Y’all know I don’t back down from a cooking or baking challenge, right? So when my husband’s birthday came around during quarantine this year and he said he wanted coconut cake this year, I got to work. He thought I would just Instacart a slice of coconut cake from the grocery store – which is really just white birthday cake with coconut frosting – does he KNOW me???
Of course I was going to make him authentic coconut cake, with coconut frosting, from scratch. So I got to work. I immediately added coconut extract, sweetened coconut flakes, cake flour and canned coconut milk to my grocery delivery for the week. I can’t stress enough how important these ingredients are. Each one serves its own, very important purpose in making this coconut cake, dreamy, tropical cake heaven. They’re linked below if you have any trouble finding them in your local grocery store.
This recipe results in a flavorful, moist and light cake that everyone who participated in my husband’s quarantine birthday drive-by loved. It’s next-level coconut flavor that is far more sophisticated and delicious than the store-bought barely coconut flavored cake you would get from the grocery store. Whether you love coconut cake or are just looking for a change from your standard white or yellow cake flavor, this coconut cake is a hit. It’s noticeably coconut in flavor, yet subtle enough to be enjoyable by anyone!
Can’t find cake flour in your grocery store right now? Fear not – click here for my bundt cake with lemon glaze recipe where I share how to make a cake flour substitute yourself with regular flour and corn starch.
Enjoy and make sure you tag me on instagram (@yolandekelly) when you make it!
- 2 and 1/2 cups sifted cake flour – spooned into the measuring cup and leveled off.
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) softened unsalted butter
- 1 and 2/3 cups granulated sugar
- 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon coconut extract
- 1 cup canned coconut milk, at room temperature (not the kind in a box or carton)
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- One 8 ounce block of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 5 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 2 Tablespoons canned coconut milk
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
For later, set aside:
- 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 350°F . Grease two round, 9-inch cake pans line with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper and set aside. Using parchment paper ensures the cakes will release from the pans easily. If you don’t have parchment paper, simply grease and flour your pans well.
In a large bowl, whisk your cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together and set aside.
Beat your butter and sugar together using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed to make sure the ingredients are well-combined.
Add your egg whites and beat until combined.
Then add your sour cream, vanilla extract, and coconut extract. Beat until combined. The mixture may look curdled due to the different textures and solid butter combining. Don’t worry.
With your mixer on low speed, slowly add your dry ingredients and coconut milk to your wet mixture. Continue to beat on low speed until combined.
Turn your mixer off, add 1 cups of your shredded coconut. Fold the coconut in with a spatula and scrape your bowl down one more time.
Use a whisk to stir everything together by hand making sure there are no lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be slightly thick.
Pour batter evenly into cake pans. If you have a food scale you can weigh them to ensure accuracy
Bake for around 24-26 minutes or until the cakes are baked through. Test doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cakes, if it comes out clean, they’re done.
Place the cake pans on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before removing from the pans.
While your cakes cool, let’s make the frosting: In a large bowl using your electric mixer again, beat your cream cheese and bitter together on medium speed until well-combined, creamy and smooth. About 2 minutes.
Add your confectioners’ sugar, coconut milk, vanilla extract, coconut extract, and salt while the mixer is running on low speed. Then increase the speed to high and beat for 3 minutes.
(Note: If the frosting is too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar, 1tbsp at a time. If it’s too thick, then add a splash more coconut milk. Lastly add an extra pinch of salt if your frosting is too sweet.)
Assemble and decorate: Using a large serrated knife (like a bread knife), slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or plate.
Frost the top of your first cake layer with about 2 cups of frosting. Then place the second cake layer on top.
Sprinkle coconut on top of the cake and apply it to the sides right away, before the frosting begins to set.
Place the cake in the refrigerate cake for at least 20 minutes to set before slicing.