Posted by Tara on Monday, December 19th, 2011
Growing up I took a lot for granted. I believed my parents existed for the sole purpose of fulfilling the needs and wants my little brother and me. I never really gave much thought to the notion that my parents might actually love each other or that they might also place a higher priority on their marriage relationship than on their relationship with me. You see, the passing of first my Dad, then my Mamma were both untimely. There are many aspects of their lives that interest me and I wish I could inquire in person with the uncountable questions I now have. If they were both alive today, I would have them give me an account of how they met, why they fell in love with each other, and what kept them together through so many tough times. Now when I reflect back on my childhood, I realize my Mamma’s Coconut Cake was a labor of her love for Dad.
Every Christmas Mamma would purchase a couple of REAL coconuts. She would bring those coconuts home, get out Daddy’s hammer and a nail, and then make holes in the coconut “eyes” so she could drain and save the coconut milk. Then she would carefully chisel away the coconut shell. Has anyone else ever tried to do this? It is a painstaking task to say the least. Next she would need to trim off the softer part of the coconut shell from the meat. Then Mamma would get out her grater and grate each piece of coconut by hand. Then she had to make the cake, boil and beat the frosting, pour coconut milk over each cake layer, assemble the cake, and let it set in the fridge at least a couple of days before Christmas. Whew, just thinking about her cake making process makes me tired!
One year Mamma didn’t have enough room in the fridge to store the cake. We were in the midst of a cold snap here in the south, so she set the cake in the garage on top of the dryer, and rested one of those Tupperware cake taker tops over the cake. There the sacred cake rested, while the moistness magic happened until Christmas day. I will never forget seeing my Mom on the verge of tears Christmas Eve morning. My cat, which had taken up residence in the garage during the cold snap, found the coconut cake and had a Christmas feast, destroying it.
Momma could have cussed and cried, sulked and screamed, or threw up her hands and had a pity party. But she was determined for Dad to have his favorite Christmas treat. So she got her purse, hopped in the car, and headed out to the grocery for 2 more coconuts. She went through the whole coconut cake baking process AGAIN! I didn’t understand why she went to all that fuss many years ago, but now I realize it was because she loved my Dad so much and aimed to please him with her coconut cake. Thanks Mamma for the lesson on love and determination.
Making coconut cake for me is a little easier because I can buy canned coconut milk and fresh frozen coconut. I also cheat a little and use a white cake mix! And this year I am carrying on Mamma’s tradition of love with my own version of her sacred coconut cake.
- 2 White Cake Mixes + 6 egg whites, 4 Tablespoons oil, and 2 2/3 cups water
- 1 can coconut milk
- 2 6oz packages Birds Eye Fresh Frozen Coconut
- Home Made Coconut Icing:
- 1 1/2 cups Sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Cream of Tarter
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 5 large egg whites
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In an extra large bowl add the cake mixes, eggs, oil and water. Mix batter with electric mixer for length of time directed on package. Grease and flour 3 9″ round cake pans. Fill each cake pan 2/3 full with cake batter. Make cupcakes with any remaining batter, or just discard it. Bake cakes according to package directions. Remove cakes from oven when done. Use a straw to poke holes in warm cake layers. Pour some of the coconut milk (about 1/3 cup) over each layer. Let cake cool completly.
While cake cools, make the icing. Add the sugar, water, salt, and cream of tarter to a medium size sauce pan. Clip a candy thermometer on the side of the pan, and turn the heat to medium. Stir constantly until sugar is dissolved and mixture is almost clear. Cook without stirring until temperature reaches a soft ball stage of 240 degrees. Turn off heat and set mixture aside while beating egg whites.
In a large bowl beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add the syrup mixture to the egg mixture while continuing to beat the egg mixture. Add the vanilla extract and continue beating until stiff peaks form and frosting is thick enough to spread.
Turn first cake layer onto a pretty cake plate. Spread frosting over top, then sprinkle some of the fresh frozen coconut over first layer. Repeat this process with remaining layers, completely covering the sides and top of cake with frosting and coconut. Refrigerate 1-2 days before serving for best results. Keep refrigerated.
Merry Christmas Everyone!