John Bennet’s Coconut Cake
Not to make this a Blog entirely about Chef Bennett or his recipes but as promised I wanted to post this recipe and the instructions for making it. This recipe is from John Bennett’s grandmother, so there is no telling how old this is, but it definitely stands the test of time. This recipe for coconut cake does not require a ton of skill or time. It is very interesting, in that the way that the custard for the filling is made is very interesting. In fact, I mentioned this to Chef, and he told me that he had actually taken this recipe to James Beard and he had never seen this particular technique either. I told Chef I was reluctant to try it because, I didn’t think it would work. But low and behold, it works beautifully.
The following is the recipe, exactly as Chef Bennett has written it.
1 C Crisco 2 C Instant superfine sugar (domino brand) or granulated sugar put through a food processor 8 yolks (keep whites - 6 in a dish 2 in another) 3 tsp baking powder dissolved in 1 1/2 C milk 1 tsp pure vanilla extract 3C cake flour, triple sifted and measured after sifting. Swansdown is what mama Bennett used but Softasilk is more available cream Crisco in mixer, gradually add sugar until light and fluffy Add yolks, one at a time, beat well after each Add 1/2 C of milk with baking powder, add vanilla alternate milk and flour, scraping frequently mix until just incorporated and light Divide among 4 nine in. cake pans, buttered and floured or parchment that has been buttered and floured Bake 350* about 25 min until light brown and cake springs back Remove, cool a few minutes and turn out Filling - 2 of egg whites 1/2 C superfine sugar 6 TBSP cake flour 2 1/2 C milk, heated in non stick saucepan 3/4 cup Angel Flake Coconut 4 TBSP butter 2 tsp Vanilla extract in mixer, beat eggs whites until not quite stiff beat in sugar then flour pour small amount of hot milk into egg white, sugar, flour paste stirring with whisk Add warmed mixture back into leftover milk in saucepan and place over low heat and cook until thick Remove, add butter, vanilla and coconut While mixture is warm not hot, assemble the COOLED cake dividing the filling among the 3 layers then topping with the 4th layer after I will out skewers or toothpicks to hold cake until filling has set completely. ICING beat remaining egg whites in mixer with 1/2 tsp cream of tartar until soft peaks form add 1C superfine sugar beat until incorporated. DO NOT over beat or icing will be too stiff. Ice cake then use 1C angel Flake Coconut to top and sides. allow to set 30 minutes cut with knife dipped in hot water. I do not refrigerate as it loses its supple taste and texture