Dre’s Coconut Cake
My first job out of culinary school was working as a line chef; it was a position for which I was vastly unqualified at the time. On my second day, I learned that they did not have a pastry chef. Although I was hired as a saucier (responsible for the meats, fishes and sauces) I was also the only woman in the kitchen. What this meant is that I was promptly “asked” to do both positions (for no additional pay). As a young, inexperienced cook starting out, the only response was, “Yes, Chef.”
I actually hated desserts and preferred cooking over baking. In fact, I generally favored eating savory foods over sweet ones. Truthfully, I simply did not notice desserts; I never had. In my young chef’s mind, desserts were boring and too exact; there was no wiggle room for imperfections and less room for creativity. There was no fixing, adjusting, or helping a recipe that was going sideways–just failure. I do not like failure.
With my A-type personality and slight OCD tendencies, I probably would seem like a perfect candidate for pastry. But honestly, I simply lack the required patience needed to do this art form successfully. I have since learned a lot about all the amazing pastry chefs out there, and the desserts they can create. The best pastry chefs are incredibly skilled but in different ways from great sauciers. I still don’t have a fraction of the skills of a great pastry chef, but with substantial effort, I’m able to do pastry well enough to get by.
Now, post-children, I have found that I do like sweets, probably a bit too much for a woman in her mid-40s, but some things never change completely. My friends still make fun of me for ordering a cheese plate for dessert over a soufflé. This coconut cake is one of my favorite cakes for two reasons. First, it has coconut in it. Second, it’s almost error-proof and easily adaptable. You don’t need to be a pasty chef (or fill-in-pasty chef) to make it. This cake looks great without much hassle and I have found, that almost everyone loves it.
I have made this cake recipe “as is.” I have also made it as a three-layer cake (shown here), a six-layer cake, mini cakes, and large sheet cakes. I even thought about making it into a giant bunny cake for a friend’s Easter party. My oldest son packed himself a slice in his lunch box just this morning. He, like me, is not really a sweet person, but if you like coconut, I can virtually guarantee that you’ll like this.