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Coconut Jelly Cake

Coconut Jelly Cake
(Courtesy of Joyce White, author of "Soul Food Recipes and Reflections from African-American Churches")

Ingredients: (Makes 1 two-layer cake. Serves 8.)

2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 1/2 cups fruit jelly or preserves (Use commercial jelly or preserves or see recipe below for homemade jelly)
2 cups freshly grated coconut (from 2 coconuts) or packaged, unsweetened coconut

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Butter 2-eight inch cake pans, and dust lightly with flour, shaking out the excess. Set aside.
3. Sift the flour, measure, and sift again with the baking powder and salt. Set aside.
4. Place the butter in a large bowl and beat with a large spoon until soft and creamy.
5. Using an electric beater set on medium or creaming speed, gradually add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. This should take about 2 minutes using a heavy duty KitchenAid stand mixer or from 3 to 5 minutes with a hand beater. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating about 15 to 30 seconds after each addition.
6. Set the mixer on low speed. Add the flour and milk alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour, beating only a few seconds after each addition.
7. When all the flour is added, set the mixer on medium speed and beat the batter for about 1 minute or until it is creamy and smooth. Stir in the vanilla and lemon extract, mixing well. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans, dividing evenly between the two. Shake the pans gently to level the batter. Place the filled cake pans on the middle oven shelf, diagonally cross from each other. Bake in the hot oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until the cake layers are puffy and golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, or the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan.
8. Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a metal spatula or knife around the edges of the cake to loosen. Carefully turn out the cake layers on to the rack and cool completely.
9. To assemble the cake, place four strip of wax paper on a cake platter to catch any dripping jelly. Brush off any cake crumbs and place one of the layers on the cake platter, top side down. Spread the top of the layer with about 1/2 cup of the fruit jelly. Sprinkle on 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the grated coconut.
10. Add the second cake layer, bottom side down. Spread the top and sides of the cake with the remaining jelly and then sprinkle the cake all over with the remaining coconut.

Fruit Jelly

Ingredients: (Makes about 4 half-pints)

4 to 5 pounds fresh plums or peaches
1 cup water, about
Sugar, 1 cup per 1 cup of fruit juice
1 box (1.75 ounce) powdered fruit pectin
Large square of cheesecloth or other white cloth
4 Sterilized pint jars

1. Scrub a large stainless steel or enamel pot with baking soda, rinse well, and then scald with boiling water. This procedure removes any food aromas from the pan. Rinse the fruit well. Cut away any blemishes. Remove stems and discard. Don't peel the fruit. Cut in half and remove the pits and then cut into chunks or chop coarsely. Place the fruit in the pot. Add just enough water to cover; about 1 cup, but not much more than that.
2. Place the pot on the heat and bring the mixture to a full boil. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for 10 to 15 minutes or until the fruit bursts open and loses it color.
3. Remove the cooked fruit from the stove and cool completely. (This can remain in the refrigerator overnight once it is cooled.)
4. When the fruit is cooled, skim off any foam that has risen to the top of the mixture. Have ready a large square (at least 30 inches) of triple thickness cheese cloth or sheeting, or a clean white cloth, or kitchen towel. (Some specialty stores sell jelly bags; my mother used a flour sack.)
5. Drape the cloth over a large clean bowl or pan. Strain the fruit juice through the cloth. Grab up the edges of the cloth and form a ball. Squeeze the ball well to extract as much fruit juice as possible. Discard the fruit pulp.
6. Using another piece of cloth or cheese cloth, strain the juice again, without squeezing, to make sure that juice remains sparkling clear. Now, measure the extracted fruit juice and pour back into the large pot.
7. For every cup of juice, add 1 cup of sugar. Place the pot on the stove and bring to a full boil. Immediately reduce the heat to medium and cook the sugar-fruit mixture for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
8. Stir in the powdered pectin, bring to a rolling boil and boil exactly for 1 minute. Watch carefully; the jelly burns easily at high temperature.
9. Remove the jelly immediately from the heat and pour into the hot sterilized canning jars, leaving about a 1/4 inch head space at the top of each jar. Seal at once. Cool the jelly and store in a dark place. Refrigerate after opening.