Coconut Cake With Strawberry Cheesecake Layers & Vanilla Buttercream
As I write this post I have to say that making this cake was both immense fun and a great challenge. I have seen so many amazingly talented cake makers post the most gorgeous cakes on Instagram but I'm not a professional cake maker and so I would look on in awe at these gorgeous creations!
But when my Mum asked me if I could make a cake for my parent's joint birthday party I knew this was the opportunity I had been waiting for! I was so excited and knew I had to try my hand at creating one of these amazing cakes - so you could say this cake is a labor of love and that is the best motivator of all. Honestly though, while it looks like a massive task, with a bit of planning it is a lot easier than it looks. I promise if you give it a go, you'll be hooked on creating your own masterpieces!
Now this cake is four layers as it was designed to feed a rather large gathering but you can easily halve the quantities and make a very nice cake for a smaller party or occasion.
The flavors of this cake are light and delightful, the slight hint of coconut in the cake, the freshness of the strawberries to lighten up the cheesecake filling in the layers, all covered in my favorite Super Simple Buttercream Frosting recipe.
Now if you are going to create a large cake like this here are a few important tips:
1) Plan, plan, plan! I did my cake in stages so that I did not feel overwhelmed by the task at hand, this is how I did it:
One day for cakes with overnight cooling.
The next day was the making of the strawberry cheesecake filling and the buttercream and the assembly of the cake layers and strawberry cheesecake filling which was then followed by the first layer of buttercream to crumb-coat, Once done I placed it in the fridge to set overnight but usually 20 minutes is enough if you want to frost the same day.
The next day I did did the finishing touches including the smooth buttercream frosting to cover the cake and all the decorating. If you wanted to, you could just do the cakes one day and everything else the next but I planned it this way as I had to fit everything in to a very busy daily schedule, so this worked for me.
2) I found it easier to do my buttercream in three batches because it is too much to do all in one lot and it doesn't take a lot of time. If your cake mixer or hand mixer can handle huge volumes just go ahead and triple the recipe from the get go. You can also easily make the frosting in a Thermomix in a few minutes but again, I would suggest making it in smaller batches so your machine can do what it has to do and you end up with a nice consistency.
2) You need to ensure that you use a cake board, so you have a strong movable surface. The cake will get heavy so be careful when moving.
3) You need to ensure you have the right tools. A cranked spatula, cake scraper and a rotating cake stand will make your life a lot easier. Below are some of the tools I used which I got from my favorite kitchenware store Kitchen Witch in Joondalup. I also picked up my cake board from there as well.
Revolving Cake Stand Cranked Spatula Cake Scraper
With the actually assembly of the cake a few handy tips:
1) Allow your cakes to cool and set completely before using otherwise they will be too soft. It's best to make them a day in advance and allow to cool completely before using.
2) When adding your filling between layers, keep the layers thin and do keep the edge filling free so that when you add the coming layers the weight doesn't make it squish out.
3) I made my cakes in 4 separate batches so that each cake would be exactly the same thickness. I would suggest getting two tins of the same size and making the batches separately but baking two at a time to save time and money.
4) If using fresh flowers, leaves and/or berries, ensure they are clean and pesticide free. Also try to arrange your flowers, leaves and berries onto your cake as close to the serving time as possible and also refrigerate to ensure they stay fresh and beautiful for your event. Also it is important NOT to stick the stems into your cake. I used flower wire wrapped around the stem and then I cut the wire to length and inserted the wire into my cake to hold the flowers in place.
YOU WILL NEED
For each cake (You will need to make 4 cakes so you can times this recipe by 4 if you like)
2 large egg whites
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tablespoon coconut flavoring essence
1+1/2 cups plain flour
2 + 1/4 cups baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup | 113 grams | 4 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup light coconut milk
Strawberry Cheesecake - for the layers
400g |14 ounces strawberries finely chopped
2 cups | 500g | 18 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup icing sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup thickened or whipping cream whipped until it holds it's peaks
Super Simple Butter Cream Frosting x 3 (Triple this recipe if you like but it's easier to make in smaller batches)
300g | 10.5 ounces butter roughly chopped and room temperature
500g | 17.6 ounces icing sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla or flavor of your choice
1 tablespoon hot water
Extra buttercream (you will not need all the buttercream to coat your cake)
Half a cup toasted coconut flakes
Fresh flowers leaves and berries (food safe, no chemicals or pesticides used)
Flower wire (fine green wire available from your local florist)
Fresh macarons (optional)
Gold edible dust (optional)
Edible pearls (optional)
Metallic number decorations (optional)
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Grease and line 2 x 21cm / 8" round cake pans and set aside.
In a small mixing bowl add the egg whites, milk and coconut essence and whisk with an electric beater and fluffy and light.
In a large mixing bowl add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and gently mix together.
Chop the butter into small pieces and then add the butter and coconut milk to your flour mixture. Either using your cake mixer or an electric beater, combine on a low speed until just combined and then turn up to medium until well combined. Add the beaten egg white/milk mixture in 2-3 additions, gently incorporating the ingredients. Scrape the bowl down if you need to to ensure all the ingredients are incorporated.
Add the batter to your prepared cake tin and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer or toothpick comes out clean.
Allow the cake to cool for approximately 10 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack or plate to cool completely. If cooling on a plate ensure it is lined with baking paper so that it does not stick to the plate.
Strawberry Cheesecake Filling
Chop up your strawberries into small pieces, add 2 tablespoons icing sugar and set aside covered in the fridge for a couple of hours to release their excesses juices.
In a medium sized mixing bowl add the cream cheese, icing sugar, lemon juice and vanilla. Use an electric mixer, at low speed to gently combine the ingredients, once combined, turn to medium speed and beat until well combined.
Fold in the whipped cream and give a quick beat once more with the electric mixer to ensure it is smooth and well mixed.
Once the liquid has come out from the chopped strawberries, drain away the fluid and using a spatula or wooden spoon mix the chopped strawberries into the cream cheese filling. Set aside in a cool area but do not refrigerate or it will set.
Super Simple Buttercream
In a large bowl combine the butter and sugar together and gently hand mix to ensure that the butter and icing sugar and combined. Then with an electric beater or in your cake mixer beat until well combined and light and fluffy and the sugar has essentially "melted" into your butter so that it is no longer grainy. (You can also do this in a Thermomix.) This will take a several minutes in a regular cake mixer.
Add the vanilla and hot water and beat again until well combined.
Store in an airtight container until needed. Do not refrigerate or it will harden and become difficult to use.
Please note the above recipe is for 1 batch of buttercream you will need 3 batches for this recipe.
Place your first cake layer on your cake board, ensuring it is on the center of your board. Add just under a third of the strawberry cheesecake mixture spreading an even layer with a regular or cranked spatula ensuring you leave a slight boarder around the entire edge of the cake, about 1cm / 0.25 inches to account for slight spreading when you top the cake with more layers. Do not worry if there is a bit of a gap on the edge as the buttercream will fill it later.
Continue adding the cake and strawberry cheesecake layers until you are done, ensuring the cakes and cheesecake layers are nice, straight and even - DO NOT ADD ANY CHEESECAKE MIXTURE TO THE TOP OF THE CAKE. You may have a little cheesecake mixture left over that is fine you don't need to use all of it.
If you have never crumb coated or frosted a large cake before please watch this very useful video first https://youtu.be/GL8hcxqv0o0
Place your cake onto your revolving cake stand and using your cranked spatula, begin to crumb coat your cake. Starting at the top add your buttercream and continue to work your way down, smoothing the frosting over your cake with your cranked spatula. Use your rotating cake stand to help you turn and frost the cake easily. Using your cake scrapper, and rotating your cake cake stand, hold the straight edge of the cake scrapper against the cake and rotating the cake gently scrap off any excess frosting and smooth down the frosting.
Allow to set in the fridge for at least 20 minutes (I kept my overnight) before frosting your cake.
To frost your cake, place your cake onto your revolving cake stand and using your cranked spatula, begin to frost your cake. Starting at the top, add your buttercream and continue to work your way down, smoothing the frosting over your cake with your cranked spatula. Use your rotating cake stand to help you turn and frost the cake easily. Using your cake scrapper, and rotating your cake stand, hold the straight edge of the cake scrapper against the cake and while rotating the cake gently scrap off any excess frosting and smooth down the frosting to get a nice finish.
Using your cranked spatula, add a thin coating of buttercream to the entire base of your cake and press in the toasted coconut.
To decorate your cake cut your flowers, leaves and berries to your desired length and using your flower wire, wrap a little around each stem to secure it, cut the wire to you desired length and arrange the flowers, leaves and berries over your cake.
Using a little buttercream, stick your macaroons as desired.
Gently push your edible pearls into the cake as desired
Using a brush or your finger, randomly rub a little gold dust over the exposed surface of the cake.
If using number/letter decorations add onto your cake. Place onto your cake stand ready to serve.
Keep cake refrigerated and remove about 30 minutes-1 hour before serving. Ensure that all wires, leaves and flowers are removed before serving.
SERVES APPROXIMATELY 50