Monday, January 16, 2012

Try this: the Barefoot Contessa's coconut cake

So my goal to lose ten pounds before the "Great Vacation Adventure of 2012" (details to come shortly) were thwarted by this cake. But 49th birthday celebrations happen only once in a lifetime, so I'll just be eating dry lettuce leaves for the next few days to make up for my transgressions. Mom and dad drove out from New York State for the long holiday weekend, and on Saturday night, we hosted them, and our friends Julie, Tom, MaryLynne, and Ian for a big dinner, topped off with the aforementioned cake.

Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) is one of my favorite cooks to watch on the Food Network, and even though we've made this cake a few times (and have also made the same batter to make some out of this world cupcakes), I think this particular cake took the prize: moist and delicious. Hmmm...could it be the five sticks of butter? If you're celebrating a special occasion or just feel like treating yourself to this impressive-looking but easy-to-make dessert, might I recommend this recipe?

The Barefoot Contessa's Coconut Cake

For the cake
3 sticks of butter at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
2 cups sugar
5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
1.5 teaspoons almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup milk
4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut

For the frosting
1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
2 sticks butter at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 pound confectioners' sugar
6 ounces sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, then line them with parchment paper. Grease them again and dust lightly with flour.

Cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3-5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy. With mixer on medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. The mixture might look a little curdled.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixture on low speed, alternatively add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter in three parts, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in four ounces of coconut.

Pour the batter evenly into the 2 pans and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 45-55 minutes, until tops are browned and cake tester comes out clean. Cool on baking rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a baking rack to finish cooling.

For the frosting, use a mixer to combine cream cheese, butter, vanilla and almond extract on low speed. Add the confectioners' surgar and mix until just smooth. Don't whip!

To assemble, place one layer of the cake on a flat serving plate, top side down, and spread with frosting. Place the second layer on top, top side up, and frost the top and sides. To decorate, sprinkle the top with coconut and lightly press more coconut onto the sides. Serve at room temperature.


  1. One of my all-time favorite cakes.

  2. I really like the barefoot Contessa as well. Thanks for sharing

  3. That cake looks amazing - my mouth started watering at the sight of all the icing and coconut. Happy (belated) Birthday! It sounds as if you had a great celebration.

  4. It was so good I can't think of enough adjectives; topped only by the great company!!!

  5. I've seen the show where Ina makes this - no gays were involved in this episode - but it still comes down to the fact that I don't like coconut. But I'm glad you do and that you liked the cake. And the photography is nicely done.

  6. Yummy - best coconut cake ever ;) (Unlike my mom, am saving my leftover piece to get me through this afternoon)!! Thanks for a wonderful dinner last night!

  7. oh goodness. I had to run out yesterday to The Goddess and the Grocer to get a slice of coconut cake after Mary Kay's posting. It was so rich, and much easier than actually making it myself.

  8. I do not use vanilla , I add more almond flavoring. As I serve each slice I put vanilla ice cream with crushed peppermint on top. It is beautiful and so yummy.



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