I got The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather for my birthday and I was so excited because it had been on my wish list for a long time. Every so often I get a cookbook that gives me the urge to bake almost everything from it. Obviously one of those was Baking: From My Home to Yours, and another was the Sweet Melissa Baking Book. The Pastry Queen is another that really draws me in. I have gone through this book countless times in the short time I’ve had it, and I can’t wait to bake even more wonderful things from it.
As you have figured out by now, I bake a lot for our Wednesday night young adults group at my church. I was thinking about what to make, and I eventually decided on this carrot cake, especially after remembering the way Jaime sang its praises almost a year ago. I am a chocolate dessert lover, but if I love carrot cake just as much. There’s just something about the moist, lucious taste and the delicious spices, and when you add cream cheese frosting, you can’t ask for any more.
This cake was different from the traditional cake. I think of it as kind of a cross between a Hummingbird Cake and traditional Carrot Cake. Hummingbird Cake has pineapple and bananas, but Rebecca Rather’s cake includes the carrots (obviously) and pineapple. Both cakes include vegetable oil, which I think produces the most desireable texture in a cake, as opposed to butter. This version of carrot cake was amazing. I loved the addition of macadamia nuts and coconut, especially when coconut was added to the frosting. It was the perfect extra to make a spectacular cake. I took this cake to church, but I also took some other desserts, so there was some left. I decided to take the rest to school and leave it in the teacher’s lounge. By lunch, I had a few e-mails saying this was the BEST carrot cake ever and a request for the recipe I took Jaime’s advice about there not being enough cream cheese frosting, so I increased the recipe like she recommended, and I had the perfect amount. I also copied her idea of adding toasted coconut on the top, although I added it to the entire top of the cake. I also chopped the macadamia nuts since they were too big to add in as they were. I’m so glad I made this cake and I can’t wait to bake even more from this great cookbook!
Tropical Coconut Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
from The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather
1 cup macadamia nuts (I recommend chopping these up or crushing them)
3 cups all purpose flour
3 cups sugar
1 tbsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1-1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
4 large eggs
2 tbsp vanilla
1-1/2 cups vegetable oil, such as canola or safflower
1-1/2 cups shredded peeled carrots
1-1/2 cups diced fresh pineapple or drained crush canned pineapple (this is one 20 oz. can)
1/2 cup sweetened cream of coconut, such as Coco Lopez
Coconut-Cream Cheese Frosting
3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, at room temperate (I used 4 packages)
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar (I used 2 cups)
1/4 cup heaving whipping cream (I used 1/4 cup + 4 tsp)
1/4 cup sweetened cream of coconut, such as Coco Lopez (I used 1/4 cup + 4 tsp)
1/2 tsp salt (I used 1/2 tsp + 1/8 tsp)
To Make the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Arrange the nuts on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast them for 7 to 9 minutes, until golden and aromatic. Set aside to cool.
Place one oven rack one-third from the bottom of the oven and the second two-thirds from the bottom. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line three 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper rounds, grease with butter, and dust with flour (or spray with Baker’s Joy).
Stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, coconut, and nuts in a large bowl. In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, oil, carrots, pineapple, and cream of coconut. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir until combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans. Stagger the cake layers on the oven racks so that no layer is directly over another. Set 2 layers on one rack and the third on the other. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. The cakes are done when they are golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans on racks for 5 minutes, then invert them onto the racks and cool completely, about 15 to 20 minutes.
To Make the Frosting:
Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a large bowl on medium-high speed about 1 minute. Add the whipping cream, cream of coconut, and salt; beat until combined.
Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate and spread a thick blanket of frosting on top. Add the second layer, spread thickly with frosting, and top with the third layer. Cover the top and sides of the cake with an even layer of frosting. If you’re feeling energetic and there is frosting left over, use a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip to pipe a decoration around the top rim of the cake.
The cake can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 4 days. Let it cool in the refrigerator about 1 hour before covering, to ensure the frosting has hardened and will not stick to the plastic wrap.
Yield: 12-14 Servings.