Why do I love making everything from scratch? Because I can control all my ingredients, and frankly, it tastes better. I haven't used a cake box mix in years, no offense to my readers who do, but I prefer the taste of my homemade baked goods. It's really not that hard to do, and you'll end of loving the overall texture. Some people think that it's a burden investing in quality ingredients to bake with, and it probably takes a little more time but this is where you can really have fun in the kitchen. Don't be afraid to start baking with from scratch, you can easily get addicted.
I remembered as a child, my grandmother and I walked around the savannah in Trinidad, searching for the coconut man. He had a huge truck full of fresh coconuts. I always wondered how he got it packed so high. Every time he pulled one out, I thought for sure; all the coconuts would come crashing down. However, it never did.
"Get yuh fresh coconuts!"
"Get yuh fresh coconuts!" he screamed at the cars and pedestrians passing by.
The coconut was only one dollar, so there was always a line. He used to shave those coconuts very fast with a machete knife. It was fun to watch. The coconut water was so cool and refreshing under the hot sun. The hole on top of the coconut was large enough to scape of the jelly with your finger. I just couldn't get my little finger all the way to the bottom for the good stuff. Those were some fun times. Now I'm thinking where can I get some coconuts with soft jelly.
For the Coconut Cake
2 cups of cake flour
1 cup of all purpose flour
2 1/4 cups of sugar
3 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
2 teaspoon of salt
1 1/2 cup of buttermilk
1 1/2 stick of unsalted butter
1/2 cup of vegetable shortening
2 large egg whites
1 whole egg
2 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste
3/4 cup of sweetened shredded coconut flakes
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter three 7 inch-round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper; butter the parchment and dust the pans with flour, tapping out the excess.
Sift the flours, the baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl set aside. Beat butter, vegetable shortening and the sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to medium; beat in the egg and egg whites one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla.
Beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the buttermilk , beginning and ending with flour, until just smooth. Add the coconut and every distribute.
Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake until the cakes are lightly golden on top and the centers spring back when pressed, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to racks and let cool 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pans and turn thecakes out onto the racks to cool completely. Remove the parchment. Trim the tops of the cakes with a long serrated knife to make them level, if desired.
Lychee Italian Meringue Buttercream
2 1/2 cups of sugar
8 egg whites
1/3 cup of water
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
6 sticks of unsalted butter
5 tablespoons of lychee juice
Combine sugar and water in a medium-sized saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring with a metal spoon, until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup is clear. Increase heat to medium-high and allow syrup to come to a boil.
Meanwhile, place egg whites in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, or in a medium bowl if using a handheld mixer, and beat until whites are almost able to hold soft peaks.
Cook syrup until it reaches 235°F, then immediately remove from heat and slowly drizzle the hot syrup into the bowl with the egg whites, mixing continuously to prevent the eggs from scrambling: don't pour the syrup onto the whisk, or the syrup may splatter against the sides of the bowl; instead, aim for a spot close to the whisk. Once all the syrup has been added, keep mixing until the bottom of the bowl feels cool to the touch and the meringue has cooled down to body temperature.
Add butter one cube at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla,salt and lychee juice. The mixture may start to look as if it’s separating, but don't panic: just keep mixing and whipping until the buttercream comes together and becomes smooth and gorgeous.
Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container.
Using a serrated knife or cake slicer, evenly level the each cake layer if it is dome. Place one of the cake layers on a cake stand or cake turntable. Using an offset spatula evenly distribute the lychee buttercream between each layer then put the other layer on top(bottom side up) and iced cake with the remaining lychee buttercream, add some candied coconut curls. I made the coconut curls from a fresh coconut, I used a vegetable peeler to get really thin slices. I cooked the coconut curls in a sugar syrup. After they were cooled, I curl it up using my fingers.