Ah, the Joys of Fall...
Fall is my favorite season. I love Fall so much I got married on the first day of Fall. This year we celebrated our 20th anniversary. Oddly enough, we celebrated by eating at a restaurant named "Spring."
But back to Fall. I love falling leaves and colorful maple trees. That's one good reason to live in Wisconsin. We have lots of colorful trees. I love temperatures in the 60s and 70s. That's exactly what we are supposed to have in Wisconsin this time of year. Ironically, after a relatively "cold" summer, it's 80 degrees outside today.
When it comes to cooking, I love Fall because it's so versatile. It's still warm enough to grill out without having to put on a parka. The harvest is in full swing so there's plenty of local produce. Ice cream even stays solid longer so you don't have to lick your ice cream cone so fast. Football weather. Strolling in the woods weather. Shopping weather. Earlier sunsets. Fall has it all. You can see I'm a major fan of Fall.
Fall is a time when cooking transfers from light salads to more substantial fare. Yet it's warm enough to make the transition back and forth between light and heavier. I made my first lasagna of the season the other day. It seemed too hot for lasagna.
But it wasn't too hot for the dessert. I made a new coconut cake with a lemon frosting. It's an odd combination for me. I usually reserve coconut cake for winter and I relate to lemon flavor in the summer. This cake just happened to work out beautifully, so I thought I'd share it with you so you can enjoy it during Fall or Spring or anytime.
P.S. If you make the Ghirardelli frosting from my website, you'd have a chocolate frosting with your coconut cake and your dessert would taste much like a big Mounds bar. Now that would be a yummy winter dessert! See desserts and look for the chocolate frosting.
Coconut Cake (the easy way)
One box of Yellow cake mix
2 or 3 eggs (use the number recommended by the cake mix manufacturer)
1/2 cup coconut rum (or use water with 1 tsp of coconut flavoring)
1 tsp coconut flavoring
1/2 cup corn or canola oil
1 cup shredded coconut
Put all items except the coconut in your electric mixer. Beat until mixed on low setting. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides. Then let the mixer run on medium high for 3 minutes. Turn to low and add the coconut. Mix just until combined.
Spray two 9-inch cake pans with baker's spray or butter and then flour them. Divide the cake mix in the two pans. Bake according to the 9-inch cake guidelines on the cake mix for time and temperature. Test with a toothpick for doneness. If cake sticks to the toothpick, give baking a few more minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans. When they are cool you can make the frosting.
Lemon Whipped Cream Frosting
1 box instant lemon pudding
1 cup powdered sugar
4 cups whipping cream
Extra coconut for top of cake
Chill the bowl and the beaters you are using to make the frosting. They should be in your refrigerator at least 15 minutes before you start making the frosting. Take the bowl and beaters out of the refrigerator and put the lemon pudding and powdered sugar in the bowl. Stir these around to combine them. Hook up your beaters and add half of the cream. Start the mixer on low speed and gradually increase it just like you are whipping cream for dessert topping.
When it's just starting to thicken up, add more cream in about one-half cup portions. Keep beating and adding cream until you have it all in there. The pudding will start to set and the whipping cream will start to firm up too and form peaks, so don't whip it too long or you'll end up with a buttery mass. Just when it seems to have enough firmness to hold onto the cake and spread with a spatula, you can turn off the mixer and start frosting your cake.
You can use this frosting between layers and on the top and sides. Frosting this cake is no science. There is plenty of frosting. In some places, because the frosting is so light, it might be as much as a half-inch thick or more. Believe me, no one will complain. The first time I made this cake, guests moaned when they put the first bite of frosting into their mouths. When you have the entire cake covered, you can put as much coconut as you want on the top and even the sides. I used about a cup and covered the top and put a ring around the bottom. It was plenty. It looked like a big snowball with yellow trim.
Store in your refrigerator until about 30 minutes before you want to serve it. Store leftovers in the refrigerator too because of the whipped cream.
This cake should serve 8 to 12 people.