As I was making this cake yesterday to bring in to work, I was concerned that there would be too much coconut flavor since there was coconut milk, coconut extract and coconut in the cake itself, as well as more coconut milk in the glaze. However, when I finally tasted a piece of the finished product I was seriously underwhelmed. The cake was good -- nice and moist with a decent texture, but it mostly tasted like yellow cake with some coconut thrown in, and that's not quite what I was aiming for.
I pulled this recipe from Epicurious, and like some of the people who commented on the recipe, I went ahead and added baking powder and baking soda to the recipe to give the cake some lift. The original version is for a dense pound cake, but I wanted something a touch lighter, which is what the leavening did.
I've made good coconut cakes before (my favorite so far isn't a traditional coconut cake, but damn it's good), but I think I'm going to have to bite the bullet and make a cake using a fresh coconut to really get the depth of flavor I'm looking for. We've seen Alton do it on Good Eats, and I even have a recipe in my Southern Cakes book (which has an entire section devoted to coconut cakes) that calls for fresh coconut.
3 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups sugar
6 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1 1/4 cups canned unsweetened coconut milk
2 cups (packed) sweetened flaked coconut (about 7 ounces)
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
Additional sweetened flaked coconut (optional)
Bake cake until top is golden brown and tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Cool cake in pan 5 minutes. Turn cake out onto rack; cool completely.
Whisk powdered sugar and remaining 1/4 cup coconut milk in medium bowl to blend. Spoon glaze over cake. Top with additional coconut, if desired.