This coconut cake from Venezuela is called “bienmesabe” (this tastes delicious) for a good reason. If you are a coconut lover, this cake is for you. Coconut sponge is filled with a coconut cream and then covered in meringue and toasted coconut flakes. Not really sure if you can corporate even more coconut flavor into a cake.
Bienmesabe is also known in Spain. However, it is more of an almond custard in Spain. Puerto Rico and Panama also have a bienmesabe, but again, these are more of a dessert rather than a cake. I don’t really know why Venezuelans decided to call their coconut cake bienmesabe, but one thing is for sure, it definitely does taste great, so yes, why not call it “this tastes great”. Normally the bienmesabe in Venezuela is a sheet cake, so you will only have one layer of sponge cake, another layer of coconut filling and a third layer of meringue. However, I decided to present this cake in a layer cake, I feel Venezuelan bienmesabe should be honored for its delicious flavor and a layer cake is more of a show-stopper in my opinion.
All components of this cake can be prepared one or two days in advance. Make sure to cover tightly and chill until ready to use. I will not deny it, this cake does require quite a bit of work as it contains four different parts (coconut sponge, coconut filling, simple syrup, and meringue). You can also just cover the cake with the meringue and don’t need to make toasted coconut flakes. However, I just like the idea of having a bit of crunch as the cake itself has very soft components. You can also prepare the cake without any alcohol. And as always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions or unsure. You can leave a comment right below.
Bienmesabe, a Coconut Cake from Venezuela
This coconut cake from Venezuela contains a coconut sponge, coconut filling, and a meringue frosting. It does require a bit of work, but can be easily made in advance.
- Coconut Filling
- 1 liter of coconut milk
- 200 grams of regular sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 55 grams of cornstarch
- 45 grams of all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 80 grams of butter
- Coconut Sponge
- 130 grams of butter
- 6 good eggs
- 200 grams of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 40 grams of coconut flakes
- 35 grams of cornstarch
- 100 grams of flour
- Sugar Syrup
- 75 grams of water
- 75 grams of regular sugar
- 60 grams of rum (can be omitted)
- 150 grams of coconut flakes
- 4 egg whites
- 100 grams of regular sugar
All components except for the merengue can be prepared one or two days in advance. Make sure to cover tightly and chill until ready for use. For the coconut filling place milk and sugar in a large pot and bring to boil, reduce heat and wait until the sugar has dissolved. Meanwhile whisk together egg yolks, cornstarch, and flour. Take pot off the heat. Now temper the eggs, which means that you slowly increase the temperature by spooning a bit of the milk into the egg mixture. Once you have added about half of the milk, pour everything back into the pot and bring back to stove to medium heat. Wait for the custard to thicken, this may take a few minutes. Be sure to stir constantly. Once bubbly and thick, cook on medium heat for about a minute. Take off heat, stir in the vanilla extract and butter until the butter has melted. Place cling wrap directly on the surface so that no skin is created, set aside.
For the coconut sponges line the bottom of two 18-20cm/8 inch cake pans with parchment paper and preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Melt the butter and set aside.
Separate the eggs carefully into two large bowls, making sure that no egg yolk enters into the egg whites. Add 100 grams of regular sugar to each, add vanilla extract to the egg yolks. Measure the flour, coconut flakes and cornstarch into a separate bowl. Then first beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, this does not need to be stiff meringue. Without cleaning the beaters, beat the egg yolks until ligther in color and thicker in consistency, this takes a few minutes. Sieve the flour, coconut flakes, and cornstarch on top of the egg yolks, add 1/3 of the beaten egg whites. Mix this carefully, then add another 1/3 of the egg whites and the slightly cooled-off butter. Be sure to only incorporate the last 1/3 of the egg whites by folding it in very carefully. Immediately divide evenly among the cake pans and bake for about 30min. An inserted toothpick should come out clean. Let cool and release from forms.
For the sugar syrup boil water and sugar and cook until the sugar has dissolved completely. Add rum at the end and let cool, too.
Now we will assemble the cake. For this cut each cake layer in half so that you have four cake layers in total. Brush the first cake layer with the syrup, then spread 1/3 of the coconut cream on top. Repeat with two more cake layers. In Germany we like to use a cake ring to make sure all layers are even, but you don't need to do that. Place the fourth layer with the bottom facing up so that you have a straight cake line. Chill prepared like this for at least half an hour or overnight.
For the frosting spread the coconut flakes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius until lightly brown. This takes about fives minutes. Have an eye on the oven, it happens rather fast. Heat egg whites and sugar in a waterbath while constantly stirring. The sugar should dissolve, this takes a few minutes. When rubbing between your fingers, you shouldn't feel any sugar crystals. Beat until at room temperature and until glossy and stiff. Set aside four tablespoons of the meringue in a piping bag. Frost the entire cake with the remaining meringue. You don't need it to be perfectly smooth as we will cover it with the toasted coconut flakes. Pat the coconut flakes on the side and the top of the cake. Once covered, pipe some roses or swirls with the meringue on the top. You can also just cover the cake with meringue and leave it plain. However, I find that the toasted coconut flakes are a wonderful contrast to the rather very soft components.