When I was a little girl, my dad worked with a super sweet Southern lady named Miss Margaret (She was one of those older ladies so sweet that you ALWAYS put "Miss" in front of her name. I think EVERYONE called her "Miss" Margaret). She was older, and my Dad would sometimes help her out with things around her house, which was located just down the road from my elementary school. Things like, putting in a ceiling fan, or changing a standard light switch to a dimmer, that sort of thing.
Miss Margaret would always try to pay my dad, who would never accept her money. So, instead, insisting that he take SOMETHING for his work, would make him a coconut cake, which he'd never turn down. I still remember her cake fondly; it was light and airy, with the best texture and perfect balance of coconut flavor. Topped with heavenly "seven minute frosting", nothing beat a chilled slice of her cake with a tall glass of ice-cold milk. She made it the old-fashioned, labor-intensive Southern way, all from scratch, and in the years since, I've never had a coconut cake quite like hers.
Unfortunately, i don't have her recipe. Also, though I *do* have a recipe for a TRUE Southern coconut cake, I just don't have the time to make it all from scratch. Though I like to advocate making things from scratch when possible, life gets in the way and sometimes you have to take some shortcuts, and that's okay. We all have other things vying for our attention; school, work, kids, day-to-day chores, you name it!
My version of a shortcut coconut cake takes a very simple recipe, then adds a few extra steps and ingredients to give it a more homemade flavor and feel, while still keeping the whole process simple and easy.Shortcut Southern Coconut Cake
loosely adapted from Baker's Angel Flake
1 box yellow butter cake mix
Eggs & oil for cake mix
1 can coconut milk (shake well!)
2 2/3 cups sweetened flaked coconut, divided
1 tsp vanilla
1 box instant vanilla pudding mix (3.4 oz)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup cold whole or 2% milk
1 8oz container frozen whipped topping, thawed
Prepare the yellow cake according to package directions, substituting canned coconut milk for 1/2 of the water; stir in 2/3 cup coconut and the vanilla. Pour into 2 greased 9" round cake pans and bake in a 350-degree oven according to package directions or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool cakes in pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pans, baste the tops of each layer with coconut milk (traditionally, you would baste with a homemade simply syrup), then let cool completely on wire racks. Chill until ready to assemble layers.
Whisk the pudding mix, sugar and milk in a medium mixing bowl for 2 minutes or until thick. Fold in whipped topping. Chill until ready to assemble cake.
Top each basted and chilled cake layer with 1 cup of the pudding mixture and 3/4 cup of the remaining coconut. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining pudding mixture, then gently press the remaining coconut into the frosting.