Sunday, May 19, 2013

First Anniversary Coconut Cake

One year ago on Saturday (May 18th), we were married in Charleston, SC.  From the ceremony at First Baptist Church, to the reception at the William Aiken House, our wedding day was such an amazing, surreal day day! Seriously, I still have to pinch myself that it actually happened. Since I did not do a wedding-themed post last year, I figured our anniversary was the best time to look back...

Instead of one wedding cake, we had 7 individual cakes (and 5 other mini dessert options, like marshmallows, mini banana puddings, chocolate, pie pops & macarons), each made by one of my pastry colleague friends.  

The cake flavors ranged from apple spice, to lemon, to white chocolate raspberry, to strawberry champagne, to caramel, to chocolate stout, with the main large cake, made by Chef Kelly Wilson being coconut.

We didn’t freeze the top layer of our main wedding cake.  While I know that is the traditional thing to do, it just wasn’t feasible for us...

I knew I’d be moving half way across the country shortly after our honeymoon & I was not so sure the cake would survive the trip (or in hind sight, that there would have been room for it in the overpacked car).  

Plus, the idea of eating year-old frozen cake just does not sound appetizing....  

My paper-themed-first-anniversary-gift: beautiful purple paper carnations by Posh Studios

Instead, we’re starting our own tradition: eating coconut cake on our anniversary.

It can be store-bought cake, or I can make it, or we can make it together. No matter where it comes from, we’ll taste that delicious coconut-y flavor and remember.   

Ultimate Coconut cake
adapted from the Peninsula Grill Ultimate Coconut Cake,  found on  
Yield’s 8 to 10 servings 

I initially chose to make this cake 1) because we’ve eaten it before in Charleston at Peninsula Grill and 2) because Peninsula Grill ships this cake all over the US.  We were planning on taking an anniversary trip, I knew I needed a very sturdy cake to survive the airplane trip.  But, we ended up having to cancel the trip (I got sick last week, unfortunately).  I still had all the ingredients & decided to make the cake anyway.  Yes, it has many components & requires some advance planning, but it’s a winner :) 

1.25 c (10 oz) Heavy Cream
3/4 c (5.25 oz) Granulated Sugar
1 stick (4 oz) Unsalted Butter, cut into pieces
1 Tbl Cornstarch
1 Tbl Water
2 1/4 c (270 g) Sweetened Coconut 
1/2 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste
1/2 tsp Coconut Extract 

  1. In a heavy saucepan, combine the heavy cream, sugar, and butter.  Heat over medium high heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture boils & the sugar dissolves.  
  2. In a separate small bowl, combine the cornstarch & water to make a slurry.  Stir with your fingers to ensure there are no lumps.  Whisk the slurry into the cream/sugar/butter mixture.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low, and cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat.  
  3. In a food processor, pulse the coconut until it is very finely chopped.  Add to the saucepan & stir to combine.  Stir in the vanilla bean paste & coconut extract. 
  4. Pour into a shallow baking dish and allow to cool slightly at room temperature.  Then, cover with plastic wrap placed directly on the surface & chill in the refrigerator overnight.  

5.3 oz European-style Unsalted Butter (I used Kerrygold), room temperature
1 c (7 oz) Granulated Sugar
2 large Eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste
1 tsp Coconut Extract
1.5 c (216 g) Jeanne’s Gluten Free AP Flour (or substitute AP flour)
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
pinch Fine grain Sea Salt
1/2 c Heavy Cream, room temperature 

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease two 6” round baking pans--I prefer to use butter. Line the pans with a buttered parchment circle.  Set aside.  
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until the mixture is lightened in color, increased in volume & completely combined.  Scrape a couple of times to ensure everything is well combined. 
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating & scraping after each addition.  Add the Vanilla Bean Paste & Coconut Extract.  
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking power & sea salt.  
  5. Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the heavy cream, to the creamed mixture, mixing on low speed between each addition.  Begin and end with the dry ingredients.  Scrape down the bowl as needed. Mix just until combined. 
  6. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans.  Use an offset spatula to evenly level the top of the batter. 
  7. Bake the cake for approximately 30 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. 
  8. Remove from the oven & cool completely before removing from the pans.  
Simple Syrup
3 oz Water
3 oz Granulated Sugar
1/2 tsp Coconut Extract
  1. Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan.  Heat over medium high heat until boiling.  Remove from the heat & cool slightly.
  2. Stir in coconut extract. Refrigerate until ready to use.  
1 stick (4 oz) European-style Unsalted Butter (I used Kerrygold), room temperature
4 oz Cream Cheese, room temperature
2.5 c (300 g) Confectioners’ Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste
1 tsp Coconut Extract
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the butter & cream cheese on medium speed. Scrape down the bowl. 
  2. Sift the confectioners’ sugar & add it to the butter/cream cheese.  Mix on low speed until just combined, scraping down the bowl as necessary.  
  3. Add the extracts. 
  4. Transfer to the refrigerator until ready to assemble the cake.  
Simple Syrup 
1 to 2 c Coconut Flakes
  1. Remove the filling from the refrigerator.  Place into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix for 2 minutes on high speed or until fluffy.  Set aside. 
  2. Trim off the top layer of each cake, using a serrated knife, & cut each cake into two even layers.  
  3. Place the bottom of one layer onto a cake board.  Use a pastry brush to soak the top of the cake with the simple syrup.  Top with approximately one third of the coconut filling. Spread the filling in an even layer.  Place a second layer on top of the filling & repeat the syrup & filling process until all the cake layers have been used.  Finish by soaking the top layer with simple syrup. 
  4. Place the cake in the refrigerator to firm for 20 minutes.  
  5. Toast the coconut flakes: Preheat the oven to 375.  Line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper.  Sprinkle 1 to 2 cups of coconut flakes over the parchment & toast in the oven until lightly golden, approximately 3-5 minutes.  Remove & let cool. 
  6. After the cake has been refrigerated for 20 minutes, give the cake a very thin coating of icing (a “crumb” coat), just to seal everything in--it’s ok if you can see still see the cake through the icing.  Refrigerate another 20 minutes. 
  7. Give the cake a second, thicker layer of frosting, this time making sure to fully cover the cake.  You may not need all of the icing.  
  8. Once the cake is iced, pat the toasted coconut on the sides of the cake.  
  9. Refrigerate the cake for at least 4 hours to allow everything to set.  Slice the cake while cold & allow to come to room temperature before serving for optimum flavor. 
  10. Cover any exposed cake edges & store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to a week. Or wrap leftovers & freeze them for up to 4 months. 


  1. Beautiful Elegance, Laura! I love love love your post. Helene's love for you both translates in her photographs. Yes, and the memorable connection to your coconut cake...... no words.
    Congratulations and Happy Anniversary beautiful lady.

  2. Happy, happy day! :) Love you!

  3. Your wedding was so beautiful! Love that cake!