THE CAKE SLICE bakers decided to take a “trip” to the islands with this month’s Pina Colada Cake!
Pina Colada Cake
From: Sky-High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes
By: Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne
Brown Sugar Cake (makes three 9″ layers)
3¾ cups cake flour
1¾ tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2¼ cups packed light brown sugar
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1¾ cups buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and line the base of three 9 inch cake pans. (I butter my pans, place the parchment paper bottom liners in the pans and then butter the top of the parchment paper liners as well.)
Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl. Whisk gently to combine. Add the brown sugar, butter and 1½ cups of the buttermilk to the dry ingredients. With the mixer on low blend to incorporate. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
Whisk the eggs with the remaining ¼ cup buttermilk and the vanilla and add to the batter in 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl well and beating only long enough to incorporate between additions. Divide the batter between the 3 pans.
Bake for 25-28 minutes or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the layers cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper and allow to cool completely. (I baked for 25 minutes. To ensure I could make a whole cake this month … you might remember last month half of one of my layers crumbled when I removed it from the pan … I let the cakes cool almost 20 minutes in the pans. When I took the cakes from the oven they were nice and high in the pans, but they did “settle” a bit upon cooling.)
For the filling (I made 1 and 1/2 times the recipe … next time will double!)
1 can (20 ounce) crushed pineapple in juice (no added sugar)
1 cup sugar
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 one inch piece of vanilla bean split in half
Combine the pineapple, sugar and lime juice in a pan. Add the vanilla seeds you scraped from the vanilla bean. (I tossed in the vanilla bean pieces for added flavor. Just remember to remove them when cooking is complete.) Warm over a medium-low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, 2 to 3 minutes. Raise the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the juices have almost completely evaporated and its turned jam-like in consistency. (This takes a while, do not expect it to happen in just a few minutes. Watch so it does not burn.) Let the filling cool completely before using. Can be made a day in advance and refrigerated. (Next time I will make the day before!)
Coconut Buttercream (I doubled the recipe … can never have too much icing!)
3 eggs whites
1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
2½ sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk (I found this in the Asian aisle in the grocery
1½ tsp coconut extract (I used about one teaspoon of almond extract. I have not
found a coconut extract that I like.)
Put the eggs whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whip attachment so they are ready to go.
Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and place over a medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil and cook without stirring until the syrup reaches the sold boil stage, 238 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
Beat the egg whites briefly at medium speed. Slowly add the hot syrup in a thin stream, being careful to avoid the beaters. Continue to whip until the meringue has cooled to body temperature.
With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the butter, several tablespoons at a time and continue to beat until a smooth fluffy frosting forms.
Add the coconut milk in several additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl well after each addition. Add the coconut extract and mix until smooth. (At this stage I increased the speed of my mixer to medium-high. Be patient … it takes some time for this icing to come together!)
9 tbsp rum – light, amber or dark (I used pineapple juice instead of rum.)
Coconut flakes and thin slices of pineapple (Optional to use as decorations.)
Place one layer flat side up on a cake stand. Sprinkle a generous 3 tbsp rum over the cake. (I used pineapple juice.) Spread half of the pineapple filling over the layer, leaving a small gap around the edge. Add the second layer, sprinkle with more rum and cover with the remaining pineapple filling. Top with the third layer and sprinkle with the remaining rum.
Frost the top and sides of the cake with the coconut buttercream. Decorate with some thin shreds of coconut and slices of pineapple.