Coconut cake is pure comfort. I didn’t grow up with it, it holds no nostalgic memories for me, so I can’t quite pinpoint why this is. Maybe it’s the simplicity, the fact that there’s nothing but cake and frosting, nothing complicated, nothing fancy. I have squeezed as much coconut as I can into this recipe, so the cake is made with coconut oil and butter, and includes desiccated coconut and a little coconut extract. The frosting is a classic cream cheese one covered in a heavy snowfall of coconut; it’s coconut squared.
For the sheet cake
unsalted butter 115g, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
virgin coconut oil 115g
caster sugar 350g
plain flour 420g
baking powder 4 tsp
fine sea salt 1 tsp
vanilla extract 2 tsp
coconut extract 2 tsp
egg whites 5 large
coconut milk 350ml
desiccated coconut 85g
For the cream cheese icing
unsalted butter 75g, at room temperature
full-fat cream cheese 125g, at room temperature
icing sugar 400g
fine sea salt ¼ tsp
vanilla extract 2 tsp
desiccated coconut 60g, to decorate
Preheat the oven to 160C fan/gas mark 4. Lightly grease the baking tin [what size?] and line with a strip of parchment paper that overhangs the two long sides, securing in place with metal clips.
For the cake, place the butter, coconut oil and caster sugar into a large bowl and, using an electric mixer, beat together on medium speed for 7-8 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
Meanwhile, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Add the vanilla and coconut extracts to the butter mixture and mix briefly to combine, then add the egg whites, one at a time, mixing until fully combined before adding another. Add the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the coconut milk, starting and finishing with the flour. Fold in the desiccated coconut. Scrape the cake batter into the prepared tin and spread into an even layer. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the cake springs back to a light touch or a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Leave the cake to cool in the tin for about 15 minutes, before transferring it to a wire rack (using the parchment paper to lift it out) to cool completely.
For the icing, it’s very important that the butter and cream cheese are both at room temperature, otherwise it can be tricky to get the right texture. Place the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl and use an electric mixer to beat on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes, or until smooth, creamy and fully combined. Add the icing sugar, salt and vanilla, and mix on slow speed until the sugar has combined with the butter mixture, then mix on medium-high speed for 4-5 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
Spread the icing all over the cooled cake, then sprinkle the desiccated coconut on top and serve.
This cake will keep for 2-3 days but, personally, I think it’s best eaten within a day of icing.
From One Tin Bakes by Edd Kimber (Octopus Publishing, £17.99)