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Our State recipes: make your cake a Christmas centerpiece

The December issue of Our State Magazine shows you how to turn your fruit, coconut, and red velvet cakes into a Christmas centerpiece

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The joy of Christmas is all around us and in North Carolina that has a lot to do with your holiday table traditions.

In the December issue of Our State, recipe developer Chef Lynn Wells shares three dessert recipes that will make your cake of choice the centerpiece.

This month's issue features delicious desserts including Red Velvet Peppermint Pound Cake, Dark Chocolate Mousse with Chambord Raspberry Cream, Chef Lynn's traditional Horne Family Fruitcake, and Coconut Layer Cake.

Here's the recipe for the coconut layer cake.  You can find all of the recipes in the December issue of Our State, which is on stands now.  

Yield: 12 servings.

2½ cups cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1½ sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1⅓ cups granulated sugar

5 large egg whites, at room temperature

½ cup sour cream, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons coconut extract

1 cup canned coconut milk, at room temperature

1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Coconut frosting:

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature

5 cups powdered sugar, sifted

2 tablespoons canned coconut milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon coconut extract

⅛ teaspoon salt

2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut or coconut flakes

For the cake: Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans with cooking spray, line with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper.

Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and up from the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat in egg whites until combined. Add sour cream and vanilla and coconut extracts. Beat until well combined.

With the mixer on low speed, gradually add dry ingredients and coconut milk. Beat on low speed until combined, then add shredded coconut. The batter should be slightly thick.

Pour batter evenly into cake pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool completely in the pans on a wire rack.

For the frosting: Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Switch the mixer to low speed, add powdered sugar, coconut milk, extracts, and salt. Increase speed to high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add more powdered sugar if frosting is too thin; add more coconut milk if frosting is too thick.

To assemble, use a large serrated knife to slice a thin layer off the tops of the cake layers to create a flat surface. Place one layer on a cake plate and evenly spread about 1½ cups of icing on top. Top with the other cake layer. Using an offset spatula, spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of cake. Cover the cake with coconut, sprinkling on top and pressing into sides. Refrigerate for 2 hours before slicing.

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