Make Ahead

Coconut Cake

July 26, 2015
2 Ratings
Photo by Laura Dembowski
  • Serves 10
Author Notes

I always dreamed of towering coconut cakes, so I worked on my own recipe and finally perfected it. It's perfect for entertaining! —Laura Dembowski

What You'll Need
  • Cake
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 7 large eggs separated
  • 3 additional egg whites
  • 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped, seeds and pods resevered
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar, for syrup
  • 1/4 cup water, for syrup
  • reserved vanilla pod, for syrup
  • Frosting and Assembly
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 5 egg whites
  • 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 2 cups flaked, unsweetened coconut, toasted
  1. Cake
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 8 or 9 inch cake pans. Line the bottom with parchment and butter and flour the entire pan.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and coconut.
  4. In a large bowl stir together egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla bean seeds until fully combined and slightly lightened in color and increased in volume. Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts and the oil. Mix until fully combined.
  5. In a large bowl, beat egg whites using a hand mixer on medium-high until frothy. This whole process takes awhile and could also be done using a stand mixer – I just knew I was using mine for frosting later. Add the cream of tartar and continue mixing until stiff but not dry peaks have formed.
  6. Add the flour mixture into the egg yolk mixture and stir until combined. Add ⅓ of the egg whites and carefully and gently fold in using a rubber spatula. Fold in the remainder of the egg whites. Divide the batter as evenly as possible among the 2 pans and bake, rotating halfway through if necessary, for about 25 minutes. Cakes may be made one day ahead of time and stored in an air tight container at room temperature. Allow cakes to cool completely in pans.
  7. Make the syrup. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring water, sugar, and vanilla bean pod to a boil, stirring frequently and cook until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool completely.
  1. Frosting and Assembly
  2. Make the frosting. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, water, and corn syrup over medium heat, stirring frequently until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once this happens, stop stirring, attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, and allow the mixture to come to 240 degrees F on the thermometer. In the meantime, place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on medium-high until foamy. Once foamy, add the cream of tartar and continue beating on medium-high until stiff peaks form. Be sure not to over whip the egg whites or they will become dry.
  3. Once the eggs are whipped and the syrup is at 240, turn the eggs to medium-low, immediately remove the syrup from the heat, and begin slowly and steadily drizzling it into the eggs. If the syrup is ready before the eggs, it can be turned down or removed from the heat while the eggs finish, before being replaced on the heat to bring to temperature. If the eggs are ready before the syrup, stop mixing them until the syrup is almost ready. Turn them back to medium-high briefly before turning them back down and adding the syrup.
  4. Once the syrup has all been added, turn the mixer back to medium-high and beat the frosting (what is basically marshmallow crème and is delectable all by itself) for 10-13 minutes until the bottom of the bowl is barely warm or at room temperature. It is important for it to not be too warm or the next step will not work.
  5. Once cooled, add the butter a couple tablespoons at a time, allowing each addition to incorporate before adding another. Scrape down the bowl occasionally. Once all the butter is incorporated, add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix to combine. Remove the bowl from the mixer and mix briefly by hand to make sure there are no clumps of butter. If the frosting is a bit soupy (because it was too warm when the butter was added) stick it in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes, beat it again with the stand mixer. It should come together.
  6. Assemble the cake. Place one cake on a cake plate. Using a serrated knife, cut the cake in half horizontally. Place the top half on a plate or back in the pan. Leave the bottom half on the cake stand. Drizzle with some of the vanilla syrup and cover with frosting. Place the top half of the cake on top, drizzle with syrup, and cover with frosting. Repeat with other cake. Cover the entire cake with frosting, including the sides. Once frosted, gently press the toasted coconut onto the sides of the cake and serve. May be stored at room temperature for up to 2 hours. May be stored in the refrigerator up to 2 days or frozen in pieces, wrapped in plastic and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for about 2 hours.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Laura Dembowski
    Laura Dembowski
  • emilee kunas
    emilee kunas

2 Reviews

emilee K. January 25, 2019
Help! I just made this batter and it is incredibly thick? Is that normal? I double checked the recipe and i'm quite sure I followed it as the directions state. Any ideas or tips?
Laura D. February 9, 2019
Hi Emilee! I am sorry I just saw this. I hope the cake turned out okay. The batter definitely is not thin, but if it was overly thick, perhaps you overwhipped the egg whites and they became dry. Baking is so finicky, it's hard to say what may have gone wrong.