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Coconut cake, a traditional Easter dessert

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If you've been with me this week, I've been sharing recipes that would be perfect for Easter. I conclude this series of recipes today with a dessert, but make sure to "tune in" on Monday, when I pass along recipes to help you use your Easter leftovers, as well as the Easter eggs! As they say on TV, "stay tuned"!

For right now, let's look at a traditional Easter dessert....coconut cake. There are scads of good recipes for this cake everywhere and many of them begin with a cake mix. For some reason, there's not many coconut cake recipes that are created from scratch. Therefore, I'd like to pass along one that I find to be a sensation! This recipe, which is very old, dating back to the 1950's, is called "Miss Lucy's Coconut Cake". The only information I've been able to uncover as to the background of this cake is that the late Eudora Garrison, who was the food editor for "The Charlotte Observer" newspaper in Charlotte, NC, wrote an article about a lady who became famous for making this cake. Not much else is known, except that it's wonderful to eat and if you or someone you know loves coconut, this will be a real treat!

This cake begins with the cake layers, of course. This is a standard "One, Two, Three, Four" cake recipe, meaning 1 cup of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 3 cups of flour and 4 eggs. This makes some luscious yellow layers. It's made like most any standard cake recipe. When the layers are finished, a creamy coconut filling goes between the layers, which makes the cake extra moist and adds the coconut flavor. The sides of the cake are sealed with a simple buttercream icing.

This cake can even be frozen, as long as it's well-wrapped. Wrap it well and it'll keep in your freezer for months. When you thaw it, you'll think it's a freshly made cake. This is a handy trick to remember when you want to make dessert ahead of time for an event and you would like to get it made and out of the way in advance.

The original recipe calls for a fresh coconut. Since coconuts aren't always easy to find at this time of year, and because cooking one takes up some time, I find it much simpler to use 2 bags of frozen coconut in place of the fresh. This is for the benefit of saving time and making it easier to prepare. The regular bagged coconut will work in the recipe, but the frozen is so much better as far as being closer to fresh, that I recommend the frozen much more.

Don't let the length and details of this recipe prevent you from trying this treat! It's well worth the time it takes. Just follow the directions carefully and your work will repay you with a wonderful cake!

In case you didn't get the recipes I've posted for this week, here's the link to them so you can have them:

http://www.examiner.com/article/preparing-for-easter-with-breakfast

http://www.examiner.com/article/a-traditional-easter-bread

http://www.examiner.com/article/fruit-casserole-to-go-with-the-easter-ham

http://www.examiner.com/article/green-beans-that-speak-german

As you enjoy the holiday weekend, keep in mind the true meaning of Easter. Have a great holiday and join me Monday as we decide what to do with all the leftovers!

MISS LUCY'S COCONUT CAKE

  • 1 cup butter, softned
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 scant teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Grease and flour 3 9-inch layer pans and line with baking parchment or waxed paper. Cream together the butter, gradually adding the sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat completely as they're added. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Combine the buttermilk and water. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour, to the creamed mixture. Add the vanilla extract and blend thoroughly. Turn into prepared pans and bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or until they test done. Be careful NOT to overbake! Let layers stand in the pans for about 5 minutes then remove to cooling racks to cool.

Coconut filling:

  • 1 large fresh coconut, grated and milk reserved OR 2 bags frozen coconut, thawed
  • milk if needed
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 generous tablespoons cornstarch

Reserve 1/2-3/4 of the grated coconut. Measure the coconut milk (if using) and add enough milk, if needed to make a total of 1 cup or use 1 cup regular milk, if using the frozen coconut. In a saucepan, combine the remaining coconut, milk, sugar and cornstarch. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat, until mixture thickens, which takes about 15-20 minutes. Cool slightly.

Simple Buttercream Icing:

  • 3 cups confectioner's sugar (about 3/4 of a one pound box)
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • hot water to make a spreadable consistency

Combine the sugar, butter and coconut extract. Beat in enough hot water to make the icing spreadable.

To assemble the cake, place one layer top side down on a serving plate. Thinly slice off the top of the layer and place 1/3 of the coconut filling on top, along with 1/3 of the reserved coconut, replacing the cut portion of the layer (this helps the filling seep into the cake layers). Repeat these steps with the remaining two layers, ending with coconut on the top. Prepare the Simple Buttercream Icing and spread this on the sides of the cake. Yield: about 16 servings.

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