I don’t know what it is about holidays this time of year and coconut cake, but the two just seem to go together. Over the years, I’ve tried a number of recipes, some better than others but none a total reject.
My very favorite is a recipe that was in Southern Living some years ago. It combines several of my favorite things: coconut, lemon and cream cheese. The cake is not difficult to make, especially if you use a yellow or white cake mix. If you are really daring, chocolate works, too. I’ve tried all of these, but I like best making the cake from scratch.
Between the layers is lemon curd. Again, you can use a purchased curd, but it is so simple to make and the taste of fresh lemon is so appealing that it’s a shame not to use the real thing. Here’s all there is to it:
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. cornstarch
1 c. boiling water
1/3 c. lemon juice
4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 t. lemon zest
1/3 c. lemon juice
2 T. butter
Combine sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan; whisk in boiling water. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until sugar and cornstarch are dissolved. Whisk about 1/4 of hot mixture into egg yolks; add to remaining hot mixture, whisking constantly. Add zest and juice. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is thickened. Whisk in butter and let cool, stirring from time to time.
The entire process takes 20-25 minutes and you can do it while the cake is baking.
When the cake layers (I make 3) have cooled, spread the lemon curd between the layers and frost with a cream cheese frosting that is 8 ounces of cream cheese, 1 t. vanilla and a box of powdered sugar mixed together. Sprinkle generously with coconut and garnish with lemon slices, a pretty green leaf or sprigs of rosemary.
More often than not, there is no cake left at our house, but when there is I wrap it in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and freeze it. That makes for a pretty nice dessert next time company comes for dinner.
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