Every now and again I get the urge to bake, but most of the time I need a reason to do so. The last thing I need is a huge cake laying around with only Jon and I there to eat it. Well this past weekend my parents and grandmother were visitng, so I thought it would be the perfect reason to bake. My grandmother and mom are huge fans of coconut, so when I found a recipe for a coconut layer cake in the FoodNetwork Magazine, I knew I had to try it out, and boy was it well worth it. I would definitely only attempt this cake on a weekend, when you have some time to dedicate, but all of the effort will be well worth it! The cake is moist, with the perfect amount of sweetness and coconut flavor. This could be a go-to dessert all throughout the spring and summer!
Start out by mixing the dry ingredients (flour, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) in a medium bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk together cream of coconut and milk. Beat butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until like and fluffy.
Beat in eggs, vanilla and coconut extract.
Mix in the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk mixture and beginning and ending with flour until well combined.
Divide batter into two 9 inch pans and spread evenly. bake the cakes in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool 15 minutes in the pans. Invert onto the rack to cool completely.
Make the frosting by beating the cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar and coconut extract.
Assemble to cake by putting one layer on a cake stand and 1 heaping cup of frosting and 1 cup of toasted coconut, spread on cake. Top with the other cake layer. Spread the remaining frosting all over the cake. Top with toasted coconut.
Coconut Layer Cake
For the cake:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup cream of coconut
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 5 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp coconut extract
For the frosting:
- 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
- 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 6 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 tsp coconut extract
- Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. coat two 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and dust with flour set aside. Whisk the flour, ginger, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk the cream of coconut and milk in a small bowl. Beat the butter and granulated sugar n a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined. Add the vanilla and coconut extract and beat until combined. Reduce the mixer seed to low; beat in the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk mixture and beginning and ending with flour, until combined.
- Divide the batter between the prepared pans and spread evenly. Bake until the cakes are golden and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool 15 minutes in the pans, then invert onto the rack to cool completely.
- Make the frosting: Spread the shredded coconut on a baking sheet and bake, stirring halfway through, until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool. Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese in a large bowl with a mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar and coconut extract until combined. Increase the mixer speed to high and bet until light and fluffy, about 2 more minutes.
- Assemble the cake: Put 1 cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Combine 1 heaping cup frosting with 1 cup of the toasted coconut; spread on the cake. top with the other cake layer. Spread a thin layer of frosting on the top and sides of the cake (this is the crumb coat; it doesn’t have to be perfect). Refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes. Spread the remaining frosting all over the cake; top with the remaining 1 cup toasted coconut.
March 19th is St. Joseph’s day. In the Catholic-Italian community where I grew up, St. Jospeh’s day meant going to your favorite Italian bakery and eating zeppoles (a type of cream puff pastry). Growing up, I was extremely fortunate to have many places to buy a pastries from for St. Joseph’s day. However, here in Virginia, there is no bakery in driving distance to find a zeppole (trust me, I checked). That’s why, last year I finally decided to make them on my own.
Little did I know that there was an extreme difference between a “Rhode Island zeppole” and the type of zeppole most people think of. Most people know zeppoles as being like a fried donut, similar to Giada’s recipe here. A Rhode Island zeppole, on the other hand, is a puff pastry with a cream filling topped with a cherry. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many recipes out there for our specific type of zeppole, but I found one that gets pretty close to the pastries I grew up eating on St. Joseph’s Day.
I’m not going to lie, this recipe takes a little bit of work and can be frustrating if you don’t get the dough completely correct. But the final product is absolutely delicious and well worth it! Although, when all is said and done, I will probably stick to making it once a year on March 19th.
St. Joseph’s Day Zeppoles
1 cup water
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 ounce cornstarch
2 1/4 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups whipping cream, whipped
Powdered sugar for garnish
Dark cherries for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- In a saucepan, boil the water with the butter, salt and sugar. Add the flour all at once and cook over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until the mixture pulls away from the sides without sticking. Remove from the fire and beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Let cool.
- Line a sheet pan with baking paper. With a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip, pipe the dough into puffs on the sheet. Bake for 5 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake for approximately 15 minutes more or until golden brown. Remove and let cool.
- Make the filling: Beat the yolks with the sugar until very light. Add the flour and cornstarch to the yolk mixture. In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk to a boil slowly, and add the yolk mixture while beating until smooth. Over low heat, cook until thickened, stirring all the time. Remove from heat and add the rum, orange zest and vanilla. Let cool completely and fold in the whipped cream.
- Fill the pastries: Split the pastries and hollow them out; fill and put the tops back on. Dust with powdered sugar. Top with cherries. 4 servings.
When I first met Jon’s grandma she told me how much he loves her Mississippi Mud Pie. So when it came to his birthday this last year I thought it would be great to surprise him with a Mississippi Mud Pie dessert. Little did I know, there are approximately a million different recipes out there. I randomly selected a recipe I thought looked the best (having never made it before) but the consensus was that it was not like grandma’s.
Luckily, Gram was kind enough to mail us the recipe to her mud pie a few months later. Thank goodness, because her recipe is amazing. It’s a perfect dessert for a large group (or just a dessert-loving husband). Hope you enjoy this classic recipe from Jon’s Gram!
Gram’s Mississippi Mud Pie
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup cold butter
- 1 cup chopped walnuts, divided
- 1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 2 cartons cool whip, thawed and divided
- 2 1/2 cup 2% milk
- 2 packages instant chocolate pudding mix
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place flour in a small bowl, cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in 1/2 cup walnuts. Press onto bottom of ungreased 13x9in baking dish. Bake 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Cool completely.
- In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and confectioner’s sugar until smooth. Fold in one carton of whipped topping. Spread mixture over crust.
- In a large bowl, whisk milk an pudding mix for 2 minutes. Gently spread over cream cheese layer. Top with remaining cool whip. Sprinkle the res of the walnuts over the cool whip. Refrigerate 1-2 hours before serving.
This cake recipe is my grandma’s from WWII. During that time, they were unable to get eggs and butter, so this recipe was a creative way to bake a cake without those ingredients. I personally think it tastes better than any cake that has eggs or butter in it anyway! I wanted to make this quickly, so I only did one layer, but this would be perfect for a 2-layer cake.
Start off by putting all of the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, salt) directly into your ungreased cake pan. Mix until well combined.
Next, make three wells in the mixture. Pour the canola oil in one, the white vinegar in one, and the vanilla in the other. Pour water over the mixture and stir until well combined.
Place in an oven at 350 degrees and bake 35-40 minutes. Let cool and top with the frosting of your choice. I used a confectioner’s sugar frosting for this one, but I personally thought it was too sweet for the cake. A cream cheese frosting would probably be perfect with this.
World War II (Chocolate) Cake
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 3 TBSP cocoa
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 6 TBSP canola oil
- 1 TBSP white vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Sift flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, and salt in an ungreased 8-inch cake pan. Mix until well combined.
- Make 3 wells in the mixture and put canola oil in one, vinegar in one, and vanilla in the other. Pour water over the entire mixture and stir until well combined.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes. Let cool and top with the frosting of your choice.