Coconut Layer Cake

April 27, 2021
10 Ratings
Photo by Yossy Arefi
  • Makes one 8- or 9-inch, 4-layer cake
Author Notes

An ethereally light cake soaked with coconut and rum syrup, filled with Swiss buttercream, and coated with a generous amount of crisp and nutty toasted coconut flakes. Use 8-inch pans for an impressively tall cake: A 9-inch cake will be just as nice, but a bit shorter in stature. Adapted from Tyler Florence's Towering Coconut Layer Cake. —Yossy Arefi

What You'll Need
  • For the cake:
  • 10 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup canola or grapeseed oil
  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • For the coconut rum syrup and buttercream:
  • Coconut Rum Syrup:
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rum
  • 1/3 cup shredded or flaked coconut
  • Buttercream:
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 pound unsalted butter, soft but cool
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
  • 2 1/2 cups flaked coconut, toasted
  1. For the cake: Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter four 8-inch or 9-inch cake pans. Line the pans with parchment rounds, then butter and flour the pans and paper.
  2. In a stand mixer, combine the 10 whole eggs, 1 1/2 cups sugar, and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract. Beat on high until the mixture nearly triples in volume, 7 to 10 minutes. Note: This filled the bowl of my kitchen aid mixer, nearly to the top.
  3. With the mixer on, slowly stream in the oil until well mixed. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour and salt together.
  4. Gently fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture until well mixed. (You may need to transfer the egg mixture to a large mixing bowl to do this, and it’s always best to use a big, wide bowl when folding ingredients together to lower your chances of deflating the batter too much.)
  5. Divide the batter between the pans and tap them lightly on the counter to remove any large bubbles. Bake the cakes until they are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let the cakes cool in their pans, on a rack, until cool to the touch, then turn them out onto the rack, and remove the parchment. Let cool completely.
  6. For the syrup: Combine the water and 1/3 cup sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the sugar dissolves then stir in the rum and shredded coconut. Let the mixture cool completely before using.
  7. For the buttercream: Combine the egg whites and 1 1/4 cups sugar in a glass or stainless steel bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk the mixture constantly until the sugar dissolves and is hot to the touch. Remove from the heat and whip on high speed until light and fluffy and the meringue has cooled to room temperature.
  8. Turn the mixer down to medium and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, until all of the butter is incorporated. If the buttercream curdles at any point, turn the mixer up to high and whip until it emulsifies. Add the extracts and a pinch of salt.
  9. To assemble: Place one cake layer on a serving plate or pedestal. Brush with the syrup and scatter 1/3 of the syrup-moistened coconut over the top. Spread with about 1 cup of frosting, repeat with two more cake layers, then top with the final layer. Spread the remaining frosting over the cake, smooth the top and press the toasted coconut flakes into the sides.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • onceuponadcist
  • LIsa Tillery
    LIsa Tillery
  • Home
  • cosmiccook
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 &

8 Reviews

onceuponadcist July 12, 2023
Can I use a tube pan? How would you adjust the bake time?
LIsa T. April 3, 2021
The cake was wonderfully lite and delicious with an amazing consistancy but the buttercream was way too buttery and not sweet at all. I don't know if that is how it supposed to taste but I ended up adding 2 cups of powdered sugar to make it palatable and then covered it with a mixture of sweetened shredded coconut and larger chunkier coconut. Delicious
Home March 26, 2021
I think there must be something wrong with this recipe. The buttercream frosting usually has powdered sugar. It was greasy. Really, I love cakes and this was just very average at best.
cosmiccook March 27, 2021
True buttercreams--French, Italian, German etc. don't contain powered sugar. That method you are referring to was developed as a quick, easy alternative to the more involved ones such as in this recipe. Do try to look up the various reasons why the meringue turned greasy--it DOES happen--maybe swap out w a different one. They really are far superior in taste than the "American" meringue.
cosmiccook March 21, 2021
Can you use coconut oil instead of a neutral?
Aburton November 16, 2018
is the syrup and the syrup-moistened coconut different? "Brush with the syrup and scatter 1/3 of the syrup-moistened coconut over the top."
Lydia January 20, 2017
This is a wonderful recipe! I was looking for something fancy but traditional, and it was surprisingly hard to track down exactly that. Here it is! Perfect as is, but I was tempted to fill with a quick lime curd out of the extra yolks...Next time/for a different birthday girl. Thank you!
cosmiccook March 18, 2024
YUM lime curd! Talk about putting the lime in the coconut!