Evolution of a Fresh Coconut Cake

There’s no recipe here today, just a record of the process and a public declaration: I’ll never grate a fresh coconut again.

The first ingredient listed in the recipe for Fresh Coconut Cake from The Fannie Farmer Baking Book is (ta dah!) one coconut. Author Marion Cunningham instructs the cook to access the meat of the coconut by doing as monkeys do: flinging it onto a concrete or rock surface. It’s an effective technique, both as a means of breaking open the coconut after several hard throws, and in making the cook look like a deranged primate to any neighbors who happen to observe from their windows on, say, Easter Sunday.

Unfortunately, once the hard shell of the coconut has been breached, the real work of excavating begins. After 45 minutes of prying, sawing, picking, peeling, and grating, I had a three-cup pile of snowy coconut shavings and a headache. Was it worth it? No. Was the cake delicious? Yes.

I will make it again, but with the packaged stuff. Maybe I prefer my coconut lightly scented with factory plastic.

The cake layers are baked, and the first swirls of White Mountain Frosting are applied.
The cake layers are baked, and the first swirls of White Mountain Frosting are applied.
Second layer on, about to be topped.
Second layer on, about to be topped.
Freshly grated, @@#!% %%^#$ coconut is pressed into the frosting.
Freshly grated @@#!!!% %%^#$ coconut is pressed into the frosting.
Payoff.
Payoff.
Aftermath.
Aftermath.

My only regret is that my grown daughters didn’t arrive for the holiday meal until just after the spectacle. My greatest pleasure is finding new and creative ways of embarrassing them, and their mother throwing a coconut around the backyard while dressed in an apron and ball cap and Buddy Holly glasses might have qualified.

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