This past Saturday I left for a trip to California to visit my roommate from college, Natalie Vittles, and her family. She is married with two sons - Otto just turned three, and Felix is five months old. She also just started law school.
So... I'm gonna go ahead and state the obvious by saying she has her hands full. But it was a great trip, and I had a lot of fun with her, her husband, and the kids.
Otto, Me, and Felix
Some of the highlights included: touring the playgrounds of Sacramento, eating at an Ethiopian restaurant, seeing the movie Wall-E for the first time, trying some of Nat Vittles' homemade foods - such as her homemade granola (which is hopefully making an appearance on here soon!) and sunflower seed pate wrapped in collard greens - AND chuckling at about 75% of the comments that came out of Otto's mouth.
He is extremely smart for his age, but as Nat V put it - he is at the point where he knows what he wants to do, but not mature enough to understand why he isn't allowed to do most of it.
In other words - his parents (and now Auntie Maggie) are The Meanest People On Earth.
The beauty of being three, though, is that you get over it pretty quickly. Tuesday night when I told him I had to go home, he grabbed my hand and said "But I want you to stay here!"
Melted my heart :(
I took an overnight flight back and didn't get much sleep, but oddly enough I felt very energized when I got home yesterday around 12:30 PM.
Being home this "early" I was thinking of all the things I could do - namely catch up on some baking and cooking! I unpacked (arguably the worst part of traveling), did all my laundry, and noticed the cookie jar was empty.
Somebody ate all the cookies in the house while I was gone. I wonder who that could be?
So I thought maybe I would make some cookies to fill up the jar. But I made some cookies at Nat's and so I ultimately decided I wasn't feeling like it.
Then I remembered a request I had the weekend before, from Dan's cousin Devon Vittles for a coconut cake. She and her parents had some at a restaurant that sounded incredible, and she was wondering if I had any good recipes.
I made one with chocolate coconut icing last year for Mr. Vittles' birthday that came out really good, and I thought I wrote it down.
Mr. Vittles' Birthday, September 2009I didn't. ...sigh...
Thus I went searching online, and found a recipe for Fresh Coconut Cake which sounded pretty yummy. But since there was not even a banana nor an apple left in the house, I figured the chance of fresh coconut suddenly appearing in the fridge was about as likely as me spending my day 'off' at the dreaded grocery store.
So I ended up adapting the recipe quite a bit and I sort of made up the frosting based on what I had (ice at your own risk!) but Mr. V gave it his seal of approval. "Its good... no, actually, really good."
That's what I like to hear.
Of course, I used up all my energy on making cake and toasting coconut and assembling the darn thing, so we had this elaborate dessert and some Boboli-crusted pizza for dinner.
Oh well. Guess the 2 hours of plane sleep didn't do much for me after all.
- 2 1/4 C. cake flour*
- 2 t. baking powder
- 1/2 t. salt
- 3/4 C. coconut milk
- 1/2 t. vanilla extract
- 1/2 t. coconut extract/flavoring
- 1 1/4 C. sugar
- 8 T. butter (1 stick), softened
- 1/4 C. canola oil
- 3 eggs
- 1 C. shredded sweetened coconut
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter on medium until light & fluffy. Add sugar and cream, scraping down sides of bowl as needed with a spatula. Add oil and mix on medium speed until combined. Then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add coconut mixture to the mixing bowl alternately with the flour mixture, beating on low speed & scraping down sides after each addition until all are combined. Spoon batter into prepared pans, and spread evenly.
Bake 20-25 minutes, or until top is browned, sides of cake are pulling away from the pan, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans 15 minutes, then invert cake directly onto wire racks to cool completely.
Meanwhile, turn down oven to 300 degrees. Spread the cup of shredded coconut on a baking sheet and place in oven. Bake in 5 minute increments, stirring after each increment, until coconut is toasted. (Be careful here - it burns easily if you don't pay attention to it). Set toasted coconut aside.
Once cake is completely cooled, prepare Coconut Buttercream Frosting**:
- 8 T. (1 stick) butter, softened
- 1 C. powdered (confectioners') sugar
- 2 T. milk
- 1/4 t. vanilla extract
- 1/4 t. coconut extract/flavoring
Assemble cake - place one round on a plate or cake stand and frost the top. Add the next layer and frost as desired (note that the frosting recipe above is enough to frost the tops of both layers, but NOT the sides). Sprinkle toasted coconut on the top.
*If you don't have cake flour, you can substitute a mixture of all-purpose flour & cornstarch. For each cup of cake flour a recipe calls for, first place 2 T of cornstarch in the bottom of the measuring cup. Then fill the rest of the cup with flour. For a half cup, use only 1 T cornstarch. For 1/4 cup, use 1 1/2 t. of cornstarch.
**I use frosting pretty sparingly. This recipe makes enough to frost the tops of each layer but not the sides of the cake. I recommend doubling the recipe if you want to do the sides as well, or if you like a lot of icing.
Cake recipe adapted from About.com - frosting recipe is original