I feel like I just completed a marathon. Not the running kind, though there was a lot of physical activity involved. Running to/from the store. Planning, baking, cleaning, putting away, assembling, decorating on top of the usual taking care of 2 small children and managing a household. Before this past weekend, my cake orders were usually 2-3 layer 9 in cakes. Now I had to prepare 2 full sheet cakes to feed 200 people over two consecutive days. Luckily the other cake was an icebox cake that required lots and lots of chocolate wafers that I was able to store in the fridge. I was pretty much at capacity when I baked the first layer of this cake and froze earlier in the week. I had previously made this as 3 layered cake. But the recipe needed tweaking in order to make it more sturdy and stand up to the demands of a sheet cake! The customer requested pineapple filling in lieu of the cream cheese frosting, so if you like pina coladas then this cake is for you! I made two batches using the recipe found here. It was just perfect. The groom to be, after taking a bite could only say “wow”. That’s right. I don’t strive to make the most over the top decorative cakes that look like your favorite handbags. I strive to make the best cake you have ever tasted, every time. I should probably mention this was for a Bengali pre-wedding party called a Gai Holud. The writing on the cake reads “Jamil’s Gai Holud”. It’s a tradition wherein the bride or groom is rubbed all over with turmeric paste and then bathed publicly (with the Bengali equivalent of a bathing suit on). Here in America, we do a more symbolic version. Bride/groom sits on some decorated platform with an array of sweets in front of him/her. There is a bowl of turmeric paste that is rubbed on a small portion of his or her face, then wiped off. This is how I prepped the board for my 16×22 in cake. Because apparently they make pans in that size, but not cake boards or cake boxes. Lame.I don’t usually do crumb coatings, but because I made the amount listed in the original recipe, it wasn’t enough to properly frost a cake of this size, so I used it just to cover the surface. This cake is very tender, very moist, so it needed the crumb coating. The real challenge was in getting the second layer onto the first. The first layer was just inverted by placing the cake board on top of the sheet pan and flipping. But the second layer was not as trivial. I stood over the first layer, second layer in hand for like 5 minutes taking deep breaths before going for it. And it didn’t align evenly! Although I held the cake in place by the bits of parchment sticking out of the edges, I couldn’t fully control how it flipped out of the cake pan so it came out slightly rotated down (by like 10 degrees). I sawed off the parts that stuck out on either side and sort of glued it onto the barren sides with frosting. It worked. The guests were none the wiser. Til now, of course.Traditional henna patterns as decoration and toasted coconut flakes all around for that extra oomph.
Coconut Sheet Cake
Recipe adapted from A Taste of Home. Please note I made two batches of the recipe below for my 2 layer sheet cake. I used the frosting from the link above (also 2 batches).
- 6 eggs, separated, at room temperature
- 2 1/4 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tsp coconut extract
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 3 cups cake flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/3 cup buttermilk at room temperature
- 2 heaping cups sweetened coconut flakes
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare 16x22in sheet pan by lining with parchment paper, spraying with non stick spray or butter, and sprinkling a bit of flour.
- Beat butter at low speed, gradually increasing to medium until light and aerated, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Gradually add 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Beat until light and fluffy – about another minute. Decrease speed to low and add oil. Gradually add the remaining sugar so as not to deflate the butter. Add the six egg yolks, one at a time, scraping down the bowl halfway through. Add the extracts and beat until combined. Stop mixer.
- Sift cake flour, baking powder and baking soda into a medium bowl. Add salt and give a gentle stir with a wooden spoon. Turn the mixer on low and add the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with with buttermilk. Turn off mixer when dry ingredients are just incorporated.
- In a large bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar with a handheld electric mixer starting at low speed and increasing to high speed. Beat until peaks are stiff, 5 to 7 minutes. Add 1/4 of the egg whites to the batter to loosen it up. Add remaining egg whites by gently folding with a rubber spatula, cutting down the middle of the batter, then turning the bowl 1/4 of the way and bringing the spatula up and over. Repeat until you can just barely see the streaks of egg white.
- Pour batter evenly over sheet pan and bake in preheated oven for about 23 minutes. Start checking with a toothpick inserted in the center to make sure it’s done at about 21 min. There should be minimal crumbs on the toothpick.