Big Thicket Coconut Cake

Big Thicket Coconut Cake

This cake is similar to one that Margaret McLean Ayres served during her 60 years as hostess of the old Bragg Hotel in the Big Thicket country of southeast Texas.

Not all cakes can be cut down in size successfully, but we’ve halved the recipe with excellent results.

2 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspon salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup coconut milk (see tchnique tip, page 521)
5 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla

2 egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cups mik or any remaining coconut milk topped off with
regular milk
3 cups shredded coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F,

Grease and flour four 8- or 9-inch round cake pans. Add waxed paper or
parchment cut in circles to fit the pans, and grease and flour the paper.

Sift together the flour, bakihng powder, and salt in a small bowl, and set
the bowl aside. In a mixing bowl ceam together the sugar and butter. Add the sifted dry ingredients in batches, alternating with the coconut milk, and
then beat with a mixer.

Beat the egg whites in another bowl, preferably copper, until they are very
foamy. Gently fold them with the vanilla into the batter by hand.

Divide the battter equally among the four prepared pans. Bake the layers for
20 to 23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out

Allow the layers to stand in their pans for about 5 minutes. Then run a
knife around their edges, invert them, and remove them from the pans. Finish
cooling the layers on cake racks. With a fork or small skewer, poke a few
holes in the top of each one.

Make the glaze: In a heavy, high sided saucepan, combine the egg whites and sugar. Place the pan over medium heat, and add the milk, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Bring the mixture to a boil. Keep a close watch during this process and reduce the heat a bit if the mixture threatens to spill
over the sides of the pan. Sprinkle in all but 1/3 cup of the coconut and
allow the mixture to boil about 5 minutes more, or until the glaze thickens
just a bit. The glaze will be thinner than most cake frostings. Remove from
the heat, and add the vanilla.

To assemble the cake, place one layer on decorative serving plate. Spoon
about one-fourth of the glaze over the top of the cake layer. Repeat with
the remaining layers and glaze, sprinkling the remaining 1/2 cup of coconut
over the cake’s top.

The cake is best made a few hours ahead so that the glaze can ooze thrugh
the layers. Because it is so moist, the cake keeps , coverd for several

Technique Tip: In the oldest Texas cookbooks, coconut dessert recipes called for grated coconut and coconut milk made from the fresh fruit. References to coconut milk disappeared quickly, however, probably because of the effort required to prepare it. Water, milk, or a combination of the two became the easy substitute. Now you can get canned coconut milk-not to be confused with cream of coconut-and it’s worth seeking out. Look for it in Asian food markets or regular supermarkets in areas with Asian communities.

Makes a four-layer cake serving 10-23

Texas Home Cooking Pages 520-521