Thomas Keller’s Coconut Cake
PUBLISHED ON: 04.07.2011
I thrive in simplicity except when it comes to a Thomas Keller recipe. There is nothing simplistic about his recipes. When you take the time, read the details carefully and make a point of following the directions, your final product is going to turn out amazing. You will be thankful that you followed each and every step. Since I am rarely capable of following directions, and detail can give me a headache, all the credit for this out of this world coconut cake belongs to my husband….Cocktail extraordinaire and family baker.
The ingredients in this cake are surprisingly simple but the directions are lengthy. Don’t shy away from this recipe. The directions are mostly, “how to” which reflects the science and art of baking. You will learn a lot and finish with an awesome cake.
A white cake, with the lightness of angel food, but plenty of butter is added for richness and flavor.
Recipe from Thomas Keller
One 15-ounce can coconut milk (not “lite”)
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup egg whites, at room temperature (from about 6 large eggs)
2 cups granulated sugar
12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
Meringue (recipe below)
Pour the coconut milk into a small saucepan and whisk to blend. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the milk has reduced to 1 cup.
Meanwhile prepare an ice bath in a medium bowl and set a small metal bowl on top.
Pour the coconut milk into the small bowl. Once the milk is cool, remove from the ice bath and stir in the vanilla.
Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, butter the parchment, and coat with flour, tapping out the excess.
Sift the cake flour and baking powder together into a bowl. Stir in the salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the whites on medium speed, until they begin to froth. With the mixer running, slowly add 3/4 cup of the sugar, then increase the speed to medium-high and continue to whip until medium peaks form.
Remove from the mixer. (if you have only one bowl, transfer the whites to another bowl and wash out the mixer bowl.) Switch to the paddle attachment.
Put the butter in the mixer bowl and beat on medium-low to medium speed to soften, about 1 minute. Scrape down sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, add the remaining 1-1/4 cups sugar, and mix on medium speed until light and creamy, stopping to scrape the sides as needed. 3-4 minutes.
From this point, it is important not to over mix the batter. Each addition does not have to be completely incorporated before you add the next; there may be some visible streaks remaining. Add half the dry ingredients to the butter and mix on medium-low to medium speed. Add half of the coconut milk and mix. Add half of the remaining dry mixture, then the remaining milk and finally the remaining dry mixture. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Scrape down the sides and the bottom to incorporate any ingredients that may have settled in the bottom of the bowl, and mix with the spatula so there are no longer any streaks.
Top the batter with one-third of the whites and fold in gently. Gently fold in another third of the whites and finally the remaining whites.
Divide the batter evenly between the pans and gently smooth the tops. Bake until a cake tester or wooden skewer comes out clean, 26 to 28 minutes. Let the layers cool on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes, then turn out of the pans and let cool completely.
Meanwhile, spread the coconut on a baking sheet and toast lightly in the oven, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool completely.
Lay strips of parchment paper around the edges of a cake stand or serving plate to catch any excess frosting or coconut when you decorate the cake. Position one of the cake layers in the center. Spread a 1/3-inch-thick layer of meringue evenly over the cake layer. Sprinkle a light layer of the coconut over the meringue. Top with the second cake layer. Spread the remaining meringue evenly over the sides and top of the cake. Sprinkle the remaining coconut on the sides and the top. Pull away and discard the pieces of parchment paper. This cake is best served the day it is made.
Recipe for Meringue:
1-1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons plus teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Combine 1- 1/4 cups of the sugar and the water in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat to 220F., stirring at first to dissolve the sugar.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium speed until they begin to look foamy, then gradually add the remaining 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high and whip until the whites form soft peaks.
With the mixer running, slowly add the sugar syrup, pouring it down the side of the bowl to avoid the whisk. Add the vanilla, and continue to whip until stiff peaks form and the bowl is cool.
Wow, this is what I'm waking up to… Looks like it's gonna be a good day:@)
I don't even like coconut and this looks wonderful!
I've made a coconut and Rum cake, but never one with meringue…looks amazing!
What a cake, Velva. I can't stop looking at it.
Velva,this looks divine! Coconut Cake and Easter… pefect timing! blessings ~ tanna
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Schnitzel and the Trout
What a beautiful cake!! So, what happens to the egg yolks? Stayed tuned…..
My weak spot.Love the coconut. Can't bake worth a damn.Very nice!
This cake looks amazing, I love that it is egg-white only, and the coconut flavors are fantastic throughout the cake, yum!
The Food Hound
This looks about as fabulous as it gets!! I would probably do a coconut buttercream (as if it needs more butter, hah!!) since I'm not the biggest fan of meringue. Oh, that toasted coconut on top gives it such a professional look!!
Really, Velva? Really? It's 8:30am on Thursday and now I want a big ol' hunk of coconut cake! THAT LOOKS DIVINE! Coconut is my weakness. Tell hubby he did a damn good job! Thank goodness for food porn, as I am on a diet and can only dream of how good this tastes! Have a great weekend, lovely! xops: What a patient blogger you are to post the entire recipe! Thank you!
Oh, I forgot, I LOVE the cake platter it's on, so precious!
How splendid – the meringue is a wonder – what a good idea. I own French Laundry. I have never cooked from it but I like reading it. The cake seems accessible though. And the results outstanding.
Taste of Beirut
This coconut cake is a dream! Next time I decide to make one I will use your recipe; much better than mine I think.
My Little Space
Hmm.mm… it's definitely a killer here. I am drooling here. Thanks for the recipe. Bookmarked it. Hope you're having a lovely day.Best regards, Kristy
This has to be the ultimate coconut cake! I just wish I could make it with 1/2 the recipe. My husband is a coconut lover; right up his alley.Great photo Velva!Rita
Mouthwatering Looking Cake. Looks yummy and lavish. Great preparation.Deepa Hamaree Rasoi
What a fantastic husband you have to be a great baker and bartender!Wonderful looking cake.
Gorgeous cake Velva. The French Laundry is a beautiful book, but not very practical for home cooks. With each successive book TK has closed that gap.Mimi
Oh man I LOVE a great coconut cake. Always a crowd-pleaser!
I'm just dying, that looks so perfect! You're right the steps do look a bit intimidating, but I think I'd love to give it a try.
Congrats to your husband for baking up such a delight! This is the first recipe for coconut cake where I've actually seen coconut milk go into the cake itself. Looks and sounds delicious.
It is Drop dead gorgeous, I can taste it from here.
I adore coconut and this cake is simply gorgeous. Looks just perfect. I could really do with a slice now with a nice cup of tea.
mr. pineapple man
oh yum! looks amazing!
I do not even have words for that. SO GORGEOUS!
It looks truly magnificent, Velva! I'm not a fan of long involved recipes for every day fare, but sometimes it's fun to get down into the nitty gritty and turn out something amazing. 🙂
This looks incredible and sounds delicious. I might save it for my husbands birthday.
Oh yummmm! It looks as good as it sounds.
Beautiful Velva. Your first sentence about Thomas Keller is exactly how I feel about Rick Bayless. Extensive and exact, time consuming with excellent results.
Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes
I'll swap you a slice of pie for a slice of cake! My goodness that cake looks delicious! I love coconut! Thanks for visiting today!
Just Cake Girl
That looks amazing, i want to dig in imidiatly 😉 Thank you for the lovely comment on my blog 😉 following 😉
Coconut is one of my all-time favorite foods. This looks terrific!
What an absolutely beautiful cake. Coconut was my mother's very favorite cake. Thank you so much for visiting me. You have a really yummy blog!
Looks simply delicious. Such a beautiful cake. I do love coconut. Blessings, Catherine xo
Omg, what a fabulous cake! You are so lucky to have a husband who can bake anything, much less a gorgeous creation like this! Kudos to the hub!
Oh yum! This would be perfect for Easter. 🙂
I have a little boy who has a birthday coming up – Coconut cake is his favorite! This looks worth the effort! Yum!
This cake looks terrific, and the directions don't actually look that hard. I'm tempted to jump in and try it myself for my coconut-loving husband!
SavoringTime in the Kitchen
I have goosebumps just looking at that beautiful cake. Not only because a male, your husband, made it but because I adore coconut cake and toasted coconut is my favorite. I think this would be perfect for Easter! Props to your husband!
Cocktails AND a baker…now that's a special man…I have one too ;)Lovely cake…
What a photo…makes me drool just looking at it. That is surely magazine cover worthy there…good stuff.
mmmmm, that toasty, browned coconut looks SO good. what a lovely cake!
OMG that cake is absolutely gorgeous! If I had this Thomas Keller Coconut Cake I'm sure I'd think I had died and gone to heaven! I have his Ad Hoc cookbook and love it, but I'm not good at following extensive directions and my husband doesn't bake. You're one lucky gal 🙂
I saw this on Facebook and had to come over for a better look,I was not disappointed, it looks amazing;-)
Anything that turns out as delightful as this is well worth the effort, Velva. Thomas Keller's recipes may be involved, but they are winners, every one.Thank you Mr. Velva for making this for us!!
It looks great! Coconut cake is my favorite and I have to try this recipe! Way to go for your hubby!
I love your printing option. Could you add a slicing option? It looks divine.
Oh My Gosh!, your cake looks amazingly delicious. I love coconut.I enjoy reading your blog. I've been given a blog award and I'm paying it forward to you which you can view at at http://wineladycooks.blogspot.com/2011/04/blog-award-share-love-and-pay-it.htmlThanks so much for sharing,Joanne
Chris's Gourmet Fashion
Your cake looks amazing .. ok the recipe may have been good but the implementation great 🙂
This looks incredible. Hubby did a great job, you lucky girl:) Coconut cake is one of my favorites but I have never made one myself. I think it is time to try this delicious cake.
Velva, did you save me a piece?
Jen @ keepitsimplefoods
This looks so creamy and dreamy! Yum!
I found my Easter dessert! Perfect cake!
This looks awesome, Velva! I am sure it tastes as good as it looks :)!
That cake reminds me of home where coconuts are plenty and often toasted and balled to make what we call coconut candy. Have a great Easter break!