Hellloooo, coconut– I missed you. You know how sometimes there’s an ingredient that you love, but don’t use all that much, and then when you do use it, your love for said ingredient smacks you in the face? That’s me and coconut. It’s not something I grew up eating, and in fact, I was possessed of the preposterous notion that I didn’t like it for many years, but at some point, the truth of coconut was revealed to me, and it’s one of my favorite things now. For a reason that I cannot articulate, I don’t use it nearly enough, and that needs to change. Fortunately, this week’s recipe for Baked Sunday Mornings is Dolly’s Doughnut from Baked Occasions, a coconut-chocolate Bundt cake in honor of Dolly Parton’s birthday made to look like a giant, festive donut. While I don’t necessarily have a personal affinity for Dolly Parton, I do find the gusto with which the gentleman bakers celebrate her charming, and I am perfectly happy to oblige with a glazed, sprinkled, delicious cake.
The cake consists of 3 components: the coconut batter, chocolate-coconut filling, and white chocolate-coconut glaze, and there are 3 types of coconut up in here! The coconut flavor and aroma are very prominent due to the coconut extract, coconut milk, and shredded coconut. The coconut batter is made using the typical creaming method. You’ll cream together the butter and sugar in a stand mixer, then add the eggs and egg yolks, followed by coconut and vanilla extracts. (By the way, it is 100% worth the trouble of tracking down pure coconut extract. It’s not the easiest thing to find in the realm of supermarket extracts, but some well-stocked markets carry it, or you can easily get it online.)
You’ll then mix in 3 additions of the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt) alternating with coconut milk. The cake batter has a medium-thick consistency and a beautifully swirly appearance.
The recipe then instructs to transfer the batter to a clean bowl, wash the mixer bowl, and make the filling in the original bowl. I found it easier to make the filling in a separate bowl with a hand mixer. It is made by beating the cream cheese to a fluffy texture, then adding the shredded coconut, melted dark chocolate, an egg, and sugar, followed by folding in a bit of the coconut cake batter. I was surprised by how dense this mixture was– it somewhat resembled fudge in thickness, and it was difficult to fold in and incorporate the cake batter.
The cake assembly involves pouring half of the coconut batter into the bottom of the cake pan, then adding the filling, followed by the rest of the coconut batter. But first– make sure your pan is well greased and floured! The instructions specifically say to “make sure the pan’s nooks and crannies are all thoroughly coated”, which I’ve learned means this cake is likely to stick to the pan if your greasing is on the lax side. I do this right before pouring the batter because cooking spray tends to pool in the bottom of the pan as it sits.
Anyway, I scraped what seemed like half into the pan, and because the filling was so thick, I had to literally scoop it in– keeping it corralled in the center (away from the pan edges) was not the least bit of a problem because the filling basically sat in stiff globs on top of the cake batter. However, I was afraid I had put too much batter in the bottom, as I barely had enough left to cover the filling. Luckily, the heavy filling sinks a bit while baking, so it was fine.
I felt that this might be a tricky cake to test for doneness because of the chocolate filling, and I kept telling myself to be patient– the top of the cake still looked fragile at 50 minutes (minimum suggested baking time), as though it would collapse, and although most of it seemed done according to my clean toothpick, there was still raw batter in the cracks that had formed. The cake finally began to form more of a crust and started to pull away from the pan edges at 58 minutes, so that’s when I pulled it out.
I allowed it to cool almost to room temperature before attempting to unmold it. The deep existential dread and anguish that is Flipping a Bundt Cake settled over me. This feeling is especially potent for those “make sure the pan’s nooks and crannies are all thoroughly coated” cakes. On my first try, the cake completely refused to drop out of the pan. I was afraid one of the following would happen:
- The top half would get ripped off the cake
- The center was unbaked
- The whole thing would sink and collapse
I took a breath, left it alone for another 5 minutes, and tried again. Fortunately, none of those things happened, and the second time, after a few firm taps, the cake dropped in one shiny, intact piece. I could see the darkness of the chocolate slightly peeking through the coconut batter, but it did stay completely enveloped in cake batter– winning!
While the cake cooled the rest of the way, I made the white chocolate-coconut glaze, which was rather an adventure… insofar as Bundt cake glaze can be considered an adventure. Adding the confectioners’ sugar to the whisked mixture of coconut milk and coconut and vanilla extracts yielded a thick paste, which was only slightly less viscous with the addition of the melted white chocolate– in other words, not remotely pourable. I thinned it with coconut milk, then half-and-half when I ran out, and finally added red food coloring to make a bright pink glaze. It was still thick and ribbony, a seemingly appropriate consistency for drizzling. However…
The glaze was an odd consistency, such that it simply poured down the cake, leaving only a thin layer behind, while the rest dripped all over. Into the center of the cake. Down the sides. Down the parchment paper. Onto the counter. Onto the floor.
This was a first; I guess I thinned it a weeeee bit too much. The remaining glaze developed a wrinkly, dry-looking texture, so it did not end up being the prettiest Bundt I’ve ever made, not even corrected by a shower of brightly colored sprinkles! (But maybe they’re at least mildly distracting?)
Then came the most challenging part of this cake: moving it. Because of the icing overflow, the cake got stuck to the parchment on the cooling rack, which necessitated lifting it with two big flexible spatulas. This essentially worked, but caused big chasms in the cake. It then proceeded to stick to the cake stand, and further broke apart in transit to its ultimate destination, the cake carrier.
Despite the frustration of said fragility, the cake was wickedly delicious and tender! The flavor is super coconut-y, and the chocolate filling was sweet and fudgy. I honestly could not have been more pleased with how the cake tasted. The texture was perfectly soft and fluffy; I loved everything about it. And every time I took the cover off of the carrier, that dreamy coconut aroma filled the room– heaven!
I brought the cake to share with coworkers, but it was inexplicably not popular compared to other treats I’ve brought in. I don’t know if people were still in holiday hangover mode or if they think they don’t like coconut (they’re wrong)… but it left me eating an embarrassing amount of delicious cake… 😀
Incidentally, if you’re not into the coconut-chocolate combination, and/or if you prefer a clean, white look, I think this would be both gorgeous and delicious made with just the coconut batter, and glazed in white (omit the pink color), with a shower of toasted, shredded coconut on top.
As I grumbled in trying to minimize the damage from moving the cake, I thought it would be too much trouble to make it again. But then as I enjoyed it anew throughout the week, I realized that I need this cake in my life, fragility and all. I strongly encourage indulging your coconut dreams whenever possible, starting with this cake. You can find the recipe for Dolly’s Doughnut at Baked Sunday Mornings, and please take a peek at my fellow bloggers’ “doughnuts” too! 🙂
© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2016.