Edible Books Festival 2014 (Part II)–Two Award-Winning Recipes

Last week I shared with you the enormously successful Edible Books Festival that our library hosts every year around the beginning of April.

Well, today I’m sharing two award-winning recipes: Soaked coconut poke cake, and Kahlua rum cake!

(Don’t forget: WG’s personalized care package giveaway ends tomorrow, 4/22–hurry and enter!)

Edible Book Festival 7

(Photograph: Shaking hands with Jonathan Gold, the LA Times restaurant critic, acclaimed Pulitzer Prize winner in criticism, and source of smart writing/eating-as-a-career validation to boot.)

Edible Book Festival 2014 Melting Snowmen Sculptures Coconut Poke Cake 13--041114 I am unapolegetically posting these photos of my Calvin & Hobbes-inspired entries–after spending basically 50 hours planning & executing my interactive cakes/cookies/displays, my hands were so unsteady that I could barely hold my DSLR straight!

Anyway, these four entries–my Doomed Snowman coconut poke cake, 2 sugar cookie jigsaw puzzles featuring Calvin & Hobbes, a large Kahlua rum bundt cake that could be spun on a cake turntable, and a tray of chocolate ‘dirt’ for finding treasure–ended up taking home the cake (hah!) with two awards: Best Tasting and Best Student Entry. Today I’m posting the two recipes that I think were most impressive in the taste category…but first, some more photos from the event…

Edible Book Festival 2

(Photograph: Festival attendees left me quirky, fun notes of doom for the Doomed Snowmen Sculptures cake I brought. These particular signs were written by my awesome and slightly nutty friends, who know how obsessed I am with Frozen <3)

Edible Book Festival 2014 Melting Snowmen Sculptures Coconut Poke Cake 10--041114

Photograph: The end is near….because mah fork is a-comin’ ! Nom nom…

Edible Book Festival 2014 Calvin's Advice Wheel Kahlua Rum Cake 5--041114

Photograph: And an encore of this cake, which was my favorite conceptual design of the entire entry. It’s Calvin’s life advice wheel! Each letter corresponded to a different lettered card with a piece of awesome advice from Calvin. Randomly pick a letter from the wheel and find out what Calvin has to say to you with the Calvin and Hobbes Life Advice Cards I created!

Edible Book Festival 2014 Melting Snowmen Sculptures Coconut Poke Cake 5--041114

I’m considering doing a tutorial for how I created all of these Calvin & Hobbes themed goodies and games so you guys can do the same for your next event! What do you think: for all of my Calvin fans out there, would you be interested in reading about it? But let’s skip ahead to cake time for now, shall we? Because cake! And melty, gooey, scrumptious snowmen…

Edible Book Festival 2014 Melting Snowmen Sculptures Coconut Poke Cake 8--041114

What is a poke cake? Fantastic question. At the event I kept channeling my inner Hawaiian and calling it ‘poke-key’ cake.  It’s actually supposed to be poke cake, as in the thankfully-outdated, “You have just been poked by [that extremely awkward acquaintance to whom you have not spoken in at least 5 years] on Facebook…” Awkward.

The idea behind a poke cake is just that: you poke a lot of holes into it. Then you basically drench it in a bunch of liquid (here, I used cream of coconut, milk, and a few other ingredients) that will soak through the poked holes and seep into every pore as you seal it all up with some whipped milk buttercream frosting. Yum. 

Edible Book Festival 2014 Melting Snowmen Sculptures Coconut Poke Cake 3--041114

The best thing about this cake is that it’s the moistest cake imaginable, fluffy, packed with coconutty flavor without being overly sweet, and an absolute surprise when you sink your teeth in for your first bite. Nobody was expecting a cake masquerading as your average white cake to taste so incredibly moist!

I cannot tell you how much people absolutely adored and wanted the recipes for this next cake. I got at least 30 requests a-piece!T

his is a Kahlua Rum cake–and not just any rum cake.It is that epic Kahlua cake that you’re bringing to every social function ever. It’s technically another poke cake, since I ended up poking lots of holes with a toothpick around it just to let the Kahlua and rum mixture soak in all the way. It took me a full 20 minutes to make sure every last drop of that amazing glaze made it into the cake, but the Kahlua taste and the crusty exterior/creamy interior combo was so fabulous, the prep was worth every second!

Edible Book Festival 2014 Calvin's Advice Wheel Kahlua Rum Cake 2--041114 One guest asked me what it tasted like and I told her that it’s basically Apple Fritter crunchy exterior meets boozy, which then collides with creamy perfect Yellow Cake. She tried it 😀 and loved it, too.

Your turn!

Which cake would you choose?

Happy baking!


*Award-Winning* Soaked Coconut Poke Cake

*Award-Winning* Soaked Coconut Poke Cake

Yield: 9x13-inch frosted cake

This Best Tasting, award-winning cake is so moist, coconutty, and creamy, your tasters won't believe you until they've tried it! The people and judges have spoken: this one's a must-add to your recipe index! White cake recipe slightly adapted from I am Baker.


For the white cake:

  • 1 cup 2% or whole milk, room temperature
  • 6 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (may substitute 1 tsp vanilla for 1 tsp almond extract)
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour (See Notes for Alternative)
  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter or margarine, softened

For the coconut soaking sauce:

  • 1 (14 ounce can) cream of coconut (NOT coconut milk); reserve 3 tablespoons for frosting
  • 1 (14 ounce can) sweetened condensed milk

For decoration:

  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

For coconut whipped milk cream frosting:

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 3 tablespoons cream of coconut (reserved from cake soaking sauce)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream


To make white cake:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking pan and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine room-temperature milk, egg whites, and vanilla extract. Set aside.
  3. In a separate large bowl, mix together cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Add butter to dry ingredients and beat in until well combined, about 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture to dry ingredients. Beat in until mixture is smooth, then add remaining milk mixture and beat until completely blended.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out mostly clean. You'll want to make sure you don't overbake your cake (moisture is key!), so keep a close eye on it as it bakes and remove it from the oven when your toothpick comes out with moist crumbs--not raw batter--clinging to it. While you are waiting for your cake to finish baking, make your coconut soaking sauce (below).

To make coconut soaking sauce:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine cream of coconut and sweetened condensed milk.

To make coconut whipped milk buttercream frosting:

  1. In a medium pot or saucepan, bring milk, flour, and sugar to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes without stirring, then turn off heat and add vanilla. Cool mixture completely, to room temperature. You can place the pot (on a potholder) in the freezer to speed up this process--just make sure it does not overcool.
  2. In the meantime, whip butter with an electric mixture until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add cream of coconut and beat for another minute. Add cooled milk mixture and beat for another 5 minutes, until completely smooth.
  3. In a separate bowl, whip heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Fold whipped cream into the butter mixture until lightened.
  4. Once your cake is prepared, you'll be ready to frost!

For assembly:

  1. After your white cake has finished baking but is still warm, poke holes all over the cake with a chopstick or toothpick. (The more holes, the better!) Pour coconut soaking sauce over the cake, using a spatula to coax sauce into the holes and warm cake.
  2. Optional: If you still have sauce pooling around the edges after pouring it on the cake, you can invert your cake (carefully, to minimize splatter or breakage) onto a second large platter and poke holes on top. Pour remaining sauce onto the top portion of the cake, and voila! Extra soaked!
  3. To decorate your cake, frost with whipped milk cream frosting. Add shredded coconut on top as desired. Feel free to add some melted marshmallow snowmen on top if you want to make this cake extra Calvin-y 😉


To make your own cake flour (2 1/4 cups), combine 2 cups of all-purpose flour and 1/4 cup cornstarch in a large bowl. Sift the flour and cornstarch together at least 3 times, until they are very well incorporated--doing so will help achieve the light airiness of cake flour.

Award-Winning Kahlua Rum Cake

Award-Winning Kahlua Rum Cake

Yield: 1 bundt cake

If you love rum cake, you're going to die for this Kahlua rum cake! With a syrup-soaked, slightly crunchy glazed exterior and a creamy soft yellow cake (did we mention boozy?) interior, this is one cake no event should pass up. Ever. And we didn't. Yellow cake recipe only slightly adapted from Brown-Eyed Baker.


For the yellow cake:

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons and 1/2 cup oil, divided
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup dark rum (you may substitute Kahlua instead)
  • 1/2 cup Kahlua (or other coffee-flavored liqueur; you may substitute rum instead)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the syrup:

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Kahlua (swap out as much Kahlua for dark rum as you'd like)


For the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease and generously flour the inside of your 10-cup bundt cake pan. Set aside.
  2. Using an electric mixture on medium speed, cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, and 3 tablespoons oil; mix in on low speed until combined, about 1-2 minutes. Add instant pudding mix and mix on low speed for another minute, until combined.
  3. Add eggs, milk, rum, Kahlua, remaining 1/2 cup oil, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until completely combined, about 2-3 minutes. As Brown-Eyed Baker notes, this will be a very thin batter.
  4. Pour batter into prepared Bundt pan and bake for 45-55 minutes, until toothpick inserted near center of cake comes out mostly clean, with moist crumbs clinging to the toothpick.
  5. As you wait for your cake to finish baking (with about 10 minutes left), make your rum syrup (see instructions below). Once your cake comes out of the oven, wait 5 minutes, then very carefully wiggle your cake out of the pan (I used my spatula and ran it around the edges gently), inverting it onto a large serving platter. Poke lots of holes all over your cake--yes, even on the sides--with a chopstick or toothpick.
  6. Using a brush, slowly smear warm rum sauce all over your cake. You'll really want to slow down and smother your cake at this point, making sure the sauce seeps fully into the holes and not down the sides of the cake. This process may take a while: it took me a full 20 minutes to make sure all the rum got in, but this is really the key step to achieving that awesome flavor/texture contrast!
  7. Once you're done soaking your cake to the max, slice and serve immediately, and keep any leftovers (what leftovers?) stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the fridge for up to 5 days.

For the rum/Kahlua sauce:

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine butter, water, and sugar. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, to create a thinnish syrup. Remove from heat and immediately stir in Kahlua or rum.



7 Replies to “Edible Books Festival 2014 (Part II)–Two Award-Winning Recipes”

  1. Great recipes! Hard to resist that combo of cute looks and great flavor. You’re definitely a double winner with these! Thanks.

    1. Ha, thanks John! I’d definitely serve you up a slice of these cakes if you visited the event. Thanks for stopping by, as always 🙂

  2. Wow!!! Look at you, fancy award-winning lady! First off, that poke cake sounds AMAZING. You have sold me on poke cakes for life. Second of all, your decorating skills? MADNESS!!! So good!!! I wish I could have been there to witness the amazingness!!

  3. Mary Jackson says: Reply

    What did you use for the noses on the snowmen?

    1. Sliced bits of real carrot!

      1. Mary Jackson says: Reply

        That is what I thought it looked like! Thanks for responding. I’m in charge of the Edible Books Festival at my library. We will be holding our 6th one on Monday/Tuesday. My boss LOVES Calvin and Hobbes, so I was so excited to see your cakes. I’m not that creative, but I’m pretty good at copying/modifying once I see something. The snow cake is totally within my skill set. I’m very excited to work on it this weekend.

  4. How long can I leave the rum cake at room temperature?

Leave a Reply