Baked Sunday Mornings: Dolly's Doughnut

In honor of Dolly Parton's birthday, the gentlemen bakers came up with a recipe they call Dolly's Doughnut: a coconut Bundt cake with chocolate-coconut filling and a white chocolate-coconut glaze. I am in the coconut-loving camp (in my experience, people tend to be either coconut lovers or coconut haters, with very few falling in between), so I was pretty psyched to give the cake a try.

Although all three components of the cake -- cake, filling, and glaze -- are coconut flavored, there are bits of actual coconut only in the filling. The cake and glaze are flavored with coconut extract and coconut milk only. I have never used coconut extract before (although I have used coconut flavor) but I bought a bottle from OliveNation just for this recipe.

Making the cake batter is straightforward. You cream softened butter and sugar; add eggs and egg yolks, followed by vanilla and coconut extract; and alternately add the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt) and unsweetened coconut milk. The filling is a mixture of cream cheese, shredded coconut (you're supposed to use unsweetened, but I only had sweetened coconut and I lightly toasted it first), melted and cooled bittersweet chocolate, egg, sugar, and a little of the coconut cake batter.

I transferred half of the cake batter into a Bundt pan that was generously coated with baking spray containing flour. My filling was so thick and stiff that I put it into a pastry bag and piped it into a ring on top of the batter, and then covered it with the remaining cake batter. I baked the cake until a toothpick came out clean, which took 75 minutes (the recipe specifies 50-55 minutes, but my baking times are generally longer than whatever is stated in the Baked cookbooks). While the cake was in the oven the light coconut scent of suntan lotion filled my kitchen.
After I cooled the cake, I tried to turn it out of the pan, but it was stuck. Eventually I got it to come out, except for a thin layer off the top of the cake that remained behind in the pan. I was surprised that all that was visible under the missing top layer was chocolate filling. I had placed the filling precisely in the middle of the cake (I weighed out the cake batter to make sure that I had put exactly half of it in the pan before adding the filling), but the filling had sunk completely to the bottom of the pan, ending up at the very top of the unmolded cake. I'm not sure if the thick consistency of the filling is what caused the cake to stick to the pan, because the sides of the cake that were coconut cake only came out without any problem. In any case, I was grateful that the recipe included a thick glaze that would hide the rough surface on the top of the cake.
The glaze is easy to make. It's a mixture of coconut milk, coconut extract, vanilla, powdered sugar, and warm melted white chocolate. I dyed it pink and finished off the cake with rainbow sprinkles. The glaze set firm and did a good job of camouflaging the cake's imperfections. Many of my tasters commented on how pretty the cake was.

I really liked this cake, but I thought the cake and the filing didn't meld together. The cake was light and finely textured with a delicate and lovely coconut flavor and a flavorful firm crust. The chocolate filling was dense and thick; it had the consistency of a brownie. I was also surprised that the filling was not sweet at all, even though I had used sweetened coconut instead of unsweetened; the chocolate flavor dominated. In essence, this was like having a brownie combined with a cake, and I didn't think the pairing was a good one.

I was taken back to the Brookster, a combination of a brownie and chocolate chip cookie that I found disappointing even though each component tasted great on its own. Likewise, I thought this pairing of contrasting textures and flavors was odd even though I liked each portion separately. While the chocolate filling added some visual interest, I would have preferred this as straight coconut cake without filling.

Recipe: "Dolly's Doughnut" from Baked Occasions by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, recipe available here at Baked Sunday Mornings.


Louise said…
Coconut cake is one of my absolute favorites, but this one just sounds all wrong. Sort of sounds like the Pillsbury Bake-Off Ring of Coconut Cake gone bad.
Yael Even said…
Looking good as it should! I loved this cake.
Robyn said…
Hmmm, I have to say I loved the filling! With the cream cheese, I felt like it was a layer of chocolate cheesecake through the middle and I was all about it. I think I would use a bit less coconut extract next time though - a bit to suntan lotion-y for me.
Thanks for indication of slightly toasted nuts! It will be a piece of delight if cooked properly, I suppose! The filling is unsurpassed!