Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. The warmth of the fire, the hot chocolate and whipped cream, listening to favorite Christmas cds instead of watching tv, the glitz and sparkle of lights and ornaments and presents, the feeling of togetherness and love, the quiet beauty of falling snow...
I love it all.
For my last post before Christmas, during which I'll be taking a little break, spending time with my family and probably eating too many sweets, I made a pretty little present cake.
I was inspired by all the wrapped presents and sparkly ornaments, and decorated the cake to look like a present with a ribbon and bow, candy cane and holly leaves all made out of fondant. The cake itself is very small - only 6x6x6 inches square - and is an orange coconut cake with coconut frosting. I baked three layers of cake in red, green and white, and then split each of those into very thin layers so I'd have a total of six layers inside, making a pretty red, green and white striped interior.
The cake is reminiscent of the excitement I've always felt at Christmas, not about presents, but about the beauty of the holiday and the way the day fills me with warmth and peace.
Orange Coconut Christmas Present Cake
· 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
· 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
· 1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons, granulated sugar
· 2 eggs
· 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
· 1 teaspoon orange extract
· 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
· ½ teaspoon salt
· ½ teaspoon baking powder
· Scant 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
· 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
· ½ cup shredded coconut
· ¾ cup milk (or any combination of whole milk/buttermilk/orange juice)
· Red and green food coloring
· 1 ½ cups shortening (or softened, unsalted butter, although shortening will yield a much “whiter” frosting)
· 3 cups powdered sugar
· 1 tablespoon meringue powder
· 2-3 teaspoons coconut extract
· 1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
· 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
Bake the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350. Spray the bottoms of three 6-inch square pans with non-stick spray.
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, butter and sugar on medium speed for 3-4 minutes until fluffy. Beat in the eggs and the extracts. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, orange zest and coconut. Add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl in 3 additions, alternating with the milk/liquid, starting and ending with the flour, stirring just until moistened.
Spoon 1/3 of the batter into one of the pans. Divide the remaining batter between two bowls, tinting one green and one red, and spread those batters in the pans. Bake cakes for 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack, covered loosely with a clean kitchen towel.
Make the Frosting:
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the shortening/butter for 1 minute. Combine the powdered sugar and meringue powder in a separate bowl, and add by spoonfuls to the mixer, mixing on low to combine. Increase speed to medium high, add the extracts and the cream, and whip for 4-5 minutes until very light and fluffy.
Remove the cooled cakes from the pans. Split each cake into two layers, so you have 6 layers of cake. Stack the cakes in alternating colors, spreading each with a thin layer of frosting, then frost all over with a very thin crumb coat of frosting. Chill for 30 minutes, then frost with a final layer of frosting.
Decorate with fondant decorations, if desired, or just cover the cake with shredded coconut.
Yields about 10-12 servings
Recipe and Design from Curly Girl Kitchen