coconut rose cake

i spent the weekend doing two of my favorite things: filling up an entire deep freeze with chocolate chip cookie dough and morning-after-eggsister-wedding bacon muffins, and cleaning the house with eggboy and stacy, our pet roomba. i don’t know when my geezerness became so extreme that house cleaning jumped to the top of my list of favorite things but here we are, sitting in a living room that now feels twice the size, thanks to some furniture rearranging and cookbook organizing, in a house that won’t be a total embarrassment when my family arrives from chicago later today for a visit. yay! we’re going to defrost this carrot cake finally.

and speaking of cake we’ve now passed the three week mark until eggsister’s wedding which means that cake baking can now comfortably commence without fear that freezer smell will soak into the layers. i am so excited. all i really want these days is 314 people to come to town every weekend, hungry for wedding cake, so that i can bake this much all the time. oh, i guess that’s what bakeries do...

so the past two weeks have been filled with finalizing the recipes for all of the layers. did i tell you eggsister’s brilliant idea? rather than having each of the cakes a different flavor, each layer will be a different flavor so the cakes look rainbow-y. 

two of the cakes will be: pistachio, hazelnut, and orange blossom almond (very excited for this recipe in particular, i’ll be sharing it soon!!) 

and two of the cakes were originally supposed to be: sprinkle, chocolate, and coconut…

but as i was visualizing the white sprinkle layer, the brown chocolate layer, and the white coconut layer together, i kept wanting the coconut layer to be pink. wouldn’t that be pretty to have sort of a neapolitan look? so i got to work, testing what seemed like a reasonable choice given the floral theme of the cakes and bridesmaid dresses: coconut cake with hibiscus! i loved the idea of making a naturally pink cake using just hibiscus flowers. so i ordered a pound of dried hibiscus online, confirmed via lily that coconut and hibiscus would go well together, and then spent a wild week wishing i hadn’t been such a slacker in high school chemistry. here’s why: what makes hibiscus that beautiful bright pink color are anthocyanins. based on some limited harold mcgee and bravetart research, i learned that anthocyanins are red/pink in acidic situations. but to make a cake rise you have to add leavening agents like baking powder, baking soda, egg whites, which are all alkaline and can bring the ph of the cake batter into basic territory. not basic like loving ryan gosling, but basic like opposite of acidic, like your ph is higher than 7. and in a basic situation, anthocyanins turn anywhere from purple to a gross grey. so the challenge was adding just enough leavening agents to produce a tasty fluffy cake but not so much that the color turns gross grey. and enough acid to keep it a pretty color but not so much that the flavor makes you pucker up. here is a video summary:

eventually i started packing the batter with acidic ingredients like lemon, buttermilk, vinegar, and toward the end i was subbing honey for part of the sugar. i was starting to love the color!! but also toward the end i made the biggest discovery of all which was that… hibiscus…is…not…good? i mean, i like it in tea. i like it in glaze. i like it pickled and stuffed with goat cheese on the streets of tel aviv. but in this application, i kept doing this face 😝😝😝😝😝 at the thought of having to taste test any of this cake. and when i finally admitted this on instagram stories, so many kind humans came out of the woodwork to tell me that yes, it’s totally ok to not like hibiscus because they, too, do not like hibiscus. thank you, kind humans. also thank you to all of you who sent over all sorts of awesome suggestions and cake batter ph resources (especially stella, who is wrangling some strawberry cake batter ph right now)!! 

so i had a talk with myself, i said self, if you don’t like hibiscus cake, how are 314 of eggsister’s closest friends going to like hibiscus cake?

and i sent the working recipe to michelle who is hopefully going to pick up this experiment where i left off.

and i pulled out my rosewater and food coloring. 

and i changed my stripper name from chinese hotdish to coco rose. 

and when, on test cake #6 i still couldn’t help myself from sneaking big bites of this new coconut rose cake, i knew i’d made the right decision. y’all i am so proud of this cake!!! it’s crazy moist, buttery, soft, coconutty, rosey, a tiny bit almondy, and it’s going to look great in between a chocolate and sprinkle layer. i slathered it with a layer of american buttercream but then whipped up some swiss buttercream to practice my roses. like italian buttercream, swiss buttercream was really easy to pipe and had a nice light texture. i love the look of it. but i just hated the process of making it, i get so stressed out heating egg whites and it always takes longer than i want it to. even though i was watching legally blonde the whole time i still wasn’t a fan of the process. additionally, i’m not wild about how italian and swiss buttercream pick up color. i thought i was adding a lot of food coloring but american buttercream seems to pick up color more easily… so i'm still leaning towards using american buttercream for the final wedding cakes but i also want to first try german buttercream. little sis mia will be in town to help me with that later this week!

also, here is another great buttercream rose video that i found that helped with this rose practice session. 

coconut rose cake

makes one 3-layer, 8-inch cake


3 1/3 c (423g) all purpose flour

4 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 c (225g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 c (100g) virgin unrefined coconut oil, soft but not melted

2 1/4 c (450g) sugar

pink and/or red food coloring (i used a bit of pink and a bit of red from this kit)

4 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract

1 tsp rosewater

1/2 tsp almond extract

1/2 tsp coconut flavor oil (i get mine at michael's and prefer the flavor to extract, but if you can only find extract, use 1 tsp of that)

1 2/3 c (400g or 1 can) full-fat coconut milk


for the frosting:

1 1/2 c (338g) unsalted butter, at room temeprature

5 c (600g) powdered sugar

1/4 tsp kosher salt

6 tb (90g) coconut milk (or heavy cream, if you don't want to open another can of coconut milk; in that case, add 1/4 tsp coconut flavor oil or a splash of extract)

1/4 tsp rosewater


preheat oven to 350ºf. grease and line the bottoms of three 8" cake pans with parchment paper and set aside.

sift together the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl. add the kosher salt and give it a little mix.

in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, coconut oil, sugar, and food coloring until pale and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. add the vanilla, rosewater, almond extract, and coconut flavor oil.

reduce the mixer to low and, in three alternating additions, add the flour mixture and the coconut milk and mix until just combined.

divide the batter among the cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, begin checking for doneness at 30 minutes. let cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

for the frosting:

in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter, powdered sugar, salt, coconut milk (or heavy cream + coconut flavor oil), and rosewater until smooth and combined.

frost the cake as desired (see notes for details on the buttercream roses!) and enjoy!



rose rose cookies + philly scenes

hey everyone! great news, i still fit into my mom jeans after my trip to philly where i ate at every single one of michael solomonov and steve cook’s restaurants in 48 hours. i’d like to thank benjamin franklin for having his bridge so close to my hotel which, paired with the coldplay spotify radio station and consistent 69º temperatures, allowed for highly enjoyable 3-4-mile morning jogs that helped me feel less irresponsible about engaging in so much eating research. also, defo could not have done it without the help of brandiego, jorge, brett, zoe, and sarah, who were also miraculously in town visiting and helped me tackle mountains of donuts and boloney sandwiches and more.

every single bite was sooo great, which i expected. but at every meal there were things that were more than great, which had that wild over-the-top x-factor that left me no choice but to stop mid-bite and do an audible o-face. they raised the bar for what a donut should taste like and how a fried cauliflower should crunch, and there was a caesar salad that kept me up last night. a caesar salad! 10 out of 10, this trip was a solid success and i am filled to the brim with inspiration. also the panel was a blast!! and an added bonus: philadelphia is no longer ex-boyfriend land (see: spaghetti and my boyfriend’s meatless balls in molly on the range), now it is food inspiration land. 

here were the top o-face worthy things:

the insanely rich chocolate tahini shake at goldie (and their perfectly crispy fries, dipped in the shake, duh)

the schug-a-rita at rooster soup, cilantro-y and spicy!

the smoked matzo ball soup (#teamsinker) with a fried boloney sandwich at rooster soup

the cookies n cream donut, followed closely by the honey donut at federal donuts, mmmm, hot and melty 

the fried chicken sandwich at federal donuts, the bottom bun was like lined with pickles, it was the pickley crunch that every fried chicken sandwich needs

the za’atar fried chicken at federal donuts, with a crispy salty shell that wouldn't quit

the ceasar salad with fried rye bread pudding croutons (!!!!) at abe fisher

actually, all of the things that came on fried rye bread at abe fisher

the lamb and persian wedding rice at zahav, i don't normally love lamb but this lamb, i loved

the very hazelnut-y carrot basbousa at zahav

the hummus at zahav and dizengoff (especially the zahav one bc it came with laffaaaaa)

my only regret was that i didn't have time to cook in my really pretty jersey ice cream co hotel kitchen. instead i just looked at it and instagrammed it. (shout out to the lokal hotel for an awesome stay!!!) 

i can't wait for my next trip to philly. whenever that will be. first i should eat some kale.

for my second flower practice session, i made cookies because i was inspired by this instagram post and also i thought that maybe with cookies, i could forgo the parchment paper step altogether. but it was actually kind of hard to pipe directly onto the cookies so i went back to the method of piping on parchment squares, freezing them, and then peeling off the flowers and plopping them onto the cookies. it didn’t add that much time, maybe only one or two episodes of the mindy project. and eggboy was planting late that day so it all went by really quickly. 

i used italian buttercream this time. my lack of patience got the best of me and i ruined it because i added the butter while the egg white mixture was still hot. so it looked like poop for a while, but then i poured in a couple of tablespoons of cold heavy cream and beat the crap out of it and it came back to life!! that was very satisfying. 

i liked how it tasted. it’s a lot lighter and probably more suitable for eating a big blob of frosting in the shape of a rose than american buttercream is. but my hands were so used to a stiff heavy american buttercream that piping with italian felt almost too delicate. it was like switching to the lowest gear on a bike. but the lightness made the petals and succulent nubbins stand up more easily on their own, so i feel like once i get it down i’ll be able to do more with it. the biggest downside is how long it takes to make. if i’m going to be making a million zillion flowers for eggsister wedding i’m going to need a hot tub of buttercream, but i still have some time to experiment with more recipes.

my favorite part about this cookie situation is the cookie part! i was obsessed with cookies n bloom cookies when i was little, they were so thick and almondy and cakey, and this recipe yields cookies that come super close to those! the princess emulsion gives them that little boost of nostalgic bakeriness but you can sub it for more vanilla if you don’t have princess emulsion. and as far as the actual piping of the roses and succulents, i still don't feel qualified to tell you how to do it or make a video about it (honestly i don't think that i ever will haha, look at my roses, they are so *rustic*) so i will send you back to my post about my last practice session that has a bunch of links to how-to videos! 

rose rose cookies

makes about 20 cookies


4 c (480g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1 c (226g) unsalted butter, softened

2/3 c (137g) sugar

2/3 c (80g) powdered sugar

zest from 1/2 of a lemon

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp princess emulsion (or another tsp vanilla)

3/4 tsp almond extract


for the frosting:

this recipe, plus a few drops of rosewater and food coloring


in a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and the sugars until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

add in the lemon zest and mix to combine. add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each, and then add the extracts.

add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, one-third at a time, mixing until just blended.

turn the dough out onto the counter and divide into two large discs. wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour, or up to two days.

when ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375ºf. line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

working with one dough disc at a time, roll it out on a lightly floured surface to 1/2” thick. use a cookie cutter to make 2 1/2” circles and then transfer circles to a baking sheet, 1" apart. re-roll scraps and cut out more circles.

bake until they're barely starting to brown on bottom, begin checking for doneness at 12 minutes. let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

make your frosting and then decorate as desired (see notes above)!