How to make the most flavorful and delicious coconut cake without ruining with sugar is easy to do. Desserts are supposed to be enjoyable. This Coconut Cake is one of the best copycat cake ever. Adding spices and using less sugar was the best idea ever. The original recipe is good as well but too sweet to my liking.
A cake should have the right amount of spices and sugar. When a cake needs to be decorated with icing, I would recommend reducing the amount of sugar in the batter. By reducing the amount of sugar in the mixture, the taste is well balanced, and you won’t feel as if you are eating pure sugar.
Did you know that Confectioner Sugar and Powdered Sugar are the same? They are! One tablespoon of confectioner sugar contains about 8 grams of sugar. One cup as the original recipe calls for it is a lot more than the 8 grams.
In my recipe, I substituted regular sugar for organic sugar because of taste and texture. I find that when using regular sugar, the texture of the cake batter is a bit different, a bit mushy or a bit pasty whereas organic or raw sugar adds more texture, more definition to the finished coconut cake. The taste is a bit grainer with organic or natural sugar than with regular white processed sugar.
Another observation is the amount of sugar. I have changed my eating habit quite a bit. For many years I have been reducing my sugar in several of the dessert recipes. I cut the amount of sugar mostly because it is better for my health. I have been experimenting a lot with different types of sugars and prefer baking cakes with raw or organic sugar because of texture.
“Some organic, raw sugar advocates claim that organic raw sugar has more nutritional value than regular white sugar because the natural molasses has not been processed out of it. According to Monica Reinagel, chef and board-certified nutritionist, there is no meaningful difference between the nutritional value of white sugar versus organic raw or natural sugar. Both types of sugar are chemically recognized as sucrose, contain the same caloric count, and are processed by the body in the same way.” http://www.livestrong.com
Do you use organic sugar?
Baking cakes or desserts with organic sugar is by choice, and with this coconut cake, it is one of the best decision I’ve made. But let’s take a look at what we are dealing here. If we calculate the amount of sugar in this coconut cake you will notice that the original recipe has 2 cups of sugar, 4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut, 1 pound confectioners’ sugar, and 6 ounces sweetened shredded coconut so if we calculate the sure, 2 cups of sugar, sugar in the shredded coconut and confectioner sugar.
All of that is equal to sugar, sugar and more sugar. So what do you do when a recipe has a lot of sugar? You start thinking about ways to remove as much sugar you can, without messing up with the taste.
You can reduce more sugar
Reducing the amount of sugar in the coconut is a great choice in my opinion. The sugar taste does not overwhelm the other ingredients in the coconut cake. Besides using another type of sugar, you could reduce the amount of sugar. Many iced cakes are usually overpowered with that taste of sugar. Reducing the amount of sugar in this cake is one of the best ideas you can make and better for your health as well.
Another great idea is the use of spices. Ginger and nutmeg perfected the taste of the batter. Adding flaked coconut in the filling and the icing is also great because the taste of the sugar is not overwhelming.
Flaked coconut does not contain the same amount of sugar as store-bought shredded coconut. Adding fresh shredded coconut was not a choice because of moisture. Freshly grated coconut would have changed the texture unless you reduce the amount from 4 ounces to 2 ounces.
Using freshly grated coconut is a challenge because the whole coconut usually stays in a supermarket for a long time so their meat won’t always be more flavorful than processed coconut. Using the whole coconut which would yield about 3 to 4 cups is not advantageous if you are not planning on using the remaining shredded coconut. I would advise to use the store-bought type unless your coconut was just picked from the coconut tree.
What about flavoring?
For flavor enhancement, I replaced the almond extract with coconut rum. It was a good idea considering that vanilla extract and almond extract is a good combination in the cake icing. I would lastly recommend using a good coconut rum – not the cheap kind. If the cake is for grown-ups, you can also add a little bit of coconut rum in the cake icing to bring out coconut flavor more.
Adding flaked coconut in the cake icing is still the best idea ever. When savoring the finished cake, you get a bit of crunchiness which is an awesome surprise and less sugary.
The original recipe is from Ina Garten. My updated version contains let the sugar and more flavor for this Caribbean girl. LOL Just remember that spices such as nutmeg and powdered ginger do wonders for cake.
- 3/4 pound 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
- 2 cups sugar or 1 ½ cup organic sugar
- 5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract or 1 tablespoon coconut rum
- 3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting the pans
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder optional (my personal addition)
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg optional (my personal addition)
- 1 cup milk (at room temperature – better)
- 4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
For the frosting:
- 1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
- 1/2 pound 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1 pound confectioners’ sugar sifted
- 6 ounces sweetened shredded coconut I used unsweetened Flaked coconut instead
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans, then line them parchment paper. Grease them again and dust lightly with flour. Optional, but not necessary when using good cake pans.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl once during mixing. Add the vanilla and almond extracts (or if using coconut rum), powdered ginger and freshly grated nutmeg if using and mix well. The mixture might look curdled; don’t be concerned.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter in 3 parts, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in the 4 ounces of coconut with a rubber spatula.
- Pour the batter evenly into the 2 pans and smooth the top with a knife. Bake in the center of the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until the tops are browned and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a baking rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a baking rack to finish cooling.
- For the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and almond extract on low speed. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until just smooth (don’t whip!).
- To assemble, place 1 layer on a flat serving plate, top side down, and spread with frosting. Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of flaked coconut on the filling or icing. Place the second layer on top, top side up, and frost the top and sides. To decorate the cake, sprinkle the top with coconut and lightly press more flaked coconut onto the sides. Serve at room temperature.
The flaked coconut add more texture and crunchiness to the icing of the cake.
The original recipe is from Ina Garten. My Coconut Cake version contains less sugar and more flavor because of spices were added and I used flaked coconut instead of shredded coconut.