Fresh Coconut Cake

For cake layers
1 cup milk (not nonfat)
1/2 cup grated fresh coconut
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 large egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
For frosting
3 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/2 cups grated fresh coconut

Make cake layers:
Bring milk just to a boil in a small heavy saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in coconut. Cover and let stand 30 minutes. Purée in a blender.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 2 (9- by 2-inch) round cake pans and dust with flour, knocking out excess.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in whites, vanilla, and almond extract until light and fluffy again, about 2 minutes. Add half of flour mixture and beat on low speed just until blended. Beat in coconut-milk mixture, then remaining flour mixture, just until blended.

Divide batter evenly between cake pans. Bake in middle of oven until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool layers in pans on racks 5 minutes. Run a thin knife around edges of pans, then invert layers onto racks to cool completely.

Make frosting:
Heat whites, sugar, water, corn syrup, and cream of tartar in a large metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, whisking, until mixture is warm and sugar is dissolved. Beat mixture, still over heat, with a handheld electric mixer on high speed until thick and fluffy, about 7 minutes. (Depending on mixer and weather, this may take longer.) Remove frosting from heat. Add vanilla and beat until cool and spreadable.

Assemble cake:
Brush any loose crumbs from layers and put 1 layer upside down on a serving plate. Spread with about 1 1/4 cups of frosting and sprinkle with ? cup coconut. Place other layer on top, right side up. Frost top and sides of cake (you may have some frosting left over) and sprinkle with remaining coconut.

Cooks' notes:
-If egg safety is a problem in your area, you may want to use either pasteurized egg whites in the carton or reconstituted powdered egg whites for the frosting.
-Cake may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, loosely covered. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Extracting the meat from a coconut is not as difficult as you may think. Pierce several of the coconut?s eyes with a screwdriver or sharp metal skewer. Drain the thin, clear liquid into a bowl and taste it: If it's oily rather than sweet, the nut is rancid and should be tossed out. Bake the whole coconut in a shallow baking pan at 400°F until it cracks, about 20 minutes. When it's cool, wrap it in a towel and break it apart with a hammer. Pry the flesh from the shell with a screwdriver or a dull table knife and peel off the brown membrane with a vegetable peeler. Rinse the coconut under cold water and dry. Grate the coconut, using the medium shredding disk of a food processor or the medium teardrop-shaped holes of a four-sided grater, and chill, covered, until ready to use.

Source: www.epicurious.com

Prepared by: Lena for the October 2000 meeting