The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy Reichert

I fully admit that this would never have been a book I’d deliberately choose to read, falling as it does into my category of chick lit. And we all know how I feel about chick lit. However, The Coincidence of Coconut Cake (what a twee title!) was actually fairly decently written, though with a fair amount of purple prose that made me cringe. Think Harlequin Romance meets Epicurious.

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I will come clean and admit that I only found this book because I was actually searching online for recipes for homemade coconut cake as a thank-you for a friend who recently house-sat and dog-sat for me when I was out of town. Not being the world’s greatest baker, I’d never made coconut cake, or even had it in real life, truth be told, so I didn’t know what all was involved. This title popped up on one of the Google searches and it seemed like the perfect way to combine a new cooking experiment with a book blog post.

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Set in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, it’s the story of a young restaurant owner, Lou, a/k/a/ Elizabeth, who superficially has the perfect life. Her restaurant is doing well and looks about to take off into the stratosphere; her fiance is wonderful and supportive and loving, etc. Except her fiance is a cheating jerk, and on the night she finally finds this out, she is so devastated that it shows at the restaurant. The food is bad, the environment unwelcoming……and a famous restaurant critic known for his vicious reviews writes one so negative that it cuts off her restaurant’s ascent at the knees.

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Depressed after the review comes out, she finds herself getting hammered in a local bar and meets Al, an Englishman and frustrated writer who, unknown to Al, supports himself by writing restaurant reviews under an assumed name while waiting for his big writing break. I’m sure you can guess who the reviewer is who skewered Al’s restaurant. So, while his career starts to skyrocket, hers starts to plummet, yet they have forged a romantic connection, and not realizing who the other one is, start exploring the international festivals and varied restaurants of Milwaukee.

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I’d call this book fluffy, both because overall it’s a light read with a predictable ending – she finds out who he is and has to decide if she’ll give him another chance, blah blah blah. But fluffy also in homage of the delicious fluffy coconut cake recipe that ties up all the loose ends, finishes the book, and which is today’s food and books blog post.

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Well, obviously it had to be a coconut cake! What did you think it was going to be, a beer-butt chicken? Yes, it’s set in Milwaukee but they do have other things besides beer. So I’ve heard.Β  πŸ™‚ Anyway, I used the recipe at the end of the book, with my own flavoring tweak of adding rum, because there is nothing that can’t be made better in life with the addition of booze. (Anthony Bourdain knew this. God, I hope he’s having a boozefest up in Heaven right now.)

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INGREDIENTS
For the cake:
5 egg whites, room temperature
1 whole egg, room temperature
3/4 cup cream of coconut
1/4 cup coconut milk (shake the can well to mix it up)
1 teaspoon rum
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1/4 cup corn starch
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces

For the frosting:
2 tablespoons coconut milk
1 teaspoon rum
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup cream of coconut
3 cups powdered sugar
2 cups coconut, toasted in a dry pan for a few minutes until slightly brown

METHOD
For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 325F, and oil or butter two 9-inch round cake pans. Whisk together the egg whites, the cream of coconut, the coconut milk, the whole egg, the rum and the vanilla in your most fabulous red Kitchen Aid. Set aside.

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In another bowl, mix together the flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder and salt.

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Add the softened butter to the egg mixture and mix together one piece at a time, using a medium-low setting.]

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One spoonful at a time, add in the flour and sugar mixture, again slowly incorporating using a medium-low setting. Mix until a nice, thick, creamy batter forms.

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Divide batter evenly between the two cake pans, and bake for 25 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.

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For the frosting:
Stir together the coconut milk, the rum and vanilla, and the salt together until the salt dissolves.

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Beat the butter and powdered sugar together until smooth. This will probably take a good 8 minutes using the medium setting on your Kitchen Aid.

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Pour in the coconut milk mixture and beat until smooth and fluffy, probably 5 minutes.

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Frost the bottom cake layer across the top, and add a sprinkle of toasted coconut.

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Put the top cake layer onto the bottom cake layer, and frost with the remaining mixture. Sprinkle the remaining toasted coconut across the top and on the sides.

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Display on a fancy cake stand before letting people devour it.

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23 thoughts on “The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy Reichert

    1. Thank you so much Helen! I do love my red KitchenAid. Probably my favorite kitchen possession, and and that’s saying a lot because I pretty much love everything in my kitchen. Yes, I also hope dear Anthony is drinking it up in heaven. Such a sad loss.

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  1. I’m not one for baking cakes but I sure would like to taste a slice of this one! Something about the plot of the book reminds me of a cross between “You’ve Got Mail” and a more recent cheffy-type of film. Do you like films about food?

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    1. Thank you! I only had a tiny sliver, as I am off sugar and most carbs these days, but it did taste quite lovely. The book was described as being similar to “You’ve Got Mail,” and although it wasn’t a book I’d read again, it had some great foodie references. I do love foodie films, with my favorites being “Like Water for Chocolate,” “Tortilla Soup,” “Soul Food,” “Big Night,” “Babette’s Feast,” and although you could question if it’s a foodie film, “The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover” is another one I love, though it’s way twisted. πŸ™‚

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      1. 😍I adore four of the films you mention. I may have seen “Tortilla Soup,” and “The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover,” during a period when I was renting food films from Blockbuster (remember that?), but I don’t remember them as well as the others, all of which I’ve watched more than once or twice.😁

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      2. “Tortilla Soup” was good and I think I liked it so much because it focused on the Latino culture, of which I’m part, so I could relate to much of it. “The Cook……….” is a very dark film, black humor and some pretty gruesome scenes, but it has Helen Mirren and it’s really a great film.

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  2. WHAAAA A????? Doth my eyes DECEIVE ME?! Does Vanessa have a fluffy ROMANCE on her blog?!?! 😲😲😲😲😲😲 I think I need a DRINK!! Maybe some of that rum will suffice!! πŸ˜‰ I’ve actually had this book on my TBR list for AGES!! I’m glad it wasn’t too horrible. πŸ˜‚πŸ»

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    1. Haha somehow I had a feeling that I would get a large amount of needling from you. Just call it a feeling. And it was indeed very fluffy. However, the cake more than made up for the mediocrity of the prose. And I do think the rum added an extra dimension of flavor. But that’s just me, what do I know? I’m the girl that hates fluffy chick-lit books. πŸ˜‰

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      1. I will admit at the addition of the rum came from both your blog inspiration as well as a little toast to my main man Anthony Bourdain. Please don’t tell me I need to add this to the list of food that I need to mail you.

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  3. Looks delicious, like all your food does. I was pretty sad about Anthony Bourdain too. He would have been someone I’d want to invite to a dinner party…..and serve your cake! Great post.

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