Recipe Sleuth: The Majestic’s Coconut Cake

This fluffy layer cake won an in-house bake-off at the Old Town, Alexandria restaurant. Here's how to pull it off at home.

This layer cake gets an extra kick of flavor from coconut milk. Photograph by Chris Leaman.

Until two years ago, the makings of the Majestic’s layer cake changed daily. Chef Shannon Overmiller decided, however, that she wanted to “do one cake and do it well.” Employees from the Majestic and its sister properties—Restaurant Eve, Eamonn’s, and PX—held a bake-off to determine which cake would be a menu mainstay. Overmiller’s coconut cake—she tweaked a recipe from the Internet—triumphed over approximately 15 other entries.

The dessert is a tall, fluffy creation that gets an extra kick of coconut flavor from the fruit’s milk—Overmiller suggests using Chaokoh brand—in the cake batter and brushed between the layers. Because the filling needs to chill overnight, be sure to start the cake the day before you’re going to serve it.

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Makes one nine-inch, three-layer cake.

Make the filling:

2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1¼ cups whipping cream
½ cup sugar
4 ounces unsalted butter
2¼ cups sweetened flaked coconut
¼ cup sour cream

Stir the cornstarch, water, and vanilla in a small bowl to dissolve the cornstarch. In a heavy saucepan set over medium-high heat, bring the cream, sugar, and butter to a boil. Add the cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in coconut.

Cool the mixture completely. Mix in sour cream, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Make the cake:

3½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ tsp salt
2¼ cups sugar
12 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
5 large eggs
11⁄3 cups whipping cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup coconut milk

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour 3 9-inch round cake pans.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt until blended. In a stand mixer, beat the sugar and butter until blended. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the cream and vanilla, then the coconut milk. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Divide the batter equally among the 3 pans. Bake until a tester (such as a knife or skewer) inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cool.

Make the frosting:

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, toasted

In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter to blend. Beat in the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract. Fold in the toasted coconut.

Assemble the cake:

2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, toasted
½ 13½-ounce can coconut milk mixed with 2 cups simple syrup

Place 1 cake round on a plate. Brush with the coconut-milk mixture, then top with half of the filling. Place a second cake layer atop the filling, brush with the coconut milk/syrup, and top with the remaining filling. Place the third cake layer atop the filling and spread frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Pat the toasted coconut on the top and sides of the cake, pressing gently so it sticks. Cover and refrigerate.

Let the cake stand 3 hours at room temperature before serving.

Garnish the plate with toasted coconut and, if desired, crème anglaise.



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