coconut mango cake

I love coconut flavoured baking almost as much as I love lemon, so I've been waiting for the perfect opportunity to make coconut layer cake.  I got my opportunity when a goodbye party was announced for some of my team members at work.  One of them was packing up and heading to Thailand for a year (yeah, I'm jealous), so I was inspired to make a tropical cake.  When we were in Thailand last year, we enjoyed quite a few mango-coconut smoothies, so I had the flavour combo all picked out.  I decided to make a mango curd, rather than a butter cream to give some contrast to the cake.  I hadn't made it before, but it turned out great - make sure you make the curd the day before you plan on assembling the cake.  The mango filling was a nice, bright contrast to the rich coconut.  The cake also looked beautiful with the toasted ribbon coconut (you can pick some up at Planet Organic).  I would definitely make this cake again, it's perfect for imagining a perfect white sand beach with crystal clear water...sigh....

late night cake baking

late night cake baking

Coconut Cake

  • 1 large egg
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 3/4 cup cream of coconut
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, cut into 12 pieces - slightly softened

Preheat oven to 325 F.  Line two 9" round cake pans with parchment paper or grease and flour them.  In a large measuring cup, beat the whole egg with the egg whites.  Add the cream of coconut, water, vanilla and coconut extract and beat with a fork until the mixture is combined.

Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in the bowl from the stand mixer.  With the mixer running at the lowest speed, add the butter 1 piece at a time.  After the butter has been added keep the mixer running until there are no butter pieces larger than a small pea.

With the mixer still running on low, add about 1 cup of the egg mixture.  Increase the speed to medium-high and mix until light and fluffy (about a minute).  Keep the mixer running and add the remaining liquid in a steady stream.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides, then beat at medium-high again for another minute - the batter is quite thick.

Divide the batter between the cake pans.  Tap them on the counter a few times to get the air bubbles out.  Bake for about 30 minutes; the edges of the cake should start to pull away from the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center should come out with a few little crumbs.  Cool the cakes in the pans for about 10 minutes then remove the cakes from the pan and allow them to completely cool before filling and icing.  Sometimes I make my cakes the day before I plan on assembling the cake, so make sure you wrap your cakes in plastic wrap, so they don't dry out overnight. 

Mango Curd

  • 1 cup pureed mango (I defrosted some frozen mango and pureed it in the food processor)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 6 egg yolks, beaten

In a medium sized saucepan whisk the mango, sugar, cornstarch, lime juice and butter together.  Cook over medium heat until thickened, stirring constantly.  It's thick enough when you can draw a line with the spatula in the middle of the pot and it doesn't flow back right away.  Add half of the thickened mango mixture to the beaten egg yolks and stir to combine.  Pour the egg yolk mixture into the remaining mango mixture and bring just to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.  Take the curd off the heat and press it through a fine mesh strainer (I found that a few tablespoons at a time worked best).  Store the curd in a bowl with plastic wrap touching the surface and refrigerate overnight.

mixing up the buttercream, yup, lots of butter

Coconut Buttercream

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 lb butter, softened but still cool - cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup cream of coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp coconut extract

Tip: egg whites DON'T like fats or oils, so before you start on the butter cream, soak a piece of paper towel with some lemon juice and wipe down everything that the egg whites will touch: the bowl, the mixing paddle and your spatula.

Combine the egg whites, sugar and salt in the bowl of the standing mixer or a mixing bowl and place over a saucepan with simmering water.  Cook the mixture until it reaches 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.  Remove the egg mixture from the heat.

Beat the egg mixture with on high speed with the standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat at high speed until the whites are barely warm, glossy and sticky, about 10 minutes.  Reduce the speed to medium-high and add the butter one piece at a time.  The egg whites will start to deflate and the icing might start to look curdled, but don't worry, keep mixing.  Once all the butter has been added, mix on high speed until the icing looks smooth and well-mixed.  Beat in the coconut cream, vanilla and coconut extract and beat at medium speed, until well combined, scape down the sides of the bowl and mix one more time. 

only one little piece of cake made it home again

Assembling the cake:

Spread a few cups of ribbon coconut on a baking sheet and toast at 300 F for a few minutes to get it lightly toasted (watch it closely, it burns easily!), allow the coconut to cool while you're getting everything ready. 

Trim the cakes so that they have flat tops.  Put four strips of parchment paper around your cake plate, then center one cake on the plate.  Spread the mango curd on the cake, leaving about 1/4" border around the edge.  Put the second cake on top.  Put a thin coat of the buttercream all over the cake (the crumb-coat), then put it in the fridge for about 30 minutes to set.  Spread the remaining icing all over the cake, then press the toasted coconut onto the sides and top.  Gently remove the parchment strips from under the cake.  Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.  Allow the cake to sit at room temperature for about 90 minutes before serving (cold buttercream doesn't taste so great).

Serve it up and soak up all the compliments!

Mango curd recipe adapted from Treats; cake recipe adapted from Baking Illustrated