We’re almost halfway through July, and somehow I’m still recovering from winter. Between the cold weather and a constantly screaming newborn, I’m not sure I’ll ever forget the winter of 2017. Thankfully, things have brightened up over here, in more ways than one.
Of course, the winter wasn’t all dark. One of my happiest winter moments this year was celebrating a bachelorette party away with two of my closest friends from residency. We headed up to Portsmouth, NH, one of the cutest towns in America. Seriously, look it up, it probably says it on Google. We celebrated the bachelorette by shopping, eating, and relaxing with relatively mild winter weather and NO KIDS. I could talk forever about our 24 hours of awesome friend time, but if you don’t know me, you probably don’t care, so I won’t bore you.
During this glorious carefree day of my life, I had one constant, nagging reminder of my baby’s tummy troubles: my dairy-free diet. In an effort to figure out the exact reason why my infant was crying, I cut dairy out of my diet while nursing. For 3 weeks, I read labels, I whined, I complained, and I contemplated the meaning of life. That last one was an exaggeration, but I love me some cheese, so that 3 week period of time was pretty rough. I added dairy back when I discovered that the problem was in fact that she wasn’t sleeping enough (or was possibly she was possessed; we might never know). I’m an allergist, and spend most of my days talking with patients about avoiding various foods because of food allergies. Of course I know that it’s hard to eliminate a food group (or many food groups), but you don’t really get it until you actually do it yourself. I have so much respect for the families who are dealing with this every day of their lives.
Being dairy-free in a foodie town is surprisingly not too hard. For every temptation, there was an equally tempting non-dairy option. We chose a seafood restaurant that was a-maz-ing (Row 34) and then headed back to our hotel for dessert. My incredibly talented friend, Ashley Ferullo, created a dairy-free Coconut Lemon Layer Cake that didn’t make me miss a bit of milk. We enjoyed our massive slices by the fire before bed, and even had some leftovers over the next few days.
I’m finally getting around to posting the recipe (sorry, Ashley), and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
- 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut
- 3¼ cups cake flour (spooned and swept)
- 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 ¼ tsp salt
- 1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk
- ¼ cup + 2 tbsp stirred, sweetened cream of coconut (such as Coco Lopez)
- 5 egg whites
- 1 ½ tsps pure vanilla extract
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
- 16 tbsp coconut oil
- 3 large eggs
- 4-5 lemons
- ¾ cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 can (13-15oz) of cream of coconut
- 1 ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup to 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut to top the cake
- Preheat oven to 350F. Generously coat 3 (9 inch) round cake pans with coconut oil and flour the pan, discarding excess.
- Place shredded coconut in bowl of food processor and pulse until very finely chopped.
- In large mixing bowl, combine the chopped coconut, flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the coconut milk, cream of coconut, egg whites, vanilla and lemon zest until completely blended.
- In bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the sugar and coconut oil on high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium low and beat in the 3 whole eggs, one at a time, until well combined. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the coconut milk mixture, to the creamed oil and sugar mixture, starting and ending with the flour.
- Divide batter equally in the 3 prepared pans. Bake for about 35 minutes or until the layers are light golden and set (you can check with a toothpick to make sure it comes out clean). Cool in pan for 15 minutes, then remove to wire racks and cool completely prior to assembly.
- Wash the lemons well and zest 2 of them. Mix the zest with the sugar in a small bowl and rub the mixture between your fingers to bring out the flavor of the zest. Set aside.
- Roll the lemons under your palm to prime the juice. Juice the lemons until you have ¾ cup of juice. Strain seeds.
- Add the juice, lemon sugar and salt to a saucepan. Warm over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved.
- Beat the eggs and egg yolk together in a medium bowl. While whisking constantly, pour the warm lemon mixture into the eggs. Continue to beat for a minute or so then return the mixture to the sauce pan over low heat. Whisk constantly until mixture thickens about 10-15 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.
- Lemon curd can be transferred to glass jar or airtight container and kept refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
- Store the cream of coconut in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Open and drain any liquid that has separated and discard.
- Beat the cream of coconut in a stand mixer or with beaters and add the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla, and continue to beat until mixture becomes somewhat fluffy.
- Even off the top of the cake layers as needed. Place one layer on a cake stand and spread half of the lemon curd over it. Top with the next cake layer and spread the rest of the lemon curd.
- Top with third cake layer. Frost the top and sides with the frosting, and cover with the shredded coconut to your liking.