Red Velvet Coconut Cake
A Combination of Two Popular Cake Originals
Red velvet is all the rage across the U.S. these days, but I've been eating red velvet cakes all my life. Pillowy red velvet cakes and coconut cakes were favorites at every Mississippi bake sale during my childhood. Try this combination of the two, and you may have a hard time going back to the originals. Red food coloring gives the cake its color: The amazing shade means it's a natural for Fourth of July parties. At my barbecue joint, CCQ, the red velvet cupcakes fly off the shelf.
Preheat the oven to 350°F and position a rack in the middle. Butter and flour two 8-inch round cake pans or lightly coat them with nonstick cooking spray.
For the cake, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper or into a medium bowl. Set aside. Pulse the coconut in a food processor until it is very finely chopped. In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and coconut with an electric mixer on medium speed until thoroughly combined, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
In a small bowl, stir together the red food coloring, buttermilk, and coconut milk. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Stop and scrape down the bowl twice.
In a small bowl, stir together the vinegar and the baking soda. With the mixer set at medium speed, beat the vinegar mixture into the batter. Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool on racks.
For the frosting, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Set the whites aside while you bring the corn syrup to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. While beating the whites on high speed, slowly drizzle in the hot corn syrup -- in drips, initially, then gradually increasing to a thin, steady stream. Beat for 3 to 4 minutes, until stiff peaks form. Whip in the salt and the vanilla.
To assemble the cake, transfer 2 cups of the frosting to a medium bowl and fold in 1 cup of the shredded coconut. Place one cake layer on a serving plate and spread evenly with the coconut frosting. Top with the second cake layer. Frost the sides and top of the cake with the remaining frosting. Cover the sides and top of the frosted cake with the remaining 1 1/4 cups shredded coconut, pressing lightly to help it adhere. Because the frosting is delicate, this cake is best served the same day it's made.
Cat's note: I look for natural food coloring when I bake this cake, but you can use what you have.
*Courtesy of Cat Cora's "Classics With a Twist"