Monday, August 27, 2007


My son, David, shares my love of baking. He started young with chocolate chip cookies. Now he is almost 35 and has progressed to baking fancy cheesecakes and coconut cream pies. After listening to him describe his coconut cream pies over the phone for the third time in two weeks, I started craving coconut cream pie. He doesn't live close enough to give me a piece, so when I was in our local Harris Teeter (a Southeastern upscale food store kind of like Kroger's) and my eye caught not one, but three different kinds of coconuts, on impulse I bought the young coconut that has a white shell. It's not totally soft like the ones you can scoop out, this one had a hard shell but it was white instead of brown. I took it home and followed the instructions for opening it. (I've done plenty of brown coconuts in my day, and I used to make a mean coconut cream pie, so this was not a hard thing to do.)

First, I poked holes in the eyes, and turned the coconut upside down over a strainer that was over a quart Pyrex measuring container. Plenty of juice came out -- more than a cup! Then I wrapped the coconut in a bath towel and banged the heck out of it with a hammer. The coconut meat loosened out of the shell when I put the point of a paring knife between the meat and the shell. I wiped any bits of shell or other debris off the meat with a damp paper towel. The meat was shredded in my Cuisinart, using the shredding disc.

Now about the recipe. It's from a 1965 paperback series of cookbooks from McCall's magazine. The one I used was entitled, "Book of Cakes and Pies," and there are some awesome recipes in it. I've used it over and over through the years. These little cakes were moist and full of coconut flavor and texture. Frosted with cream cheese icing, they were delicious.

Fresh Coconut Cake (or cupcakes)
Adapted from McCall's Book of Cakes and Pies
Rating: 9 out of 10

5 Tbsp. cornstarch + enough all-purpose flour to make 2-1/2 cups
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup Smart Balance buttery spread
1-1/3 cups sugar
1 cup fresh coconut juice (add milk if you don't have enough juice)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. coconut extract
1 cup grated fresh coconut
4 egg whites, room temperature

1. Heat oven to 350F. Grease and flour two 8" layer cake pans.
2. Sift flour with baking powder and salt; set aside.
3. In large bowl of electric mixer, at medium speed, beat SB until creamy. Gradually add 1 cup sugar, beating until very light and fluffy.
4. At low speed, beat in flour mixture (in fourths), alternating with milk (in thirds), beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat only until combined.
5. Stir in extracts and coconut.
6. In medium bowl, using clean, grease-free beaters, beat egg whites just until soft peaks form when beater is slowly raised.
7. Gradually add remaining 1/3 cup sugar, beating until stiff peaks form
8. With spatula, gently fold egg whites into batter, using an under-and-over motion, until well combined.
9. Turn into pans; bake 25-30 minutes, or until surface springs back when gently pressed with fingertip. You can also test with a wooden pick. If it returns with just a few crumbs, cake is done.
10. Let cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks. Fill and frost as desired.

NOTE: I made this recipe in mini bundt pans (3 cup size), and baked for 15 minutes each. With the leftover batter, I made mini cupcakes, and baked them for 13 minutes. I frosted the cupcakes with cream cheese icing.

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