A couple of weekends ago, my housemate and I had a joint birthday party and we each baked a cake for the occasion. My housemate made chocolate with chocolate buttercream frosting and I made coconut with seven-minute frosting. Cakes are much more complicated than cupcakes, I realized, but it was still a lot of fun. The cake itself was one I'd made for my mom's birthday a couple of years ago, so I knew it would be tasty. I'd never made seven-minute frosting before, what with the double boiler (which we don't have, so I was desperately trying to hold two pans together), the candy thermometer (which we also don't have; I think I was using a meat thermometer?), and then of course the seven minutes of beating the icing (not too terrible, but a little trickier with a hand mixer than with a stand mixer). But, it was worth it! The frosting turned out great, shiny and meringue-y, and tasted wonderful. One piece of advice is to not make this frosting too early--by the next day, the frosting on the leftover cake had serious problems and had lost most of their air in it (though it was still delicious, it wouldn't look right for presenting the cake).
Coconut Cake (recipe from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook)
3 sticks unsalted butter
3 1/2 c flour
1 T plus 1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 c packed sweetened, shredded coconut
2 2/3 c sugar
4 large whole eggs
4 large egg whites
1 T vanilla
1 1/2 c unsweetened coconut milk (from 1 can)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9x9x2 square baking pans (I used 8-inch square pans and didn't have a problem). Dust with flour.
2. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Pulse shredded coconut in a food processor until finely chopped and then mix into flour mixture.
3. With an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in the whole eggs, egg whites, and vanilla until fully incorporated. On low speed, add the flour in two parts, alternating with coconut milk and beginning and ending with the flour.
4. Divide batter between pans and smooth. Bake until a tester comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool on a wire rack 30 minutes, then remove from pans and let the cakes cool completely.
5. Frost with seven-minute frosting between layers (1 1/2 c) and spread all over the rest of the cake.
1 1/2 c sugar
2 T light corn syrup
6 large egg whites
1 tsp vanilla
1. Combine sugar, corn syrup, 1/4 c water, and egg whites in a double boiler set over simmering water. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 minutes (took mine longer).
2. Beat with an electric mixer on high speed until glossy and voluminous, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Use immediately.
Here we are with the cakes!