Friday, September 07, 2012

A tough nut to crack

I don't think coconuts have a season here in the US.  I'm pretty sure they're shipped in from somewhere south of the equator.  But for some reason, they always remind me of summer.  It could be the thought of Pina Coladas, but I associate it more with Thatdad bringing one home on rare summer days.  He'd crack it open and let me drink the coconut water, then pull out the thick, sweet, meat which the two of us would snack on.

Coconuts can be intimidating.  It's not as though they can be opened with the simple slice of a knife.  There's an art to opening a coconut.    First, you have to locate the "monkey face."  There are 2 eyes and a mouth, see them?

Pierce the eyes of the coconut with a screw driver and drain off liquid.

Put the coconut in a 400 F oven for 20 minutes.  Tap it all over with a hammer to loosen the shell, then split with the hammer.

Pry out the white meat then use a vegetable peeler to pare off the dark skin.

Once your coconut is open, you can do a variety of things to it.  You can eat it as is, shred it and convert it to coconut cream, grated coconut, or you can do what I did and make this fantastic coconut cake.  It might be our favorite cake of the moment.  The cake flour gives it a light, delicate consistency, and the beaten egg whites lift it up and make it light and airy.  Not to mention there is just no comparing the flavor fresh coconut adds.

Coconut Cake (From the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
Meat from 1 coconut
1/4 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs, separated
1/2 tsp coconut extract
2 1/4 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1cup milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and spray 2 9-inch cake pans with baking spray.  Grate coconut meat with a food processor.
  2. Cream the shortening in an electric mixer.
  3. Slowly add the sugar, beating until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating between each addition.
  5. Stir in the coconut extract.
  6. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.
  7. Alternate adding the dry ingredients with the milk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
  8. Stir in 1 cup of the grated coconut.
  9. Beat the egg whites until stiff.  Stir in a third of the whites into the batter and gently fold in the remainder.
  10. Spoon the batter into the cake pans.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes in pan before inverting on rack.  Cool completely.
Seven Minute Coconut Frosting
1 1/2 cups sugar 
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/8 tsp salt
2 egg whites
1/2 cup shredded coconut
  1. Mix sugar, cream of tartar, salt, egg whites, and 1/4 cup water in a bowl set over simmering water.
  2. Beat steadily over low heat with a hand mixer until the frosting stands in peaks, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and continue to beat until thick enough to spread.  Add the coconut before spreading. 


  1. Growing-up in South Florida we used to retrieve coconuts from the bay. We took screwdrivers poked holes in the eye of the coconut (after we got the tough leathery skin off, drank the juice, and we would split the coconut by slamming it into the sidewalk. I recently purchased coconut water expecting the same flavorful coconut water-BLECH!!

    Coconut cake is one of my favorites!

    Happy weekend to ThatFamily.


  2. OMG I want some cake RIGHT NOW!

  3. I am so impressed. I've never handled a fresh coconut, they kind of scare me!

  4. Until now, I would have no idea what to do with a coconut. Delish looking cake!

  5. Oh my God, I remember the first time I bought a coconut and I didn't know how to extract the liquid lol. Your cake looks delicious and I am sure it was packed with coconut flavor!

  6. I've been irrationally afraid of fresh coconuts for my whole life! This cakes definitely worth getting over my fears.

  7. you are legit, making it with REAL coconut, I bet it was DIVINE :)!

  8. What a fantastic endeavor! I am thoroughly impressed and hungry.

  9. I am impressed. Like Joanne, I have feared the mighty coconut.

  10. I have never had a full coconut that I've opened on my own. This definitely helps take away some of the fear. Boy, do I love a coconut cake!