Happy birthday to me. Kinda. My birthday isn’t until July 30th but I’ll be away then so we usually celebrate it beforehand with our greatest family friends. We went to an Italian restaurant in town where I had mozzarella on mozzarella on mozzarella. Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve had cheese? It’s been a very, very long time. It’s also been a very, very long time since I’ve made and/or had cake. Like, a good cake. We have cake sometimes at rowing for various peoples’ birthdays and they’re awesome (there was this one ice cream cake recently aghh omnomnom) buuuut they aren’t exactly homemade in MY kitchen. So. I made my own birthday cake. Yes. I make my own birthday cake. Yes. I realize it’s weird. No, I don’t care. Because baking is therapeutic and lovely and when you’re making a cake with chocolate, coconut, and pecans, the opportunity to snack is constant. Which is always awesome. This Inside-Out German Chocolate Cake from Gourmet Magazine’s (yes, Gourmet!) March 2000 issue takes a long time, but each bite you get three textures: 1. the moist chocolate cake 2. the crunchy praline-like filling and 3. the smooth, frosting-like glaze. I literally could not stop eating it. It’s addictive.
Makes: 12 servings ish, 1 3-layer cake
active time: 1.5 hrs
total time (if you do it all in one day): 4.25 hrs
For the cake-
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 plus 1 tbs unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder (I used half Dutch and half Hershey’s unsweetened and it worked fine)
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 6 tbs unsalted butter, melted
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3/4 cup boiling-hot water
- 7 oz sweetened flaked coconut
- 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
- 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tbs vanilla
- 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
- 10 oz semisweet chocolate (I used nestle chocolate chips)
- 3 tbs light corn syrup
Gettin’ it goin’
Preheat oven to 350 F and oil cake pans. Line bottoms of pans with rounds of parchment or wax paper. Sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk together whole milk, butter, whole egg, egg yolk, and vanilla in another large bowl until just combined. This part of my mixture kind of got lumpy because the cold milk clumped up the melted butter, but it still turned out great so don’t worry if that happens to you too. Beat egg mixture into the flour mixture until combined. Add water and beat again until combined. The batter will be thin, don’t worry. Divide the batter among the cake pans (the layers will also be thin, so each cake pan doesn’t get too much batter) and bake in upper and lower thirds of the oven, rotating them 180 degrees and switching positions half-way through. The cakes are done when a toothpick/knife/whatever comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Cool layers in pans on racks for 15 minutes, run a thin knife around the edges if needed, and flip ’em onto racks. Carefully remove parchment paper and cool completely.
Reduce the oven temp to 325 F. Spread the c0c0nut on a baking sheet and the pecans on another. Bake pecans in upper third of the oven. and the coconut in the lower third. Stir occasionally, until all nice and toasted (pecans will be golden brown ish and will release a nutty odor, coconut will be golden brown.) ***THIS IS SUPER IMPORTANT AND I MAKE IT CLEAR IN ALL OF MY POSTS. Toasting coconut is awesome but when you go to stir it, BE CAUTIOUS. Coconut oil is released from the shredded coconut and the vapor is in the oven. When you open the oven, guess where the vapor goes? Your eyes. It hurts a lot. So when you go to stir the coconut, open the oven, wait like 10-15 seconds, then stir. Anyways, it should take about 12-18 minutes in total. Remove the pans from the oven.
Increase the oven temp to 425 F. Pour condensed milk until at least a 9 inch deep-dish pie plate (I used an 8x11ish rectangular pan and that worked) and cover tightly with foil. Bake the milk in a water bath in the middle of the oven for 45 minutes. Refill baking pan with water (just pour more in) to reach halfway up the plate/pan and bake milk until thick and golden brown, about 45 minutes more. Remove pie plate from water bath. Stir in coconut, pecans, and vanilla and keep the mixture warm, covered with foil.
Make the Glaze while the milk is baking if you choose:
Melt butter in a 3-quart saucepan. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate and corn syrup, whisking until chocolate is melted. Transfer 1 cup of glaze to a bowl, reserving remaining glaze at room temp in pan. Chill the glaze in a bowl, stirring occasionally, until thickened and spreadable, about 1 hour.
Assemble the Cake:
Put 1 cake layer on a rack set over a baking pan, to catch the excess glaze. Drop half of coconut filling by spoonfuls evenly over layer and gently spread with wet spatula/back of spoon. What I found was that the filling was actually workable so I spooned it onto the cake but I was able to flatten it out with my fingers. Top with another cake layer and spread with remaining filling in the same manner. Top with remaining cake layer and spread chilled glaze evenly over top and side of cake. I realized that the chilled glaze doesn’t cover the cake completely, so just try to get a very thin layer over all of it. But don’t worry if there are some small patches without the chilled glaze. BECAUSE. You now spread the reserved glaze over the top and sides of the cake. This is where you make sure the whole cake is covered. Chill the cake until firm, about 1 hour. Transfer cake to a plate. Make sure to bring to room temp before serving.
The order of which I did thing: I made the cake Tuesday night and froze them until Friday. I made the filling Thursday night and warmed it up Friday when I needed it. I made the glaze Friday and put it all together.