Make Ahead

Ultimate Coconut Cake

July 23, 2015
4 Ratings
  • Serves 12 - 16
Author Notes

Do you like coconut? Yes? Not good have to LOVE coconut to dig into this monster. No exceptions. I set out to shoehorn coconut into every aspect of this fabulous summer cake (but stop short of making it taste like Coppertone). The result? A cake that tastes like it fell off the palm. Note: the coconut cream filling uses coconut oil, if you're baking in a warm climate and the oil is liquid at room temperature, pour it into a shallow dish lined with plastic wrap. Right when you need it, pop the solidified oil out of the dish and give it a quick rough chop before throwing it into the cream. —PieceOfLayerCake

What You'll Need
  • Coconut Cream Cake
  • 270 grams unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 90 grams coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 340 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 400 grams granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 260 grams full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Filling & Frosting
  • 14 ounces bag, sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 450 milliliters full-fat coconut milk
  • ½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 465 grams granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 56 grams virgin coconut oil, diced
  • 240 milliliters egg whites (about 7)
  1. Coconut Cream Cake
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F/176C. Grease two, 8" round cake pans, line the bottom with parchment paper and grease the paper.
  3. Whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and set aside. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and cream on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape the bowl well with a rubber spatula. Reduce the speed to medium low and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing each until well combined. Scrape the bowl again.
  4. Whisk together the coconut milk, vanilla and lemon juice in a large measuring cup. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, mixing only until everything is well incorporated and smooth. Remove the bowl from the mixer and give the sides a scrape and the batter a final fold.
  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 40 - 50 minutes, rotating the pans' positions halfway through. The cakes should be springy to the touch and a skewer should come out with a few moist crumbs attached. I never bake cakes until the skewer test is clean, lest a dry cake is what ye desire. All cake, especially large, dense ones, will continue to cook when they come out of the oven. Allow the cakes to cool for 15 minutes in the pan, then release them and cool completely on a wire rack.
  1. Filling & Frosting
  2. To make the filling: preheat the oven to 350F/176C. Spread the coconut out onto 1 - 2 sheet pans. The coconut should sit in a single, even layer to toast evenly. Place in the oven for 7 - 8 minutes, or until golden-brown, tossing halfway through. Set aside to cool completely on the sheet pan. Place a fine-mesh strainer into a medium-sized container.
  3. Combine the coconut milk and ¼ t. salt in a saucepan and place over medium heat. In a large bowl, whisk together 115 g. sugar and the cornstarch to blend. Add the eggs and whisk until completely smooth. When the coconut milk comes to a strong simmer, remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla. Temper the egg mixture by ladling in a bit of the hot milk while whisking. Repeat this 2 - 3 time before combining both in the saucepan. Whisk over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened, 5 - 7 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and immediately whisk in the coconut oil until completely incorporated. Strain the cream into the prepared container and cover with plastic wrap pressed directly onto the surface. Chill completely in the refrigerator before using.
  5. To make the frosting (should be done immediately before building the cake): Set 2" water to simmer in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat. Combine the egg whites, 350 g. sugar and ¼ t. salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk to combine and set on top of the saucepan with simmering water. Make sure the water isn't boiling too hard and that the flames do not reach up the side of the mixer bowl. Whisk constantly until the mixture is hot to the touch (160F/71C) and the sugar/salt is dissolved completely. Reach your fingers in and make sure you feel absolutely no granules. Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip on medium-high speed until stiff peaks are achieved, 5 - 7 minutes.
  6. To assemble: Place one of the cakes on an elevated cake stand (revolving models make this much easier, but its not necessary). Using a sharp, serrated knife, split the cake horizontally into 2 layers. Set aside and repeat with the remaining cake. Starting with one layer (choose any but one of the bottoms) and spoon on about a third (approx. ¾ c.) of the pastry cream and spread evenly to the edge. Sprinkle on about an ounce of the toasted coconut. Repeat with the remaining layers, ending up with one of the sharp, bottom layers, on top. Spread the meringue on the outside of the cake with an offset spatula until completely covered. Grab handfuls of the remaining, toasted coconut and cover the surface of the meringue (I use a combination of sprinkling and throwing actions), until it is all used up.
  7. Serve the cake immediately, or keep in an airtight container, refrigerated for up to 3 days.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

2 Reviews

eluu May 31, 2021
Best, simplest, and easiest coconut layer cake I've made. Fit for a family birthday party (first attempt), or for a mom hiding away in the bathtub to indulge in peace, repose, and well-deserved gluttony (future attempt).
deneen August 15, 2015
I typically avoid baking cakes. There are too many variables that can go wrong - mainly the cake sticking to the pan. This cake will most likely be the one that will change all that. If you're a coconut lover, you'll want to make this cake & as quickly as possible, devour it with complete abandon. The crumb is perfect, the coconut pastry cream is luscious & the meringue is the only logical way to frost this beast of a cake.
Be warned, this makes a massive cake, so invite friends...or not & eat the entire thing while taking a bubble bath. That's the kind of treatment this cake deserves.