The day after I got home for spring break (alas, no trip to Cancun), I got a call from a neighbor asking if I could make her husband a birthday cake. Oh let me think. HECK YES I COULD.
A quick pause: do we notice that this is yet another March birthday? (I'm just posting late.) Seriously, what is up?
Back to my neighbor, who was still on the phone (no, I didn't actually shout that at her). She then requested the same cake I made last time, which was when it hit me that I did in fact make his birthday cake when I was home for spring break last year. Oh right- it came right back to me: yellow cake with coconut buttercream frosting. How could I forget that?
Last year, if I remember correctly, my neighbor had called over and asked for a cake with flavors that weren't too crazy (do I have that reputation?....) , something like vanilla. I could have done that, I suppose, but eventually we managed to get coconut on the table. I say 'we' because I don't really remember who proposed it... but kudos to whoever it was, 'cause this cake is bomb.
The recipes for the cake and frosting were both from Warren Brown's book, CakeLove: How to bake cakes from scratch. After freshman year, I became a big fan of CakeLove after discovering the recipe book in the university bookstore. When I first saw it on display there was a sign that read "Books by Alumni" hanging over the table. I instantly grabbed the book and devoured Warren's story. Inspired by the lawyer-turned-baker, I bought the book and dove right into his exploration of homemade cakes.
While the first half of the recipes in the book are for a crazy variety of pound cakes (really really awesome pound cakes), the second half are for the cakes. Like he does for all of his recipes, Warren explains why each ingredient--from heavy cream to brandy--is used in his yellow butter cake. And after making it, his reasoning proved sound yet again. Delicious, moist, and with a great depth of flavor (hello, brandy), this cake is not a run-of-the-mill yellow cake. It still had that great vanilla flavor, though. And that vanilla was about to meet a friend, coconut.
Warren describes his coconut buttercream as his creamiest, dreamiest buttercream, and I concur. A cross between a coconut-infused custard and a buttercream frosting, the results were a big hit. It has a soft, creamy and buttery texture and a pure, balanced coconut flavor. It takes on the warm, inviting color of cream, which you would have seen had I not gotten carried away with my homemade toasted sweetened coconut. Sorry. There was some extra frosting left, though... but that seems to have disappeared.
Handing it over to my neighbor, I was proud of this cake. I think it might be requested again next year, too, pending my destination for spring break...