Monday, February 23, 2015

Moist coconut cake - a recipe straight from the 80s

Bolo toalha felpuda / Moist coconut cake

I was a kid in the 80s and back then there was a time when every birthday cake was the same here in São Paulo (I’m not sure it happened in other parts of the country): it was a very moist coconut cake, drenched in sweetened condensed milk – Brazilian desserts tend to be very sweet and we are crazy about sweetened condensed milk – cut into squares and wrapped individually in a piece of foil; the pieces would then go into a large Styrofoam box, decorated accordingly to the theme of the party.

I know that might sound a bit weird for non-Brazilians, but that kind of cake was all the rage here for years. And if you think that is strange, wait till you hear how the cake is called: toalha felpuda, something that can be translated like “fluffy towel”.


My sister-in-law was talking about this cake the other day, of how much she wanted to eat it and all, and since I’m more than willing to make sweets for people I like I told her I would make a toalha felpuda especially for her: it turned out moist and fluffy, just as I remembered from my childhood, but I ditched the foil wrapping and placed the cake squares in an airtight container – it can be served at room temperature or chilled, like in the good old days.

Moist coconut cake (toalha felpuda)
slightly adapted from Nestlé’s Brazilian website

2 cups (280g) all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
150g unsalted butter, softened
1 ¾ cups (350g) granulated sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (120ml) whole milk, room temperature
200ml coconut milk
pinch of salt

1 cup (100g) desiccated unsweetened coconut
½ cup (120ml) whole milk, room temperature
1 can (395g) sweetened condensed milk

Cake: preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter and flour a 23x32cm (13x9in) metal pan*.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour and baking powder. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally. Beat in the vanilla. On low speed, beat in the sifted ingredients in three additions, alternating with the milk and coconut milk (one addition each). In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with the salt until firm peaks form. Fold the egg whites gently into the cake batter. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes or until risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, start making the topping: in a medium bowl, stir together the coconut and the milk and leave to hydrate. When the cake is baked, add the sweetened condensed milk to the coconut and milk mixture and stir to combine. As soon as the cake is out of the oven, prick it all over with a fork and pour over the topping, gradually, until the cake absorbs all of it. Cool completely, then cut into squares to serve.

* I made the exact recipe above using a 20x30cm (8x12in) baking pan and baked the cake for 55 minutes

Makes 24


Anonymous said...

This looks delicious, although maybe a little bit too sweet. In Greece, in the 80's, the cakes that were and still are quite popular, are the ones with whipped cream/mousse, relatively airy with a light sponge cake base but the past few years the american type of cakes have become more popular (with buttercream and fondant).

Divine said...

Thanks for sharing all your wonderful recipes!
Which one is your favorite or yummier this one or super tender coconut cake w/coconut icing?

Thanks & God bless!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Dear Divine, thank you for your comment!
I like both, but the other is slightly more tender - maybe making that one with this icing? It's an idea!

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