It’s April, the cherry blossom and lilac are in glorious bloom, and it’s Easter week. In our house this means it’s time to make fresh coconut cake, which for idiosyncratic reasons I always associate with this time of year. There’s something about that white cloud of sweet coconut that seems so right at blossom time, and coconut also evokes memories of the Easter nest confections that delighted me as a child.
Then there is the fact that my sister Amy celebrates her birthday this month, and she was born in a small town with one other claim to fame in our funny family: this little place was home to a woman who made fresh coconut cakes to order, from scratch in her own kitchen. We would meet her for the much-anticipated handover on her old-fashioned porch, and I remember two things about those occasions as well as the cake itself: my father’s raptures on taking custody, and the old lady’s beaming smile — an exchange that must have helped instil in me the idea that baking equals happiness for both the giver and receiver.
Fresh coconuts are very good right now, so even if you have no such perambulating associations with this retro-glorious cake, its taste and showiness make it worth the trouble and calories. It is not a cake for everyday. It is for marking an occasion, something really special, or for when you need to make a difficult time feel better. Whatever the prompt, the result is bound to inspire bliss, in the moment and in memory: “Ooooh, remember that coconut cake we made with real coconut?” I know one fan who says this cake is like a fluffy white pillow she wants to bury her face in. Well, I can understand that. Dive right in. [Read More…]