“When I was growing up, no matter how tasty my mother’s main courses were, dessert was always the high point of our meals. Mama rarely purchased store-bought sweets–everything was hand-whipped and baked in the oven. In those days (early sixties), women used their scratch cooking skills as part of their ‘technique’ in their love affairs. My grandmother used to say, ‘I don’t care who a man is, or how important he deems himself to be, all men desire at least one good meal a day.’ In my family, a meal wasn’t much without dessert.”
“People always want to know about my favorite dessert. Every time they ask what it is, I give a different answer. Truth is, the seasons influence my taste buds. In Michigan, where I live, apples, pumpkins, squash, and yams, are plentiful during the fall season. Add a few warm and fragrant spices, a cup or two of sugar, and a few pats of real butter, and you’ve got yourself a satisfying treat. I love summer desserts that are brimming with fresh fruits and berries. Berry pies look so feminine resting on a counter-top. My mother used to say, ‘A man sees brassieres and petticoats all the time…but a nice little homemade pie sitting on the counter, isn’t something he’s gonna see that often.’ ”
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened 2 sticks
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs separated
- 3 cups cake flour sifted
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1 cup boiling water
- 3 large egg whites
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups sweetened flaked coconut for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour three 9-inch round cake pans. Set them aside.
- To make the cake, in a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar thoroughly until
- light and creamy.
- Add the egg yolks one at time, beating well after each addition.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture, alternating with the milk, beating after each addition. Stir in the coconut and vanilla extract.
- In another bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.
- Fold them into the cake batter. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of each layer comes out clean. Transfer the pans from the oven to wire racks.
- Allow to cool in their pans for 10 minutes, then unmold them onto the wire racks to cool completely.
- To make the frosting, in a large saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and boiling water.
- Bring to a boil over medium-low heat, and cook until the mixture spins thread and reaches 242 degrees on a candy thermometer.
- In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.
- Pour the sugar and syrup mixture over the egg whites, beating constantly.
- Add the vanilla extract, then cool the frosting until firm enough to spread.
- Transfer one cake layer to a serving platter; spread 1/3 of the coconut frosting on top. Sprinkle coconut on top.
- Top with another cake layer and spread with the second third of the frosting. Sprinkle more coconut on top.
- Top with the remaining cake layer, then spread the remaining frosting on the top and sides of the cake.
- Sprinkle with the remaining coconut, pressing gently into the frosting if you want to.
Miss Essie Brazil's Three-Layer Coconut Cake
Recipe courtesy of Patty Pinner's Cookbook Sweets: A Collection of Soul Food Desserts and Memories