Sorbet Layer Cake w/ Whipped Coconut Frosting

Sorbet Layer Cake with Whipped Coconut Frosting

I always wanted a summer birthday. My birthday falls less than a week before Christmas and it is forever in conflict with holiday trips, parties, and a few plan-destroying-blizzards. I often receive birthday/Christmas gifts, my birthday meal is always “in the spirit of the season”, and my gifts for the year are clumped inside a single month. I used to envy kids born in June, July, and August. They had outdoor pool parties, BBQs, and picnics. I couldn’t escape poinsettias. But before I devolve into a full-on whine fest (too late?), I feel I should tell you that this story has a happy ending. You see, I finally have my summer birthday! Sure, it’s not quite summer and it’s not quite my birthday, but today is Rhubarb & Cod’s first birthday. So, in true summer fashion, we’re celebrating with a frozen cake, this Sorbet Layer Cake to be precise.

Sorbet in the making - Sorbet Layer Cake with Whipped Coconut Frosting

Yes, Rhubarb & Cod is one! And like most one-year-olds, it still has a long way to go. But that’s next week’s problem. Today we party with a special recipe and, man, is it a good one. It’s challenging and requires a whole lot of patience (and faith) but the end result is well worth it. So, what do you think? Did I scare you off? No? Well, then let’s proceed with this Sorbet Layer Cake.

Vanilla-Kissed Yogurt - Sorbet Layer Cake with Whipped Coconut Frosting

This cake was born from a very fond memory of a dear friend’s birthday cake. It was her seventeenth birthday and she was one of those lucky kids who happened to be born in August. Back in the day, my friends and I were addicted to Halifax’s best gelato shop, Dio Mio. Sadly, it’s no longer with us. Anyway, my friend’s mom had made a mental note of her daughter’s obsession and ordered a gelato layer cake for her birthday. It was so so good. I think it had 3 different flavors of gelato and it was coated in a barely sweet sour cream frosting. A few days after her party, we spent the day picking away at the leftover cake. The eating devolved into a game of who could hold a piece of cake under their tongue for the longest. We were incredibly sophisticated for our age.

Naked Sorbet Layer Cake - Sorbet Layer Cake with Whipped Coconut Frosting

It’s a very fond memory I have of my friend, so fond that I felt compelled to recreate the cake. I had to make a few alterations to the remembered cake to make it a reality in my kitchen. My ice cream maker does not churn at the proper speed to produce good gelato. Gelato is typically churned at a slower speed which makes it less airy and denser than ice cream or sorbet. My machine could do sorbet, so Sorbet Layer Cake it is. I also nixed the sour cream in favor of Greek yogurt and reinforced its cake coating ability with a batch of vanilla whipped coconut cream. Oh, and one more change: I added a layer of lemon cake as the base. Call it my safety net.

Sorbet Layer Cake with Whipped Coconut Frosting

Before I unleash you all on the recipe, I wanted to add a coconut milk tip. In the recipe, I specify that you should leave your coconut milk in the fridge overnight. This will encourage it to separate into two layers: one fatty and dense, the other thin, cloudy, and watery.  In order to make the Whipped Coconut Frosting, you need the fatty, dense layer. But not all coconut milk separates.

Sorbet Layer Cake with Whipped Coconut Frosting

I bring this up because the other day, I was forced to buy a different brand of coconut milk than my usual and I was dismayed to find it hadn’t separated. The culprit was an emulsifier listed in the ingredients: potassium metabisulfite. Your best bet is to purchase full-fat, organic coconut milk with little more than water and coconut listed in its ingredients. I have used coconut milk with guar gum in the past and it has separated, but according to the Internets, this is not always the case. So, beware guar gum as well, I guess.

Sorbet Layer Cake with Whipped Coconut Frosting

All you summer babies, this Sorbet Layer Cake is for you! Thanks for stopping by and celebrating Rhubarb & Cod’s first year of existence. I have learned so much in the span of this year and I never would’ve stayed motivated through all my “hilarious” kitchen mishaps if it weren’t you. Thank you for all the support. Now have some cake!

Sorbet Layer Cake with Whipped Coconut Frosting



Sorbet Layer Cake with Whipped Coconut Frosting


    Sweet Cherry Rhubarb Sorbet
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen pitted sweet cherries
  • 2 cups fresh rhubarb, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • Mango Sorbet
  • 5 ataulfo mangos, peeled & diced
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • Mixed Berry Sorbet
  • 5 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Vanilla Kissed Greek Yogurt
  • 1 (750 g) tub of plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Lemon Cake
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Whipped Coconut Frosting
  • 2 cans coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/3 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


    For the Cherry Rhubarb Sorbet
  1. Place cherries, rhubarb and sugar in a large food processor and blitz until smooth.
  2. Turn the food processor to low and stream in the lime juice.
  3. Pour the puree through a fine mesh strainer, then place the strained puree in an ice cream machine. Process for 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Pour the sorbet into an 8-inch wide, 3-inch deep cake pan and smooth the surface.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 3 hours or overnight.
  6. For the Mango Sorbet
  7. Place mango and sugar in a large processor and blitz until smooth.
  8. Turn the food processor to low and stream in the water and lime juice.
  9. Pour puree through a fine mesh strainer, then transfer to an ice cream machine and process for 20 - 30 minutes.
  10. Pour the mango sorbet on top of the cherry rhubarb sorbet, smoothing out the top.
  11. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 3 hours or overnight.
  12. For the Mixed Berry Sorbet
  13. Place berries and sugar in a large food processor. Blitz until smooth.
  14. Turn the food processor to low and stream in the water and lime juice.
  15. Pour the puree through a fine mesh strainer, then process in an ice cream machine for 20 - 30 minutes.
  16. Pour the mixed berry sorbet over the mango sorbet. Smooth the top.
  17. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 3 hours or overnight.
  18. For the Yogurt
  19. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and, using the blunt side of a knife, scrape out the caviar. Reserve the caviar and discard the pod.
  20. Place yogurt, vanilla caviar and honey in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Whisk to combine.
  21. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
  22. For the Lemon Cake
  23. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  24. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside.
  25. Pour sugar and lemon zest into a stand mixer. Using a paddle attachment, beat until the sugar turns a pale yellow.
  26. Cream the butter into the sugar until fluffy.
  27. Add the eggs one at a time followed by the vanilla extract.
  28. Add a third of the flour mixture and beat until integrated, then add half of the buttermilk followed by half of the sour cream.
  29. Add another third of the flour mixture and, once again, beat until integrated. Then, add the remaining butter milk and sour cream. Beat in the last of the flour mixture.
  30. Pour the batter into a greased 9-inch cake pan and bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until golden brown.
  31. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  32. For the Whipped Coconut Frosting
  33. Scoop out the dense, solid coconut fat at the top of each can of coconut milk. Place it in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
  34. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and extract the caviar. Add it to the coconut cream.
  35. Turn the mixer to medium-high and beat until fluffy.
  36. Slowly add the sugar and salt and whisk for 5 minutes more.
  37. Transfer the coconut frosting to a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  38. To Assemble
  39. Pour half of the yogurt on top of the mixed berry sorbet.
  40. Trim the lemon cake to fit the 8-inch cake pan and press the cake into the yogurt. Freeze for 2 hours.
  41. Soak a dish towel in hot water and run it along the outside of the 8-inch cake pan to extract the sorbet cake. It should slide out. Cover the cake in plastic wrap and freeze for 3 hours.
  42. Ice the cake with the remaining yogurt and freeze for another 2 hours.
  43. Ice the cake with the Whipped Coconut Frosting and freeze for an hour.
  44. Garnish the cake with leftover lemon cake crumbs, coconut chips, mango ribbons and frozen berries.
  45. Let the cake thaw for 10 minutes before slicing.
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