This cake owes its stunning looks to a billowy meringue frosting that’s spiked and browned all over with a kitchen torch.
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Position racks in the bottom and top thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.
Butter three 9×2-inch round cake pans and line each with a parchment round. Butter the parchment.
In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a 1-cup liquid measure, mix the coconut milk with the vanilla.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add about one-third of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until incorporated. Add half of the coconut milk and mix until incorporated. Continue adding the flour mixture and coconut milk, alternating the two and ending with the flour. Add the sour cream and mix until incorporated. Pour the batter into a large bowl.
In a clean mixer bowl and using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a spatula, gently stir a large spoonful of the whites into the batter to loosen it, and then fold the remaining egg whites gently into the batter.
Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Level the batter with a spatula. Set two pans on the top rack and the third on the lower rack. Stagger the pans on the oven racks so that no pan is directly over another. Bake, swapping and rotating the pans’ positions after 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes total. Cool on racks for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the racks, remove the parchment, and cool completely.
In a medium bowl, whisk 1-1/2 cups of the cream and the egg yolks.
Combine the sugar and flour in a medium saucepan. Add the cream mixture and cook, whisking, over medium heat until smooth, 2 minutes. Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking, until thickened to a pudding consistency, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the coconut, butter, vanilla, and salt and let cool to room temperature.
With an electric hand mixer, whip the remaining 1/2 cup cream to soft peaks. With a spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the filling.
Put the sugar and egg whites in the metal bowl of a stand mixer (make sure it’s clean) and set over a pot of simmering water. Whisk constantly until the sugar melts completely, 3 to 4 minutes. Rub a small amount between your fingers to make sure all of the sugar grains have melted.
Transfer the bowl to the mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, and whisk at low speed until the mixture becomes completely opaque and begins to thicken, about 4 minutes. Raise the speed to medium and beat until thickened to soft peaks that barely hold their shape and flop over when the beater is lifted, 5 to 7 minutes. Finally, raise the speed to high and beat until glossy and thickened to medium-firm peaks that stand up stiffly but curl slightly at the tip when the beater is lifted, about 4 minutes more.
Using an offset spatula, apply the meringue thickly over the entire cake—don’t worry about spreading it smoothly or you’ll overwork the meringue (you may not need all of it). Then, repeatedly poke your fingertips into the meringue, pulling it into spikes all over the cake. Remove the waxed paper strips.
Using a kitchen torch, brown the meringue by holding the torch 2 to 3 inches from the meringue and waving the flame over the cake until it’s browned all over.
Make ahead: You can bake, cool, wrap, and store the cake layers at room temperature for up to 1 day or freeze for up to 1 month. You can refrigerate the assembled cake (without the meringue topping) for up to 4 hours before decorating it. Wait to make the meringue until you’re ready to finish the cake.
Web extra: Watch a video where Test Kitchen contributor Nicki Sizemore shows you how to make the meringue, sculpt it into peaks and spikes, and torch it for a toasty, caramelized finish.
I have made this cake numerous times and it has always been a success. It is a labour of love! It has been so popular that I made it for a friends wedding!
Absolutely fantastic! Have made this several times. Moist. Flavourful. Show piece. Yes...time consuming. But worth it. It is now my husbands birthday cake.
I never would have thought about putting the meringue on the cake. I love coconut but this surpassed any I have ever made. My new all time favorite. MOIST! That is the key word and the flavors are not slight. Perfectly sweetened. A great recipe period. This one is not only for special occasions but every occasion now.
Fantastic. Turned out exactly like the picture and tasted divine... I made this for a cooking club, both because it's labor intensive and because I knew I would need help eating it all. Everyone LOVED it. It was even better the next day straight from the fridge! The cake is dense and moist, with a nice coconut flavor that isn't over powering.Tips: make sure your eggs are room temperature. Cook the custard filling until it really thickens, and then refrigerate for at least an hour - it is much less runny once it really cools. For the meringue - use a stand mixer if you can and don't give up! I only had a hand mixer with me and it took a long time to make the meringue, maybe 20+ min of mixing. Using my stand mixer would have been much easier/faster. I had a lot extra, so I made french meringues - drop tennis ball sized dollops on a parchment paper covered baking sheet and bake at 275F for two hours or so.
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