Walnut and Coconut Layer Cake

Walnut and Coconut Cake

This week-end I celebrated my 58th birthday. As my birthday approached I recalled a poem that I had read several years ago, ‘Warning’ by Jenny Joseph. I prepared a nice dinner and made a cake. My family sang “Happy Birthday,” then I blew out a symbolic candle and made a wish. After dinner my husband did the washing up. I wore purple and a red hat that didn’t go. I feel a bit like an old woman today. I think I’ll go run a stick across my neighbor’s fence and practice spitting.

Walnut and Coconut Layer Cake


3 cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups sugar

½ teaspoon salt

3 teaspoons baking powder

3 egg yolks

½ cup yogurt

½ cup soft butter

1 cup milk

1 cup grated coconut

1 cup walnuts, chopped


Mix all dry ingredients together. Add wet ingredients, mix well with a fork. Stir in coconut and walnuts. Pour into a 10 x 12 inch sheet pan. Bake at 350 for 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool on rack. Cut sheet cake in half, cover one half with frosting. Lay second half on top. Cover entire cake with seven minute frosting.

Seven Minute Frosting


1 cup powder sugar

3 tablespoons cold water

3 egg whites

½ teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


In the bottom of a double boiler bring water to a boil. Mix all ingredients in the top of a double boiler except vanilla. When water begins to boil, place top over heat. Beat with an electric beater on high for 7 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Add vanilla and continue beating until frosting reaches desired consistency, about 2 minutes.


When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

58th Birthday

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Jenny Joseph