Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Southern Strawberry Cake with Coconut and Pecan

Take our well-loved, made from a mix strawberry cake, add the usual strawberries and strawberry gelatin, but bump it up a level with toasted pecans and coconut, and you've got one delicious dessert y'all!

Strawberry Coconut Pecan Cake

I think the heat wave across the country, and especially the drought we're experiencing here in the Coastal South, is making it pretty difficult for most of us to get in the mood for cooking, much less baking. I can't even seem to get focused for recipe development, and that's not like me! I mean you need only look here to see it's been a week between my posts.

And it is only June.

Have we been eating? Well, of course! But I'll be right up front and tell you it's been a lot of salads - mixed garden salads, salads with cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes, salads topped with store-bought rotisserie& chicken or slices of deli turkey or ham. The Cajun went shrimping, so we had some boiled shrimp with corn, potatoes and smoked sausage, and macaroni salad using those leftover shrimp. Quick and easy skillet meals and even watermelon has been making an appearance already, even if they are Mexican melons.  Hey, you take what you can get. The other night, I kid you not... I had nothing but boiled corn on the cob for supper and there might have been a few too many carby snacks, like pretzels, tortilla chips and Chicken in a Biscuit crackers here and there too.

Truth is though, when the heat is on, I much prefer cooking inside with the air conditioning turned down, than outside on the patio standing over a grill. I grilled some stuffed burgers the other day, and liked to have died out there!!  I put a couple of sirloin steaks in a marinade last night, and later today I'm gonna try and brave the heat again to slap them on the grill. I'm liable to change my mind on the grilling outside part though by then and just use a flipping grill pan inside.

Anyway, over the weekend, Amanda, one of the readers over on the Facebook page, posted on the wall that she had made the Strawberry Pecan Cake that I had featured there recently and said it was a hit. I realized that I had never posted the adapted version I made. The original recipe for this had been provided by Sheila, another of our Facebook readers, in April of last year.

This is not a jazzed up made-from-scratch fancy strawberry cake, but it is the old southern classic, made from a mix, gelatin infused strawberry cake, that just about everybody on this planet has had... and loved. Sheila added in coconut and pecans, two ingredients that just really took it over the top, and just that alone just might make it worth turning on the oven - even in this oppressive heat. If you have a church supper, reunion or potluck coming up, make this. In fact, garnish it with a bit of coconut shaken in some red food coloring and a sprinkling of pecans and a few fresh strawberries arranged on top, and you will be adored! It'd be a perfect addition to that upcoming 4th of July cookout too.

I made a few adaptations from the original recipe, using a little less coconut and pecans, and toasting them both, and while I did use the standard confectioner's icing, which I also made more gooey than I intended, I think I would love this even better with a strawberry infused buttercream cream cheese icing.  You can find Shelia's original recipe on the Notes page of our Facebook page.

Recipe: Strawberry Coconut Pecan Cake

From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min |Cook time: 40 min | Yield: About 12 servings


  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 1 (3 ounce) box strawberry gelatin
  • 1 cup toasted coconut
  • 1 cup chopped toasted pecan
  • 1 (16 ounce) container of frozen strawberries, thawed,  mashed and divided
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 (1 pound) box of powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans
  • 1/4 cup toasted coconut
  • 1/2 teaspoon of strawberry extract
  • About 1/4 cup of the remaining mashed strawberries, more or less
  • Extra toasted coconut, for garnish, optional
  • Fresh sliced strawberries, for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan with Baker's Joy or non-stick spray; set aside. Lightly toast 1-1/4 cups of chopped pecans in a dry skillet over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant. Remove, set aside to cool, and add 1-1/4 cups coconut; toast until very lightly browned and set aside to cool. You'll be using some of both of those in the cake and in the frosting, and if you'd like to garnish the top of the cake with coconut, do a little extra and reserve for garnish.

Add the cake mix, gelatin, 1 cup of the toasted coconut and 1 cup of the toasted pecans to a large mixing bowl; stir to combine. Add 1 cup of the mashed strawberries and the eggs, oil, and milk; beat at medium speed with an electric hand mixer until well blended. Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

For the icing, use a mixer to cream together the butter and sugar. Fold in the remaining 1/4 cup of the toasted pecans and coconut and the strawberry extract. Add only enough of the remaining mashed strawberries to make the icing spreadable. Spread over the cooled cake. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator.

Cook's Notes: I used Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Classic White cake mix, which is my favorite packaged cake brand. You can also make into a layer cake by using two 9-inch round cake pans, or three 8-inch pans. Spray pans generously with Bakers Secret and don't forget that tip about how to make your cake layers more even. Hey, even the Queen Paula Deen does it! Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cakes rest in the pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack to completely cool.

Variation: Substitute 1 pint of fresh strawberries, chopped and mashed, with their liquid, reserving a few whole ones to slice for garnish if desired. Can also substitute Cool Whip or whipped topping for the powdered sugar icing. Stir in the coconut, pecans and extract and add in a bit of the remaining strawberry mash. Can also use a plain buttercream or buttercream cream cheese icing alone, or mixed with some of the strawberry puree. If garnishing with coconut, using a few drops of red food coloring makes for a beautiful presentation. Okay to substitute sugar free and lower fat products.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com

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©Deep South Dish
Adapted from a recipe contributed by Facebook family member Sheila Hamblin-Windom
Are you on Facebook? If you haven't already, come and join the party! We have a lot of fun & there's always room for one more at the table.
Check These Recipes Out Too Y'all!

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Posted by on June 7, 2011

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  1. I'm making this just as soon as I get a new oven! Mine broke down recently and we've hesitated to replace it because it makes the house so hot when we use it anyway. The stove part still works and my fancy toaster oven works fine on recipes for two and it doesn't heat the house up nearly as much!

    Unfortunately, things like 9x13 cakes and casseroles or large batches of cookies are out of the question with this setup. Last time I made a cake, I started mixing it up before I remembered that I couldn't bake it in a 9x13 pan. I just cooked two round pans separately and it worked fine. When I volunteered to make cookies for VBS, though, I was not willing to bake 60 cookies six at a time. I had to go to my mother-in-law's house to make those :)

  2. We're having family for a combined birthday/Father's Day get together and this cake is going on the table. It will be perfect! How did you know I needed something like this?

  3. Lisa I get it since I'm in the market for a new stove myself! Mine is so old it's ridiculous & half the burners don't work half the time (it's electric). I keep waiting for the thing to just finally break down so I can get a new one. Trouble is I want a gas set up which means having to install a propane tank too!

    Enjoy Bev!

    Hi Jessica! I don't do the awards thing - just too much to keep up with. But thanks so much for the thought - I do appreciate it!!

  4. Oh I so want a piece of that cake!!!

  5. I have been making this strawberry cake for at least 30 years just without the coconut and pecans. I have 2 sons that have always expected this strawberry cake for their birthday cakes for as long as I have been making it. Now I have a grandson that wants it for his birthday too. I frost it with real whipped cream and fresh strawberries.

  6. Eva, it's a good one and yes ... it's an old classic! Probably been around as long as cake mixes have. I LOVE it with whipped cream too.

  7. One of my all time favorite cakes are the regular strawberry version of this but oh how I love coconut too. I cannot wait to try this recipe! Thanks for sharing yet another fantastic dish.

  8. Yummy!!!! This looks amazing!

  9. This looks really good. I wish we could buy strawberry cake mix down under. Most everything is made from scratch. Probably really good for us but the yank in me misses the mixes. :)

  10. So true Maureen, but they are convenient. You could make this from scratch too of course though. Hope you try it!

  11. I think I have everything on hand for this right now!! I made your Texas sheet cake-to DIE for delicious!!!

  12. Growing up here in rural Kentucky, this was something I always looked forward to for the beginning of June. For our birthdays, mom always made whatever meal we wanted and whatever cake we wanted. My birthday is June 4th and I always got a homemade strawberry cake with strawberry icing. I would look forward to it for about 362 days. Her recipe was from scratch and "smack-yo-grandma-good!" I will have to try this twist on my absolute favorite cake to see how this is as it sounds great.

    1. I'm gonna do one from scratch too for the site one of these days, but this one is a pretty good filler recipe when you just want to do a quick mix - enjoy!

  13. Hi Mary, for the 16 oz of strawberries, do you mean the kind that are sweetened or just plain frozen strawberries? I assume you mean the plain ones, but just checking. Thanks!

    1. I prefer the plain ones, mostly because I don't have a huge sweet tooth and for me cake mixes, depending on the brand, are just so sweet!! You could potentially use either, but I guess it would be a personal preference as to your sweet level.

  14. Hi Mary, I am planning on making this cake for our Easter brunch/lunch. Is there a specific brand of box cake mix that you prefer? Thanks!

    1. Hi Katherine! When I use a mix, I use Duncan Hines, mostly because whenever Mama used one that's what she used, but also because I find that brand less sweet than others. Now, that said I haven't used a mix lately so you know how that goes lol!! For this cake I used Duncan Hines "Moist Deluxe Classic White" cake mix.

  15. I love this cake! The 1st time I had this cake my grandmother made it for my Mother's birthday about 35 yrs ago & I've been in love with it ever since. She always made it with toasted coconut & pecans, strawberry cake isn't the best cake without them! Glad to see this recipe. My Mom's birthday is this month so I may make this for her. Thanks!


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