Although this cake is delicious year round, it has become our Easter Dinner dessert. My preference of Carrot Cake got usurped when our oldest daughter's favorite birthday cake became Carrot Cake. From the time she was about 6, she has always insisted on it for her April birthday. Since Easter is also usually in April, we have defaulted to Coconut Pecan Layer Cake for this holiday. I'm OK with that!
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Whipped egg whites make this cake nice and light!
This recipe calls for separating the eggs. The yolks are mixed into the cake batter early on and the whites are whipped to fold in just before baking.
I love this copper bowl and there's lots of benefit to whipping egg whites in copper. I've tried it before and it takes so much work and time! So truthfully ... I whip them in my KitchenAid! Let the motor do the work!
A good cake starts with whipping some butter then adding the sugar in and whipping some air into it.
The next component is mixing the dry ingredients and the buttermilk. The method is to start and end with the dry ingredients. So I usually divide the dry ingredients into thirds and the wet into two parts.
Finally, you stir in the vanilla extract, chopped pecans, and shredded coconut.
"Folding in" explained
Then fold in the egg whites. "Folding in" is always a quizzical method! The bottom line is that you want to be careful not to break down all the air that you just whipped into the egg whites. So you cut through the egg whites in the middle, pull your spoon under the batter, then bring it back up and down through the whites again at another point. Keep doing this over and over, turning the bowl as you work, till the egg whites are incorporated. It will seem tedious, but it will be worth it.
Don't worry about making every bit of beaten egg white disappear! If you do, you'll lose every bit of lightness you've whipped into the batter.
How to prepare the pans for baking
Divide the batter into two 9-inch pans. If you want a taller cake, use three 8-inch pans, or for a really tall, skinny cake, use four 6-inch pans. Just check on the baking time because the smaller cakes will bake more quickly.
Bake 9-inch rounds at 350 for 40 minutes. If you are baking smaller rounds, check on them at 25-30 minutes. Allow them to cool for about 10 minutes in the pans, then scrape around the edges with a knife, and turn them out onto a cooling rack.
For the cream cheese frosting
Isn't cream cheese frosting just the best?! It's probably my favorite!
Here's the breakdown on the ingredients. Just because it's frosting and sweet and probably not the best choice for every day eating ... doesn't mean that it shouldn't have quality ingredients. I still look for organic cream cheese, grass-fed butter, organic powdered sugar, and my homemade vanilla flavoring. If I'm going to indulge occasionally, it's gotta be worth it.
How to frost a cake
Well, this isn't a full tutorial! But I'm going to give you to the first tip. Put a bit of frosting down on the platter as a bit of "glue" before putting your first layer down. It will keep it from sliding around in the case that you are transporting the cake ... even if just from the counter to the table!
As I stated before, we love Coconut Pecan Layer Cake at Easter. I have fun decorating it every year, but I always include pecan halves and toasted coconut because I like to use decorating elements that are also ingredients in the cake. This version is one of my favorites ... I put pecan halves around the bottom and top, a toasted coconut "nest", ceramic eggs, muscari flowers (don't eat them!), and mint for some greenery
Coconut Pecan Layer Cake is never a disappointment! It's got so much flavor from the coconut and pecans and the cream cheese frosting is a delicious pairing.
Other recipes you might like:
Coconut Pecan Layer Cake
FOR THE CAKE
- 5 eggs room temperature, separated
- 1 cup butter (227 grams) softened
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups flour all-purpose or 1:1 gluten-free flour blend
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups shredded coconut unsweetened
- ½ cup pecans chopped
FOR THE FROSTING
- 1 (8-ounce) cream cheese softened
- ¼ cup butter softened
- 4 cups confectioner's sugar sifted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- toasted coconut for decorating the cake
- pecan halves for decorating the cake
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottoms of two 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper and grease and flour them. For a taller cake, you can use three 8-inch pans. And for a super tall, skinny cake, you can use 6-inch pans. Be sure to adjust baking times for the smaller cakes.
- Beat the egg whites until stiff. Set aside while you mix the rest of the cake. If you are using a stand mixer, beat the egg whites, then transfer them to another bowl. Use the same mixing bowl to mix the rest of the cake.
- In the mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks and beat well, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Combine the flour and baking soda. Add to the cream mixture alternately with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.
- Stir in the vanilla, then add the coconut and pecans. Gently fold in the beaten egg whites.
- Pour into the prepared cake pans. Bake 40 minutes, making sure the center of the cake springs back when touched lightly and that a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center.
- Cool in the cake pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.
FOR THE FROSTING
- Beat cream cheese, butter, sugar, and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Spread between the layers and over the top and sides of the cake. Use the toasted coconut and pecan halves to decorate the cake.