Creamy Coconut Cake

Creamy Coconut Cake | Anecdotes and Apple Cores

I spent a long time researching coconut cake options. As much as I bake…and I bake A LOT…I had never made a coconut cake before. With Easter and Mother’s Day on the horizon, I knew I needed to find the perfect recipe. The recipe I’d write out on a recipe card and keep close to my baking pans for years to come.

Creamy Coconut Cake | Anecdotes and Apple Cores

After a few days of pulling up every coconut cake recipe I could find, I settled on this one. And I’m so glad I did. This recipe required a secret ingredient (and who doesn’t love secret ingredients?): coconut milk powder. The coconut milk powder replaces some of the flour in the recipe leading to a rich, creamy, and moist layer cake. Once you try using it, you won’t go back. I can’t wait to add coconut milk powder to other cake recipes too! Because it doesn’t impart as much as flavor as texture and richness.

Easter Dress

We had a perfect Easter, spent with family, on a beautiful Colorado day. This cake was the star of our mid-day lunch…but it would be as equally fitting for Mother’s Day, which is just around the corner.

Creamy Coconut Cake

From King Arthur Flour

3 cups (12 ounces)e Cake Flour
2/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) coconut milk powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (5 ounces) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups (10 ounces) sugar
6 large egg whites (about 1 1/4 cups; packaged liquid egg whites work fine, too)
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) whole milk, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 drops coconut flavoring

Coconut Frosting
1 (14-ounce can) unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter
5 1/2 cups (22 ounces) confectioners’ sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla or 3 to 4 drops strong coconut flavoring

1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded sweetened coconut

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Soak two cake strips, if you have them. Grease and flour (or line with parchment circles and spray with nonstick spray) two 8-inch square cake pans that are at least 2 inches deep.

To make the cake: Whisk together the cake flour, coconut milk powder, salt, and baking powder; set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until the mixture is extremely light and fluffy; scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl after two minutes of beating, and beat for at least three minutes more. Add 1/4 of the dry ingredients, mix until combined, and scrape the mixing bowl.

Combine the egg whites, milk, and flavorings; add 1/3 of the mixture to the ingredients in the bowl and mix until combined. Continue adding dry and wet ingredients by turns, until all are incorporated. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl one last time, and mix for another minute.

Divide the batter between the two pans, and wrap the outsides with the soaked cake strips. If you don’t have cake strips, place the pans in larger pans and fill the water halfway up the sides of the layers. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cake springs back when lightly touched in the center and the edges just begin to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Remove from the oven and place on a rack; remove the cake strips. Let the layers cool for 20 minutes, then turn out of the pan and return to the rack to finish cooling completely before filling and frosting.

To make the frosting: Set a fine-mesh strainer or colander over a bowl and line it with a clean linen towel. Pour the coconut milk into the lined strainer and let the coconut water drain for up to 2 hours, until you have a thick lump of coconut cream.

After the coconut milk has drained, cream the butter with 2 cups confectioners’ sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat in the salt and vanilla (or coconut extract) until the mixture is smooth. Add the coconut cream and mix, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl. Add the remaining confectioners’ sugar until you have a smooth, spreadable frosting. Cover and hold at room temperature until ready to use.

To finish the cake: Split the cooled cake layers horizontally. Place half of one layer on a serving plate; spread with 1/4 of the frosting. Place the other half on top, spread with another 1/4 of the frosting. Repeat with the remaining layers until you’ve used them all.



A portrait of my daughter every week of 2014.

Some of the best moments of my day? Early afternoon. Lucy has recently awoken from her mid-day nap, and she’s happy to be held, cuddled and tickled. I carry her into our bedroom and we play together on our bed. She laughs and snuggles, and my heart swells with so much love. It makes the less glamorous parts of my day (the dirty diapers, the soaked nursing bras, the dust under the couch) melt away. I’m with my daughter, and we’re both very much in love.

Mom and Lu with HorseAs I type this, sitting on my living room floor, Lucy is crawling up my back and laughing. She’s so active now, and it won’t be long before she’s walking and running. I’m trying to treasure each day of her babyhood because they really are passing so fast. Today, we’ll nurse and play and share oatmeal for breakfast. We’ll walk and snuggle and laugh. Happy Spring and Happy Easter, sweet friends. Thank you for all the love and support.


Healthy Essentials For Spring

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Overnight Pizza Dough

Overnight Pizza Dough | Anecdotes and Apple Cores

I just finished lesson planning. Only a few more weeks of the semester, and I’m happy to report that despite the demands of new motherhood, teaching has been a success. My students, for the most part, seem to be learning…and I think a few of them actually like me. I enjoy getting away two nights each week, and I know that Ryan enjoys the one-on-one time he gets with Lu. And Ryan’s sweet mom joins them each Wednesday for dinner and play. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Overnight Pizza Dough | Anecdotes and Apple Cores

Last week, we made a huge batch of pizza dough on Monday night. This dough is surprisingly simple to pull together, and yet it wasn’t without its challenges. I left Ryan to the recipe while I nursed Lucy to sleep only to discover that he had failed to weigh his ingredients…a must when using any Peter Reinhart recipe (or so I thought). I admit I was a bit perturbed when I realized he’d “guessed” at 2 ounces of olive oil. “That simply won’t do!” I said/shouted. “We’re making another batch. The right way this time.”

Overnight Pizza Dough | Anecdotes and Apple Cores

Ryan, being a wise man, didn’t fight me. He simply bagged up his dough and then sweetly made another batch with me watching him over his shoulder . “We’ll experiment with both batches tomorrow,” he said. And we did.

Much to my surprise (and Ryan’s delight) both varieties turned out wonderfully. My precisely measured dough was a bit wetter (which makes for a more elastic dough) while Ryan’s held up better under the weight of extra ingredients. You can’t go wrong. With or without a scale. And did I mention that this was Lucy’s first time eating pizza? Clearly, it was a win.

Overnight Pizza Dough | Anecdotes and Apple CoresOvernight Pizza Dough

4 1/2 cups (20.25 ounces) unbleached high-gluten, bread, or all-purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 (.44 ounce) teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon (.11 ounce) instant yeast
1/4 cup (2 ounces) olive oil
1 3/4 cups (14 ounces) water, ice cold (40°F)
Semolina flour OR cornmeal for dusting

Stir together the flour, salt, and instant yeast in a 4-quart bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). With a large metal spoon, stir in the oil and the cold water until the flour is all absorbed (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment), If you are mixing by hand, repeatedly dip one of your hands or the metal spoon into cold water and use it, much like a dough hook, to work the dough vigorously into a smooth mass while rotating the bowl in a circular motion with the other hand. Reverse the circular motion a few times to develop the gluten further. Do this for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are evenly distributed. If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes, or as long as it takes to create a smooth, sticky dough. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet and doesn't come off the sides of the bowl, sprinkle in some more flour just until it clears the sides. If it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a tea- spoon or two of cold water. The finished dough will be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50 to 55F.

Sprinkle flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Prepare a sheet pan by lining it with baking parchment and misting the parchment with spray oil (or lightly oil the parchment). Using a metal dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you are comfortable shaping large pizzas), You can dip the scraper into the water between cuts to keep the dough from sticking to it, Sprinkle flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Lift each piece and gently round it into a ball. If the dough sticks to your hands, dip your hands into the flour again. Transfer the dough balls to the sheet pan, Mist the dough generously with spray oil and slip the pan into a food-grade plastic bag.

Put the pan into the refrigerator overnight to rest the dough, or keep for up to 3 days. (Note: If you want to save some of the dough for future baking, you can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag. Dip each dough ball into a bowl that has a few tablespoons of oil in it, rolling the dough in the oil, and then put each ball into a separate bag. You can place the bags into the freezer for up to 3 months. Transfer them to the refrigerator the day before you plan to make pizza.)

On the day you plan to make the pizza, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator 2 hours before making the pizza. Before letting the dough rest at room temperature for 2 hours, dust the counter with flour, and then mist the counter with spray oil. Place the dough balls on top of the floured counter and sprinkle them with flour; dust your hands with flour. Gently press the dough into flat disks about 1/2 inch thick and 5 inches in diameter. Sprinkle the dough with flour, mist it again with spray oil, and cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap or a food-grade plastic bag. Now let rest for 2 hours.

At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone either on the floor of the oven (for gas ovens), or on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven as hot as possible, up to 800F (most home ovens will go only to 500 to 550F, but some will go higher). If you do not have a baking stone, you can use the back of a sheet pan, but do not preheat the pan.

Generously dust a peel or the back of a sheet pan with semolina flour or cornmeal. Make the pizzas one at a time. Dip your hands, including the backs of your hands and knuckles, in flour and lift I piece of dough by getting under it with a pastry scraper. Very gently lay the dough across your fists and carefully stretch it by bouncing the dough in a circular motion on your hands, carefully giving it a little stretch with each bounce. If it begins to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue shaping it. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss as shown on page 208. If you have trouble tossing the dough, or if the dough keeps springing back, let it rest for 5 to 20 minutes so the gluten can relax, and try again. You can also resort to using a rolling pin, though this isn't as effective as the toss method.

When the dough is stretched out to your satisfaction (about 9 to 12 inches in diameter for a 6-ounce piece of dough), lay it on the peel or pan, making sure there is enough semolina flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide. Lightly top it with sauce and then with your other top- pings, remembering that the best pizzas are topped with a less-is-more philosophy. The American "kitchen sink" approach is counterproductive, as it makes the crust more difficult to bake. A few, usually no more than 3 or 4 toppings, including sauce and cheese is sufficient.

Slide the topped pizza onto the stone (or bake directly on the sheet pan) and close the door. Wait 2 minutes, then take a peek. If it needs to be rotated 180 degrees for even baking, do so. The pizza should take about 5 to 8 minutes to bake. If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone to a lower self before the next round. if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone for subsequent bakes.

Remove the pizza from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Wait 3 to 5 minutes before slicing and serving, to allow the cheese to set slightly.

Makes six 6-ounce pizza crusts.

from The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart



A portrait of my daughter every week of 2014.

Sleep. How it evades us. We’re nearing ten months of night-time nursing…and yet I get to wake up next to this sweet face each morning. It’s all worth it. Lucy’s cutting one of her canine teeth, which means she’s struggling with sleep even more. We ended up putting her in her cars eat last night and driving around our neighborhood in hopes the car and movement would lull her to sleep. It didn’t work. Of course.

We finally laid our tired baby in her bed at 10:00 pm. Almost three hours past her bedtime. Lucy was tired. Ryan was tired. I was tired. I tell myself that this season passes quickly. I tell myself that never again will I be “wanted” this much. And I watch her sleep…when she finally does…and all the frustration and exhaustion melts away.