Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sometimes Things Just Don't Work Out...

You may remember last year's post in which I tried to find my friend Laura's cake, failed, and coincidentally our trip to Hawai'i was coming up and also Easter.  It's that time again.  It's almost Easter, we're on our way to Hawai'i, and I'm going through my recipe box looking for Laura's cake. 

I found another recipe that sounded about right, but the problem was that it used a boxed cake mix, instant pudding, and Cool Whip.  And you guys know that's not how I cook, right?  So I decided to make the whole thing from scratch. 

My poor pineapple had bed head...

 First time I ever opened a coconut.  It wasn't terribly hard, actually...

And this was the product.

 Isn't it gorgeous?!

 And it tasted?



The cake was perfect.  Genuinely wonderful.  The frosting was Spectacularly Awful.  I narrowed it down to the pineapple.  It tasted fine by itself, but somehow when it got mixed in with everything else it was bitter and... I'm just gunna say it... unholy.  It was unholy, people.

So I am giving you the original recipe.  That tastes good.  And not gross.  And I will tell you what I did in case you want to avoid whatever innocent mistake I made that went that horribly, horribly, horribly awry.  

Pineapple Cake
Yellow cake mix (prepare as directed on box)
1 pack (small) vanilla instant pudding
4 oz cream cheese
1/2 pint of half and half
1 can crushed pineapple (drained)
1 C shredded coconut
1/2 large container Cool Whip
Chopped walnuts

Combine pudding, cream cheese, half and half.  Mix till smooth on medium speed for about 2 minutes.  Fold pineapple, coconut and Cool Whip into pudding mix.  Frost cake.  Sprinkle with walnuts.

What I Did
The cake recipe is modified from the All-Purpose Buttery Yellow Layer Cake from The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book, pg. 280.

1/2 C Whole Milk, room temp.
4 large eggs, room temp.
2 tsp vanilla extract*
1 3/4 C (7 oz) cake flour (I used Bob's Red Mill PastryFlour)
1 1/2 C (10 1/2 oz) sugar*
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
16 Tbs (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces and softened
*I found vanilla sugar at the store.  I used 1 C sugar + 1/2 C vanilla sugar

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8- or 9-inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with parchment paper.  Whisk the milk, eggs, and vanilla together in a small bowl.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together.  Using an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat the butter into the flour mixture, one piece at a time, about 30 seconds.  Continue to beat the mixture, one piece at a time, until it resembles moist crumbs, 1 to 3 minutes.

3. Beat in all but 1/2 C of the milk mixture, then increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the batter until smooth, light, and fluffy, 1 to 3 minutes.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly beat in the remaining 1/2 C milk mixture until the batter looks slightly curdled, about 15 seconds.

4. Give the batter a final stir with a rubber spatula to make sure it is thoroughly combined.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pans, smooth the tops, and gently tap the pans on the counter to settle the batter.  Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.

5.  Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes.  Run a small knife around the edge of the cakes, then flip them out onto a wire rack.  Peel off the parchment paper, flip the cakes right side up, and let cool completely before frosting, about 2 hours. 

This part is awesome.

Now for the rest of it:
1. To open the coconut, I used the heat and beat method I found here: though, I think the oven is supposed to be 400 degrees instead of 200 degrees.
I shredded it in the food processor using the shredding plate.  Then I toasted it in the oven following these directions.

2. I peeled and cored the pineapple and also shredded it using the shredding plate in the processor.  Then I drained it for a few seconds in the strainer.  There ended up being about 10 ounces.

3. I made the vanilla pudding recipe from my Valentine's post.  I used half of it.

4. I made whipped cream using 1/2 pint of whipping cream, three tsp agave nectar and 1/2 tsp vanilla.

5. And I used a brand of cream cheese that doesn't have any chemicals and junk in it.

And then I mixed it all up and somehow it tasted like earwax.  So there you go.  You tell me.

And you know what else?  It's still not Laura's cake...  I'm pretty sure this was one my Great Aunt Ophelia used to make.

But it was beautiful.

On the homeschool front this year, I used many of the same books from last year, but I also found two new story books for the kids.  Punia and the King of the Sharks a Hawaiian Folktale and Pig Boy: A Trickster Tale From Hawai'i.  Both of them were a hit with the boys!  Libraries are awesome, ya'll!


  1. You are the best blogger ever! Love ya!

  2. Hi Brooke, it's Amy, formerly of ATK and now of culture: the word on cheese. My new company is hosting a blogger contest and I loved what you did on your Cooking School post. I hope you'll be interest in this:

  3. Oh, so sorry for the disappointing cake! It does look beautiful. The only things I can think of are that you used fresh coconut instead of what was probably dried, sweetened coconut, plus you didn't mix with half and half, although I have no idea why that would be an issue. Boo of recipes that use nasty ingredients!!

    1. I'm 99% sure it was the pineapple. I could find pieces of the coconut in there and they tasted fine, but when I tried pieces of the pineapple, it was just horrible! So disappointing!!

  4. Well, your cake is gorgeous! I'm sorry it didn't end up the way you had hoped, though. Have fun in Hawaii!!

    1. Thanks, Hannah! We are really looking forward to it!

  5. Well your cake might have tasted like earwax but it looks beautiful!! Especially on that fancy cake plate. lol :O)

    1. I know, right? I was going to give you credit, but I didn't want you to be associated with such a horrible cake... =)


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