I’m a hug fan of birthdays. I’m also a huge fan of cake. Which means that when it comes to birthday cake I’m practically in love. It’s my mom’s birthday this week and while I’m not sure if I’m allowed to tell you exactly how old she is, let’s just say that it’s kind of significant birthday this year. The kind of birthday that demands a really special, over-the- top cake. A cake with thick gooey pineapple curd that oozes between the layers. A cake with coconut rum both in the batter and the frosting. A cake that is topped with a mountain of fresh pineapple and scattered with toasted coconut. This is the kind of cake that a special birthday demands – a cake that says “it’s your birthday…now indulge!”
Growing up we always had homemade birthday cake. About a week before your birthday my mom would ask what kind of cake you wanted and then she would make it. There was no store bought cardboard tasting sheet cake with sickly sweet frosting, or even cake made from a box mix. It was your birthday and you got a homemade cake made from scratch. She would make whatever kind you wanted, but her most famous (and most requested) was ice cream cake. It had all the good stuff layered into one mouth watering cake- cookie crust, fudgy chocolate syrup, creamy ice cream, and a layer of frozen whipped cream to top it all off- yumm! My brother and I have both gone through the pie phase where we request pie instead of cake for our birthdays. No problem- she’ll make you pie if that’s what you want. We’re both huge fans of her lemon meringue pie, but if you want apple she’ll make you apple, if you want blueberry, or strawberry rhubarb, or pecan that’s fine because she can make those too. This year on my birthday I will turn 35 (gulp) and I can guarantee that about a week before my mom will ask what kind of cake I want. Probably when I turn 50 she’ll still be making me a cake on my birthday.
This is why I make birthday cake. Because I learned from my mom how much sweeter a birthday can be with home made cake. My cakes are never perfect. Inevitably one layer is bigger than the other, they may lean a bit to one side and the frosting is always lumpy and uneven. It doesn’t matter though because homemade cakes are not about perfection. They’re not about smooth even sides or fancy swirled frosting. They are about celebration and joy and family gatherings. So I made this cake for my mom because that’s what she taught me to do. Here’s to you mom and I wish you a very, very happy birthday ♥
Pineapple Coconut Layer Cake
slightly adapted from Eating Well
Makes 16 servings
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons coconut rum
2 teaspoons coconut extract
3 egg whites
6 ounces pineapple juice
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
5 teaspoons cornstarch
12 ounces 1/3 less fat cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon coconut rum
1 teaspoon coconut extract
2 tablespoons toasted coconut*
1 1/2 cup pineapple, diced small
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line the bottom of two 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl sift together the flours, baking powder and salt. Set aside.In a large bowl combine the sugar, brown rice syrup, oil and butter. Beat on medium high for 3-4 minutes. In a small bowl whisk together the milk, coconut rum and coconut extract.
4. With the mixer on low, add the flour and milk mixture in four alternating additions, starting and ending with the flour. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
5. Using a clean dry bowl and beaters, beat the egg whites on high until soft peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth out towards the edges.
6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted comes out clean. Cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pans and cool completely for about an hour before assembling and frosting.
7. Make the pineapple curd: In a small saucepan heat the egg yolks, pineapple juice, 1/4 cup turbinado sugar and cornstarch over medium-low heat. Cook for 3-5 minutes, whisking constantly until the thick. Remove from heat and let cool.
8. Make the frosting: In a medium bowl beat together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, coconut rum and coconut extract until fluffy.
9: Assemble the cake: Place one layer of the cake top side down on a plate or cake stand. Spread the pineapple curd evenly over the top leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the fresh pineapple over the top of the curd. Place the second cake layer top side up on the curd- pineapple layer. Coat the top and sides of the cake with frosting. Pile the remaining 1 cup of fresh pineapple on the top of the cake and sprinkle with toasted coconut.
* Toast the coconut in a dry skillet over medium heat for 3-5 minutes or until it begins to turn brown.