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Three Many Cooks: Coconut Cake
Three Many Cooks: Coconut Cake: Try the coconut cake this weekend that Three Many Cooks show how to whip up.
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Three Many Cooks whips up a decadent triple coconut cake for Granny's birthday. / Alexandra Grablewski/Getty Images

From the cooks

Sharon: I learned to love coconut cake from my southern Granny and Papa. Sweet, fluffy, and white, their cakes were always so beautiful sitting on the Formica counter. As much as I love the traditional recipe, I always wanted more of that rich yet subtle coconut flavor. In honor of my Granny's birthday this month, I've developed a new recipe featuring coconut exactly where it belongs: in the cake, in the frosting, and, of course, on top! Happy Birthday, Granny!

Maggy: I especially remember after waiting all day to dig in, you and I would always beg Papa to cut the cake since he always served the biggest pieces!

Pam: I just returned from my aunt’s 90th birthday bash in Alabama. Guess what she asked Mom to make for her birthday. Coconut cake! This one’s for you, Mom.

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2 cans (14 ounces each) regular coconut milk (Will be used in the cake and the frosting. See instructions.)

FOR CAKE:

2 cups all-purpose flour

3 Tbs. cornstarch

3¼ tsps. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

12 Tbs. (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1½ cups granulated sugar

3 large eggs

½ tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup reduced coconut milk (see instructions)

FOR FROSTING:

3 cups sweetened flaked coconut

2 sticks butter, softened

4 cups (about 1 pound) confectioner’s sugar

¼ cup reduced coconut milk (see instructions)

1½ tsps. vanilla extract

Pinch salt

Do ahead:

Bring coconut milk to boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook, whisking often, until reduced to 1½ cups. Be careful not to reduce beyond 1½ cups or the solids will start to separate from the fat. Cool to room temperature.; it can be stored in the refrigerator several days.

For the cake:

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans. Mix flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. With an electric mixer, beat butter in a large bowl until fluffy. Add sugar; beat until well mixed. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and then vanilla, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in half the flour mixture, then the reduced coconut milk and finally the remaining flour mixture, scraping down the bowl again, until just smooth. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans; bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into cake center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool 5 minutes. Remove cakes from pans; return to rack to cool completely.

For the frosting:

Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Spread coconut on a 13- by 9-inch baking sheet; toast, stirring occasionally, until flakes are dry and some are light golden, about 20 minutes. With an electric mixer, beat butter in a large bowl until smooth. Slowly beat in sugar until well combined. Beat in coconut milk, vanilla and salt until smooth.

To assemble:

Place a cake layer (top-side down) on a cake stand lined with strips of parchment paper (to keep it clean while icing). Using a knife or offset spatula, spread about 1/3 of the frosting over cake top; sprinkle generously with coconut. Place the next layer (top-side up) over the first. Spread remaining frosting evenly on cake top and sides. Sprinkle top generously with coconut. Using an opened hand, gently press remaining coconut around cake perimeter. Remove parchment strips; refrigerate cake until frosting sets, about 30 minutes. Slice and serve.

YIELD: 16 servings

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