You may be noticing a trend here, with the mini bundts and the cream cheese frosting; trust me, this is an excellent trend. One of the toppings suggested for this cake was actually a coconut buttercream, which I considered (because I had done two cream cheese frostings in a row), but in discussing the matter with the Main Squeeze, he confirmed my concern about trying a frosting I didn't know if we would like, especially when I had had such success with the cream cheese frosting thus far. And we were right. The coconut cream cheese frosting was perfect!
I associate coconut cake with my great aunts. These are the sort of women whose stories from their lives just makes you feel like a slacker (the same was true of their sister, my grandmother). I have the utmost respect and love for them. My Great Aunt Jane is currently battling pancreatic cancer, and tough as she is, the conclusion, unfortunately, is foregone. She's currently 89; she's lived a very full life. Up until last summer, she insisted that the maintenance crew at her retirement community leave the lawn mower, so that she could mow her own lawn--that's the sort of strong woman she is. She and my other great aunts, when they make coconut cake, they grate the fresh coconut themselves. I don't think I'm quite that committed, but like I said, compared to them, I'm just a slacker. :) And although this may not be their coconut cake recipe, it is very, very good! And I'll think of them whenever I make it.
Here's the recipe (from Kiss My Bundt):
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 coconut extract*
3/4 cup whole milk**
1/2 cup coconut milk
* The recipe says this is optional, but I don't think you'll get the proper coconut flavor without the extract (plus you need it for the frosting).
** The recipe says that you can substitute the milk with more coconut milk, which is what I did, and I highly recommend it. So, instead of 3/4 cup of milk and a 1/2 cup of coconut milk, you would use 1 1/4 cups of coconut milk.
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2) Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together and set aside.
3) Beat butter with an electric mixer until creamy, about 2 minutes.
4) Slowly add the sugar. Mix for about 2 minutes.
5) Crack eggs in a separate bowl and add to the batter one at at time. Then beat on medium speed for additional 2 minutes.
6) Mix vanilla, coconut extract, and the two milks together (or just the coconut milk if you are going with that option--go with that option).
7) Beginning and ending with the flour, mix 1/3 of the flour into the wet mixture at low speed, then 1/2 the milk, alternating until all ingredients are mixed.
8) Transfer batter to cake pan(s) that have been coated with a baker's cooking spray that includes flour (or grease and flour the pans), filling until the cavity is about 3/4 full.
9) Bake cake(s) until an inserted toothpick or cake tester comes out clean--about 40 minutes for a regular-sized bundt pan and 18 - 22 minutes for mini bundts.
10) Invert cake(s) onto a cooling rack or serving plate. If cake resists, cool in the pan for 15 minutes before inverting. (It it/the still resist, then let them sit for 15 minutes more). Cool completely before frosting, at least one hour for a regular-sized bundt. Mini bundts are probably closer to 15 - 20 minutes.
As I finished up the batter, I realized that neither the cake nor the frosting called for any actual coconut! That struck me as not quite right, so I decided to add shredded coconut to the frosting (next time I make it, I might also add it to the cake itself). I added a 1/2 cup of shredded coconut to the frosting, which was perfect. Since it turned out that I was short on confectioner's sugar, I did half sweetened coconut and half unsweetened coconut, but I would definitely recommend sticking to unsweetened coconut (unless you only have sweetened, in which case, it'll be totally fine).
So yes, I was about to start the frosting, when I realized that I had forgotten to get more confectioner's sugar from the store. After some cursing, I decided to wing it. I think I had about a cup of confectioner's sugar (so half of what's called for). We also happened to have a box of superfine sugar (which we bought for cocktail making, but haven't had a cocktail recipe that called for it since then), but knowing that confectioner's sugar is sugar mixed with cornstarch, I didn't want to straight substitute superfine for confectioner's, so I used just half a cup of that. I sifted it with the confectioner's sugar, hoping that might help. I think having the coconut in the frosting helped to hide any granular-ness of the superfine sugar. So it turned out okay, but I wouldn't recommend using non-confectioner's sugar as a regular practice.
Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting:
4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened (again, I used Neufchatel, it worked very well here)
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 cup shredded coconut (preferably unsweetened, but sweetened is fine--of course, if you are like my great aunts, you can grate your own fresh coconut)
With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and cream cheese until soft and completely smooth, at least 2 minutes.
Turn the mixer speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar a 1/2 cup at a time, making sure to scrape down any frosting stuck to the sides of the bowl.
Add coconut extract.
Mix on medium speed until frosting is smooth and fluffy.
Add the shredded coconut and mix until the coconut is throughly incorporated.
This cake got rave reviews from my coworkers; so yeah, if you like coconut cake, or just coconut, I definitely recommend it.