Ashlyn's Coconut Present Cake Recipe

Ashlyn's Coconut Present Cake Recipe

Landscape designer Ashlyn Morgan is a southern girl that loves buttermilk and forages food for her own recipes. She makes her Coconut Present Cake recipe as her first showstopper bake. This recipe is great for all kinds of occasions including birthdays. It is a tiered cake with coconut cream cheese buttercream. There are three layers because as a landscape designer she was taught to group things in odd numbers. Watch the full episode of "Cake Week" from season two episode 2 of The Great American Baking Show to see if she can lay the groundwork to win star baker.


For the Cake:

Pam for greasing 

7 cups all-purpose flour

4 cups granulated sugar

3 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon table salt

2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups water

8 oz. white baking chocolate

3 cups buttermilk, full fat, room temp

8 large eggs

3 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

2 cups sweetened coconut flakes 

For the Coconut Cream Cheese Buttercream:

2 1/2 cups unsalted butter, (room temp - slightly on the harder side - not too soft/melting)

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 1/2 cups whole milk

3 packages (8 oz.) full-fat cream cheese, softened at room temp

1 can cream of coconut (15 oz.)

For the Marshmallow Fondant:

softened unsalted butter for greasing hands

2 packages of 16 oz. mini marshmallows

1/2 cup water

4 pounds confectioners sugar 

For the Pulled Sugar:

5 cups (2.2 lbs.) granulated sugar

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold ice water (plus more for brushing sides of pan)

3 tablespoons white vinegar

gel food colouring - red and green 


For the Cake:

1. Preheat oven to 350F/177C. Grease pans and line with parchment. Set aside 1/2 cup flour to mix with coconut. 

2. Sift together remaining flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt into extra large bowl. Chop white chocolate into small chunks with serrated knife. 

3. In a medium saucepan, bring the butter and water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate. Let it cool down. (*For show, cool down with ice water bath). 

4. In a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the eggs, then add the buttermilk and vanilla bean paste. 

5. Slowly pour in the butter/chocolate into this mixture being sure to temper the eggs. Mix until well combined. 

6. Take bowl of dry ingredients and add liquid mixture to the dry in 3 or 4 stages -use a hand held mixer for this. Fold in coconut flakes. 

7. Divide batter among all pans – fill about halfway. Bake for 30-35 min.

For the Coconut Cream Cheese Buttercream:

1. In a medium saucepan, cook flour and milk until most of the moisture is cooked out and a thick paste is formed. Stir this continuously to keep it from burning. Remove from heat and leave to cool completely. Push mixture through sieve to remove any lumps. Using stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add flour paste. Beat on high speed until well blended and almost doubled in volume. In a separate mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add cream of coconut and mix until well incorporated. Add coconut cream cheese mixture to buttercream in 4 stages. Take 2 cups of frosting and put into a large pastry bag fitted with a Wilton 4B tip. Take remaining frosting and place into pastry bags fitted with Wilton 2A tips.

For the Marshmallow Fondant:

1. Place marshmallows in a large microwave safe bowl. Microwave for one minute, then stir.

2. Keep microwaving in 30 second increments until marshmallows melt down. Stir in water.

3. Reserving 2 cups of confectioners sugar, mix in the rest of the confectioners sugar in stages until well incorporated. 

4. Lay out parchment paper large enough to knead and roll fondant out. Use the reserved sugar for dusting your parchment for kneading. 

5. Grease hands with butter. Grab the fondant and knead until it's no longer sticky. You may need to grease hands and dust your parchment continuously to keep the fondant from sticking. 

For the Pulled Sugar:

1. Pour sugar, water, and vinegar into a medium saucepan. Keep a bowl of ice water on the side for brushing pan. Bring sugar, water, and vinegar to a boil. Do not stir. If crystals form, use the pastry brush to brush water down the sides of the pan. Keep boiling until it reaches 320F/160C (use a candy thermometer or laser thermometer). Wear gloves while handling the sugar. Pour sugar out onto silpat or marble. Drop red food gel onto one half of sugar and green gel on the other. Wait until sugar cools a bit and gets tacky. Roll the sugar in on itself (be quick to the touch because the sugar is really hot). Divide the sugar by color. Start to pull sugar until the color is incorporated and the satin quality develops. When sugar becomes too hard, heat it in microwave for 15 seconds. To make curls, pull the sugar between thumb and forefinger to the desired length, cut with scissors, and wrap around dowel or metal rod.

2. To make ribbons/bows, pull sugar and free form the shapes.


1. Level all cakes. Take the 10" layers, fill, frost, and place on a 10" cake board. Repeat for other 8" and 6" cakes with corresponding cake boards. Refrigerate. Roll out white fondant to cover all three cakes. Cover cakes with fondant. Place 10" cake on platter. Place 7 Dowels into cake. Place the 8" on next. Place 5 dowels into cake. Place the 6" on next. Dry brush on white luster dust. Using the frosting with the 4B tip, pipe a border around the base of each cake. Take the pulled sugar decorations (curls, bows, and ribbon) and decorate the top of the cake.

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