A Birthday Cake for my Mom

20 Feb

Today is my Mom’s 60th Birthday! I’m not really sure how it’s possible that I have a Mother that age, because she certainly doesn’t look/act/feel like 60. Just don’t tell my Mom how old she is, according to her she’s stopped counting.

Momma fixing my wedding dress

My Mom was born on the island of Terceira in the Azores. I’ve been there a couple times, but not since I was about 3 or 4. She immigrated to the United States in the 70s and married my Dad in 1984 and I came along in 1986. (Sorry, no embarrassing pictures this time around).

My Mom’s always supported me with everything I’ve wanted to do and been my biggest cheerleader and defender. She’s can be quite the little firecracker sometimes and I’d like to think that’s were I get my feisty-ness from. She’s also a great cook. Not only does she make some fabulous bread, but she makes the best Portuguese kale soup EVER (Yes, I’ve asked her for the recipe).

She knows how to have fun and I know I can tell her anything and if anything is wrong I can tell her and she’ll be there for me. I couldn’t ask for a better Mom.

So I just KNEW I had to bake the perfect cake for her.

My parents and I at my wedding

Isn’t she cute?

But let’s back up a moment, shall we?

Cake’s are my enemy. I don’t know what it is about cake baking but it NEVER goes right. I can never get tall and fluffy cakes. The filling always falls out. I make a mess. The frosting breaks.

I’d like to say that the cake gods were watching over me with this cake, but then I would be lying to you.

First, the 3 layer cake that I made barely reached a total of 3″ high. Then the pineapple filling I made was too runny. And of course I got flour and whipping cream and everything on the kitchen counter. Many tears were shed (Thank God for an amazing husband). I was so upset that I immediately signed up for a cake baking class at the BCAE. ::sigh:: The things I do for my mother.

Blowing out the candles! (With my Dad looking on)

But, in the end, everyone loved the cake, and my Mom kept eating the toasted coconut that was left on the cake stand. Don’t get me wrong, the cake was DELICIOUS (and I realized that I should have added more filling to the cake, but whatevs) and everyone really enjoyed it, especially my mother, but of course I was striving for perfection.

The inside of the cake was sweet and moist so I countered that with a very light frosting and covered the cake with toasted coconut. The flavors balanced very well.

Even though it wasn’t as tall as I was hoping for, it was still a pretty cake, don’t you agree?

Coconut Cake with Pineapple Filling

Cake recipe adapted from Baked Bree, Pineapple filling adapted from Food & Wine

Coconut Cake

  • 12 oz cake flour sifted
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 2/3 cups softened butter
  • 1 cup warm coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 6 large egg whites

Preheat oven to 350. Line 3 9″ baking rounds with cooking spray and parchment paper. In a stand mixer, beat egg whites on high until foamy then slowly add 2 tbsp sugar until stiff peaks form. Set aside (I put mine in a separate bowl so I can use the stand mixer again)

Combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In the stand mixer combine the butter with 1.5 cups of sugar on medium speed for about 3 minutes or until light and fluffy.

Add flour and coconut milk, starting and ending with the flour until combined. Then add the vanilla. Carefully fold in the egg whites until combined and then pour the batter equally into the 3 pans. Bake for about 18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then cool completely on a wire rack. Wrap them in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge until you are ready to use them

Pineapple Filling

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup pineapple puree
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1/2-1  cup prepared whipping cream (see recipe for frosting below)

In a saucepan combine the sugar and cornstarch and whisk. Then add the egg yolks and puree and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thick for about 6 minutes. Add more cornstarch if it’s not thickening. Remove from heat and add the butter one tbsp at a time. Cool in the refrigerator for at least two hours.


  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • coconut flakes, for the top

In a stand mixer beat the whipping cream with the sugar until soft peaks form. Add the coconut milk and vanilla extract and beat until medium stiff peaks form.

When you are ready to put together your cake, add part of the whipping cream to the filling until it reaches the desired consistency. I actually ended up not using all of the filling, so do it in small batches first.

To assemble your cake put a bit of frosting on the bottom so the cake stays in place. Carefully layer with the pineapple filling, then another layer, then the filling, and the final layer on top. Frost your cake. It doesn’t have to be perfect because you are just going to put toasted coconut on top!

To toast your coconut you can either put it in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, turning once or twice until browned on all sides. Or you can toss the coconut in a saute pan and cook until brown on all sides.

Place the coconut in the freezer for about 15 minutes so the coconut will cool down and not melt your cake. Once cooled, add to your cake. Refrigerate your cake for at least an hour before serving!



12 Responses to “A Birthday Cake for my Mom”

  1. Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic February 20, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    Definitely a pretty cake!! Happy birthday to your mom 🙂 My mom would also love a pineapple coconut cake like that, I might just bake something similar for her as well!

  2. Megan February 20, 2011 at 6:11 pm #

    It’s a beautiful cake! I love the pineapple/coconut combo! Happy birthday to your mother!

  3. Elizabeth February 20, 2011 at 6:35 pm #

    What a sweet post, happy birthday to your mom! I have totally been craving coconut cake lately, this looks to die for.

  4. Liz February 20, 2011 at 8:13 pm #

    Mmm, this looks so good. What a nice gift for your mom!

    I did a little research because I had never heard of Azores. It’s beautiful!

    • kitchenmisfit February 20, 2011 at 8:27 pm #

      It really is. I want to go back so bad! Hopefully sometime soon!

  5. Laura February 20, 2011 at 10:22 pm #

    Happy birthday to your mom! My mom is turning 60 this year too! (but don’t tell her I told you, she wouldn’t be happy ha ha!) Your cake looks wonderful, great job!

  6. Kathy February 20, 2011 at 10:44 pm #

    That looks like it turned out great! You were so worried about it! Nom. Ooh, I will be trying this!

    • kitchenmisfit February 20, 2011 at 10:51 pm #

      I had a mini breakdown whilst making it. But everyone still loved it! Hah

  7. Karly February 20, 2011 at 11:04 pm #

    I am a total cake baking failure. I try to make one for my mom every birthday and every birthday she gets horrible, dry, crumbly cake. Poor thing. 🙂

    Happy birthday to your mama!

  8. iamahoneybee February 21, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

    your cake looks fantastic. This has me craving coconut now.

  9. Emily @ A Cambridge Story February 21, 2011 at 6:47 pm #

    Gorgeous AND exotic. Happy bday to your mom! Do you speak Portuguese? I need someone to practice my very rusty (and Brazilian) Portuguese!

    • kitchenmisfit February 21, 2011 at 6:50 pm #

      I wish!! I only know a few words and phrases. My Mom never taught me when I was little 😦

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