Dear SOS: Last night I had dinner at L'Angolo Café on W. 9th Street in downtown Los Angeles. For dessert, I had a piece of a strawberry coconut cake that one of their employees, Tamla, had made. It was magnificent! Do you suppose she would share her recipe?
Dear Amy: L'Angolo Café's tempting dessert combines creamy coconut with bright bits of fresh strawberries suspended in a tender two-layer cake. The layers are joined with a sweet strawberry filling and finished with a rich cream cheese frosting. Garnished with a sprinkling of toasted coconut flakes, it makes for a simple but elegant creation.
Video: Times Test Kitchen Manager Noelle Carter uses this recipe to demonstrate how to make the perfect layer cake.
L'Angolo Café's strawberry-coconut layer cake
1 1/2 hours, plus cooling times
10 to 12
Note: Adapted from L'Angolo Café in Los Angeles. This makes a 2-layer (9-inch) round cake. To toast the coconut, spread the flakes in a thin, even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast at 350 degrees until lightly golden, about 13 to 15 minutes, tossing every few minutes for even toasting.
3 1/4 cups (13 ounces) cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
2/3 cup coconut milk
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 (9-inch) round springform or standard cake pans. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate small bowl, combine the milk and coconut milk. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter over medium-high speed until creamy. With the mixer running, gradually add the sugar, beating over high speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg whites over low speed, one at a time, until incorporated, scraping the bowl between additions. Beat in the vanilla, berries and coconut.
3. Alternately beat in the flour and milk mixtures, beating in one-third of each at a time, until all of the ingredients are incorporated and a batter is formed.
4. Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake until the cakes are puffed and golden, spring back lightly when touched, and a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
5. Cool the cakes, still in the pans, 15 to 20 minutes on wire racks, then invert the cakes onto the racks to cool completely.
1 1/4 cups finely chopped fresh strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon plus 3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
In a medium, heavy saucepan, bring the strawberries, sugar and cornstarch to a boil. Stir the mixture constantly for 2 to 3 minutes to thicken, then remove to a bowl to cool completely. This makes about 1 cup filling.
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk, or enough to thin frosting to desired consistency
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, cream together the cream cheese and butter. With the mixer running, slowly add the sugar, scraping the bowl as needed. Add a little milk, as needed, until the frosting is nice and creamy, but not too thin. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
2 cups toasted coconut flakes
1. Place one cake flat side up on a cake stand or platter. Pipe or spoon a thin layer of frosting around the outer edge of the top of the cake; this will keep the filling from spilling out as the cake is assembled.
2. Spread the filling over the top of the cake in an even, not too thick layer (you might not use all of the filling; we had about one-third cup remaining).
3. Gently place the second layer of the cake on top of the first. Frost the top and sides of the cake with a very thin layer of frosting to form a crumb coat, then refrigerate or freeze the cake just until the frosting firms up, about 1 hour.
4. Frost the cake with the remaining frosting, making sure the frosting is smooth and even. Coat the cake with the toasted coconut.
Each of 12 servings: 734 calories; 7 grams protein; 95 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 38 grams fat; 25 grams saturated fat; 83 mg. cholesterol; 62 grams sugar; 369 mg. sodium.