What’s For Dinner?
Coconut Cake - from OK Cafe
(First star is lowest, fourth star is highest)
From the Menu of ... OK Cafe
1284 W. Paces Ferry Road N.W., Atlanta, 404-233-2888
Q: The coconut cake at the OK Cafe in Buckhead is excellent. Could you persuade them to part with the recipe? -- Scott Maclean, Forest Park
A: The coconut cake is the most popular cake at OK Cafe, and general manager Rachel Douglass knows exactly why: “It’s the best,” she explained. It starts with a moist, dense yellow cake featuring Grandma’s homemade vanilla pudding -- “my grandma’s,” Douglass clarifies -- which is then frosted with gobs of cream cheese frosting and topped with freshly shaved coconut. You don’t have to grate your own coconut -- you can use the fresh-frozen kind -- but Douglass warns against cheating on the pudding. She speaks from experience. “You have to make the pudding from scratch; you cannot buy store bought because it will collapse the cake. I don’t know why, but we tried it.” The restaurant proudly displays a monstrous, four-layer cake, but because most home cooks own only two layer pans (and because their ovens won’t accommodate four pans on one rack, anyway), we scaled it down to an ample two-layer cake. It’s still huge.
-- Deborah Geering, for the Journal-Constitution
Hands on time: 1 hour and 20 minutes Total time: 5 hours and 10 minutes Serves: 16
1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons (1 3/4sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup homemade vanilla pudding (see recipe)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped into soft peaks
Cream Cheese Frosting (see recipe)
1 (6-ounce) package fresh frozen coconut, thawed
Homemade Vanilla Pudding:
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
12 ounces (1¸ 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 pound (about 2 cups) confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until pale yellow. Slowly add the vegetable oil and beat until well-combined. Beat in the yolks and the whole eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in the buttermilk and vanilla. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Beat into the butter mixture in thirds, scraping down sides of bowl after each addition. Fold in the pudding and whipping cream.
Divide the batter between the cake pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cake begins to pull from sides and springs back when lightly touched in the center. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto wire racks and cool completely.
To make the pudding: In a saucepan, stir together the sugar, flour and salt until well-combined. In a bowl, whisk the yolks until smooth, then slowly whisk in the milk. Slowly whisk the milk mixture into the dry ingredients until no lumps remain. Add the cold butter and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching, until the pudding thickens and begins to boil. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Cool to room temperature.
To make the frosting: With an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese until well-combined. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until creamy. Beat in the vanilla and lemon juice.
To assemble the cake: Place 1 layer upright on a serving platter. Spread about 1 cup frosting evenly over the top. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup coconut. Top with second layer; cover top and sides with remaining frosting. Press remaining coconut onto the top and sides, covering completely.