Betty Crosby’s Coconut Cake
BY JANICE DUSSEAU JONES
PHOTOS BY KATE GARDINER
There’s this sweet little cake that’s become famous here in St Augustine. You may have heard of it. It’s known as Betty Crosby’s Coconut Cake. If you’ve been the highest bidder at a local charity auction, you have tasted it.
“I had heard from others in Rotary about how good this cake was,” says Steve Alexander, local attorney and Rotarian. “So I bid on it and got the cake about a week later from Betty… and oh my God! The whole family just loved it!”
Betty Crosby and her husband moved to St. Augustine in 1984. She taught at St. Augustine High School and was a longtime member of the Rotary Club of St. Augustine; she is currently a board member for both Community Hospice and Limelight Theatre, as well as a volunteer for her church and the Council on Aging. Betty has been a dedicated servant to our community, but it’s the coconut cake that she claims has won so many hearts and raised so many funds for community projects.
“You know, when you walk in with it, everybody goes ‘Oh!! The coconut cake is here!’” says Betty.
As the legend goes, Betty’s first cake made its public debut at Joe Boles’ (former St. Augustine Mayor) 45th birthday party, and it was so famous by his 50th that it made it into the local newspaper!
“That was the first. I remember giving it to him. Then word just got around. I guess Joe just bragged about it too much,” giggles Betty.
When Joe has one of those cakes, it’s hard to make him share. “He’ll hide it!” exclaims his wife, Jane. The coconut concoction became so sought after that Betty decided to put her cake to work. She began donating it to silent auctions at community fundraising events, and it always brought in big bucks.
“As soon as we devoured that cake, [my family] would say, ‘Dad, we need to get another one of Betty’s cakes!’” claims Alexander. “Probably every three or four months, I’d donate another $50-$100 to the Rotary Club! It’s the best cake I’ve ever had in my whole life.”
Betty Crosby defines what having a heart for service is really about. “I just think about the person when I’m making a cake for somebody. It’s just special,” says Betty.
“She puts so much love and care into these cakes and just puts them out into the community, and I think that speaks volumes about her character and her love for her friends and her community. She is just a treasure,” says Jane Boles.
Countless St. Augustinians have fallen under Betty’s coconut cake spell, and Betty knows it. She recites a long list of locals who have clamored for her culinary creation.
“I don’t know anything that makes people as happy as a coconut cake. Do you?” sings Betty.
No Betty, we don’t.
While all agree it’s not the same unless Betty makes it, she freely shares her recipe. She warns, though, that you cannot stray from her instructions.
MIX THE FILLING
• 2 CUPS SUGAR
• 16 OZ. SOUR CREAM
• 12 OZ. FROZEN COCONUT (BIRDS EYE FROM THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC)
VERY LIGHTLY FOLD SUGAR, SOUR CREAM, AND COCONUT TOGETHER TO MAKE FILLING.
BAKE, COOL, CUT, & FILL
• 1 BOX DUNCAN HINES WHITE CAKE MIX
PREPARE AND BAKE ACCORDING TO PACKAGE DIRECTIONS IN TWO 8” PANS.
COOL, THEN CUT CAKE INTO FOUR LAYERS AND COVER EACH, CUT SIDE UP, WITH FILLING.
ICE THE CAKE
• 12 OZ. CONTAINER COOL WHIP
SPREAD COOL WHIP ON OUTSIDE OF CAKE. COVER WITH PLASTIC WRAP & CHILL IN FRIDGE AT LEAST TWO DAYS-THREE DAYS, IF YOU CAN WAIT!
ADD THE COCONUT FINALE
• 6 OZ. BIRDS EYE COCONUT
PAT ONTO THE OUTSIDE OF THE ICED CAKE.
DELIVER TO FRIENDS OR ENJOY YOURSELF!