Recipe for Toalha Felpuda
Serves 8 to 10
6 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
1 ½ cups (250g) potato starch, sifted (**)
1 ¾ cups (350g) sugar, divided
½ cup (125 ml) coconut milk, heated and cooled (to soak the cake)
Coconut Pastry Cream:
1 2/3 cup (400ml) coconut milk
3 egg yolks
5 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons (25g) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup + 2 tablespoons (150ml) heavy cream
¾ cup (50g) unsweetened grated coconut
50 ml water
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons (190g) sugar
125 ml egg whites
¼ cup (60g) sugar
1 ½ cup (100g) unsweetened grated coconut, preferably fresh
1. Set an oven rack in the middle position. Pre-heat the oven to 325˚F. Butter a 10X2 inch round cake pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, butter again, and dust with flour shaking off the excess.
2. To Make the Cake: in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whish the yolks with ½ cup (100g) of sugar until it has thickened and turned pale yellow.
3. In another bowl also fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until frothy. With the mixer running, gradually sprinkle the remaining sugar and beat until soft peaks forms.
4. Using a rubber spatula, fold one third of the whites into the yolk mixture, then the remaining egg whites.
5. Slowly sprinkle the potato starch over the mixture and fold carefully with a rubber spatula, making sure to scrape all the way to the bottom of the bowl on every pass through the batter to prevent the potato starch from accumulating or making lumps.
6. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake rotating the sheet about two thirds of the way through the baking time until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes.
7. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cake out and let it cool completely on the rack.
8. To Make the Coconut Pastry Cream: in a medium bowl, whisk together the yolks, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, and cornstarch.
9. In a saucepan bring the coconut milk to a simmer. Whisking constantly, pour the hot coconut milk into the bowl with the yolk mixture, gradually at first to temper it, and then more quickly. Transfer the mixture back to the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. The mixture should thicken to a pudding-like consistency, about 3 minutes.
10. Transfer the coconut pastry cream to a bowl and let it sit for 10 minutes to cool a bit. Whisk in the butter and vanilla.
11. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar until nice and fluffy. Fold into the coconut cream pastry cream. Finally fold in the dried coconut. Press plastic wrap directly over the cream to prevent a crust from forming, and chill until firm, 1 to 2 hours.
12. To Make the Coconut Meringue: Place 1 cup of the sugar with the water into a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to boil. When bubbles start to form around the edge of the pan, begin to whip the egg whites.
13. Place the egg whites, pinch of salt, and the remaining sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat on medium speed until peaks form.
14. In the meantime, insert a candy thermometer into the sugar mixture. When the sugar reaches 250˚F (121˚C), pour the cooked sugar down the sides of the bowl while you continue to whip the whites. (Alternatively, you can check the sugar by plunging your fingers into an ice water then dipping quickly into the sugar to catch a sample – it should feel like what is called – a soft-ball stage). Continue whipping the meringue on medium-high speed until the outside of the bowl is warm but not hot, about 5 minutes.
15. To Assemble the Cake, use a long serrated knife to trim the top and sides of the cake. Cut the cake into three equal horizontal layers. Set one layer cut side up on a cardboard and brush deliberately with coconut milk. Scoop about half of the coconut pastry cream and spread over the cake with an offset spatula. Top with another layer, brush with coconut milk, and spread the remaining coconut milk. Set the third layer on top, cut side down, and give a very thing coating of the meringue to capture any loose crumbs. Refrigerate the cake for 15 minutes, until the meringue is set, and spread the cake with the remaining meringue. Gently press the coconut all over the cake to coat completely.
(**) Different brands of potato starch weight differently. If using Bob Red Mill brand, add 3 tablespoons of potato starch to reach exactly 250g.