Coconut Cake

This is the very best Coconut Cake Recipe EVER! It’s moist, fluffy, and soft, with the perfect amount of coconut flavor all topped with creamy coconut buttercream frosting!

Coconut cake sliced on a plate

My Favorite Coconut Cake Recipe!

Today’s recipe is a MEGA CLASSIC! It’s a cake recipe that I LOVE making, but have to get out of the house instantly, or I will eat the entire thing. AND it’s not exactly health food.

This Coconut Cake is what cake dreams are made of. It’s rustic and casual looking, but it’s special enough to serve on holidays, birthdays, or to guests. This, along with my Hummingbird Cake are my go-to cake recipes I make when I want to impress.

Slicing a Coconut Cake

The cake itself is soft, fluffy, and moist and the frosting is creamy coconut buttercream! A lot of coconut cakes have cream cheese frosting, but I prefer mine with coconut buttercream. It’s fluffy and sweet, and partners with the cake texture in a gorgeous way. Cake dreams are happening today, lads. Get your mixer ready!

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How To Make Homemade Coconut Cake

Let’s talk about the details. I always sigh when I need to make a layer cake. I much prefer a sheet cake, baked in a 9×13 pan. It’s less fussy, easy to frost, and you generally can serve it right out of the pan! And ps – you CAN make this in a 9×13! I’ll get to that in a minute.

BUT there is just something about a layer cake…wouldn’t you agree? It just makes more of an impact, and let’s be honest…it’s just prettier. Plus it’s really not THAT much more work!

The cake batter is pretty straight forward, but there are a few steps I want to talk about…

Why Do You Whisk the Egg Whites?

So when you read the recipe for this coconut cake, you will notice that you separate the eggs. In a lot of cake recipes you toss the yolks, but I hate that waste, so in my recipe I use both…just at different times. Let me talk about why:

  • Eggs in baking contribute structure building proteins. The proteins along with the starch from the flour forms the crumb of the cake as it bakes.
  • The yolks in eggs have protein, but also fat, flavor and emulsifying lecithin. The emulsifiers hold water and fat together, which in turns creates a moister cake. So over the years I’ve realized I don’t like to leave the yolks out! I’ve made cakes before that just use whipped whites, and I always find them to be slightly dry with less flavor.
  • But you can’t leave the whites out! The egg whites, when separated and whipped act as a leavener. They will lighten up the texture of the batter, and in turn the cake as it’s baked!

Do You HAVE To Whip the Egg Whites?

The short answer is no. You can make this cake and omit that step completely. BUT you will be left with a denser, tighter crumb.

The magic of this cake is the tender, fluffiness, so I absolutely recommend whisking the whites separately. Just give it a try!

Coconut Cake On a Cake Stand

What Kind of Frosting Do You Use on Coconut Cake?

Honestly you could put just about any frosting on this cake and it would work! The coconut flavor is mild enough that it could be paired with lots of other flavors!

Traditionally, I have seen coconut cake made with cream cheese frosting, and yes, that’s delicious, but I actually prefer Coconut Buttercream on mine!!

Here are a few other frosting options:

  • Creamy Chocolate Frosting. Think about an Almond Joy! Garnish it with sliced almonds and you’ve created an entirely new cake!
  • Cream Cheese Frosting. If you still love the idea of cream cheese frosting on this cake, grab the recipe from my Hummingbird Cake and use it here!
  • Roasted Strawberry Buttercream. Pairing strawberry and coconut isn’t the norm, but I bet it would be DELICIOUS!

How Can You Make This in a 9×13 pan?

This cake easily can be made in a sheet style pan instead of as a layer cake! Just coat a 9×13 pan with baking spray, and spread all of your batter in evenly. Increase the baking temperature to 350°F, and bake for 35-40 minutes!

Alternately you can cake make cupcakes as well by baking at 350°F for 18-20 minutes.

Coconut Cake With a Bite Taken Out

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Coconut Cake

  • Author: Shelly
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: serves 12 1x
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: Dessert

Description:

This Coconut Cake is the best you will ever have! It’s fluffy and soft with creamy coconut buttercream frosting!


Ingredients:

Cake

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs, room temperature*, separated
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, room temperature
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut for garnish

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Coat 3, 9- inch round cake pans with baking spray. Cut 3 parchment rounds to fit in the bottoms of the pans. Place the parchment in the pan and coat again with baking spray. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine the oil, butter, and sugar together on medium speed until well blended. Add egg yolks, one at a time until combined and smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add in coconut extract, vanilla extract, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and mix for 30 more seconds or until combined.
  3. Turn the mixer to low and add in the flour and buttermilk in alternating additions, beginning and ending with flour. Mix until combined and smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Stir in the coconut. Set batter aside.
  4. In a clean mixing bowl combine the egg whites and the cream of tartar. Using the whisk attachment on your mixer beat the egg whites for 6-7 minutes on medium speed until stiff peaks form.
  5. Fold the egg whites into the cake batter until evenly combined. Divide the batter between the 3 cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  6. Cool the cakes in the pan for 10 minutes and then transfer the cakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. To make the frosting, combine the butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low for 30 seconds. Add in the milk, coconut extract, and vanilla extract. Turn the mixer up to medium speed and beat for 1-2 minutes until creamy, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add in more milk 1-tablespoon at a time if a creamier consistency is desired.
  8. To assemble place one cake on a cake plate. Top with about 1 1/2 cups of frosting and spread evenly using an off-set spatula. Top with another cake layer and repeat the process. Finally frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.
  9. Press the coconut into the frosting to garnish.

Notes:

*Make sure your eggs are room temperature to ensure maximum volume when beating the egg whites. Store airtight at room temperature for up to 3 days Nutrition Facts include frosting and coconut garnish.

Keywords:: cookies and cups, coconut cake, coconut recipe, cake recipe, coconut, buttercream

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Hi! I’m Shelly and I’m an addict. Of the buttercream sort. I started this site a few years ago as a way to justify my sugary, buttery obsession with desserts. It has worked out well for me so far, because as it turns out you guys all love sugary, buttery desserts too! It feels good to know you're not alone, doesn’t it?

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12 Responses
  1. arj

    This looks beautiful.Coconut cake in our family is a tradition, but we frost with 7-minute frosting, a cooked frosting that is as light as air, glossy, and beautiful, then we press the coconut all over the cake. I love your cake recipe and technique for separating the yolk and white, and the addition of coconut extract, which I haven’t tried. I plan to make your cake recipe, but stick with the 7-minute frosting. Thanks for a great step-by-step recipe!

  2. Amanda

    Hi Shelly 🙂

    I’d like to make this into cupcakes for a baby shower this coming weekend. Do you think it would yield 12 cupcakes or more? Also, any ideas on how to adjust the cooking time for cupcakes?

    Thanks!
    Amanda

  3. Valerie

    I can’t wait to try this! You mentioned it can be done in a 13×9 and you’d “get to it later” but I didn’t see it mentioned again. Likewise, what about cupcakes? Would that change temp? I assume less baking time. Thanks!

  4. Lv2ck94

    Hi Shelly! The coconut cake looks incredible! I can’t wait to try it. What kind of coconut extract do you use? Some of them have an unpleasant, artificial taste.

    1. Shelly

      I totally agree… and I’ve found that the trick is not adding too much. Just enough for a subtle coconut flavor. It’s a very fine line! I am confident about the measurements in this recipe, but I definitely recommend adding less and increasing the amount as needed if you are sensitive to the taste! AND with all that said, I just used regular old McCormicks!

Leave a Reply

Shelly Hi! I’m Shelly and I’m an addict. Of the buttercream sort. I started this site a few years ago as a way to justify my sugary, buttery obsession with desserts. It has worked out well for me so far, because as it turns out you guys all love sugary, buttery desserts too! It feels good to know you're not alone, doesn’t it?

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