said...

Happy belated blog and wedding anniversary! Your cakes look awesome!

pastry studio said...

These are gorgeous cakes. Happy anniversary!