Two of my new friends are getting married end of March! I'm trying to woo them with some different wedding cake possibilities, and after talking to them it sounded like they wanted something with coconut - since their favorite cupcake at The Steeping Room was the coconut cupcake. Having never baked with coconut before, I thought I'd sniff around for a decent recipe.
I came across Bobby Flay's Throwdown Coconut Cake from the Food Network site. I read through it and it seemed pretty good, essentially a white vanilla bean cake, using coconut custard in between the layers, and a coconut simple syrup. There was even a recipe for coconut infused buttercream. Yippee, let's do it.
There were a few steps that required chilling ahead of time. For me, it's easier to break these up to the night before so I'm not slaving away in the kitchen all day. However, the simple syrup is all I had steam for.
The next day, first thing was the coconut custard. Making the custard reminded me of when I had made vanilla bean ice cream. You have to delicately mix the heated milk mixture with the egg mixture and hope it doesn't turn into scrambled eggs before your eyes! Both times I've done this, I've been lucky and came out unscathed. After the custard had time to cool and spend time in the refrigerator, it was time to make the cake.
Maybe it's just me, but it seems like baking the cake is the easiest part. I love using vanilla bean. You cut the bean open and scrape all the seeds out. The scent is so fragrant and it's amazing how it all breaks down to little dots. Maybe it's the simple things...but I love vanilla bean. Ok, so basically this cake recipe is a white cake with vanilla bean and egg whites. It seemed to be light and fluffy.
Once the cake was done and cooled, I began to make the coconut cream and the buttercream. The coconut cream was a cinch, no biggie, and went back into the fridge. The buttercream, however, I would not recommend to anyone. I had my doubts as I was mixing it together. 3 sticks of butter. 1/2 of the coconut custard. A smidgen of powdered sugar. NOTHING ABOUT THIS WILL FLUFF INTO MAGICAL BUTTERCREAM! Mixing and mixing, and realizing I was about to be late to my dance class, I called it good and was stuck with a major decision. This stuff was basically pure butter. If I left it out, it could melt further and not be usable. If I put the buttercream into the refrigerator, it'll rechill and not be usable. I decided on the latter, hoping to make it work.
I get home an hour later and sure enough, the buttercream is harden back to its butter form. I put it back in the mixer and try to salvage something of it. I almost scream defeat at this point because it looks horrible. I do what I can to make a crumb coat on the cake, and decide the rest is better off in the trash.
This means all my eggs are in a basket for my first fondant attempt. I couldn't take anymore baking disappointment that night, so I decided it's best left for the next day.