A Classic Cake with Coconut in All the Right Places

April  1, 2016

I admit that I am late to loving coconut. I used to find the flavor overpowering in an “Am I eating sunscreen?” kind of way, but over time, I have learned to love it in its many forms.

I especially like thick, flaked coconut, which adds a little drama and a lot of delicious crispiness to the outside of this cake, which is made from light, sponge cake layers soaked in coconut rum syrup, and topped with Swiss buttercream. The whole thing is soft and squishy in the most comforting way.

In the taxonomy of sponge cakes, this one falls somewhere between a chiffon cake and a Génoise because it uses whole eggs and oil, but no chemical leavener. Instead, its lift comes only from the air incorporated when whole eggs are whipped with sugar.

Shop the Story

I have a personal aversion to folding egg whites into cake batter, so unlike most sponge cakes, this method calls for whipping whole, room temperature eggs along with sugar (rather than separating the eggs, then folding the whipped egg whites in at the end)—and to great effect.

Photo by Yossy Arefi

If you have a stand mixer, add the sugar, eggs, and extract to the bowl, crank it up, and walk away for a few minutes. After about 7 minutes of whipping, the mixture will grow so much it will threaten to fly right out of the bowl—that’s when you know it is ready.

If you have a 4 1/2-quart mixer, you may need to transfer the egg mixture into your biggest mixing bowl before folding in the flour. It’s always best to use a big, wide bowl when folding ingredients together to lower your chances of deflating the batter too much.

Photo by Yossy Arefi

Putting this cake together is super forgiving because it will eventually be covered in toasty flaked coconut, so you don’t have to worry too much about your frosting technique. Just make sure there is a nice, even-ish coating of frosting all around the sides and cover all of your “mistakes” with crisp coconut.

Photo by Yossy Arefi

And if the top isn’t looking so great, add some coconut there, too. Like most frosting covered cakes this one is definitely best served at room temperature.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Dunnkit
  • Caroline Lange
    Caroline Lange
Yossy Arefi is a photographer and stylist with a passion for food. During her stint working in restaurant kitchens, Yossy started the blog Apt. 2B Baking Co. where, with her trusty Pentax film camera, she photographs and writes about seasonal desserts and preserves. She currently lives in Brooklyn but will always love her native city of Seattle. Follow her work at &


Dunnkit July 1, 2017
I made this cake. It was SOOOOO GOOD......for 24 hours. The way my cake turned out, it was much more moist on day 1. On the 2nd day, it was just-okay - the cake a bit less fluffy and the meringe frosting, a bit less moist. Despite that, we did happily eat it all by day 3. My suggestion is to plan a big party and plan to eat it all up right away.
Caroline L. April 1, 2016
i love a coconut cream cake. i can't wait to make this!