The coconut palms growing on the beach in Tulum are miraculous trees. Even though they're battered by the salty air and exposed to the harsh sun, they still produce fruit filled with a slightly sweet water that's as refreshing as it is healthy and a sweet milky flesh you can eat raw.
for the cake:
½ cup coconut oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups granulated sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
cup well-stirred sweetened cream of coconut (such as Coco López)
¾ cup plain whole-milk yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
for the frosting:
two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
½ cup confectioners' sugar
¼ cup water, or as needed
1 tablespoon dark rum
½ teaspoon fresh lime juice
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of kosher salt
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, and 1 cup shredded coconut, toasted until golden brown
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Liberally grease two 9-inch springform pans with 2 tablespoons each of the coconut oil; set aside.
2. Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside. Using a handheld electric mixer, cream the sugar, butter, and the remaining ¼ cup coconut oil in a large bowl until well blended, about 3 minutes (it will look like wet sand). Add the eggs and yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat for an additional 2 minutes. Beat in the cream of coconut, yogurt, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture, mixing on low just to blend.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Gently shake the pans from side to side to smooth the tops. Bake for about 1 hour, or until the top of the cake is golden and a toothpick or tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pans on a wire rack for 30 minutes.
4. Run a thin knife around the sides of the pans and remove the pan sides. Let the cake cool completely before frosting.
5. Make the frosting: Using a handheld electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar on medium-low speed until light and creamy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the water, rum, lime juice, vanilla, and salt until blended; add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, if the frosting is too thick.
6. Put one cake layer on a serving plate and frost the top. Put the second layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle some toasted coconut flakes on top and gently press the rest into the sides.
Excerpted from Hartwood by Eric Werner and Mya Henry (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015. Photographs by Gentl & Hyers.