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Make this coconut cake – and eat it, too

The menu calls it Soon-to-Be Famous Coconut Cream Layer Cake. But it’s already renowned, if you ask us here at The Spokesman-Review Food section.

The signature coconut cake at Wild Sage American Bistro in downtown Spokane is a must-try for Inland Northwest dessert lovers. It sells for $8.50 a slice.

Sure, it’s a generous slice, and you can split it with someone. But you’ll probably want to eat the whole creamy, mildly sweet, toasted coconut and edible-flower-topped thing yourself. Or, if you’re a baker, try to replicate it at home.

You know what they say: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Now, this isn’t the same recipe for almost-famous coconut Genoise cake with mascarpone-coconut cream filling and lilikoi (passion fruit) sauce that Wild Sage uses. But, according to city editor Addy Hatch, who tested the recipe at home, it’s pretty darn close.

“It was time-consuming, but really wonderful,” she said.

To replicate the lilikoi sauce – which Hatch placed on the plate as well as between the layers, on top of the frosting – she used Tutu’s Pantry Lilikoi Jelly, brought back from a trip to Hawaii. She thinned the jelly with a little orange juice to reach the desired consistency.

Classic Coconut Cake

From the March 2011 issue of Bon Appétit via epicurious.com

Room temperature ingredients make all the difference in this cake. You can get more loft from non-chilled egg whites, and room-temperature butter is easier to cream with sugar than the straight-from-the-fridge stuff. The fluffy egg whites and properly creamed butter and sugar mean tender, light cake. And room-temperature butter and cream cheese will translate to creamy, smooth frosting instead of a sticky mess filled with lumps.

For the cake

Nonstick vegetable oil spray

2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/3 cups (loosely packed) sweetened flaked coconut

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups sugar

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

5 large egg yolks

4 large egg whites, room temperature

1/4 teaspoon salt

For the frosting

3 1/3 cups powdered sugar

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup (about) sweetened flaked coconut

Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides with nonstick spray; line bottom of pans with parchment paper rounds.

Mix flour and coconut in medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk and baking soda in small bowl. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolks and beat to blend. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk mixture in 2 additions, beating just to blend after each addition. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites and salt in another large bowl until peaks form. Add 1/3 of egg white mixture to batter; fold into batter just to blend. Fold in remaining egg white mixture in 2 additions. Divide batter between pans.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks 10 minutes. Run small sharp knife around sides of cake pans. Invert cakes onto racks. Carefully peel off parchment. Cool cakes completely.

Make the frosting: Using electric mixer, beat sugar, cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in large bowl until blended. Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on plate. Spread with 1 cup frosting. Place second layer, flat side up, atop frosting. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle some of coconut over top of cake; pat more coconut on sides of cake.

Do ahead: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

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