Coconut Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Me and coconut have a funny relationship. We're just getting to know each other. See, I always, always thought of coconut (especially the shredded stuff) as being dry, gross and texturally unappealing. The thought of it gave me shivers. I should have known better - I think the only time I had shredded coconut was on a grocery store bakery cookie. You know the freebie kind they give kids so that their parents have one half-minute of peace before the sugar rush kicks in? That coconut. No wonder we had issues.

But this coconut I can get behind. Unfortunately, it also is quite a lengthy process, but so worth it. If you aren't a purist, you could use store bought extract, coconut milk, coconut cream and shredded coconut which would make this a much faster cake, but I wanted to try it with fresh ingredients first. It turned out great - soft, moist, sweet but not overpowering. I think the fresh coconut adds a lightness that you wouldn't get with the store bought shredded stuff. If I do ever make this with store bought ingredients, I will definately share with you it's shortcomings if there are any.

Coconut Cake
from this recipe from Alton Brown
icing recipe from the Barefoot Contessa

Vegetable Oil
14 1/4 ounces cake or pastry flour, plus extra for pans, about 3 c.
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. fresh coconut milk*
1/2 c. fresh coconut cream*
8 oz. unsalted butter, at room temperature
16 oz. sugar, about 2 1/4 c.
1 tsp. coconut extract*
4 egg whites
1/3 c. coconut water*

1 lb. cream cheese, at room temperature
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 lb. powdered sugar, sifted
6 oz. shredded coconut*

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Lightly oil your cake pans. I used a 8" pans. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan. Lay that in over the oil and then oil the parchment paper. Flour the pan lightly with cake flour and set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl and whisk to combine.

Combine the coconut milk and coconut cream in small bowl and set aside.

Cream the butter using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer on medium speed until it is fluffy. Decrease the speed on the mixer to low and slowly add the sugar over about 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and continue mixing the butter sugar combination on medium until it is light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Stir in the extract.

Turn the mixer on low and add the flour and milk mixtures alternately in three batches to the butter and sugar. Begin by adding the flour and end with the milk. Mix until just combined, don't over mix.


In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the batter, just until combined. 


Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pans so they are basically equal. You can drop (gently and from just a few inches) the pans onto the counter to remove any air and distribute the batter evenly.

Place into the oven on the middle rack and bake for 30 minutes of until the cake is golden in color and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove and transfer the cakes to a cooling rack.

When cool, cut each cake into 2 layers, forming a total of 4 layers. With the cakes cut side up, brush  coconut water onto the cakes using a pastry brush.

To make the frosting, add the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and almond extract to a mixing bowl. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer, mix on low until the ingredients are combined. Add the powdered sugar (sifted) in small batches so that large clumps don't appear. Don't worry if a few do, though, just use some shredded coconut to cover when assembling.

To assemble the cake, place the first layer on your plate or cake platter. Add frosting to the first layer and, using an offset spatula, spread until it is an even layer and is to the outside edges. Top the icing with shredded coconut. Continue to add the layers until you have assembled all four cake layers. Once all the layers of the cake have been added, frost the ouside of your cake and dress with more shredded coconut. Cool in the fridge prior to serving.

*For instructions on how to make the coconut cream, coconut milk, coconut water, coconut extract and shredded coconut, refer to my post on coconut cake prep.

11 lovely comments:

  1. BEAUTIFUL!! Its absolutely stunning! I would LOVE a slice of that now :) That's it, your post has motivated me to finally make this cake, too :) Now I have go buy some coconuts!

  2. Glad you're giving it a try, it is so so so worth it!

  3. Thanks for linking up for my Valentine's party! Funny what you mentioned about coconut. It was one thing that made me sick when I was a kid, nothing else, just coconut, but once I tried it fresh out of the shell I loved it - unfortunately that's still the only way I can eat it. Even using it fresh in a recipe I can't handle it but love coconut milk in recipes. Oops, now I'm craving a pina coloda, LOL!

  4. Oh my! My daughter would love this cake, so would I :)

  5. This looks gorgeous! I am a huge coconut fan probably because I grew up in an island and I've had it in every possible form. I like you HATE the shredded one you can buy at the store because it is too sweet. Here is the funny thing, you did such a great job with the photos that without tasting it, I can actually tell it is very light. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing with Sundays at One Food Club.

  6. I grew up in the Northeast, so no coconuts there, but since moving to Florida I am finding I like their flavor in more and more things. We're doing a coconut shrimp this week in fact. I think there really is such a HUGE difference between fresh and store bought shredded coconut. I wanted to try to make this using store bought stuff to save time, but I probably won't now after checking out the store bought stuff. It didn't even look like coconut!

  7. This looks scrumptious!!! Definitely trying it... your blog is fab, thanks for sharing :)

  8. Thanks for stopping by! Glad you're giving the cake a try, it is so good!

  9. Hi, I just discovering your sweet blog. Great posts on this cake. Its making me swoon with love. I love coconut!!

  10. Hi, I'm just discovering your blog. This cake looks amazing. And I love cream cheese frosting on everything. I have a baking blog, if you ever need some ideas or want to share ideas. Consider me a new follower.

  11. Thanks so much for stopping by Galexi!