best coconut cake
hi there. i plan to order a coconut cake for my friend's birthday party on july 8 and wonder if anyone has a recommendation for the best one around. i considered dean and deluca and other spots in manhattan but am leaning more toward cake man raven or two little red hens in brooklyn. would love to hear folks' suggestions!
I highly rec. Cheeks Bakery on Metropolitan Ave. in Williamsburg. The baker is of Magnolia fame, and her products (not to bash and get into to trouble on this board), are light years in superiority to that of Hens or whomever else is lurking around the mixers and ovens. I have been sampling, to my waist line and wife's chagrin, her stuff for months now. All spectacular across the board. All organic as well. For sure a great go to.
Re: Cheeks, we stopped into the bakery personally and my husband asked the owner a question re: the "boiled frosting" on her red velvet cake and she was almost defensive about it--not to mention abrasive--Especially since her business is relatively new, I didn't understand how rude she was. It sounds like she is sorely lacking the requisite people skills to be running a business like this. My husband, surprisingly, to me at least wound up buying a slice of the at that point infamous red velvet cake with "boiled frosting"--It was good though a bit too sweet for my tastes. I prefer Baked in Red Hook which was also mentioned on this thread. Interestingly, the owner of Cheeks told us she opened this place (Baked).
Yeah. I think 'the baker' as her counter boy husband calls her, is a little misunderstood. I can vouch for her bad/unfriendly attitude. At first, I took it as a superiority complex about her venture in a neighborhood that is essentially lost on the culinary map. Then however, I realized that after talking to her, and really working her over, she is just a weirdo, trying to make a go of it. Bad business? Yes. Bad enough to drive me away from the closest decent, fresh baked goods in my hood? Nope. While I may not care for her attitude, many people visited Yasef Kassam's soup stand aka the Soup Nazi, and even though the soup was in fact craptacular, they ate it up. At least her product is good, organic, and fresh.
Although this is belated, I feel compelled to share that my experience of "the baker" couldn't be more different than yours. On several occasions over past months, I have found her to be incredibly sensitive and very decent with regard to her bakery and more importantly towards me (a total stranger who usually only buys one measly cupcake per visit!) Ironically, I only seem to visit when I need the support of a cupcake and frosting and despite my angst want something of amazing quality (as silly as that may sound.) In my limited acquaintance of her, she seems to me (in my sporadic visit to Cheeks) a a person of strong opinions who may not suffer fools gladly. Having lived around the corner from what is now Cheeks 17 years ago (when there only good polish restaurants on Bedford Ave and nothing more than Peter Luger in Williamsburg and great Italian across the way. Crossing Metropolitan was actually dangerous then.) I find it refreshing and am grateful that a bakery like Cheeks has sprouted despite the prevalence of numerous sceney, frivolous places in the neighborhood.
My only disappointing experience with Two Little Red Hens' cakes was a coconut angelfood cake that turned out to be all gloppy frosting and no cake. Never tried the cake man or Cheeks so I can't comment. Please report back.
well, i decided on cake man, and called to order on wednesday (after having been told to call and order on wednesday) and they weren't taking any more orders. next i tried cheeks and, most unfortunately, the person on the phone (who spoke in the first person and was in all likelihood the owner) was quite uncooperative and nearly rude. my friend called separately last week, unbeknownst to me, and reported back the same experience - same person, same bad attitude. she couldn't even tell her the store's hours! cheeks will *definitely* be avoided.
therfore, we are going ahead with two little red hens - not angelfood but just white cake with coconut buttercream frosting. will definitely report back!
Raybird, thanks for the update. You've been through a lot just to order your cake so I hope that it ends up being perfect. Looking forward to your report.
fyi - the cake from two little red hens was ok. i would give it a 5 out of 10, mostly because it was a little dry, and the frosting was too buttery, and not in a delectable way (because i do love butter). it was lovely, though, and my friend was happy. and the service was outstanding and very professional - someone from the bakery called just to make sure that we did not want the frosting flowers on top.
next time, i will order way ahead from cake man, as i have not had better cake in the city as of yet. baked is a great option, too - i always like their goods - thanks for the suggestion!
I'm sorry to hear the Two Hens cake was a little dry - was it served at room temperature (if refrigerated previously, was it set out about one - two hours before serving)? Usually, the problem with "dry" cakes is that they are still a tiny bit cold, which results in a taste mistaken for stale. I've been a Two Hens fan for quite some time, so I am quite biased and sorry to hear of sub-par cake...
yeah, i usually really dig the hens. i doubt the dryness was due to refrigeration, as i had it in the fridge (despite my natural tendency and only at the suggestion of the person at the hens, btw) from 7 to 8 o'clock and we served the cake at 11 o'clock. could have just been a fluke, and it could just be that i prefer an especially moist cake (hence my allegiance to cake man raven!) and a different kind of frosting. in any case, i will stick to the sticky buns and incredible pecan pies at the hens and go to the cake man for bought cakes.
wow, i haven't even heard about wimp's, let alone tried it! does anyone know about their cakes? i saw on their site that they do a pineapple coconut and a pecan coconut and figure they'd probably do a plain coconut, if ordered. i'll put this on my list of places to try - we've been trying to find good places for southern food in general. thanks!
If you're in Brooklyn you might want to try a slice of coconut cake from any Castillo de Juagas. It's pretty sweet and moist. There's one one the corner of Carlton Ave. and Park Place. They might sell you a whole cake for very little money. Or, you can try some Mexican bakeries on 5th Avenue between 39th street and 55th Street in Sunset Park. Ooooooooooooor, you can try the Park Cafe on 7th Avenue between Union and Berkely Pl. Ask for George. Tell him what you're looking for and ask him how much. He may come off as abrassive but once he understands what you want he might be able to order a cake from his baker/supplier (if they make coconut cake) who I think is very good. If all else fails call Mrs. Maxwell's on Atlantic Ave by Pennsylvania and see if they make coconut cake.
As for Wimp's Bakery, I wasn't that impressed. They claim to be a scratch bakery and I'm inclined to believe them.
I've had their sweet potato pie (which was okay), coconut custard pie (which was okay) and their German chocolate cake (which was dry).
The best coconut cake EVER can be found as the Peninsula Grill in Charleston, S.C. Yes, yes, I know, it's NOT anywhere near you, but fret not, they DELIVER!
Or, of you're feeling so inclined, you can bake one yourself using this recipe:
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1/4 cup sour cream
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
5 large eggs
1 1/3 cups whipping cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sweetened flaked coconut, toasted (to finish)
I may get bashed for this, but I love the lemon-filled coconut cake from Junior's, which I buy in slices at the Grand Central location.
re: cheeks bakery, just wanted to chime in my two cents that the baker/owner (melanie) is actually a very good egg. and her products (moist, typically not too sweet) are very very good eggs. i was immensely grateful when her store became an addition to my neighborhood.
so i make this cake every day now....and its pretty much the SHIT!!!! I have upped the BP and it make sit a bit fluffier