Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter, Dad's Birthday and Coconut Baba

WARNING! Long, wordy and lots of photos.

I hope everyone had a very Happy Easter! We had something big to celebrate in our family. Dad's birthday fell on Easter this year. I immediately knew what I wanted to do for him. I would make him a Coconut Baba. My Maw Maw (Dad's Mom) would always make Coconut Baba. I never saw her make it. It was just something she would take from the frig in a covered 9x13 baking pan and unveil at the table after one of her iconic meals. I have never had anything similar any where else. It is a moist yellow cake topped with a creamy coconut layer, then a coconut custard and finished with meringue. We don't have her recipe but Mom would make her own version every now and then. It is definitely a labor of love. Lots of steps involved. Dad said he remembers being the one to crack open the coconuts for Maw Maw. I remember him drilling, beating the coconut with a hammer and even smashing a few coconuts against the garage floor for Mom. See Maw Maw used fresh coconut and simmered it with sugar and the liquid from the coconut. Mom has done this a few times too. But lately we have used store bought sweetened coconut with great success. Warming a bag of sweetened coconut with a can of coconut milk makes a sweet creamy coconut layer. Dad was thrilled with the outcome. He said it tasted like what he remembers. I still wish I had Maw Maw's exact recipe but I am happy I could make our version for Dad's special Easter birthday.

The only problem I had was I needed a deeper cake pan. I found myself dangerously filling the pan to the tippy top. Mom said she thinks Maw Maw used a Jiffy cake mix. I could not find one the day I went to the store. So, I did not use all the custard and meringue for fear it was going to spill over. Jiffy is a smaller cake mix, I think that would help or maybe I just need a bigger pan? Believe me you want to use every bit of these wonderful ingredients.

Now for the Easter garnish. This is totally optional, Maw Maw never garnished her Coconut Baba and it was still delicious. I just got inspired by all the Pinterest desserts featuring little eggs in a nest. I think dear sister's friend "J" would totally approve of using toasted coconut for my nesting material. Mom sure did. She kept asking, "Now how did you do this? What is in the topping?" It is so funny how marvelous toasted coconut is. Coconut is normally quite chewy and not real sweet on it's own. But sweetened and toasted it is like candy! Sweet, light, crispy and still a little chewy. It made a sweet little nest for a few Cadbury eggs. I think this is going to become an Easter tradition.

Coconut Baba
Serves 12 to 16


1 box yellow cake mix, prepared as directed
3 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 cup water

Coconut layer:
14 oz bag sweetened coconut
1 can coconut milk (or cream of coconut)
Custard layer:
3 cups 2% milk
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
Dash of salt
5 egg yolks
2 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp coconut extract
1/2 tsp vanilla

5 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp corn starch
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp hot water

Easter Garnish:
Toasted coconut
Cadbury candy coated milk chocolate eggs


Prepare cake as directed on box in a rectangle 9x13 pan. Meanwhile, combine shredded coconut and coconut milk in a sauce pan, heat until creamy. When cake is done, remove from oven and prick surface of the cake with a fork. Spread coconut mixture over warm cake.

Prepare custard by combining milk, sugar, flour, and salt. Cook until it begins to thicken. Whisk egg yolks together, temper with a little of milk mixture. Add yolk mixture to milk mixture continue cooking until thick and creamy. Add butter and extract. Pour on top of coconut.

Beat egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and salt. Continue beating adding sugar, corn starch, extract and hot water. Beat until stiff peaks form. Swirl over custard and bake at 325 degrees until meringue is browned evenly about 20 minutes. Remove from oven allow to cool. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Easter Garnish:
Toast 3/4 cup of sweetened coconut in a dry non-stick pan over medium low heat. Stir often until golden brown. Remove from heat, continue to stir until cool. Store in an air tight container until ready to garnish. To garnish place a spoon full on top of each piece of cake forming a nest. Place two or three Cadbury eggs in the center of the coconut nest.

Linking to:
Ms. enPlace: See Ya in the Gumbo
My Pinterventures: The Yuck Stops Here!
It's Your Life: Tuesday with a Twist
Anyonita Nibbles: Tasty Tuesdays
Buns In My Oven: What's Cookin' Wednesday
Miz Helen's Country Cottage: Full Plate Thursday
Turnips 2 Tangerines: Four Seasons Blog Hop
Diamonds in the Rough: Share Your Stuff Tuesdays
Hungry Harps: Get Him Fed Fridays
Carole's Chatter: Food on Friday - Coconut


  1. Seems like a perfect Easter dessert. Or birthday cake! Your dad is a lucky guy to have someone fuss over him so much! Great way to decorate each piece.
    Thank you for sharing, Denise.

  2. This looks like HEAVEN! It's so pretty, too. Pinned!

  3. I have never heard of Baba before, but this looks amazing! I need to try this, my mom, and me to actually, are big fans of coconut! Thank you so much for linking up at Tasty Tuesdays!

    1. Kim, from what I have seen online Baba means cake. My Maw Maw just always called this cake and only this cake a Baba. Not really sure where she got the recipe from. Dad said her Mom, but he could not be sure. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you make the recipe and let me know how you and your mom like it. Have a great day!

  4. Oh my goodnes, that looks absolutely delicious!! I haven't heard of the Coconut Baba before, but it reminds me of the coconut pies my grandmother used to make. I will save your recipe and try it. Thank you for sharing!

  5. This is just fabulous and it is pinned! Hope you are having a great weekend and thanks so much for sharing your awesome recipe with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  6. Wow! It looks delicious! What a lucky dad you have! Thanks again for sharing your talents on The Yuck Stops Here! HUGS

  7. What a nice cake. It is really a labour of love and I am sure your father will like it. Kenneth from 4 seasons blog hop.

  8. This looks great! Thanks so much for joining my Hobnob this month! Welcome! I'm a new follower!

  9. Looks Winderful!!! Can't wait to make this$


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