Done – {Blackberry, Coconut, Lime and Macadamia Cake}

Once upon a time, I went off to college.

So did my friends.

When I got to MSU, I was excited for the opportunity to meet new people. I’d parted ways with the people I was closest to, and saw this student body of 40,000+ as a second chance to find my place and make connections.

Yeah, I was afraid. Really afraid. It was hard to do, but I knew that the fear was worth fighting because I had to. I needed to. And I did. I met people who challenged me and understood me. I met people I didn’t like and people who didn’t like me. It taught me a lot about me and the rest of the world. Every year I find myself eager for incoming freshmen, vicariously excited for the changes they’re about to face.

This whole thing is why I love college. I’ve connected with people here, I’ve grown, and I finally really feel like I fit. There aren’t uncomfortable social situations like there were before because college doesn’t have the same what’s-your-fourth-hour-when-do-you-have-lunch-assigned-seats-wave-at-aquaintences-in-the-hall-stop-at-so-and-so’s-locker-between-second-and-third-period social norms. I don’t have to go to lunch and twiddle my fingers in the cafeteria for 30 minutes because I don’t know what else to do with myself. If I want to be quiet and keep to myself, I can. You’re not weird here if you’re quiet. You’re just part of the landscape. It’s nice. It’s comfortable. It’s real.

And I still talk to those close few from high school. Not every day. Not every month. But we do talk. None of us did particularly well keeping in touch from the start, but that’s no fault of anyone and I wasn’t hurt by it. Everyone is busy, and we all grew stronger from the lack of comfort and familiarity. We chose to see the bright side and grow from it. They’re all doing well, and when I see them, it’s as if nothing changed. We’re all different and we have our own lives, but the stuff that made us close before is still there, so we’re cool.

When I got here, all I wanted was to figure things out. Figure out why I felt withdrawn in high school, and figure out how to prevent it from happening again. Figure out how to step away from the small town I grew up in and shed the shelter and coverings it had laid upon me.

I wanted to find where I fit.

So far so good.

Coconut and Macadamia Cake adapted from Sweetapolita

3/4 c milk
3 egg whites
1 egg
1 Tbsp safflower oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3/8 tsp coconut extract
2 c + 1 Tbsp (242 g) flour
1/4 c (30 g) macadamia nuts, ground
1 1/8 c (225 g) sugar
2 5/8 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c butter
½ c coconut

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C) and oil and line two 6″ pans.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine 1/4 c of the milk, egg whites, egg, safflower oil, vanilla and coconut extract.  Set aside.

Place the flour, ground nuts, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of your mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Combine on low speed for 30 seconds.

Add the butter and shortening and blend on low for 30 seconds.  Add the remaining 1/2 c of milk and mix until just moistened.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat on medium-high speed for 1 and a half minutes.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add one third of the egg/milk mixture.  Beat on medium for 20 seconds, then scrape down the bowl and add the remaining egg/milk mix in the same way.  Fold in the coconut.

Divide the batter into your prepared pans and bake 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Be very careful not to overbake!

Cool cakes in their pans on a rack for ten minutes, then remove from pans and wrap well with cling film.  Place in the fridge to cool.

Blackberry Lime Reduction

1 1/2 c blackberries
1/2 lime, juice and zest
1/8 c (25 g) sugar
1/4 c water

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and set over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced and thickened. Set aside to cool.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Please click here for a step-by-step guide to making Swiss Meringue Buttercream and troubleshooting tips!

1 1/2 c (300 g) sugar
7 egg whites
1 1/2 c + 3 Tbsp butter (381 g) unsalted butter, room temp
1 tsp vanilla

In a double boiler, cook the egg whites and sugar over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved and the eggs are hot to the touch. Pour into another bowl (a stand mixer is preferable) and whip on high speed until room temp. Then, on medium-low, add the butter, waiting until each piece is completely incorporated before adding the next. The buttercream may turn into a soupy curdled mess during this process, but if you continue beating it for a few minutes it will become light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat to combine.


Take about 1/3 of the frosting out of the bowl and set aside. Add the cooled blackberry reduction to the remaining 2/3rds of the frosting and fill + stack the cake. Frost with the remaining buttercream and decorate as desired.


  1. says

    If you're in East Lansing, the real question is how many times a month you eat at El Azteco! We live in California, land of tacos, and I still miss it. And yes, that is a particularly beautiful cake. :)

  2. says

    The cake is beautiful, but I enjoyed reading your post even more. It's good to know you found a place where different is accepted. I haven't found my place in the world quite yet, but hopefully it is lurking just around the corner. You made me believe there is a place for everyone :)

  3. Anonymous says

    Ok so usually I don&#39;t like to write comment but here I must.<br />Your post help me in a way you can&#39;t imagine. I&#39;ll go to college this year and I was afraid of the future, afraid of what could happen, how I&#39;ll react in front of so many new people but your post released me, don&#39;t no really why but did. I&#39;m not confident with the others but your post give me the hope that

  4. says

    This cake is gorgeous. I LOVE the look of the frosting. So pretty! I agree with everything you said about college, too. I&#39;m pretty shy, but I finally feel like I fit in and it&#39;s my last year. Now I don&#39;t want to leave!

  5. says

    I should start making berry-based cakes with coconut. Even if I&#39;m the only one who will end up eating it! Your SMBC in this cake looks really white, did you do something different?

  6. says

    What a lovely cake. Totally agree with your view of college life. School friends drift apart after awhile but I was lucky enough that a small group of us still try to meet up every once in awhile to catch up. Once friends, always friends :)

  7. says

    I honestly think you make the best layer cakes of any bloggers I know. This has such unusual flavours but can imagine they all gel together beautifully. Can you send me a slice please?

  8. says

    I love this post. I&#39;m starting my sophomore year of college and totally relate to almost everything in this post. It&#39;s so much more liberating being at college. I really hated my first year, but am going into second year with a more open mind!

  9. says

    I miss college. I almost feel like going back for another degree or two just because I enjoyed the atmosphere so much:) Especially at the start of the year… so much hope, so much excitement.<br /><br />Enjoy it!

  10. Nicki says

    I am a reader from Sweden and I just want to let you know that this is on of my favorite blogs. You write in a colorful way and the pictures are gorgeous. I actually made the Strawberry lime rolls the other day and they where incredibly popular among my friends and family. Keep up the amazing work and take care!

  11. Anonymous says

    Hi<br /><br />I have been meaning to say for AGES how much I love your blog! And the recipes that go along with it.<br /><br />I made your amazing Epic Rainbow Cake a few months back for a rainbow-loving seventy-three year old&#39;s birthday. Her face was priceless when she had cut into it to reveal the rainbow. And the amount of applause that the cake received from the guests watching was the

  12. says

    Hi!!! I just discovered your blog and I&#39;m speechless!!!!<br />Your cake is amazing…and your pictures too….Fantastic blog! From now on you have a new follower!

  13. Jessica in TN says

    The cake is beautiful, but I have a question about the amount of shortening you used. I&#39;m assuming it&#39;s the 6 tbsp like Sweetapolita, but if you could clarify that would be appreciated. Thanks!

  14. says

    Kaitlin, I am in awe of that cake of yours. I&#39;ve been cooking for what feels like forever and can&#39;t imagine making such a stunning creation. And I love the combo- blackberry, coconut and lime – yum!<br />-E

  15. says

    I&#39;m with Jessica in TN! So darling, but how much shortening? 1/2 cup so it would be the same as the butter or 6T like Sweetapolita&#39;s recipe? Thank you!

  16. says

    I did 1/4 cup shortening per 1/2 cup butter and it turned out beautifully. I doubled the recipe though, so I did 2 sticks of butter and one stick shortening (1 cup butter and 1/2 cup shortening). Wish someone had fixed this though… I got to that part and was all o_O; as this was a birthday cake for someone… which I was making a couple hours in advance… Anyway I omitted about 1tbsp of the

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