Thursday, May 8, 2014

Chicken Scratch Cake

This lemon-y cake is called “Chicken Scratch” because the frosting and topping resemble the chicken yard after a busy day of hen scratching. And also because it has a lot of eggs, making it dense and moist.

Prep time: 1 Hour
Cook time: 40 Min
Total time: 1 Hour 40 Min 

For cake:

  • 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ½ cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 ½ teaspoons almond extract (can substitute vanilla)
  • ¾ cup milk
  • zest of one lemon
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
For frosting:
  • 16 ounces cream cheese
  • ½ cup (one stick) butter
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (can substitute vanilla)
  • 3 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • ½ cup salted, roasted almonds


For cake:
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter & flour two 9 inch round cake pans. (Use buttered parchment rounds if desired.)

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, salt & baking powder. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. (Approximately 4-5 minutes.) Add eggs & almond extract, and beat on medium speed an additional 5 minutes.

Reduce to low speed. Add flour, milk & lemon juice alternately, to butter/egg mixture. Begin and end with flour. Beat until combined. Add lemon and beat briefly to incorporate.
Divide batter evenly between two pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes on middle rack of oven, rotating pan halfway through to brown evenly. Cake is done when cake tester inserted into center comes out clean. Remove from oven, cool for 10 minutes, and turn out onto cooling rack. Let cool completely before frosting.

For Frosting:
Begin by toasting coconut: preheat oven to 375F. Spread coconut on baking sheet. Bake for 7-12 minutes, stirring every five minutes to keep from burning. Once flakes are golden brown, remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

Pulse salted roasted almonds in food processor until coarsely ground.

In electric mixer with paddle attachment, beat together cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar & almond extract on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Add one third of the toasted coconut.
Beat on low speed until just combined.

To assemble cake, spread ¼ of frosting mixture evenly on top of one layer of cake. Place second layer on top. Spread remaining frosting evenly on top and sides. Sprinkle remaining toasted coconut on top of cake (and sides if desired). Sprinkle salted roasted almonds over top of coconut.

*Recipe courtesy of