Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Nov 9, 2006 at 1:01pm

I’ll call this Cheater’s Coconut Cake. I baked it for John’s office’s United Way fundraiser – I bake one or two cakes each year. And I usually do a pretty major scratch cake. But this time I just thought, hey, coconut cake sounds great, and it’s so easy to make…using a mix. Gasp! No! And cannedcream cheese icing as well. What the? A little coconut extract in the cake batter, with fresh, soft coconut piled in the middle and on top of the cake… Ooooh, sweet, coconutty yumminess – if you love coconut, of course. Which apparently not everyone does, but my god, people, what’s not to like? I don’t trust people who don’t like coconut, it’s not natural. (Just kidding – ?)

And here’s an excerpt from a terrific article on baking bread, from Mark Bittman, aka “The Minimalist,” at The New York Times:

This story began in late September when Mr. [Jim] Lahey sent an e-mail message inviting me to attend a session of a class he was giving at Sullivan Street Bakery, which he owns, at 533 West 47th Street in Manhattan. His wording was irresistible: “I’ll be teaching a truly minimalist breadmaking technique that allows people to make excellent bread at home with very little effort. The method is surprisingly simple — I think a 4-year-old could master it — and the results are fantastic.”

I set up a time to visit Mr. Lahey, and we baked together, and the only bad news is that you cannot put your 4-year-old to work producing bread for you. The method is complicated enough that you would need a very ambitious 8-year-old. But the results are indeed fantastic.

I highly recommend the article, and recipe, which I confess I haven’t made but am very excited about. So, coconut haters, do you hate freshly-baked bread too? Yeah, I didn’t think so… (Recipes posted in comments, below.)

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  1. By Stephanie on November 10, 2006 at 4:02PM

    Cheater’s Coconut Cake
    Serves 12

    1 box yellow cake mix (I like Duncan Hines)
    eggs, oil, and water per cake mix package direction
    1 tsp. coconut extract
    1 can cream cheese icing
    2 c. sweetened flaked coconut

    Prepare cake mix according to package directions, adding the coconut extract with the eggs, oil, and water. Bake in two, good quality 8- or 9-inch round nonstick cake pans, sprayed with nonstick spray, according to package directions. Cool cakes 10 minutes in pans, then turn out onto racks and cool completely.

    Put one layer top-side down on a plate. Frost just the top of the cake (leaving the sides un-iced) generously and thickly (use half the can of icing). Spread 1 cup of coconut over the icing. Place second cake layer top-side up on first layer. Frost as before – generously and on top only - and spread with remaining cup of coconut.

  2. By Stephanie on November 10, 2006 at 3:52PM

    No-Knead Bread
    Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery
    From The Minimalist column of The New York Times

    Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

    3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
    ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
    1¼ teaspoons salt
    Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

    1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
    2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
    3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
    4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

    Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.