coconut cream cake: a disaster of mixed proportions

For Brian’s thirteenth birthday today, I decided to bake him a cake filled with cream and fresh young coconut. Ambitious, perhaps, but I’ve been thinking about this cake for seven months since I had my first spoonful at T-Det in Bangkok last December. If I made it myself, I decided, the base must  be a  lime chiffon cake.  So it was. The cake  came out of the oven at precisely 10:05 a.m.  Even though it seemed suspiciously woftly (wobbly and soft) the top looked golden, and through the cracks in the top wafted a sharp smell of lime and the sweetness of  sugar and the promise of  a lemon-hued fragrant interior. Oh well.  I gave it an extra 10 minutes in the oven.

With happy confidence, I removed the tube cake pan from the oven then up-ended it on a funnel to cool. I turned my back to wash up the mixing bowls when I heard a sucking noise behind me. I looked around and saw that the cake had slipped out of the tube cake pan and had landed squishily on the table, the  empty pan hanging loftily on the funnel now surrounded by cake-lava. Deep inside the cake  I saw the shiny trails of uncooked egg whites and I realized that it wasn’t the absence of baking soda. I had remembered it. After scraping the mess into the trash, I thought it over. What went wrong? I immediately concluded that the oven thermo-sensor was faulty. I didn’t say “This oven’s thermo-sensor is faulty!”  Actually, I said “$#*!” This alerted David upstairs, whose hearing is acute and whose truthfulness is equally devastating, to announce to his parents, “I think something is wrong with the cake!”

I made a second cake in the evening, after a suitably decent time had elapsed for the Cake Baker to recover her nerves. To reverse my bad luck,  I used  the convection rather than the conventional oven setting. It took a bit longer than it should have in a convection oven but at least it was done. But by this time, everyone had had their fill of birthday pizza and champagne! Into my champagne I dropped a sugar cube–I’ve always wanted to do this ever since I saw Moonstruck— and it bubbled up romantically, fizzing fireworks in a champagne flute.  Alliteration notwithstanding, we were all too full to eat cake at 9 p.m. so after the appropriate picture-taking for all blog-sterity, the cake went into the refrigerator to be eaten for dessert tomorrow.

Brian's coconut cream birthday cake, #2

To make my iteration of coconut cream cake, first bake a lime chiffon cake. Rather than write it out again, I’ve made a link to the recipe. Then make the frosting. To make the frosting, make one recipe of crème fraîche.

1 1/2 cups heavy cream (at least 36% milk fat)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons sugar

Add all ingredients to a large bowl. Let it rest, refrigerated, for 15 minutes. Whip until stiff peaks form. To make the coconut frosting, use one package (yields 1 cup) frozen young coconut jelly, thawed and drained. Discard the water and spread the drained coconut on a tray lined with paper towels. Cover with paper towels and pat dry. It’s important that the coconut jelly is dry and doesn’t make the crème fraîche runny. Frozen young coconut can be purchased at Asian supermarkets.

Set aside 1/3 of the crème fraîche. To the bowl, add the coconut jelly and mix thoroughly. Split the lime glow chiffon cake in half and spread the bottom half with half of the coconut-crème fraîche frosting. Put the top of the cake on top of the frosting. Spread the remaining frosting on top, being careful to just go to the edges. Frost the sides of the cake with the reserved crème fraîche.

Coconut Cream Cake

The result is a cake that is lightly sweet with a hint of lime and coconut. For a deeper coconut flavor I would add a few drops of coconut extract to the crème fraîche.