A relaxing, gracious ritual, a romantic afternoon tea is quite the essence of indulgence. As such, there must be a perfection of detail, and with that in mind, David Grady of Gump's set about designing this elegant scene, which was photographed on the patio of the magnificently restored 1910 Britt mansion. The mood is one of peaches and cream; the star attraction, however, is The Ultimate Coconut Cake, which is layered with a luscious lemony filling and garnished with juicy, bright-red strawberries.
THE ULTIMATE COCONUT CAKE
1 cup butter or margarine 3 cups sugar 4 eggs, separated 4 1/2 cups sifted cake flour 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 cups coconut milk 1 teaspoon vanilla Lemon Cream Filling Orange Frosting 2 cups flake coconut or coconut chips, toasted
Cream butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and beat until very light. Beat egg yolks until pale and thick. Add to butter mixture, blending well.
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and add to creamed mixture in 3 parts, alternating with coconut milk, and beginning and ending with flour mixture. Add vanilla.
Beat egg whites until stiff and gently fold into cake batter. Turn batter into 3 greased-and-floured 9-inch layer-cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees about 35 minutes or until cake tester inserted near center of cake comes out dry. Cool in pans 15 minutes. Loosen and invert on cake racks to cool completely. When cold, split cake layers in halves. Spread Lemon Cream Filling over five of the six layers and stack. Top with plain cake layer. Frost top and sides of cake with Orange Frosting. Sprinkle sides with coconut. Makes 10 to 12 servings. Garnish with strawberries if desired.
Lemon Cream Filling
2 egg yolks, beaten 1 cup sugar cup cornstarch 1 cup water 1/2 cup lemon juice 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel 1 tablespoon butter
Combine egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, water, lemon juice, lemon peel and butter in top of double boiler over boiling water. Cook, stirring, until thick and creamy, about 5 or 6 minutes. Remove from heat and cool thoroughly before spreading on cake layers. Makes about 1 1/2 cups filling.
2 cups sugar 1 teaspoon light corn syrup cup water 2 egg whites, stiffly beaten 1 tablespoon orange juice
Combine sugar, corn syrup and water. Bring to boil and stir only until sugar is dissolved. Boil rapidly, without stirring, until a small amount of syrup forms a soft ball in cold water or until the mixture registers 240 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer. Pour syrup in a fine stream over stiffly beaten egg whites, beating constantly in an electric mixer. Add orange juice. Continue to beat until frosting forms soft peaks. Makes enough frosting to cover top and sides of 3-layer, 9-inch cake.
PHOTOGRAPHED AT FIRST INTERSTATE BANK ATHLETIC FOUNDATION
FOOD STYLIST: MARLENE BROWN
ALL TABLEWARE FROM GUMP'S, BEVERLY HILLS
TABLE AND CHAIRS FROM TROPITONE