Coconut Cake

02.27.2014

Coconut Cake | Cooking Classy

Last week I posted my favorite chocolate cake recipe and I this week I decided why not keep a good thing going – and make more cake? So, today I’m sharing my favorite coconut cake recipe with you. Luckily this one didn’t take as many attempts as the chocolate cake to get it just where I wanted.

This coconut cake is elegant and sophisticated yet very traditional and simplistic. It’s like the cake you remember your grandmother serving at family parties growing up. I love a good old fashioned recipe. The classics are often the best.

This has probably got to be the softest cake I’ve ever made. It is incredibly moist (because we all hate a dry cake right?) and it is layered with sweet, natural coconut flavor with every bite, which is complimented perfectly by the light tang of the cream cheese in the frosting. ¬†Good luck saying your only going to have a thin slice. Not gonna happen with this cake :). Enjoy!

Coconut Cake | Cooking Classy

Coconut Cake | Cooking Classy

Coconut Cake

Coconut Cake

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (360g) cake flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups (396g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/3 cups well shaken canned coconut milk, at room temperature*
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature, yolks and whites separated
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 12 oz. cream cheese, nearly at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
  • 5 cups (596g) powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded coconut

Directions

  • For the cake:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 3 9-inch round cake pans and line bottom of each with a round of parchment paper, butter parchment paper and set pans aside.
  • Sift cake flour into a large mixing bowl, then add baking powder and salt and whisk mixture for 20 seconds. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, blend together granulated sugar, butter and canola oil on medium speed until well combined. Add in egg yolks one at a time and mix until combined after each addition (reserve 2 egg whites), then mix in coconut and vanilla extracts. Working in three separate batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, alternating with 1/2 of the coconut milk and mixing just until combined after each addition (if you don't have the paddle attachment that scrapes the sides of the bowl, stop mixer and scrape sides and bottom occasionally).
  • In a separate mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer, whip 6 egg whites with cream of tartar on medium-high speed until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold 1/3 of the egg whites into cake batter at a time and fold just combined after each addition (don't over-mix and deflate egg whites). Divide batter among prepared cake pans. Spread batter into an even layer and bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 19 - 22 minutes. Allow to cool in cake pan 5 - 10 minutes then run a knife along edges of cakes and invert each onto a wire rack to cool. Cool completely the cut tops to even as needed.
  • Frost top of one layer, add another layer and frost then top with last layer and frost top and sides. Place cake stand over a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle cake evenly with shredded coconut (pressing gently on sides to adhere. I just did it over a rimmed baking sheet for easier clean up - not a must). Store in an airtight container.
  • For the Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter with cream cheese until smooth and fluffy. Mix in coconut extract. Add powdered sugar and whip on medium speed until smooth and fluffy. Chill as needed if frosting seems runny (slightly runny is fine, once you get it frosted the coconut will help it stay in place).
  • Recipe Source: Cooking Classy
http://www.cookingclassy.com/2014/02/coconut-cake/

94 comments

  • Averie @ Averie Cooks: The cake is so pretty and I saw the pics on pinterest before I saw your post and just knew they were yours! That one, with the cake un-cut, it just looks so fluffy and fuzzy, like I want to snuggle up with it :) February 28, 2014 at 3:00am Reply

  • Elisa @ Insalata di Sillabe: This cake looks like a little pillowy piece of heaven!

    xo, Elisa February 28, 2014 at 4:53am Reply

  • Kelli: This looks deliciously divine. I look forward to making this. I’m thoroughly enjoying your recipes and have sung your praises! February 28, 2014 at 7:14am Reply

  • Jessica @ Portuguese Girl Cooks: I’ve been dying for weeks to make a coconut cake and this one looks like coconut perfection! February 28, 2014 at 11:27am Reply

  • Chelsea @chelseasmessyapron: Your cakes are absolute perfection – they are gorgeous! Soft + moist cakes are my favorite! February 28, 2014 at 11:39am Reply

  • Norma | Allspice and Nutmeg: Your cake looks so moist and soft and billowy and I want a piece. Gorgeous! February 28, 2014 at 11:53am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks Norma! February 28, 2014 at 3:01pm Reply

  • Laura (Tutti Dolci): So gorgeous, I love the coconut cream cheese frosting! February 28, 2014 at 1:03pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks Laura! February 28, 2014 at 3:01pm Reply

  • Laura Dembowski: Coconut cake is my favorite dessert of all time! This beauty has me wanting to get in the kitchen right now! February 28, 2014 at 1:13pm Reply

  • Joyce: Oh, Jaclyn, You’re killing me): Coconut cake is my absolute favorite and this one looks like the one that my mom made many, many years ago. I’ve got to find a reason to make this just so I can have a piece.
    I wonder if anyone at the office has a birthday coming up… hmmm February 28, 2014 at 5:29pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Just celebrate the weekend :). I hope you do try it soon Joyce! February 28, 2014 at 8:16pm Reply

  • Gail Johnson Draper: Looks fabulous! Do you think the batter would work out for cupcakes? And about how long would you suggest to bake them? February 28, 2014 at 6:44pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: It might, they probably won’t be very domed – my cakes came out pretty even on top. If you try let me know how they turn out :). February 28, 2014 at 8:15pm Reply

  • Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious: GORGEOUS cake! I could devour the ENTIRE cake right now! March 1, 2014 at 12:18am Reply

  • lisa: This sounds a bit odd I know but I was nervous about making this cake. I am used to using recipes I find through my ‘trusted’ places. Martha, Paula, southern living etc. “the usuals” I guess I would say. this cake though is by far one of the best cakes I have ever made. without a doubt. now I cant wait to explore everything you have to offer. Thank you!!!! If I could give you a blue ribbon for this I would! March 1, 2014 at 7:48pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so happy to hear that Lisa!! I totally know what you mean about trusted sources :). I hope mine can become one for you too I’m really picky about what I will post so hopefully you’ll like everything! March 1, 2014 at 10:26pm Reply

  • marilyn: This cake was heaven on a plate. So soft and moist and flavorful that I ate a ginormous piece all by myself. Everyone should make this cake & the world would be a better place:-) March 1, 2014 at 9:22pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad you liked it Marilyn :)!! Thanks for leaving a comment! March 1, 2014 at 10:23pm Reply

  • Cindy Brooks: This looks so yummy! I think I’ll make one this week. Thanks for all your hard work. March 1, 2014 at 11:16pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks for your appreciation Cindy :)! I hope you love this cake! March 2, 2014 at 4:40pm Reply

  • Rachel @ Bakerita: Coconut cake is my favorite, and this one looks so sinfully delicious!! Pinning for sure :) March 2, 2014 at 3:33am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks for sharing Rachel! March 2, 2014 at 11:54am Reply

  • Beverly Powell: The recipe calls for coconut milk, is this the cream of coconut in the can or the refrigerated coconut milk in the dairy section? I wasn’t sure because in the recipe it is referenced as ‘canned coconut milk’. Thanks. March 2, 2014 at 9:34am Reply

  • Uenavil: Hi there, is ur coconut fresh or the one in packs? March 2, 2014 at 3:38pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I used the shredded sweetened coconut you can find in the bakery section of the grocery store. March 2, 2014 at 4:39pm Reply

  • Shari Kelley: This would be perfect for Easter! It looks so pretty and moist. March 5, 2014 at 8:47pm Reply

  • Tracy | Peanut Butter and Onion: I would totally faceplant into this cake. I love this. I actually have a few b-days coming up.. this will be making an appearance. March 7, 2014 at 5:19am Reply

  • Denise: Hi, I’d love to make this but there’s only two of us. Do you think I could half the recipe and make it 2 layer? Or could you suggest how I could make it 2 layer? Thanks so much!! March 10, 2014 at 7:23pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I think that would be fine, they layers would just be a bit thinner. You’ll probably just need to reduce the baking time a bit. I hope the two of you love it Denise! March 10, 2014 at 10:45pm Reply

  • Marci: Do you think this cake would freeze well? I usually make a cake a few days ahead of time and freeze it, then decorate it the day of the party. March 19, 2014 at 5:50am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I always tell people personally I don’t like baked goods to be frozen but if you do that should work just fine (it might have a little to do with the fact that I also have a never ending supply of fresh around my house so it’s made me a bit too picky :). March 23, 2014 at 6:23pm Reply

  • Chloe Fitzgerald: Hello – has anyone tried to freeze the cake (without icing of course)? Or do you think the cake would still be good if I baked on Wednesday night – then Iced on Saturday for a party Saturday night? I just don’t have enough time to bake on Saturday :( March 23, 2014 at 4:49pm Reply

  • Liz: I found your blog on pinterest and I love it. I’ve pinned so many recipes to try! I love coconut and can’t wait to try this cake. I have a question. In the ingredient list is says 4 egg whites and then in the instructions it says to whip 6 egg whites. Which amount is it? Thank you! March 26, 2014 at 2:26pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: The other two come from the whole eggs listed. I hope you love this cake Liz! I’m so happy to hear you love my blog, thanks for letting me know! March 31, 2014 at 8:52pm Reply

  • Liz: By the way I’ve made your coconut granola numerous times now…I love it!! March 26, 2014 at 2:31pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad you do! March 31, 2014 at 8:52pm Reply

  • Hannah: Do you think this would still taste good if I used gluten free cake flour? Or do you have a favorite cake recipe for someone’s bday that would still taste good gluten free? My friend wants me to make their cake and I guess whenever their mom tries to make anything it isn’t edible. Thanks! March 31, 2014 at 10:10pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I think that should work fine, you may need to add a little more liquid just check the packaging label on the flour and it might say. April 4, 2014 at 10:15pm Reply

  • jen: Just made this cake, I made it as a 2 layer 10 inch cake and it came out perfectly. So light and fluffy and great flavor. I ended up cook the cakes for 26 mins. Thanks for the great recipe April 2, 2014 at 6:23am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks for your feedback Jen! I’m so glad you liked this cake! April 2, 2014 at 11:57am Reply

  • Shekinah: This cake came out great! The complement from my Mom and sis was it tasted like a church lady cake from back in The day. This was a top honor because we all know church ladies made fantastic cakes from scratch! We’re going to try this cake as a lemon cake replacing the coconut with lemon. Unless you have a great lemon cake to post. At this point i trust any recipe you suggest. April 4, 2014 at 7:24am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad they approved Shekinah :)! Thanks for your comment! April 15, 2014 at 8:59pm Reply

  • Nanci Hughes: I love your website and will make this cake this week. All of your presentation is excellent. Thanks, Nanci April 19, 2014 at 1:58pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thank Nanci! I hope you love this cake! April 21, 2014 at 11:05pm Reply

  • Nikki: Hi Jaclyn! I just found your website on pinterest while searching for a good coconut cake recipe. I tried your cake today and I have good news and bad news. First, let me say that I am new to baking:-) Ok, so the good news: flavor and texture were great! Bad news: my layers were so thin (guess they didn’t rise properly). I followed directions carefully. The only part I struggled with was the egg whites part. First, I beat the egg whites for what seemed like an eternity and they never formed stiff peaks so I settled for ruffles. Do you think that’s the issue? Also, I’m wondering if I didn’t beat them in properly (you warned of deflating). Could this prevent the cake from rising properly? It just seems like it should have risen despite that. I definitely used the right flower and didn’t forget baking powder or anything else. I’m determined to get this right so I’d appreciate any guidance you might offer. Thanks for your recipes and blog! April 27, 2014 at 4:08pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Yes it is likely the eggs not being whipped to peaks. They help the cake rise and also hold when properly whipped. It can be a number of things, not entirely clean bowl/beaters even a little bit of left behind oil can prevent eggs from whipping properly, a tiny bit of egg yolk that made it’s way in can also prevent it. And other problem can be high humidity, I just try to avoid recipes that require beating egg whites to stiffness on really humid days. Hopefully next time it will work out perfect for you though, sorry that happened! May 12, 2014 at 11:46am Reply

  • Ruthie: I just came across your site few days ago. I made this cake last Sunday and it was superb. It was a good way to end a good Sunday evening. A friend of mine had a slice yesterday and she called to ask if I could make it again. I’ll be trying other recipes from your site. Thanks. Ruthie from Finland. April 29, 2014 at 4:12am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so happy to hear that Ruthie! Thanks for letting me know :)! April 29, 2014 at 10:11pm Reply

  • Pricilla: Hi, I see that you use canola oil can I replace it for something else. In holland we cant get canola oil? May 2, 2014 at 2:39am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Vegetable oil should work just the same. I hope you love it :)! May 3, 2014 at 12:30am Reply

  • Victoria Preston: I found my way here through Gordon’s website. I made this cake yesterday and took it to a party last night. I cook and bake a lot in general, and have always received praises on my food. However, I have never received more compliments in one sitting than I did last night about this cake. So glad to have found you and really looking forward to trying out more recipes! May 4, 2014 at 5:18am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe Victoria and that it got lots of compliments – well done :)! Thanks for your feedback! May 19, 2014 at 10:17pm Reply

  • Terri: I’m assuming I could do this as a sheet cake as well? Looks and sounds delicious May 11, 2014 at 12:32pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Yes I think that should work just fine. May 19, 2014 at 10:39pm Reply

  • Sharron: Hi! Sounds delicious – just want to pse check – the powdered sugar in die frosting – is that the same as castor or icing sugar – I’m from South African and have never seen powdered sugar here – do you perhaps know? Thanks a million, can’t wait to try it! May 16, 2014 at 6:18am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Yes powdered sugar is the same as castor or icing sugar. I hope you love this cake Sharron! May 30, 2014 at 6:19pm Reply

  • Joie: I have been looking for a recipe that copies the Coconut Pineapple cake baked by Bonnie Ruth’s Cafe Trottoir et Patisserie in Allen, Texas. This cake looks similar to theirs. Do you know if pineapple could be added to this recipe? May 18, 2014 at 6:34am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Maybe, sorry I just can’t say for sure without trying it out. It is a fairly delicate cake so I don’t know if the pineapple would kind of just sink to the bottom? May 19, 2014 at 10:05pm Reply

      • Joie: Thank you for the feedback regarding pineapple. May 20, 2014 at 7:34am Reply

  • Salsera77: Dear Jaclyn, here in France they don’t sell cream of tartar and where I places my last order at the American Supermarket, they were out of stock. How can I substitute it? I tried to google, but ended up with so many different answers that I wanted to ask the expert :-)… Thanks a lot May 20, 2014 at 7:30am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I would try replacing it with 1/4 tsp vinegar or lemon juice. I hope you love this cake!! June 4, 2014 at 9:24am Reply

  • Angie: Does this cake need to be refrigerated or will it be ok left out a few days? (I doubt it takes long to be eaten) May 24, 2014 at 9:58am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I would recommend refrigerating it, mostly because of the cream cheese frosting. June 22, 2014 at 10:32pm Reply

  • shar: could I use a 9×13 pan! May 26, 2014 at 4:34pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Probably but you might want to cut the recipe bake a little. May 26, 2014 at 8:19pm Reply

  • Amy Stiner: Can I substitute the canola oil with coconut oil to give add a bit more coconut flavor? June 6, 2014 at 5:01pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: It might work but honestly I don’t have much experience using coconut oil in cakes so I cant say for sure? June 25, 2014 at 11:57pm Reply

  • Andra: Jaclyn – this cake is baking right now and smells divine. Can’t wait to try it out!
    Question: Should the cake be kept in the fridge? I plan to serve the cake tomorrow afternoon. I’m baking it this evening. Should I frost it tonight and keep it in the fridge overnight, or frost it tomorrow morning? June 14, 2014 at 6:16pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: What I would do is leave the cake layers out at room temp and frost the next day. Just be sure to store them in an airtight container once they’ve cooled. I hope you love it Andra! June 14, 2014 at 6:22pm Reply

  • Rhonda: Hi Jackson, just made your cake last night it was quite good although I wasn’t sure if I was to use all of the 6 egg yolks in the cake. Also the texture of the cake was a bit like a pound cake is this the correct texture? Thanks for the recipe! June 16, 2014 at 5:29am Reply

    • Jaclyn: No, sorry you are only supposed to use the 2 egg yolks (coming from the whole eggs listed in the recipe). If you did use all 6 that is probably why it was more dense like a pound cake. Hope that answers your question! June 16, 2014 at 9:20am Reply

      • Rhonda: Sorry Jaclyn for the name misspelling these phones always correcting what you type it’s a pain sometimes. Lol thanks for your response however I did only use the 2 egg yolks don’t get me wrong my husband and I loved the cake I guess I just had a different texture in mind. Oh I just thought maybe it’s because I did not use or have cake flour but I used a recipe to turn your flour into cake flour by removing 2 Tbs of flour for every cup and replacing with cornstarch, this may have been the difference! June 16, 2014 at 9:52am Reply

        • Jaclyn: Yes I definitely recommend using the real thing, I can never get the same texture with the cake flour substitute. Also, just be sure not to over-mix the batter. Hope that helps :)! June 16, 2014 at 1:09pm Reply

  • Rhonda: Sorry Jaclyn, these new phones always correcting what you type hence the name Jackson! Lol June 16, 2014 at 5:37am Reply

  • Salsera77: Dear Jaclyn… I made the cake replacing the cream of tartar with lemon juice as you suggested- it worked perfectly fine !! It was my colleague at work who is a big coconut fan who bugged me for month to bake this cake for our team and they loved it!!! thank you so much!! June 19, 2014 at 7:57am Reply

    • Jaclyn: So glad it worked :)! Thanks for your comment!! June 22, 2014 at 10:11pm Reply

  • Lisa Thakkar: I want to make this cake for a coconut lover’s birthday – but I have a question. Where do you use the coconut milk? It’s in the ingredient list, but I don’t see it in the directions – just a direction to combine the flour mixture and the coconut milk mixture. Help! June 20, 2014 at 11:16am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Sorry I said coconut milk “mixture” and I’m sure that’s where it threw you off. It’s not a mixture just the coconut milk :). Thanks for pointing that out. I hope you love it! June 20, 2014 at 11:31am Reply

  • Lara: This cake ROCKS!!!!!!!! If you are a coconut lover you will most certainly love this cake, the texture specially is insanely moist and I won’t touch a cake unless its super moist. I halved the recipe and made 1 cake in an 8 inch pan 3 inch height. It took 32 min to bake.

    I also made another cake using the same recipe, substituting the coconut milk for buttermilk and the coconut extract for vanilla extract. It makes a brilliant vanilla cake. July 10, 2014 at 3:40am Reply

  • June: Just made this cake as I could not find my own recipe. If coconut cake is not your passion, don’t bother because it is a little fussy. But, if you are like me and very picky about my coconut cake, it is a winner. Could cut back in the amount of icing as I had at least a cup left over and it was very thick on the cake. July 13, 2014 at 1:10pm Reply

  • Ty: I will trying this cake this weekend. My mother love everything coconut !!!! #anticipation July 24, 2014 at 8:33pm Reply

  • Sam: Found this recipe via a heartwrenching google search for a great (but not ridiculously difficult) coconut cake recipe, and I just want to say that I’m so glad I settled on this recipe. It’s awesome! One of the best cakes I’ve ever had. I just wanted to comment here because I know when I’m looking through blog recipes, I want references from people who’ve actually made the cake.
    I only made tiny adjustments: I forgot to get coconut extract so I used 1tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp almond extract in the cake, and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract in the frosting. (I liked that the coconut flavor this way was very light.) I also used only 8oz cream cheese, and I toasted the coconut flakes, which gave it a crunch that I liked a lot. I’m sure it would still be superbly tasty had I followed the directions to a T, though! August 19, 2014 at 7:31pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe Sam! Thanks for your review! August 19, 2014 at 10:20pm Reply

  • Kasey: This cake looks divine! My daughter has asked for a coconut cake for her birthday, and this is the one! We live above 6000 feet. Do you have any suggestions to adjust for high altitude? Thanks! August 20, 2014 at 12:26pm Reply

  • Kasey: I am planning on making this cake for my daughter’s birthday. We live at a high altitude. Do you have any suggestions on adjusting this recipe? Thanks, it looks delicious! August 21, 2014 at 11:32pm Reply

  • leilani: Jaclyn: I was asked to make a two layer coconut cake, they requested that it be a little bit smaller than a half sheet. Would my layers come out thinner if I didn’t double the recipe for each layer?? August 22, 2014 at 5:58pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I think if you are only doing two layers and it’s a bit smaller than a half sheet you should probably be okay. I hope everyone loves it! August 23, 2014 at 1:09pm Reply

  • Eloise: Just wanted to let you know I baked this cake today for my sister’s 33rd birthday, and apparently it’s the best cake I’ve ever produced! I actually made it into a 5 7″ layer cake and in between the icing and the coconut I added a coating of jam. Everyone loved it so much that there’s hardly a crumb left!
    Thank you for the lovely recipe and for your wonderful blog. September 12, 2014 at 6:47pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so happy to hear everyone loved it :)! Thanks for you comment and compliment Eloise! September 13, 2014 at 10:57am Reply

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