Monday, September 3, 2012

Southern Strawberry Cake with Coconut and Pecan


I came across this cake on Facebook from Mary from her blog Deep South Dish. It's a cake my grandmother would have made. That's probably why it caught my eye. She loved coconut and the woman made coconut cream pies, coconut cakes, and coconut cookies! The woman was mad about coconut! This cake reminds me of another cake that I made recently, Pineapple Coconut Cake. (of course I haven't blogged it yet...sorry) And this cake was to die for! I knew this cake was gonna to be good, it's a Southern cake and southern women know how to cook!  This cake uses a box mix which I love! I hate to bake and we all know I hate to bake. I need all the help I can get in baking! Now this cake does take a little bit of time, there's a little bit of prep work so you have to plan ahead. It's not a dump into the bowl and into the pan, into the oven. Bam! Its done. No. Not that simple. But it's worth the planning! Oh ya! It's definitely worth the planning! Mary even includes the alternates in the icing she gives you the option of making a buttercream or just using Cool Whip as a topping and I bought both and  at the last minute decided I was gonna make the buttercream I'm glad I  did the buttercream! It was worth that two minutes to make! Usually I am the girl who buys the tub of frosting so I just might be making it in the future. Well maybe. If you do not have a cake for Labor day, you still have time! This one is perfect!

Southern Strawberry Cake with Coconut and Pecan
recipe adapted


1 box white cake mix
1 (3 ounce) box strawberry gelatin
1 cup toasted coconut
1 cup chopped toasted pecan (I omitted because my kids would riot)
1 (16 ounce) container of frozen strawberries, thawed,  mashed and divided
4 large eggs
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 (1 pound) box of powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans (again I left out)
1/4 cup toasted coconut
1/2 teaspoon of strawberry extract
About 1/4 cup of the remaining mashed strawberries, more or less
Extra toasted coconut, for garnish, optional
Fresh sliced strawberries, for garnish, optional

These are Mary's Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan with Baker's Joy or non-stick spray; set aside. Lightly toast 1-1/4 cups of chopped pecans in a dry skillet over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant. Remove, set aside to cool, and add 1-1/4 cups coconut; toast until very lightly browned and set aside to cool. You'll be using some of both of those in the cake and in the frosting, and if you'd like to garnish the top of the cake with coconut, do a little extra and reserve for garnish.

Add the cake mix, gelatin, 1 cup of the toasted coconut and 1 cup of the toasted pecans to a large mixing bowl; stir to combine. Add 1 cup of the mashed strawberries and the eggs, oil, and milk; beat at medium speed with an electric hand mixer until well blended. Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

For the icing, use a mixer to cream together the butter and sugar. Fold in the remaining 1/4 cup of the toasted pecans and coconut and the strawberry extract. Add only enough of the remaining mashed strawberries to make the icing spreadable. Spread over the cooled cake. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator.

Mary's Note:  I used Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Classic White cake mix, which is my favorite packaged cake brand. You can also make into a layer cake by using two 9-inch round cake pans, or three 8-inch pans. Spray pans generously with Bakers Secret and don't forget that tip about how to make your cake layers more even. Hey, even the Queen Paula Deen does it!  Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cakes rest in the pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack to completely cool.

Variation: Substitute 1 pint of fresh strawberries, chopped and mashed, with their liquid, reserving a few whole ones to slice for garnish if desired. Can also substitute Cool Whip or whipped topping for the powdered sugar icing. Stir in the coconut, pecans and extract and add in a bit of the remaining strawberry mash. Can also use a plain buttercream or buttercream cream cheese icing alone, or mixed with some of the strawberry puree. If garnishing with coconut, using a few drops of red food coloring makes for a beautiful presentation. Okay to substitute sugar free and lower fat products.


First you need to toast the coconut. It really is easy. Dump what you need for the cake and the icing in a dry pan. Do this about an hour before you plan on making the cake. It needs to cool.
And you might as well get out the strawberries if they are frozen like mine are. I hurried mine up and tossed them in the microwave on defrost.
Ok it is hard to see but the coconut is looking good. so good that I am glad I threw a little extra in the pan. I keep snacking on it.
Put dry cake ingredients in a large bowl
the coconut is cool enough now to use
Mix up all the dry ingredients. It's such a pretty pink color. Perfect for a little girls birthday party
add coconut
mix up
Do a quick mash up of the strawberries
I love mashed strawberries. I put them on french toast, waffles and pancakes. Also good on oatmeal. So it you have extra dont toss it
you surprisingly dont need much
Add all the wet ingredients to the dry  and mix
what a pretty pink

pour into a greased 9x13 pan
bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
once the cake is completely cooled, make the frosting. Note this is something I usually shy away from. Add 1 stick softened butter to a mixing bowl.
Marry calls for a box of powdered sugar. They dont sell them in my store. So I had to measure out 3 1/2 cup
I sifted it over the butter. It looked like it snowed over the butter
First I creamed the butter
Then sift. This is the only time I wish I had a sifter

Eventually it all got done
add just a tad of the strawberry juice. I didn't have strawberry extract, so I added vanilla, and I didn't added coconut or nuts to the frosting thinking my kids would for sure NEVER eat it. But I did garnish the cake with coconut.
Do not think that it needs extra liquid. The little bit of strawberry is enough
Keep adding a TB until you get the perfect consistency, tasting along the way.
It really is so strawberry tasting and so amazing.
Frost entire cake. You will need every bit of it.
Garnish with coconut
Most amazing cake. Thank you Mary.


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