as promised . . .
- 1 stick (113g) of unsalted butter
- ½ cup (105g) Coconut Oil, Crisco shortening or . . . if you’re feeling naughty, lard
- 2 cups (450g) granulated sugar
- 5 egg whites, beaten
- 5 egg yolks
- 2 cups (150g) all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1 teaspoon (4.2g) baking soda
- 1 cup (240g) buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon (4.2g) Penzey’s Double-Strength Vanilla Extract
- 1 small can (100g) coconut†
- 1 cup (125g) chopped pecans
† This is an old recipe given to me about 20 years ago by a co-worker; I have adapted it to my own tastes. As neither coconuts nor pecans are native to Italy, it is doubtful the recipe’s origins are truly in that lovely land . . . unless Christopher Columbus pillaged it during one of his many voyages of conquest. I do not believe that baking coconut is available anymore in a can. I use 1 cup (100g) Baker’s Brand Sweetened Coconut, available at regular grocery stores and online at Amazon.com in a 14 oz plastic bag.
- Preheat the oven to 350℉ (177℃) and grease three (3) x 8 inch (appx. 20 cm) pans.
- Whip the egg whites and set aside.
- Beat together the butter, fat, and sugar.
- Gradually add the egg yolks.
- Sift together the flour and baking soda.
- Combine the buttermilk and vanilla.
- Gradually add liquid ingredients into the batter, alternating with the flour mixture.
- Add the coconut and pecans to the batter.
- Gently fold in the egg whites.
- Divide batter evenly into the three prepared pans and bake in oven for 35–40 minutes.
- Have someone recite the magic words ††.
- Remove and cool on wire racks.
- 1 lb (453.5 g) box Powdered Sugar
- ½ stick (56g) unsalted butter
- 8 oz (227g) cream cheese
- 1 tsp (4.2g) Penzey’s Double-Strength Vanilla Extract
- Chopped pecans, to suit (1 cup/125g or more)
- In a stand mixer, beat well all ingredients except the pecans.
- Frost between the layers first, then frost the top and sides of the cake.
- Dust the top and sides with chopped pecans.
- Display and serve in a glass-domed cake plate.
- Enjoy with coffee, cappuccino, milk, or hot tea.
We made the cake pictured above for the wedding of my friends Eddie Hostetler and Carolyn Dienes on the occasion of their wedding which occurred in the midst of the global Covid-19 Pandemic on April 18th, 2020. Officiating was another friend, Minister Garnet Saunders. The groom’s mother, Hilda Mae, age 88, attended as the Matron of Honor. Friends Tom Schrachta and Liz Roth both sang gifts of song for the couple.
†† I do not (necessarily) believe in magic words, nor am I a Roman Catholic. I do, however enjoy lighting candles and I also like the particular words quoted below. They can be found printed in Spanish and English on the back label of devotional candles bearing the image of St. Martin de Porres, found in ethnic grocery stores and bodegas, certain Catholic gift shops, and select voodoo shops nationwide:
"To you Saint Martin de Porres we prayerfully lift up our hearts filled with serene confidence and devotion. Mindful of your unbounded and helpful charity to all levels of society and also of your meekness and humility of heart, we offer our petitions to you. Pour out upon our families the precious gifts of your solicitous and generous intercession; show to the people of every race and every color the paths of unity and of justice; implore from our Father in heaven the coming of his kingdom, so that through mutual benevolence in God men may increase the fruits of grace and merit the rewards of eternal life. Amen."
It is worth noting, in these troubled times, St. Martin de Porres is the patron saint of mixed-race people, barbers, innkeepers, public health workers, and all those seeking racial harmony. Don’t like those words? Fine . . . see if I share any of my baking secrets with YOU any more!
Here is the poem I wrote for the occasion: