Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies! So how's your summer reading coming along? I have been lucky so far: I've read several fantastic books, and I really need to get caught-up writing my posts. I'm posting this a day early because tomorrow I won't be able to respond to any comments.
This week I read The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert. I enjoyed it so much, and the book includes a wonderful recipe for coconut cake. You can see the results above!
According to Goodreads:
YOU'VE GOT MAIL meets HOW TO EAT A CUPCAKE in this delightful novel about a talented chef and the food critic who brings down her restaurant—whose chance meeting turns into a delectable romance of mistaken identities.
In downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Lou works tirelessly to build her beloved yet struggling French restaurant, Luella’s, into a success. She cheerfully balances her demanding business and even more demanding fiancé…until the morning she discovers him in the buff—with an intern.
Witty yet gruff British transplant Al is keeping himself employed and entertained by writing scathing reviews of local restaurants in the Milwaukee newspaper under a pseudonym. When an anonymous tip sends him to Luella’s, little does he know he’s arrived on the worst day of the chef’s life. The review practically writes itself: underdone fish, scorched sauce, distracted service—he unleashes his worst.
The day that Al’s mean-spirited review of Luella’s runs, the two cross paths in a pub: Lou drowning her sorrows, and Al celebrating his latest publication. As they chat, Al playfully challenges Lou to show him the best of Milwaukee and she’s game—but only if they never discuss work, which Al readily agrees to. As they explore the city’s local delicacies and their mutual attraction, Lou’s restaurant faces closure, while Al’s column gains popularity. It’s only a matter of time before the two fall in love…but when the truth comes out, can Lou overlook the past to chase her future?
Set in the lovely, quirky heart of Wisconsin, THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE is a charming love story of misunderstandings, mistaken identity, and the power of food to bring two people together.
I must admit that I love situational comedies, and The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is just that. Al and Lou's agreement not to discuss the office while they go on dates enjoying Milwaukee's best foodie destinations lead both into making false assumptions about the other's work. Without these assumptions the narrative would have fallen apart earlier because Al truly did ruin Lou's chance at running a successful French restaurant. Needless to say, she loathes the restaurant critic who's destroyed her business.
I enjoyed Al's transformation from a stiff, arrogant malcontent to an approachable, grateful Milwaukee resident. At first, Al was only using his position at the paper to further his own career. He wanted to move on as soon as possible....until he started seeing Milwaukee through Lou's eyes. The more he falls for Lou, the more he falls for Milwaukee. Lou is so persuasive that I want to visit the city!
I also liked how Lou and Al's romance progresses within the story arc. Their "non-dates" quickly morph into dates and fun summer outings until the truth comes out. The ending of the book is pure genius because I didn't see how in the world Al could win back Lou, but Reichert is a wonderful writer, and I was especially satisfied with the ending. This is a fun must-read and perfect for your summer beach trip!
This is a fun quote from the book
I love discovering new writers, and I can't wait to buy Amy's second book:
Luck, Love & Lemon Pie hits the bookstore shelves on July 12th!
Here is the recipe for coconut cake:
Grandma Luella's Coconut Cake
5 large egg whites (save the yolks to make homemade pudding)
3/4 cup cream of coconut
1/4 cup coconut milk—make sure to stir the contents very well to recombine before measuring. Save leftovers for Thai food or your coffee
1 large egg
1 tsp. coconut extract
2 tsp. vanilla extract (I’ve been known to use more—make sure it’s REAL vanilla. I prefer Mexican vanilla, but use what you like)
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. table salt
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, cut into 12 pieces
1 recipe Coconut Frosting (see below)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Brush or rub melted butter onto two 9-inch cake pans (you can use cooking spray, but the butter will taste better), then line the pan bottoms with parchment paper (trust me, this makes cake removal so much easier).
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites, cream of coconut, coconut milk, whole egg, and extracts together until combined and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. With a mixer on low speed, beat in the butter, one piece at a time, until the mixture resembles course crumbs, 2 to 5 minutes (about two minutes for a stand mixer, closer to 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer).
Increase the speed to medium-high and add 1 cup of the egg mixture. Beat until light and fluffy, about 45 seconds (a little longer with a hand mixer). Add the remaining egg mixture in a steady stream and continue to beat until the batter is combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and beaters as needed.
Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans and smooth the tops with a spatula. Bake until a wooden skewer inserted in the center of the cakes comes out with a few crumbs, about 30-35 minutes. All ovens vary, so be careful not to over bake. Rotate the pans halfway through baking.
Let the cakes cool for 10 minutes on wire racks. Run a knife around the edge, then flip out onto the racks. Remove the parchment paper, flip the cakes upright, and let them cool completely before frosting.
You can toast the coconut however you like: oven, microwave, or stovetop. I like to do it in a non-stick skillet on medium-low, stirring every few minutes. Careful once it starts to brown as it can go from toasty goodness to burnt crud very quickly. I spread it out on paper towels to cool and save any leftovers to put on ice cream.
2 tbsp. coconut milk
1 tsp. coconut extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of table salt
16 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup cream of coconut
3 cups powdered sugar
2 cups toasted coconut
Stir the coconut milk, extracts, and salt together until the salt dissolves.
Beat the butter and cream of coconut in a large bowl at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Reduce the speed to medium-low and slowly add the powdered sugar. Beat until smooth, about 2-5 minutes. Beat in the extract mixture. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 4 to 8 minutes.
Set one layer of cake on a cake stand or plate; you can use a daub of frosting to keep it in place. Take one cup of frosting and spread over the bottom layer (an offset spatula works well for this). Sprinkle with toasted coconut. This gives a nice crunch in the middle of the cake.
Set the second layer on top of the first. Scoop out the remaining frosting onto the top of the cake. Spread the frosting to the edge of the cake, working it over the sides and down, spinning the stand or plate as needed to frost all sides of the cake. Don’t worry about making it too pretty, the toasted coconut will help hide the flaws.
Press the toasted coconut onto the sides of the cake, and sprinkle it over the top.
You can find this recipe HERE on Simon & Schuster's Tips on Life & Love blog. It's a fun blog and I highly recommend you sign-up for it!
This cake is fantastic! I hope y'all will try it!
Until next time...
Happy reading!Ricki Jill