Friday, May 31, 2013

Pineapple Coconut Layer Cake

I have this habit of making somewhat labor-intensive birthday cakes for my loved ones. My dear hubby likes coconut cake. I made a different coconut layer cake in the past that was quite tasty, but this year he was interested in adding pineapple to the combination.


This cake is lovely! I really enjoyed the pineapple curd filling with pineapple pieces. So sweet and tangy and moist! The cake was different, a bit stiff at first. But after letting the cake mellow overnight, the moisture from the frosting and filling permeated and made it much more enjoyable.

Cake Ingredients
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 cup unbleached AP flour
1 2/3 teaspoons baking powder (This works for Reno's altitude. Low altitude bakers use 2 tsps.)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup local honey
1/3 cup canola oil
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 Tablespoons Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum or Parrot Bay Coconut Rum
2 teaspoons coconut extract
3 egg whites

Pineapple Curd Ingredients
2 egg yolks
6 oz pineapple juice
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
5 teaspoons cornstarch

Cream Cheese Icing Ingredients
2 8-oz. packages regular cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon coconut extract
pinch of salt

Finishing Touches
1 8-oz. can pineapple tidbits, drained
2 Tablespoons sweetened flaked coconut, I used Baker's Angel Flake

Method for the Cake
1. Combine the flours, baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a mixing bowl. Set aside.

2.  In a separate small bowl or measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, rum, and coconut extract.

3. With an electric mixer, beat together the sugar, honey, melted butter, and oil until well blended. It will look a little weird at this point.  Alternate additions of flour mixture and buttermilk mixture to the mixing bowl. Mix well until combined.  Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Set this batter aside for now.

4. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Fold the egg whites into the batter.

5. Divide the batter between two 9" round cake pans that have been sprayed with nonstick spray.

6. Bake the cakes in a preheated 350F oven for 22-25 minutes, or until it passes a toothpick test. Let the cakes cool in the pan about 10 minutes, then turn out to finish cooling on a rack.

Just a note on the pans. I have used the silicone cake pans before, but this recipe really worked well in them. In fact, they turned out great, the best I've ever gotten out of them.  Woo!

Method for the Pineapple Curd Filling
1. Whisk together the egg yolks, pineapple juice, sugar, and cornstarch in a small saucepan with the heat turned off.

2. Once blended well, turn on the heat. Bring up to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat.  Stir or whisk constantly while bubbling away for 3-5 minutes or until the mixture has thickened.  Let cool completely before use.

Method for the Icing
1. Beat together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, coconut extract and salt. Beat until smooth and slightly fluffy.

Method for the Coconut Garnish
1. Place the flaked coconut in a small frying pan. Stir often over medium heat until the desire toastiness is achieved. Remove from heat and set aside.

Cake Assembly Instructions
1. Place one cake layer on a cake stand. Spread pineapple curd filling over the entire cake top. Leave a small space around the edge. Use all of it because it will soak in. Spread pineapple tidbits over the filling.

2. Place second cake layer on top. Spread the cream cheese frosting over the top and sides using an offset metal spatula.

3. Sprinkle the toasted coconut garnish on top.


Now, you can go dig in right away, but we found that the flavors blended together better after the cake was allowed to set overnight. It also meant that the moisture from the pineapple curd filling seeped into the cake layers making them more moist and delicious.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Strawberry Lemonade Green Smoothie

Back in the middle of winter, we decided to attempt something new, something healthy. Green smoothies. First, we tried the Dr. Oz 3 day smoothie cleanse. Wow, were those nasty tasting! One important thing to note though, we felt good! Three days of no junk, no artificial anything, and both of us felt good.  We just wanted something that tasted better.

I borrowed a book from the library, Green Smoothie Revolution by Victoria Boutenko and got out the Blendtec high speed blender. The whole point of this book is that the author states people need the nutrients from greens, but you have to make it taste good to get them down the hatch. I have to admit that at first, we thought the smoothies were going to be horrible like the Dr. Oz ones. We started with some of her very basic recipes, and they were surprisingly tasty!

With her idea in mind, I've experimented with some different combinations. They generally look like green or brown sludge, but there are some really tasty combinations! I think you might be surprised.

juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups coconut water, I used Zico
2 Tablespoons light agave nectar, like Madhava or Wholesome Sweeteners
1 scoop vanilla protein powder,  I used Max Muscle's Maxpro
2 cups dinosaur kale, stem removed
2 cups frozen strawberries (without sugar)
1 banana
1 avocado

1. Place ingredients in a high-speed blender. Blend it on Smoothie cycle 1 time.

2. Pour into 2 large glasses. Drink right away or save covered in the fridge for later. It won't separate and taste weird if you drink it later the same day.

Note: This is intended to be a meal replacement smoothie.