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Classic Coconut Cake

Classic Coconut Cake

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  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 1/3 cups (loosely packed) sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 large egg whites, room temperature


  • 3 1/3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 8-ounce package Philadelphia-brand cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (about) sweetened flaked coconut

Recipe Preparation


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 11/2-inch- high sides with nonstick spray; line bottom of pans with parchment paper rounds. Mix flour and coconut in medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk and baking soda in small bowl. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolks and beat to blend. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk mixture in 2 additions, beating just to blend after each addition. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites and 1/4 teaspoon salt in another large bowl until peaks form. Add 1/3 of egg white mixture to batter; fold into batter just to blend. Fold in remaining egg white mixture in 2 additions. Divide batter between pans.

  • Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks 10 minutes. Run small sharp knife around sides of cake pans. Invert cakes onto racks. Carefully peel off parchment. Cool cakes completely.


  • Using electric mixer, beat sugar, cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in large bowl until blended. Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on plate. Spread with 1 cup frosting. Place second layer, flat side up, atop frosting. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle some of coconut over top of cake; pat more coconut on sides of cake. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

Recipe by Hominy Grill Charleston South Carolina

Nutritional Content

One serving contains: Calories (kcal) 831.6 %Calories from Fat 45.7 Fat (g) 42.3 Saturated Fat (g) 27.1 Cholesterol (mg) 202.8 Carbohydrates (g) 107.3 Dietary Fiber (g) 1.2 Total Sugars (g) 81.9 Net Carbs (g) 106.1 Protein (g) 7.9 Sodium (mg) 313.3Reviews Section

How To Make the Best Classic Coconut Cake from Scratch

My love affair with Southern-style coconut cake happened 10 years ago — just after I moved to Atlanta, Georgia, and began working on a little TV show called Good Eats. My very first bite of coconut cake made me fall in love with its steep peaks of fluffy frosting, tender white cake, and halo of freshly shaved coconut.

But here’s the secret: That coconut cake required several days of work from a kitchen intern (me). I vowed to someday make a coconut cake of that caliber with less fuss. Well, my friends, that day has arrived!

Easier Coconut Cake with Tons of Flavor

I learned the most about coconut cake in the first season I worked on Good Eats. I was an intern on that particular episode and was tasked with cracking and hand-grating the coconut for each cake. Alton Brown’s coconut cake recipe requires two whole coconuts — their juices drained and their meat freshly grated (by hand) and turned into both coconut cream and coconut extract. The entire process for that cakes takes about a week (the extract has to sit for several days), but the efforts are tasted in every single bite of the cake.

This recipe takes all the lessons I learned from that cake with every improvement for ease. You’ll have to buy a few special ingredients — coconut extract, coconut milk, and coconut water — but you won’t need to buy, crack, and shred your own coconuts, and the cake will taste just as sweet and full of coconut.

All the Coconut You’ll Need for Coconut Cake

Coconut cake requires a few ingredients you might not already have in your pantry. Here’s what to grab for the most coconut-filled coconut cake.

  • Coconut extract: You’ll only use 1 teaspoon total, but this is one ingredient, like vanilla extract, where quality really makes for a better-tasting cake.
  • Coconut milk: This is one ingredient you just might have already. Make sure to give the can a few good shakes before opening and a decent stir before measuring the cream can separate from the water of canned coconut milk, and we need the homogenous mixture.
  • Coconut water: Coconut milk would ruin the texture of our coconut 7-minute frosting, but coconut water will give us the light, airy texture we desire. This is the only coconut ingredient that can be substituted — use plain water in a pinch.

Key Steps for Coconut Cake

  • Use cake flour. Tenderness is at the heart of coconut cake, and cake flour has a lower protein content than all-purpose flour, all but guaranteeing a tender finished cake.
  • Skip the cartoned egg whites. Between the cake and frosting you’ll need 11 egg whites. It is very tempting to use the cartoned egg whites instead of separating nearly a dozen eggs, but don’t. I’ve tried and failed to produce the same fluffy cake and airy frosting with cartoned egg whites and have been nothing short of disappointed.
  • Fold whipped egg whites into the cake batter. Lofty cakes like angel food and coconut cake rely on the volume of egg whites for their height, texture, and tenderness. And folding them — that is, gently working them into the cake batter without losing all their volume — is the trickiest part of coconut cake. Here’s how to get the best results: Sacrifice the first third of the egg whites by quickly and vigorously beating them into the cake batter. This will loosen up the cake batter and lessen the volume loss in the next two additions. Now gently work the remaining egg white mixture into the batter in two portions — a few streaks should remain after each addition.
  • Frost with a 7-minute icing. Seven-minute icing is essentially a Swiss meringue — just egg whites and sugar heated over boiling water until thickened — with coconut water and coconut extract added for flavor. It is prized for its marshmallowy texture, but it’s also incredibly easy to make and eat.

Frosting and Serving Coconut Cake

Once your cakes are baked and cooled, your frosting whipped, and your cake stand ready, now comes the most fun part: the frosting! The 7-minute icing is pretty sticky stuff, and just a dab will hold the first cake layer in place. Use about a cup of the frosting to fill the two cakes. The rest of the frosting can be spread on in an airy, swirly layer.

Now here’s how I think you finish the very best coconut cake: Skip the sweetened angel flake coconut (that would make the cake too cloying) and go straight for unsweetened shredded coconut. Sprinkle the coconut on top of the cake and then use your filled palm to guide the coconut up the sides.

Seven-minute frosting is a little better, stiffer, and easier to cut after a quick chill, so stick the whole cake in the fridge for 30 minutes before slicing, serving, and rejoicing in the tender perfection of a job well done.

Coconut Cake

The best toasted Coconut Cake - moist, light and most importantly homemade!

What you will need:

1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut flakes

Prepare Cake Mix as directed on package.

While the cake is baking, prepare the Glaze & Toasted Coconut Flakes.

When the cake is done, let it cool before removing from the cake pan and dressing. First apply the glaze then sprinkle on the toasted coconut flakes.

Mix 1/2 cup powdered sweetener with 3 tbsp liquid of choice (water, milk or coconut water/milk). You can add almond milk or heavy cream too but it becomes too much.

Toasted Coconut Flakes:

Place 2 cups of unsweetened coconut flakes in a large skillet and cook over medium-low heat for 3-6 minutes, stirring continuously until most of the coconut is golden brown. Remove from the pan and cool completely.

Classic coconut cake with White Mountain coconut icing

In a climate like the American South’s, you’d think people would want light, refreshing desserts -- sorbets, maybe. Actually, Southerners are crazy for cake.

Crazy-kooky-nutsy, with frosting on it. They make fruitcakes, angel cakes, chocolate cakes, pound cakes, layer cakes of all kinds (they can’t get enough of coconut cakes). They have varieties you may never have heard of, such as Laine cake (a white cake with fluffy white frosting and a custardy coconut, raisin and nut filling), and they keep inventing more.

Some are homey treats based on molasses or dried fruit, but the majority are madly rich. Most of the 64 recipes in Nancie McDermott’s just-published “Southern Cakes” call for reckless quantities of cream, butter, sugar and eggs.

The resulting cakes tower grandly, they’re plushly frosted, they ooze filling. Just try to resist them. It will be a lesson in humility.

McDermott, who lived in Irvine and Carlsbad from 1985 to 1999, learned about Thai food while serving in the Peace Corps and is best known for her half adozen books on Southeast Asian cooking. Then she surprised Southern California’s foodies by moving back to her home state of North Carolina.

The Asian cookbooks kept coming, but now here’s “Southern Cakes,” showing that the persimmon doesn’t fall far from the tree after all. On returning to the South, she writes, she has enjoyed taking “a long, sweet look at Southern food in general and Southern baking in particular.”

For a generation, people have been amazingly impressed when anybody makes a cake from scratch. In fact, as I found when cooking my way through eight recipes in this book, it’s absurdly easy. Your mixer creams the butter and sugar with no effort from you, then you mix in the eggs, liquid and flour, and bingo: batter. The baking part is no more difficult than with a mix.

True, frostings can be more troublesome, and I tend to trust a candy thermometer when higher densities of sugar syrup are involved, rather than relying on the traditional method of evaluating thread or soft-ball stages. My main criticism of McDermott’s book is that I wish she had put in temperatures more often for the frostings. Otherwise, these recipes are very well worked out, written clearly enough for a novice to handle.

There is a specific Southern repertoire of cakes, such as the fabled Lady Baltimore (a white cake with seven-minute frosting and fruits and nuts in the filling). Still, a lot of Southern cakes are local variations on ideas familiar elsewhere. Everybody makes devil’s food cake, right? Aha, but not necessarily with a whipped-cream filling, as in Celestial chocolate cake.

And Southerners are still alive to the charms of an old-fashioned yellow cake with chocolate fudge frosting. The recipe for Sybil Pressly’s buttermilk cake in McDermott’s book has a faint buttery tartness, and its frosting gets a spicy bite from brown sugar. These are attractions many of us have denied ourselves in our mad quest for ultra-chocolate cakes.

Hummingbird cake is essentially a carrot cake made with pineapple, bananas and pecans in place of the carrots. So it’s moist and exotic, and, characteristically, makes no pretense of being health food. Slathered with cream cheese frosting, it is definitely not going to leave you as slender as a hummingbird. On top of all those seductions, it’s about the easiest cake in the book -- you don’t even have to cream butter, just stir the ingredients together.

The thing Southern cake-makers are perhaps best known for is a goofy fondness for strange ingredients. They may put in mayonnaise (well, it’s basically egg yolks, oil and lemon juice, so why not?) or even tomato soup. “Southern cooks don’t keep the key ingredient a mystery,” McDermott writes, “we find quirkiness attractive, and tomato soup cake is pretty, easy and simply delicious.”

In the quirk department, take orange slice cake, basically a cross between date-nut bread and an orange-glazed fruit cake, except for the presence of orange slice candies from a cellophane bag in the supermarket candy aisle. That may sound bizarre, but the chopped orange slice candies work perfectly well in cake. Think of them as a substitute for candied citron peel, with a more pleasant jelly-candy texture.

Every recipe has a charming headnote, often showing a bit of historical research, and about a third are illustrated with color photos. McDermott’s handy introductory chapter on cake baking includes the very Southern advice to buy butter on sale and keep it in the freezer “so you are baking-ready 2 4/7.”

Delicious cake, dazzling frosting

The “everyday” cakes include Ocracoke Island fig cake (a spice cake from North Carolina’s Outer Banks, made with figs and walnuts and topped with a buttermilk glaze) and a blueberry cake (pretty much blueberry muffins baked in a cake pan) from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Along with these homey items, McDermott presents a couple of wild ones. Japanese fruitcake is not Japanese in the slightest -- it’s four alternating layers of fruited and plain cake with a filling of lemon coconut glaze. This is one case in which McDermott’s research has turned up no explanation for the name. (I suspect Southerners thought it looked like a pagoda.)

For my money, the grandest-looking cakes in this book are the brown sugar pound cake baked in a tube pan with a lush mass of caramel glaze drooling down its sides, and the classic coconut cake, with its feathery, dazzling white frosting. When I brought the coconut cake to the office, people in the street were literally lunging at it.

That’s the thing about this book. I’ve always been a pie-oriented guy, insofar as I’ve bothered with dessert at all. McDermott has made a convert of me. She’s shown me that if you want to impress people all to heck, nothing beats a great big cake loaded with frosting.

Coconut Cake

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Butter and flour 3 (9 inch) round cake pans.

Cream 1 cup butter and 2 cups sugar together in a standing mixer outfitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 7 minutes. Add the eggs, one a time, beating well after each addition.

Add the flour and coconut milk, alternately, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix in 2 teaspoons vanilla.

Divide the batter among the 3 prepared cake pans. Bake for 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool on wire racks for 10 minutes, then remove cakes from pans and cool completely on the wire racks.

To make the frosting: In a bowl, beat together the cream cheese and 1/2 cup butter using an electric hand-held mixer. Gradually add the confectioner’s sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the coconut cream and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla.

To make the filling: Mix together the sour cream, 3/4 cup sugar, milk and coconut flakes in a large bowl.

Once cake layers are cool, poke all over with a wooden skewer. Spread 1/3 of the filling over the first cake round, letting the filling fall into the holes you have poked. Top with a second round, spread another 1/3 of the filling over the top, and finally top with the final layer and spread the remaining filling over the top.

The filling step can be done up to 3 days ahead of time so the cake can fully absorb the layers.

Frost the top and sides of the cake then sprinkle the tops and sides with remaining coconut flakes.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup packed sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 2 2/3 cups sugar
  • 4 large whole eggs
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • Quick Italian Meringue
  • Fresh Coconut Curls, for garnish, toasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-by-9-by-2-inch cake pans line bottoms with parchment paper. Butter parchment and dust with flour, tapping out excess set aside.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Place shredded coconut in bowl of a food processor pulse until finely chopped. Stir chopped coconut into flour mixture until combined set aside.

Beat together butter and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down side of bowl as needed. Add whole eggs, egg whites, and vanilla beat until fluffy and combined. With mixer on low, add flour mixture, alternating with coconut milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, mixing well after each addition.

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans smooth with an offset spatula. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until cakes are golden brown and a cake tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes.

Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 30 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack peel off parchment paper. Reinvert cakes and let them cool completely, top sides up, then wrap individually in plastic wrap. Transfer to freezer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cake layers to make them level. Place one layer on a cake plate spread top with 1 1/2 cups meringue. Top with remaining layer, cut side up. Using offset spatula, spread remaining frosting over entire cake, swirling to cover in a decorative fashion. Sprinkle entire cake with coconut curls, bending and curling as desired. Cake can be kept refrigerated, covered with a cake dome, up to 3 days.

Grandma’s Classic Coconut Cake

What is it about fresh coconut that makes me think of Easter and cute little bunnies? Anytime I have my grandma’s coconut cake I instantly jump to Easter Sundays. Although my grandma has been gone for many years now, her recipes lives on. She was a wonderful cook and baker. Her cakes have always been some of my favorite recipes of hers, one being her classic coconut cake. I’m not typically a big fan of coconut cakes or cakes in general, but this one is an exception. Maybe it’s the freshly grated coconut or the moist sponge of this cake that make it so delicious, either way it’s worth the extra effort that is required in making it. It’s snow white appearance and light flavor make it a perfect dessert for any spring gathering!

As I said before, it does take a little extra effort. This cake uses on freshly grated coconut. I know it’s a pain but friends it’s worth it! I typically crack and grate the coconut the night before and store it in the fridge to break up the work.

This cake would also look quite beautiful as a “naked” cake. Personally I love the sweetness of the icing and coconut along the outside. It’s delish no matter what method you choose.

Homemade Cake Recipe

What makes a cake moist? Fats like butter and oil help ensure a moist cake so don&rsquot skimp on them in the recipe.

What do I serve with cake? It depends on the cake. Most cakes are perfect to serve a slice just as they are. If you like, you can always add whipped cream or serve with a scoop of ice cream.

Classic Coconut Cake

This cake might be the best thing I’ve ever made.

I feel it is so underrated and often neglected in the cake sphere. It’s a real shame, I tell you, which is why I rectified the situation by making this fabulous coconut cake.

It’s 3 layers, filled with cream cheese frosting, and topped with toasted coconut.

It’s the cream (cheese) of the crop.

But really, though, because I had 4 slices and ate all the frosting on my slices, which is a big deal. Piles of frosting on cake is a thing—it’s just not a thing I like. Unless it’s this cream cheese frosting. Or this chocolate frosting.

I intended to post this recipe earlier, because what goes better with Easter dinner than a slice of coconut cake?

But the Easter weekend was filled with family, friends, chocolate, church, and a lotttt of fun and laughter.

While we’re on the subject, how was your Easter? I hope it was filled with jelly beans, chocolate bunnies, and tons of those amazing butterfinger eggs.

Getting back on topic, this cake is on point. So much so that it is perfect for any time of the year, season, and day.

Like I mentioned earlier, I had 4 slices. I love cake–a lot–but I’m usually a one-or-two-slices-max cake person because I’m ready to move onto the next flavor of cake.

If triple layer cakes intimidate you, they totally shouldn’t! They really are simple and do not take a lot of work to put together.

The key thing to making a level triple layer cake is making sure all 3 cake layers are even. If your cake layers do not bake evenly (which they often do not–they usually dome a bit in the center), then you will have to trim the top of each layer until all 3 are flat.

Once they are all level, with an even layer of frosting between each, your cake will be perfectly stable.

Recipe Summary

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups sifted cake flour, not self-rising, plus more for pans
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Coconut Cream Filling
  • 11 ounces (about 3 3/4 cups) sweetened angel-flake coconut
  • Seven-Minute Frosting for Coconut Layer Cake

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Arrange two racks in the center of the oven. Line the bottom of three 6-by-2-inch buttered round cake pans with parchment paper. Dust the bottom and the sides of the cake pans with flour, and tap out any excess. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set the bowl aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-low speed until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar, and keep beating until the mixture is fluffy and light in color, about 3 minutes. Gradually drizzle in egg yolks, beating on medium-low speed between each addition until the batter is no longer slick. Beat until the mixture is fluffy again, about another 3 minutes.

Alternate adding flour mixture and sour cream to the batter, a little of each at a time, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Beat in vanilla. Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes, rotating the pans in the oven, if needed, for even browning. Transfer cake pans to wire racks to cool, about 15 minutes. Remove cakes from pans, and let cool completely on racks, tops up.

To assemble, remove parchment paper from the bottoms of cakes. Split each layer in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Set aside the prettiest dome it will be used for the final layer. Place another domed layer, dome side down, on the serving platter. Sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons of flaked coconut over the cake. Spread a generous 1/2 cup coconut-cream filling over coconut flakes. Repeat sprinkling and spreading process on the remaining layers until all but the reserved domed layer are used. Top cake with the reserved domed layer. Transfer cake to the refrigerator to firm for 1 hour. Remove from the refrigerator, and frost the outside of cake with seven-minute frosting. Sprinkle remaining coconut flakes all over cake while frosting is soft do not refrigerate. Cake can be left out at room temperature for several days.