Friday, December 30, 2016

Homemade Coconut Sheet Cake with Divinity Icing

Tender, homemade coconut cake made easy in a sheet cake, finished with a 7-minute, divinity icing, shredded coconut and here, with a sugared cranberry and mint leaf garnish.
Tender, homemade coconut cake made easy in a sheet cake, finished with a 7-minute, divinity icing, shredded coconut and here, with a sugared cranberry and mint leaf garnish. 

Homemade Coconut Sheet Cake with Divinity Icing

I love a coconut layer cake during the holidays. It's a beautiful presentation on a holiday dessert table, covered in a perfect divinity icing and dusted all over with fluffy, white coconut. I just looks like heaven on a cake stand!

Unfortunately, while I think I'm a fairly decent cook overall, I am definitely not a baker, and though I can pull off a pretty good pan of brownies, cookies even, or a snack cake, well... layer cakes aren't my forte.

My Mama did a beautiful job of decorating layer cakes, for which she was completely self-taught, and not only did birthday and shower cakes, but a massive multi-tiered birthday cake for my 18th birthday, as well as my own and many family member's wedding cakes, and they were all professional looking and just beautiful. I did not inherit that talent!

Most of you also know I'm not a huge sweets eater to begin with, so consequently I don't get in a lot of baking practice. Probably a good thing, because while I don't typically crave sweets, I will certainly eat them when they are around!

Since it's New Year's already, and for ease of serving this time, I wrote this recipe as a sheet cake and went with an 18 x 13 inch baker's half sheet pan, aka jelly roll pan, much like we do with our well-loved Texas Sheet Cake.

Although you can prep the cake for tuning out onto a sheet cake board {affil link}, or just a large piece of cardboard covered with foil or holiday paper, then ice and decorate it, I suggest finishing it and cutting pieces right out of the tray, to put in jumbo cupcake liners {affil link}, set up on a pretty platter for presentation. It actually makes more sense for parties anyway, or when you're serving holiday dinners up buffet style, which many of us do these days.

Here's how to make my coconut sheet cake, and, as always, scroll past the post and step by step pictures, further down the page for the full recipe text, with ingredient list and measurements, as well as a printable document for your convenience.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 13 inch or 18 x 13 inch, baker's half sheet (jelly roll) pan. Melt the butter and set aside to cool. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt; set aside. Beat together the eggs, buttermilk and water. Add to the flour mixture, along with the melted butter and the extract.

Beat gently until mixture is smooth. Pour into prepared pan and smooth out. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes; up to 40 minutes for a 9 x 13 inch pan, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean, with just a few crumbs. Let cake cool completely.

For the icing, combine sugar, water, salt, vinegar in a medium sized, heavy bottomed, stainless steel saucepan and cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is clear. Reduce heat to medium and cook, without stirring to 238-240 degrees F on a candy thermometer {affil link}.

Important Note - Make sure you have an accurate thermometer, because divinity candy happens at 260 degrees F and well... that won't work well for an icing. To test, bring a pot of water to a full rolling boil and insert candy thermometer, suspended in pot where it is not touching the bottom. Let boil for a full 10 minutes. Temperature should read 212 degrees F for boiling water (at sea level). If it doesn't, you'll need to adjust the reading with your icing.

Meanwhile, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form.

When you separate the eggs, remember to crack them into a bowl, one at a time, just in case one happens to break on you. You cannot let any yolk get into the whites. Reserve the yolks for another use. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form. With the mixer on a lower speed, slowly pour the hot syrup into the egg whites.

Increase to high and beat constantly until the icing begins to thicken and take shape. Look how beautiful that is!

Beat in the vanilla on low and hand fold the pecans in. Cake must be fully cooled before icing it.

Spread the icing all over the cake.

Top with the coconut and garnish if desired. I've included instructions for making sugared cranberries, which is a beautiful presentation when combined with tiny fresh mint leaves. Put a couple on each slice!

For more of my favorite cake recipes, visit my page on Pinterest!

If you make this or any of my recipes, I'd love to see your results! Just snap a photo and hashtag it #DeepSouthDish on social media or tag me @deepsouthdish on Instagram!

Unable to view the printable below on your device? Tap/click here.

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