A Very Old-Fashioned Southern Coconut Icing

By Rocquie, Sage Trifle

AT 85-YEARS-OLD, my Mother still loves to entertain. She had an Easter brunch for 16 people and when she half-heartedly invited me, she didn’t think I would really make the trip. After thinking for a while, and talking to my husband about it, I decided, sure why not?

A Very Old-Fashioned Southern Coconut FrostingWith only three days notice, I made an 800 mile round trip which included driving twice through the sprawling hellscape of Atlanta. Everyone in the Southeast knows about “driving through Atlanta”. The people who live in Atlanta know about “driving through Atlanta”.

When I got to Mama’s, she asked me to make the cake. In an old box of recipes, she had found her own Mother’s tattered, yellowed, hand-written recipe for coconut cake. That makes this recipe at least a hundred years old.

The actual cake was a basic pound cake. It is topped with a unique, cooked icing. A sturdy cake is needed to stand up to this icing (not frosting) which is substantial and glaze-like. Poke some holes in the cake before spooning on the hot icing and also let it run down the sides. Don’t let the cake’s homely appearance dissuade you; this is a scrumptious cake, which tastes even better the second day.

Mama is not only a fabulous cook, she grows her own flowers for decorations and sets a beautiful table. The menu included baked ham, scrambled eggs, baked cheese grits, fruit salad, roasted asparagus with olive oil and lemon, and fluffy homemade rolls.

It was a wonderful party!

Old-Fashioned Southern Coconut Icing
1 1/2 cups milk
3 cups sugar
1/2 cup (4 oz.) butter
2 cups fresh (or frozen and thawed) grated coconut

In a heavy 3 quart saucepan, bring the ingredients to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir until thickened, about 15 – 20 minutes. Stir in coconut and continue cooking until thick, about another 10 minutes.

Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Prick it several times with a toothpick then spoon over about one third of the hot icing. Top with the other cake layer, prick a few holes, and evenly pour over the remaining icing letting it drip down the sides of the cake.