Friday, May 11, 2007

Food Porn Friday!!!

Food Porn Friday's Mother's Day Special!!!


"Wet" Coconut Cake

Today's FPF is a tag-team effort between my good friend, Laura Wallis, of Charleston, SC, and myself. Photos by Laura, photoshopping by me, and the recipe from both of our families.
"My earliest memories of the Wet Coconut Cake were from strained eye level to the table top at Sunday dinner at Grandmother Laura's house. Its strange, hairy texture made it all the more intriguing to a preschooler still spellbound by the new and different. As I grew, the perspective of the table changed, while its bounty did not. This coconut cake was my grandfather's favorite and so it had a special spot reserved at the head of the buffet, an unassuming showpiece at every special occasion."
~Laura Wallis
My first memory of the cake was at one of the Tootle family get togethers in Beaufort, SC. My brother's first wife's sister-in-law, Brenda Tootle, had brought it. We were all simply bowled over by the cake, the recipe was shared, and it soon became a family favorite.

This cake is my sister, Simone's, signature dessert. She once made it for James Coburn for his birthday while he sat smoking cigars in his kitchen in L.A.

I confess to being a bit of a cake snob. I feel the true artistry of the cake maker can only be revealed in the sweet alchemy that is the scratch cake. It was a science I learned from infancy sitting in my mother's kitchen. She was just such an alchemist. I can still hear her mumbling incantations over her cookbooks like "beat for six minutes" and "sift dry ingredients twice" in my head. She often whispers to me when I cook, though she's been gone over 20 years. But especially, I hear her when I make cake.

My reward, as a child for absorbing all of this was a mixer paddle or a bowl to lick.

Well...this is the cake that breaks the mold. True, it does use layers of "box" cake mix. But it does so with an intentional effect. That is to allow the filling to saturate into the highly porous layers of box cake. The flavor of chilled cream and cake together combined with the texture and mouth feel of this cake is really something special. It's called a "wet" cake because of how the cake and filling and frosting meld together in an almost trifle-like moistness.

As far as I know, this cake began showing up around the early to mid '70's. I'm not exactly sure where it originated, but it soon became a favorite at Baptist "homecomings". The Tootle family, where my family obtained the recipe, were staunch Southern Baptists. It quickly spread throughout the southeast.

Laura has made it in the traditional way of her family and mine. I did play at one time making it with three split layers like a stack cake with good effect. Because of the softness of the box cake, it will always have a slightly soft appearance. Laura mentions that it does freeze well and can withstand short distances of travel if frozen beforehand.

"The inherent richness of the cake lends itself to feed a crowd and it will travel short distances if it is frozen overnight first, and then allowed to come to temperature on the buffet while the gospel singing and church services commence. "
"Wet" Coconut Cake

1 box cake mix, yellow or white
1 16-oz. sour cream
2 cups sugar
2 6-oz packages of frozen coconut
1 large container Cool Whip
1 package angel flake coconut

Bake two layers. Cool then cut crossways to form 4 layers. (tip: monofilament fishing line makes extremely clean cross cuts in layers!) Set aside. Mix sour cream with sugar and frozen coconut. Chill well. When chilled, mix one cup of coconut mixture and one large cool Whip. Put in freezer until firm. To ice cake, spread sour cream mixture between layers. Ice outside with Cool Whip mixture and sprinkle with Angel Flake Coconut. Refrigerate overnight before cutting. Will keep for several days in the refrigerator.
I wanted to express my thanks to Laura Wallis for helping out on today's FPF. I think it's taken us both down memory lane. This is that sort of cake. It invites memories. Laura's grandmother, for whom she was named, used serve the cake with boiled custard in a gravy boat. She was Laura's favorite Grandmother and Laura was, inarguably, her favorite grandchild. Grandmother Laura taught Laura how to sew and cook and read her Bible. And Laura held her fragile hand as her soul returned Home.

So, please, all of you that still has them...enjoy your mothers on Sunday. And maybe make this cake for her. I promise it will be a huge hit. And you'll build some of those all important memories.

14 Comments:

  1. Peggy said...
    now I am hungry for wet coconut cake! I haven't had a slice since our last family reunion last June. Thanks for the memories.
    bluemountainmama said...
    rosie...the joy of this post was not only drooling over this luscious cake, but your writing and background on it. wonderful post!

    i'm tellin' ya.....i might just have to move to TN and become one of your neighbors.... will you bring me a cake if i do? :)

    i'm guilty of being a box mix person.... although my mom almost always made cakes from scratch. i DO make a coconut easter bunny cake for my son at easter that's from scratch, but not anything as yummy as this one, i'm sure......

    have a wonderful weekend!
    johnieb said...
    Two winners in a row; FPF rawks!
    kaliblue said...
    Oh my!!! That looks like the kind my grams use to make. I wasn't a fan of coconut, but I'd sure eat her cake:-). Yumm-o!!
    Have a great weekend.
    Jbeeky said...
    Oh my God. I am all tingly LOOKING at that thing. Jaysus.
    chris said...
    Rosie, did you mean you knew Mary Louise Weller personally, or that you just knew OF her?
    danny said...
    ok

    so, that cake makes me hot. But I have no idea who you are, but you linked me which makes me feel both sexy and a little like sporty spice.
    Googie baba said...
    Oh I just love retro recipes like this! It brings back so many great memories of my grandmother and her Sunday dinners.
    Rosie said...
    BBM...I'd most certainly bring you cake. I totally can't keep this stuff in the house! Box cake is good when used for effect like this one. Or the Apricot Nector Cake...that's another good cake that uses box. I'd love to see the Easter bunny cake.

    Chris..I don't know her, personally. Simone might.

    Thanks for the visit, Danny. I don't know you either, but I like your writing. It is both aggressive and vulnerable. Will delink at your request. Sporty is my preferred Spice.
    Bad Alice said...
    OMG, how did I miss out on this? I knew I should have gone to more Baptist functions. I have to admit that I rather like Duncan Hines yellow cake mix, but you can't get much lazier than me cooking.
    Anne Johnson said...
    My grandma made one with pineapple and gelatin and angel food cake. We always called it snowball cake. When I take it to block parties here in New Jersey it causes riots.
    danny said...
    No need to delink

    just was checking my sitemeter.

    lates
    seejanemom said...
    A thing of beauty lasts forever, don't it?

    Damn...those are some FINE PORN PHOTOS...

    YUM-O.
    Lorelei said...
    i just want you to know that i have made this twice now, after seeing it on your blog that i quietly lurk on... everyone says it's the most amazing damn thing they have ever tasted, every time, and even though you didn't invent it, i still have to thank YOU for introducing it to me!! omg! i may have to make it again soon! ;)

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