This could happen to you…
For his fortieth birthday, my friend’s friend got him a festive cartoony cake. He liked it of course! Who wouldn’t love a sheet cake covered in neon frosting depicting a beloved fish character? But I probably would have gotten him something less flashy, maybe even baked him a chocolate cake because baking someone a cake is one of the best acts of kindness there is. One year, a good friend baked me a Hummingbird cake for my birthday and I was really touched by her thoughtful gesture.
Of course, you won’t always have the wherewithal to bake a cake for friends or family so there’s nothing wrong with ordering a beautiful cake from a trusted bakery…
But nothing beats a homemade cake. So this year I decided to bake one for Chuseok. Our family did little to acknowledge this Korean holiday when I was growing up so adding my flair to it helps me to understand its significance in my adult life. Certainly, a traditional dessert like rice cakes would have been completely lovely too…but I’ll have to learn how to make them before I can serve them! So yay cake!
I started with a yellow sheet cake, boiled up a rich frosting…
…and topped off the whole thing with a flurry of shredded coconut.
And loads of love!
Let us all eat cake!
If you’ve never made a boiled frosting, I strongly suggest you do. Before the days of commercial frosting, you had to make your own and, of course, your homemade is leaps and bounds better than anything on those supermarket shelves. And in addition to its nostalgic and Old World value, boiled frosting is rich and velvety.
I bake a lot from Judith Sutton’s Sweet Gratitude and that’s where this frosting recipe comes from:
3 large eggs, room temperature please!
2 1/4 cups sugar
3/8 tsp cream of tartar
7 1/2 tbls water
2 1/4 tsp light corn syrup (or agave which is what I used)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
Makes enough to frost a cake with two 9 inch layers.
1. Combine egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, water, and syrup in a large deep heatproof bowl e.g. Pyrex.
2. Beat on low with a hand-held mixer until ingredients are just combined. Set the bowl over a large pot of simmering water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.
3. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice while beating. Increase speed and beat for another 4 minutes. Or until frosting is thick and shiny, and holds its form. But not stiff peaks.
4. Remove bowl from heat. Add vanilla and beat on high-speed until the frosting holds firm peaks. Fold in 1/2 cup of the coconut with a rubber spatula.
5. Frost your cakes immediately. Sprinkle remaining coconut flakes over your cake.