Coconut Cake is popular to make around Easter, but for a coconut lover, like myself, it’s just not enough. I think coconut deserves more attention than once a year. This moist coconut cake comes together quickly and keeps well in the fridge for several days. I like it plain or filled with different fillings: jam, Chocolate or Vanilla German Buttercream, buttercream, fresh fruit, lemon or raspberry curd. Possibilities are endless. Let’s get to it.
updated post from 2013
HOW TO MAKE MOIST AND FLUFFY COCONUT CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
What makes a good coconut cake taste like coconut is the coconut ingredients. I often hear that coconut cakes don’t have enough coconut flavor. That is why in this recipe, coconut is present everywhere. In the cake batter, in the filling, and I used toasted coconut flakes as decoration. This triple coconut cake is worth trying.
Gather all the ingredients and bring all the ingredients to room temperature.
COCONUT FLAVORS FOR THE CAKE
- Sweetened Shredded Coconut – if you can’t find sweetened shredded coconut, you can also make sweetened shredded coconut at home.
- Unsweetened Coconut Milk
- Coconut Flakes – these are larger than the regural shredded coconut flakes, I find they taste their best when toasted
- Coconut Flavorings – Coconut Extract, Lorann Coconut Flavoring – I used coconut extract and concentrated coconut flavoring in this recipe.
TIP: Try toasting coconut to boost its flavor.
SWEETENED SHREDDED COCONUT
The cake batter is flavored with extracts and also with sweetened shredded coconut. Chop the coconut with a knife or in a food processor, pulse 2-3 times.
HOW TO TOAST COCONUT FLAKES
To garnish the outside of the cake, I used large unsweetened coconut flakes. They don’t taste like much until you toast them. I highly recommend you don’t skip this step.
Preheat oven to 350F(180C). Spread coconut flakes in one even layer onto a baking sheet. Bake for 5-8 minutes, checking mid-way and tossing coconut to ensure even browning. Once golden brown, remove it from the oven and let cool completely before using.
You can prepare toasted coconut ahead of time. Store it in an airtight container.
TIP: Shredded coconut tends to brown around the baking sheet rim first, where it’s usually thinly dispersed. Make sure to toss it to ensure it’s evenly toasted.
COCONUT CAKE BATTER
This recipe uses butter and oil. You can use any mild-tasting oil: vegetable oil or even coconut oil. In a bowl, beat oil, butter and sugar until well combined. You an use a hand held mixer or a stand mixer.
COCONUT CAKE FLAVORINGS
This coconut cake recipe uses egg yolks and egg whites. Into the butter mixture, beat egg yolks,(steps 1-3). Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure all is well blended.
As with most of my recipes, when it comes to flavors, I start with vanilla, and then I add other extracts. I used Vanilla, Almond, and Coconut Extract and concentrated Coconut Flavoring to double down on the coconut flavor in this cake recipe. Beat extracts into the mixture, (steps 4-8).
This recipe uses low protein cake flour. I recommend that for the best results, you stick with cake flour. However, I have also made this recipe with all-purpose flour, and it was delicious, but the cake texture wasn’t as deliciate as one made with cake flour.
Into a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine, (steps 1-3).
Now, on low speed, alternatively, beat flour mixture and room temperature coconut milk into the butter mixture, (steps 1-5).
To light up the texture of the cake, I used meringue. Before you beat the egg whites, make sure the bowl is grease-free. If needed, wipe it down with some vinegar or lemon juice.
Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until it has soft peaks. Then gradually add granulated sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed, (steps 1-5). Try not to overbeat egg whites as they will become dry and grainy, resulting in a dry cake.
TIP: If you don’t have the cream of tartar, you can use 1 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar.
In this next step, don’t use a mixer. Fold meringue into the cake batter using a spatula. Don’t stir it but instead use a folding method.
It’s best to add a small amount of meringue at first, fold it in to lighten up the dense cake batter, and then add the rest of the meringue, (steps 1-3).
And now you can fold in chopped sweetened shredded coconut.
BAKE COCONUT CAKE
Divide batter into 3-6 inch cake pans or 2-8 inch cake pans, (steps 1-2).
Bake the cake in the preheated oven at 330F, for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
TIP: To prevent over-browning, cover cakes loosely with aluminum foil.
Let cakes cool for 10-20 minutes, then invert cakes onto a work surface. Peel the parchment round and transfer cakes on a cooling rack to cool completely. Learn more about my favorite cooling racks for baking in the Tools Section.
WHAT FILLING GOES WITH A COCONUT CAKE?
Coconut Cake pairs nicely with various fillings: Cream Cheese, Swiss Buttercream, German Buttercream, fresh berries, sour cherries, raspberry or lemon curd, and even chocolate. However, the most popular and probably the fastest to prepare is cream cheese frosting.
When making cream cheese frosting, for the best results, use full-fat cream cheese, and bring your ingredients to room temperature.
In a large bowl, cream butter, then gradually beat in cream cheese. After, beat in sifted powdered sugar, vanilla, and coconut flavorings. Beat until silky smooth, about 5-6 minutes, (steps 1-8).
TIP: Use full-fat cream cheese.
TRIM THE CAKE TOPS
Trim the top of the cake with a serrated knife. Eat the scraps, (steps 1-3).
FILL THE CAKE
Jam in cakes is my personal preference. Today I used a slightly tangy raspberry jam, but you also use my Raspberry Cake Filling. Spread a thin layer of jam onto the cake layer: pipe or spread cream cheese frosting on the raspberry jam with a spatula. Repeat until you use all the cake layers, (steps 1-8).
TIP: For a less messy look, pipe the frosting onto the jam layer. It’s easier to smooth the cream cheese frosting this way without mixing it with the jam too much.
Seal in the cake crumbs with a thin layer of frosting. This step is called crumb coating.
Use a spatula to smooth the sides and the top. Chill the cake for 1-2 hours, before the adding the final frosting layer, (steps 1-3).
FROST THE CAKE
Frost the cake with the remaining cream cheese frosting. With a spatula, spread frosting on the sides and the top. Then with a frosting smoother, smooth the sides the best you can. No worries if it’s not perfect; we will cover the sides with toasted coconut anyway, (steps 1-8).
TIP: Sometimes cream cheese frosting becomes too soft. If that happens, pop it into the fridge for 20-30 minutes to firm it up slightly.
GARNISH WITH TOASTED COCONUT
Gently press toasted and cooled coconut flakes onto the sides and the top of the cake. It’s okay if it looks a little messy.
COCONUT CAKE SUCCESS TIPS
- For a fine cake texture use cake flour.
- Try toasting coconut to boost its flavor
- Shredded coconut tends to brown around the baking sheet rim first, where it’s usually thinly dispersed. Make sure to toss it to ensure it’s evenly toasted.
- If you don’t have the cream of tartar, you can use 1 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar.
- To prevent over-browning, cover cakes loosely with aluminum foil.
- Use full-fat cream cheese to make cream cheese frosting.
- If cream cheese frosting becomes too soft pop it into the fridge for 20-30 minutes to firm up slightly.
- Pipe the frosting onto the jam layer. It’s easier to smooth the cream cheese frosting this way without mixing it with the jam too much.
MORE COCONUT RECIPES
- Coconut Lamingtons
- How to make Sweetened Shredded Coconut? via 80 Cakes
- Whipped Coconut Cream
- Double Chocolate Cherry Coconut Cookies
- How to make Shredded Coconut from scratch? via Low Carb No Carb
Here is a variation of my coconut cake recipe decorated with Swiss Buttercream and a pretty royal icing butterfly.
TO MAKE COCONUT CAKE YOU NEED
- Find all the tools in my Amazon Shop (Ingredients and Baking Pans sections)
- Baking Pans -6 inch cake pans, or 8-inch cake pans
- Parchment Paper
- Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
- Lorann Coconut Flavoring
- Vanilla Extract
- Coconut Extract
- Raspberry Jam or make my easy and delicious Raspberry Cake Filling
Coconut Cake with Cream Cheese Filling
COCONUT CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- 2 1/4 cup cake flour flour, or all-purpose – check notes (315 grams all-purpose flour)
- 1/4 tsp table salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 cup butter, unsalted, room temperature (113grams)
- 2 cup granulated sugar (400grams), divided 1/2 cup and 1 1/2 cup
- 1/2 cup coconut or vegetable oil (120ml)
- 5 eggs large eggs, separated
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 1/2 tsp coconut extract
- 1/2 tsp Almond Extract
- 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 15 drops LorAnn Coconut Flavoring
- 1 cup coconut milk (240ml)
- 1 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut, roughly chopped
Fillings: Cream Cheese Frosting and Raspberry Jam
- 340 grams full-fat cream cheese, 1 whole and 1/2 package (340grams), 1 package is 226grams (room temperature)
- 1 1/8 cup 2 sticks and 1/4 stick (255grams), 1 stick is 113 grams (room temperature)
- 5-6 cups powdered sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 15 drops LorAnn Coconut Flavoring
- 1 cup good quality raspberry jam (optional)
- 1 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
COCONUT CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- Preheat the oven to 330F. Butter and flour 3-6 inch, or 2-8 inch baking pans, line the bottom with parchment paper round and line the bottom. Turn the pans upside down, over the kitchen sink, and tap the sides to shake out the excess flour.
- Into a bowl, pour cake flour (2 cups and 1/4 cup), baking powder (1 teaspoon), baking soda (1/2teaspoon), and salt (1/4 teaspoon). Whisk or sift, set aside.
- In the second bowl, beat room temperature butter (1/2cup, 113grams), oil (1/2cup, 120ml), and portion of granulatd sugar (1cup and 1/2 cup, 300grams). Beat until well blended, about 5 minutes.
- Into the butter mixture, beat egg yolks (5 egg yolks), scrape down the bowl, and beat in extracts: Coconut Extract (1 teaspoon and 1/2 teaspoon, Vanilla Extract (1/2 teaspoon), Almond Extract (1/2 teaspoon,) and 15 drops LorAnn Coconut Flavoring(optional).
- In the third, clean bowl, beat egg whites (5 egg whites), cream of tartar (1/4tsp) till foamy, then gradually beat in granulated sugar (1/2cup,100grams), and continue beating until stiff peaks are formed.
- At low speed, into the butter, mix gradually, alternating beat in coconut milk (1 cup) and flour mix.
- Lastly, fold in sweetened shredded coconut, roughly chopped.
- Divide the cake batter evenly into prepared 3-6 inch cake pans or 2-8inch cake pans.
- Bake cakes at 330F, for 25-30 minutes, or until the toothpick inserted in the middle of the cakes come out clean.
- If cakes are browning too much, cover them loosely with a foil.
- Remove cakes from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes. Then, carefully unmold cakes and transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- In a bowl cream room temperature butter (2 sticks and 1/4 stick, 255 grams) for 3 minutes. Then gradually, beat in room temperature full fat cream cheese (1 package and 1/2 pkg.,340grams). Beat until smooth, 5 minutes.
- Gradually, beat in powdered sugar (5-6 cups) and a pinch of salt.Tip: If your powdered sugar has lumps, sift it thru a mesh sieve.
- Beat in Vanilla Extract (1/2 teaspoon), and 15 drops Lorann Coconut Flavoring.
- If frosting gets too soft, refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer till it firms up.
- Spread sweetened or unsweetened shredded coconut onto a baking sheet.Bake in the preheated oven at 350F (180C) for 5-8 minutes. Checking the coconut frequently to prevent it from getting too brown.
- Shredded coconut tends to brown around the rim of the baking sheet, be sure to toss the coconut to ensure even browning.
- Once it's golden brown, remove it from the oven and let it cool. Toasted coconut can be prepared ahead of time. Store it in an airtight container.
- Trim the tops of the cakes, and fill the cake with raspberry jam (if using) and cream cheese filling.
- Crumb-coat the cake and chill for 1-2 hours. Then frost the cake with the remaining cream cheese frosting and decorate the sides and the top with toasted, cooled coconut flakes.
- CAN I USE ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR? – Yes, you can use all-purpose flour; however, a cake made with the cake flour has a tenderer crumb.
- WHAT IS LORANN FLAVORING? – Lorann flavorings are super-strength flavorings. They work great with candies, cookies, frosting, and more.
- CAN I FREEZE COCONUT CAKE? – Yes, you can freeze coconut cake. Wrap it well in a food wrap and store it in a freeze-safe container or Ziploc bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. Let defrost before filling.
This recipe was originally published on March 30th, 2013. On April 12, 2021 I updated this recipe post with new step-by-step photos, written instructions and a video.