Thursday, 16 August 2012

Chocolate & Coconut Birthday Layer Cake

A few months back a guy from my church sent me a text asking if I could make a birthday cake for his wife. I love making cakes, especially birthday cakes! I will bake cakes any day of the week if I am asked, try me - it's true! but unfortunately the date of her birthday was the same day as my very last ever university exam for my masters degree.  

As much as I love baking and it will generally take precedence over anything else scholastically related or other...even if I had to draw the line at replacing last minute revision by a baking session...

but I really didn't want to let him down, after all he had showered me with compliments in the text message about how his wife loves following my blog and everything I make and no other cake would be good enough.

So I told him, if he didn't mind it being a day late, I could whip it up the evening after my exam and drop it round the next day and so it was a done deal! 

The only guidance he gave me was that she likes things that are pink or girly, and I knew she was a lover of coconut so this coconut and chocolate layer cake complete with plenty of pink and plenty of girliness was created!

I used my go to chocolate cake recipe but substituted the regular milk for coconut milk.  I decided it was looking a little too pink and so came up with the idea to pipe little chocolate frosting swirls all the way around the top of the cake.  I melted a little coconut chocolate into the frosting too to give it a coconut hint.  

After I dropped it off, I received a text message from the husband saying he had been given the duty of cutting it since his wife thought it was too pretty to cut so I think it went down well! 

If I had a picture of the inside of the cake you would see pink frosting peeking out from all the chocolatey layers but as thorough as a food blogger as I am, giving someone a birthday cake with one slice cut out of purely for photography purposes is a definite no-no, so you'll have to use your imaginations or bake one up for yourself to see the prettiness! 

Chocolate & Coconut Layer Cake:
Serves 16

230g good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids - I used Lindt)
170g unsalted butter, at room temperature
350g light soft brown sugar
3 large eggs, free range or organic, separated
370g plain flour, sifted
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
500ml coconut milk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons good quality vanilla extract (I use Nielsen-Massey)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Grease three 8" cake tins (this recipe makes 3 cakes, I had a silicone cake tin disaster with one of my cakes so only ended up using 2 in the end!)
Break the chocolate into pieces and melt in 30 second intervals in a glass bowl in the microwave, or using a bain marie.  Set bowl aside to cool. 
Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl for 3-5 minutes until the mixture is pale and smooth.
Put the egg yolks in a separate bowl, and beat them for several minutes.  Slowly add the egg yolks to the creamed butter and sugar and beat well.  
Add the cooled chocolate to this mixture and beat well again.
Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a separate bowl.  
Combine the coconut milk and vanilla extract in a jug.  Add one third of the flour to the creamed mixture and beat well.  Pour in one third of the milk and beat again.  Repeat these steps until all the flour and milk have been added.  
In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks start to form.  Carefully, fold the egg whites into the main batter using a metal spoon (do not beat or you will take the air out of the mixture).
Divide the mixture evenly between the cake tins and bake for about 30 minutes.
Insert a knife into the centre of one of the cakes, it should come out clean if cooked.
Leave to cool in cake tins for 10 minutes.  Gently run a knife around the edge of the cake and release cake from the tin, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  

Coconut Frosting:
Makes one batch (I used two batches to frost the above cake)

375g icing sugar
120g unsalted butter, softened
40ml coconut milk

Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer on medium speed until the mixture comes together.  
Add coconut milk and beat until it has been incorporated.
Turn up to high speed and beat for 5 minutes until the frosting is light and fluffy.
Tint the frosting using red gel colour to the desired shade of pale pink.
Repeat this again to make a second batch (I don't like to make double batches in one go because when you're dealing with such large amounts of icing sugar it leaves a sugar covering over everything in your kitchen!)

Chocolate Coconut Frosting:
Makes half a batch (enough to pipe the swirls above)

45g dark chocolate (70% Lindt)
45g dark coconut chocolate (I used Lindt Excellence)
113g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 tbsp semi-skimmed milk, at room temperature
1/2 tsp good quality vanilla extract
145g icing sugar, sifted

Melt the chocolate in 30 second intervals in a glass bowl in the microwave until smooth.  Leave to cool slightly.  In a freestanding bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, milk, vanilla extract and icing sugar until smooth - this can take several minutes.  Add the melted chocolate and beat again until smooth.

To Assemble:

Level your cakes using a very sharp knife or a cake leveller.
Apply a generous amount of coconut frosting in between each layer of cake.  Apply a final thin crumb coat all over the cake.  Put in the fridge for 30 minutes.  Take out of the fridge, and apply a very thin layer of coconut frosting.  Smooth it out using a sharp knife dipped in hot water.  
Using a open star tip or a 1m nozzle, pipe the remainder of your coconut frosting around the outside of the cake, starting in the middle and working your way out in small circles to create the swirls.
Do individual swirls on the top of the cake using the chocolate-coconut frosting.  Finish with a pink sugar heart on each swirl. 
Melt chocolate candy melts in a small bowl.  Put in a piping bag once slightly cooled.  Pipe out the writing you want to put on top of the cake on to a piece of parchment paper.  Once it is completely cool and hard, transfer it to the top of the cake and press it into the frosting.


  1. This is a gorgeous cake! I love coconut!

  2. Wow she was a very lucky lady. I love the pattern on the sides - its really striking. You should defo be doing this as a job!!!

  3. Stunning cake! You did a great job after your must have been exhausted!

  4. I'm sure you know what I'm going to say ;) The cake looks absolutely stunning - love the rose piping effect and it's suitably pink and girly. I'm impressed that you baked this straight after your exam but I know exactly how you feel as I'm the same with baking :)

  5. Great cake! Lauren should be very pleased with your efforts.

  6. What a lovely cake chocolate and pink make a great colour combination - fabulous!


  7. Looks beautiful. SO sweet the husband went to the trouble of asking you. Well done, you did a fab job

  8. A beautiful cake! Hope the exam went well!

  9. Wow, this is a bit of a looker!!! It makes me think of those cakes you can get in bakeries in France. I love the piping on top too! :-)

  10. Stunning! Love the frosting swirls on the side and it makes for a great contrast with the chocolate swirls on top. I bet she loved it. Haha - I always feel a bit gutted if I don't manage to get an interior shot too, food bloggers through and through!

  11. What a pretty looking cake, I love the decoration and the pink and brown colour combination. Clever idea substituting the ordinary milk for coconut milk. I bet the flavour was brilliant.

  12. Oh wow! This is a gorgeous cake! Love the rosette frosting, so sweet! Great combo with chocolate & coconut too! :)

  13. OMG I love the frosting how do you make the roses?!? I wish I could decorate like that!!! :) I bet it tastes even better hehe ~

  14. Just saw this cake and thought - wow if I could choose any cake for my birthday next week it would be this....and then I saw it was for a lucky lady called Lauren which is my name too! It must be fate. Is it the done thing to make your own birthday cake?

    1. Definitely fate!! haha, I'm not sure if it's the done thing but it's certainly what I have to do around these parts so I say give it a go! Happy birthday for next week!



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