All professional photo credits (and it’s obvious which are professional): Betwixt Studio.
Four years ago today at about five in the afternoon, TD and I finally made honest people out of one-another. That’s right, we gathered about a hundred of our favorite people together and got hitched, institutionalized, joined together as one, holy matrimonied, entered into a civil union. It was a good day.
We laughed, we cried, I wore fabulous shoes, we ate hot fudge brownie sundaes. It could not have been a more perfect way to kick-off the rest of our lives. With one exception. The cake. Now don’t get me wrong, our cake was just fine. Even better than fine even. It was huge. HUGE. And beautiful.
And, well, sort of boring.
After tasting cake at no fewer than half-a-dozen bakeries, we settled on lemon. With some sort of lemon filling (but not curd) and buttercream frosting. Safe. Classic. Sure to please the crowd. But what we really wanted? What we’ve been talking about in the four years since? Coconut cake. With a lime curd filling and fluffy white chocolate buttercream.
I think four years of marriage and nearly eleven years of thick, thin and everything in between deserves a little lime in the coconut. Don’t you?
My search for the perfect coconut cake was satisfied by a recipe posted in the L.A. Times years ago. It is in fact, a great recipe. The cake is dense with a very fine crumb and hearty enough to stand-up to whatever you want to top it with. Without frosting, it makes great coconut muffins. I will say that this recipe takes some time. It calls for separating the eggs and then beating the yolks until pale and creamy.
These are added to a butter and sugar mixture.
Dry ingredients are added alternating with coconut milk and then whipped egg-whites are folded-in at the last minute.
While the cake was in the oven, I turned my attention to the lime curd. Of course you can buy great lime curd at the store. But, it’s cheaper to make your own.
Over a double-boiler, butter, lime juice, zest, sugar and eggs are gently cooked until thick.
Cooled and stored in a jar or container, lime curd will last for weeks. Which is good because I made the cake and curd the week before I actually assembled the cake. I froze the cake so it would be easier to split and the curd was stored in the fridge where I, of course, had to try it every day just to make sure it was still good (it was, oh yes, it was).
On the day of construction, all that needed to be made was the frosting. As you know there is more than one way to frost a cake. For this particular cake I used a very rich, very sugary white chocolate butter cream. This is serious stuff and great for decorating.
Melt some white chocolate together with a quick pour of milk (I used buttermilk).
Whisk until smooth and set aside.
Then, cream butter and vegetable shortening together (you can use all butter if you want. I wanted a frosting that would stand-up to a little abuse and so used the shortening for body). To this, eight–yes 8 cups of confectioner’s sugar are slowly added.
Until everything is very stiff and formal and your kitchen takes on that crunchy-sweet smell of a professional bakery.
And finally, the white chocolate is gently blended into the whole mess.
After leveling and splitting the cake, it was time to assemble. For the first phase, I filled a pasty bag with about a third of the frosting. This just makes it easier for construction. So that the lime curd didn’t squeeze out the sides, each layer first got a protective barrier of frosting.
Then I spread a thin layer of curd and carefully covered the curd with a layer of frosting.
Repeat three times.
Then, I covered the whole thing in a thin crumb layer and let it chill a bit in the fridge.
When ready to frost, I covered the whole thing in a nice, thick layer of frosting. To be honest, I’m not much of a decorator. In my experience, the less I “mess” with the decoration, the better the product tastes. But, since this was for a special occasion, here is what I did. After frosting the whole thing, I dipped my off-set spatula in really hot water. After quickly drying it, I smoothed-out the frosting on the cake, repeated until I’d sort of “slicked-down” the entire cake (the picture below is pre-slicking).
Then I added some frills along the edges and some curled white chocolate to the top. Et voila! Festivus cake!
The lime curd helped balance-out the sweetness of the frosting which played well off-of the rich nuttiness of the coconut. Sort of like TD’s and my marriage. He’s the sweet, I’m the tart and we’re both a little nutty. Ahhhahha…be sure to tip your server at the end of the night, I’ll be here all week.
Why is it called Festivus Cake? Well. When TD and I got engaged, people kept asking us what the theme of our wedding would be. Theme? Wasn’t marriage enough of of theme? Apparently not. So at some point TD began telling people that we had chosen a Festivus theme. What with the feats of strength and airing of grievances, we figured it was wholly appropriate. The name stuck and our pending nuptials were thus referred to as Festivus.
Before the recipe, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite pictures from our wedding. Amy and Maurice from Betwixt Studios produced hundreds of aesthetically stunning “memories” from our wedding. This is NOT one of them. We both look like we’ve got sticks up our butts; a sort of Southern Californian Gothic. While it isn’t particularly flattering of either one of us, this photo makes me laugh every time I see it. And laughter is what I think of when I think of that day and our lives together (yes, this is true even when it’s really, really, really hard).
Adapted from The Ultimate Coconut Cake, L.A. Times
- 1 C unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 C sugar (I used superfine)
- 4 eggs, separated
- 4 1/3 C cake flour, sifted
- 1 1/2 TBS baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 C coconut milk (most coconut milk comes in 11-14 ounce cans, just make up the difference with regular milk or buttermilk)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease, flour and line with parchment 3 (8 or 9-inch) round cake pans
- Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl, set aside.
- Using a hand-mixer or the whisk attachment in a standing mixer, cream the egg yolks until pale and thick. Set aside.
- Wash and dry beaters. In a separate bowl, whip egg whites into soft peaks. Set aside.
- Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar and beat until very light, two-to-three minutes. Add beaten egg-yolks to the butter mixture blending well.
- Add flour mixture and coconut milk to butter in three parts, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Add-in vanilla and beat thoroughly.
- Fold-in beaten egg whites. Pour batter into prepared pans, spreading to the edges (batter will be very thick). Bake until a toothpick inserted into one of the cakes comes out clean, 35 minutes. Cool 15 minutes. Loosen and invert onto racks to cool completely.
adapted from allrecipes.com
- 1 C superfine sugar
- 1/4 C butter
- 3/4 C fresh lime or key lime juice
- 1 TBS lime zest
- 2 eggs, beaten
- Place the sugar, butter, lime juice and lime zest in the top of a double boiler. Stir over medium-high heat until the butter melts.
- Mix 2 TBS of the hot lime mixture into the beaten eggs and stir to blend.
- Reduce heat to medium until water just simmers. Slowly whisk egg mixture into the lime and sugar mixture. Cooke until mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon: about 30-25 minutes.
- Let cool and spoon into glass container. Cover and refrigerate.
White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
adapted from Wilton
- 18 ounces white baking chocolate, chopped
- 1/4 C milk
- 1 C solid vegetable shortening
- 1 C butter at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 8 C confectioner’s sugar
- 1/4 C milk (yes, this is on here twice for a reason)
- Microwave chocolate with 1/4 C milk on medium for 1-2 minutes stirring halfway through cooking time. Chocolate may not appear entirely melted. Whisk mixture until all lumps are smoothed. This can also be done in a double boiler.
- Cream butter and shortening. Add vanilla.
- Gradually add sugar, one cup at-a-time beating well. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar is mixed-in, icing will appear very dry.
- Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.
- Fold in chocolate and mix until blended.
If you aren’t going to use immediately, cover frosting so that it does not dry-out.
Assemble cake as desired.
P.S. Apparently Festivus also includes the sending of embarrassingly (who am I kidding, I’m not embarrassed in the slightest) huge and gorgeous flowers.