I don't make cakes very often, especially not layer cakes. I never really liked layer cakes as a kid because they were always dry, flavourless, and kind of boring. The cakes at my friends birthday parties always looked so delicious and I would always have some, but the minute the cake entered my mouth, it would suck up all the moisture, I'd be struggling to swallow it, and all I wanted was a glass of milk to wash it down. So I learned early on that cake = dry, no ifs, ands, or buts.
I have since corrected that in my own cakes, but I still prefer mousses and custards to a cake. Unless it's a mousse cake, then HELLO - that's all me.
This cake, however, is not like most cakes. This cake is moist and almost custardy in texture, then I went and put passion fruit curd in between the layers for even more custardy-ness. This cake will never dry out your mouth or have you reaching for a glass of milk. This cake is all you need.
I'm gonna be honest, I did not think this cake would turn out. I hardly ever make up a recipe completely like I did with this cake. I tend to take an existing recipe and use it as is or modify it slightly. There have been countless times that I modified a recipe a little too much and it went straight to shit, so I'm wary of making anything that comes straight from my overactive little mind.
And to make it even harder, I was using an ingredient I had never used before - coconut flour.
When I was asked if I could make something with coconut flour, I was like, "Yeah, no problem, how hard can it be?" without even looking up what coconut flour was. Once I actually googled it, I found out that it acts differently than regular flour. It's more absorbent and you definitely can't use it 1:1.
I looked through all of my 27 baking and pastry books and there was not one single recipe involving coconut flour. I started to panic. But I had already committed to this idea and there was no turning back.
I looked up cake recipes using coconut flour and wrote up a basic cake recipe that took bits and pieces form several of the existing recipes. Then, I modified that even more to include more flavour and more texture. It looked good on paper, so I went to work on it.
When the batter looked much different than I expected, I began doubting myself.
When it took 15 minutes longer to bake than I expected, I thought about how long it would take to make a new recipe and re-do it all.
When it had cooled and was kind of sticky to the touch, I had already resigned myself to the fact that it would be sub-par.
Still, I continued. Maybe it could be saved. I split the cake into layers and ended up snacking on the trimmed bits. The cake was not bad. It was actually pretty good. Soft and moist, good coconut flavour, a bright acidity from the pineapple. Things were looking up!
I was only able to taste the cake after the photos were taken but by that time, I was much more hopeful. And it was great! The cake itself was moist and flavourful, the passion fruit curd was perfectly sour, the vanilla buttercream rounded out all that acidity, and the toasted coconut on the outside gave the toasty crunchiness needed. So, really, just an awesome cake from the inside out.
It's pretty cool that coconut flour is really just ground up coconut meat, so it adds flavour in addition to acting as a flour substitute. Another cool thing is that coconut flour is packed with fibre and protein. I'm definitely not one of those healthy bakers, as I'm sure you can tell from what I make on this blog, but it's nice to know that what I'm eating isn't completely devoid of all nutritional value.
Coconut flour actually contains twice as much fibre as bran does (and tastes a lot better than cardboard bran cereal and bars) and three times as much fibre as wheat flour. The only downside to that is that you will feel more full on less cake and so you probably can't eat three slices of cake. Well, you can, but you'll probably throw up. Coconut flour also contains more protein than wheat, rye, white, and cornmeal flours.
I don't know about making bread with coconut flour, but I bet you could make some mean muffins and quick breads with it! I love pairing coconut with fruit, so along with the protein and fibre, it's easier for me to convince myself that eating cake for breakfast isn't that bad.
If you want to check out more cool facts about coconut flour and order your own, check out the coconut flour page on Nuts.com!
Coconut, Pineapple, and Passion Fruit Layer Cake
Coconut Pineapple Cake
215 g eggs
100 g granulated sugar
53 g melted unsalted butter
200 g pineapple purée
5 g vanilla paste
50 g coconut flour
1 g baking powder
100 g finely shredded coconut
Passion Fruit Curd
Recipe from The Modern Cafe
79 g passion fruit purée
8 g lemon juice
100 g granulated sugar
105 g egg yolks
132 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
57 g egg whites
86 g sugar
170g unsalted butter, soft, cut into 1/4 inch dice
5 g vanilla paste
100 g finely shredded coconut
For the cake, preheat the oven to 325 F. Prepare a 6 inch cake pan. Sift the coconut flour and baking powder and set aside.
Combine the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer set over a pot of barely simmering water. Whisking constantly, bring the eggs up to 60 C. Remove from the heat, transfer to the mixer, and whip on medium-high speed until the eggs have tripled in volume.
Combine the melted butter, pineapple purée, and vanilla paste. When the eggs have tripled in volume, reduce the speed to medium and slowly pour in the butter mixture.
Gently fold in the coconut flour and baking powder. Fold in the shredded coconut. Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
For the passion fruit curd, combine the passion fruit purée and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil.
Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a small bowl. Pour about one-third of the hot purée into the yolks, whisking constantly. Add the remaining hot purée. Place the mixture in a bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water. Cook the curd, whisking constantly, until thickened and the temperature is about 82 C.
Remove from the hot water bath and whisk for a minute to cool it down. Strain the curd through a fine-mesh strainer.
Using a Vitamix or an immersion blender, blend on low speed for a few seconds, then add the butter 2 to 3 pieces at a time, blending until incorporated. Let the curd cool to room temperature.
The curd can be used at this point or transferred to a covered container. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate for up to 4 days. When using the curd after it has been refrigerated, whisk to get rid of any lumps.
For the buttercream, whisk together the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and place over a double boiler. Whisking constantly, warm the egg whites until the mixture is no longer gritty. Immediately transfer to the stand mixer and whip on medium-high for 4 minutes, until glossy and no longer warm.
Slowly add the butter, piece by piece, until the buttercream forms. The buttercream may look like it has split initially, but if you continue to whip, it should form a smooth, fluffy buttercream.
With the mixer on lower speed, add the vanilla paste, stopping to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
To build your cake, place your cake on a turntable. Trim the top of the cake so it is flat and split the cake into three even layers. Place the top two layers on a baking sheet and set aside.
Place one round of cake on your turntable. Pipe a spiral about 120 g of passion fruit curd onto the first round, starting about 1 cm from the edge of the cake and working your way to the centre. Place the second cake layer on top and gently press down. Repeat the process with the remaining rounds, but do not pipe curd on the top of the third layer. Place the cake in the fridge for 10 minutes.
Take the cake out of the fridge. Apply a crumb coat of buttercream to the cake, then refrigerate for 20 minutes. Apply the rest of the buttercream to the cake and smooth the corners, sides, and top. Refrigerate for another 10 minutes.
While the cake is refrigerating, toast the coconut. In a large frying pan, toast about 50 g of coconut at a time over medium heat. Stir and toss the coconut every minute to get an even golden colour. Transfer to a clean bowl. Repeat with the remaining 50 g of coconut.
Gently press the toasted coconut into the buttercream.
Refrigerate the cake and bring it out 30 minutes prior to serving so it can come to room temperature.