I recently attended my eldest niece’s birthday party.  Surrounded by family, she opened gifts and we were all treated to ice cream and homemade cake.  Beforehand, my sister told me that Hannah had requested a chocolate sheet cake, but what we were served was not the spongey, thick, bright-buttercream-flower covered “sheet cake” like you’d see at the grocery store.  This was a totally different animal.  This kind of “sheet” cake, also known as a “poke” cake, is a thin, dense, moist cake baked in a large thin sheet-pan, then holes are poked into it and hot icing is poured over, soaking into the holes.  The resulting treat is sweet, velvety, and oh, so rich.  This cake is simple to make and is finished quite quickly since you don’t have to wait for it to cool before icing.  Because it’s a favorite flavor of mine, I decided to make a coconut poke cake and I think you’re going to love the result.

Here’s what you’ll need:

For the cake:

  • 18x13x1 sheet, or jelly-roll, pan
  • 2 c. plus 2 T. all-purpose flour
  • 2 c. sugar
  • ½ c. butter
  • 1 c. water
  • ½ c. shortening
  • ½ c. buttermilk
  • ½ t. baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 t. coconut extract
  • ¼ c. shredded coconut

For the icing:

  • ½ c. butter
  • 6 T. milk
  • 3½ c. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 T. coconut extract
  • Pinch of salt (about 1/8 t.)
  • Shredded coconut for topping (about 2 c.)

This recipe moves along pretty quickly, so I highly suggest measuring out all of your ingredients into small bowls or measuring cups to have them at the ready.  Then, preheat the oven to 400 and lightly grease or spray your pan.

First, mix together the flour and sugar in a large bowl and set aside.

Next, in a small saucepan, bring the butter, water, and shortening to a boil.  Slowly add the hot liquid, stirring to combine (you can use an electric or stand mixer on low, just be careful of hot splashes).  Then, in this order and mixing between each addition, add the buttermilk, baking soda, eggs, and vanilla and coconut extracts.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes.

While the cake is baking, spread out about 2 cups of shredded coconut in a thin layer onto another baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat and set aside.

When the cake has about 5 minutes left, start making the icing.  Again, in a small saucepan, bring the butter and milk to a boil.  Turn the heat to low and slowly stir in the powdered sugar (I found a small whisk was great for this) until all of the sugar has melted and you have a smooth, lump-free icing.  Lastly, stir in the coconut extract.  Turn off the heat, but leave the pot on the burner so the icing stays hot.

When the cake is done, remove it from the oven, put the pan of shredded coconut in, and set a timer for 4 minutes.

Next, poke holes into the hot cake with a fork and pour the hot icing over.  Spread the icing over the cake with a rubber or offset spatula until you have an even, smooth coating.

When the timer goes off, stir the coconut, spread it back out, and toast another 4 minutes.  When the coconut is golden brown, remove it from the oven and sprinkle onto the hot icing.

Let the cake cool until it is just warm, or put it in the fridge to chill.  Whether you have it warm or cold, you’re going to want a nice cold glass of milk to go with it.  Enjoy!

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