Strawberry Coconut Cake – a light, moist, heavenly coconut cake topped with creamy frosting; served with fresh strawberries and strawberry sauce. A guaranteed way to make any occasion deliciously elegant!
HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY, FORK IN THE KITCHEN!
Wow, whoa, whaaat?! How has it been a year since I first posted the nostalgic post: Molly Beth Bars? I never imagined I’d be here a year later, some 70 posts in, with no end in sight. It took a long time to get here… grab a slice of cake, a cup of coffee, and let’s take a look back…
For years I wanted to start a food blog; I was always taking photos of food, I loved to bake, and being in the kitchen was my happy place. I fell in love with photography in high school, and my secret little dream was to have a house with my own dark room. Well, technology has other ideas and the high hopes of my own darkroom aren’t exactly realistic anymore. Things change, I adapt, and now we’re here.
I never really pursued any kind of photography once college started, but it was always in the back of my mind. After my first year of teaching, I finally invested in my first dSLR camera. But guess what, that pesky thing called fear stopped me from doing anything with it. Well, anything more extensive than practicing once in awhile in my kitchen, or walking around the Johns Hopkins campus snapping some shots. The little voice in my head held me back from taking it any further.
Finally, a few years later I looked that fear in the face and said “so what – what have I got to lose?”. It’s one of those things where you look back and scream “why in the world didn’t I do that sooner?!”
Side note: if you’ve had something in the back of your mind that you’ve been putting off out of fear, GO DO IT! You deserve to at least see where it leads you, because you just never know.
Back to looking fear in the face, and how I finally took the plunge to be a food blogger…
I was in North Carolina, living on an island,
but more-or-less in the middle of nowhere (which is still true). I had picked up an “in between” job when I first moved down to finally be in the same city as Jason and to get out of Baltimore. Moving was my new adventure, and a chance to regain my sanity after the past two years of teaching. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go back into the classroom, and I wanted to take the time to decide. I always thought I wanted to teach, and now, I had some serious cognitive dissonance going on, because the one thing I thought I always wanted to do, I wasn’t so sure about anymore. And nothing confuses a girl more.
Jason was at the beginning of a seven month deployment when the small law firm I worked for downsized, and I quickly found myself unemployed.
What do they say – chaos precedes great change?
This unemployment, while being in a new city and state, alone, was exactly what I needed to finally take the plunge to start my food blog – because no matter where I’ve been in life, when it throws me lemons I find myself in the kitchen. Everything about being in the kitchen is like therapy for me – it helps me think clearly and brings balance back to me when life gets hectic. So I knew that in this weird, strange, confusing time in life, when I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I knew testing out a new recipe or kneading dough for homemade baguettes made me happy, it made sense.
Thus, Fork in the Kitchen was born; I was at a fork in the road of life, and the kitchen was my answer.
And so, one year ago, I looked fear in the face, told it to f-off, and realized that I didn’t need to be perfect to pursue something I love. It takes vulnerability to live a wholehearted life (who said it first? Love me some Brene Brown).
I’ve grown immensely in the past year- as a photographer, recipe developer, writer, and human being.
I cannot thank YOU enough for being on this journey with me – for celebrating food and life together, because none of us have to be perfect to chase the things we love.
Now that we’ve got the background of how we got to where we are, let’s get to the reason we’re all here — the birthday cake.
Strawberry Coconut Cake is how I’m celebrating this year. Strawberries have always been my favorite, and coconut has just recently become a flavor I find myself seeking instead of avoiding. So for a little mix of tradition and something new – staying true to myself but being a bit vulnerable – I knew I had to combine the two. Just like the birth of Fork in the Kitchen, this cake is a little symbolic, too! 😉
Here we have two layers of light, moist, coconut cake, and it’s basically Heaven on Earth. When you didn’t think it could get any better, the rich, creamy, smooth coconut cream cheese frosting makes each bite melt in your mouth.
Then the strawberry sauce. Ohmygod. Let the sun shine down, because there’s no better combination to be had. OUT. OF. THIS. WORLD.
Ahhh, the perfect balance of sweet, creamy, and coconut. Excuse me while I go grab another piece…
Listen up though – you must sift the flour as directed in the recipe. I tested this cake a few times, and this last time I sifted the flour. Now, I know I’m confessing a baking sin here, but I don’t always sift my flour when I’m supposed to. IT WAS THE BEST VERSION OF THIS CAKE YET. Sifting was the only thing I did differently – so I am begging you – follow this step. All I do is use a fine mesh strainer to sift flour, as I don’t have a technical flour sifter, so y’all don’t have to worry. It takes two seconds and makes all the difference.
Unfortunately, this is my only shot of the cake with strawberry sauce (and it’s not as pretty as I’d like – no need to be perfect, see story above). While the cake is super delish with just fresh strawberries, I highly suggest making the strawberry sauce too – it definitely takes it to the next level without much more effort.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for supporting Fork in the Kitchen for the past year – cheers to YOU!
Strawberry Coconut Cake
- 1 cup buttermilk lukewarm
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups all-purpose flour sifted
- 1 1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut loosely packed
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup butter 2 sticks, room temperature
- 5 egg yolks room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/4 teaspoon coconut extract
- 4 egg whites room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces cream cheese room temperature
- 1/2 cup 1 stick butter, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons coconut extract
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- ~1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut for topping
- 2 cups diced strawberries approximately 16 strawberries
- 1/3 cup strawberry preserves or jam
- 1/2 small lemon juiced
- Additional strawberry halves for garnish
- Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two round 9-inch cake pans; line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Microwave buttermilk for approximately 20 seconds, or until lukewarm. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and baking soda. Set aside; liquid will expand.
- In another medium mixing bowl, sift flour and stir in coconut. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together sugar and butter until thoroughly combined. Once sugar and butter is creamed, add room temperature egg yolks one at a time, beating between each addition. Mix in vanilla, almond, and coconut extracts. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions, beating just until blended between each addition.
- Using clean beaters, beat egg whites and 1/4 teaspoon salt in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Fold in half of the egg white mixture into the batter until combined. Fold the rest of the egg white mixture just until blended. Divide evenly between cake pans.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean and cake bounces back when lightly touched. Cool on cooling rack for 10-15 minutes. Run a knife around edges, invert pan onto cooling rack, and gently remove parchment paper from the bottom of the cake. Cool cake completely before frosting.
- Using an electric mixer, blend together cream cheese, butter, and coconut extract. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, blending between each addition and scraping sides as needed. Continue blending for 3-5 minutes on medium speed until light, fluffy, and smooth.
- On a cooled cake, frost one layer's top, place the second layer on top, and frost top and sides of cake. Lightly pat shredded coconut on top and edges of cake.
- In a food processor, puree diced strawberries, preserves, and lemon juice. Serve on side of a slice of cake.
Inspired by Epicurious.