KCET's own Cook's Country has provided us with this perfect dessert: it contains pineapple and rum, and we're not sure you could ask for more in a cake. Start it a day ahead of time, as this kind of excellence takes time.
Pina Colada Cake
Makes one cake
1 tablespoon instant tapioca
1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and quartered lengthwise
1/3 cup (2 1/3 ounces) granulated sugar
1/4 cup spiced rum
20 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons canned coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
2 1/4 cups (9 ounces) confectioners' sugar
1recipe yellow layer cake (see below)
1 cup (3 ounces) sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
Grind tapioca to fine powder in spice grinder, about 30 seconds. Coarsely chop 2 pineapple quarters, then pulse in food processor until coarsely ground, 8 to 10 pulses (you should have about 1½ cups).
Slice one of remaining pineapple quarters into 1/8-inch-thick slices and reserve to decorate cake. (Eat remaining pineapple quarter--cook's treat!)
Transfer ground pineapple to medium saucepan and add granulated sugar, rum, ground tapioca, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Bring to boil over medium heat and cook until thickened, about 4 minutes.
Off heat, stir in 2 tablespoons butter until incorporated. Transfer to bowl and refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip remaining 18 tablespoons butter, coconut milk, vanilla, coconut extract, and 1/8 teaspoon salt on medium-low speed until combined.
Slowly add confectioners' sugar and continue to whip until smooth, about 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high and whip until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Place 1 cake round on plate or pedestal. Spread filling evenly over top. Top with second cake round, press lightly to adhere, then spread frosting evenly over top and sides of cake. Gently press coconut onto sides of cake. Fan pineapple slices in circle around top edge of cake. Serve.
Makes two 9-inch cakes
To quickly bring the eggs and milk to room temperature (65 degrees), submerge them in a bowl of warm water for about 10 minutes after mixing them together. Adding the butter pieces to the mixing bowl one at a time prevents the dry ingredients from flying up and out of the bowl.
4 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3 /4cups (7 ounces) cake flour
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces and softened
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper, grease parchment, and flour pans.
Whisk eggs, milk, and vanilla together in bowl. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed until combined. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, and mix until only pea-size pieces remain, about 1 minute.
Add half of egg mixture, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to medium-low, add remaining egg mixture, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds (batter may look slightly curdled). Give batter final stir by hand.
Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and smooth tops with rubber spatula. Bake until tops are light golden and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking. Let cakes cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Let cakes cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans, discarding parchment, and let cool completely on rack, about 2 hours.