Moist and fluffy coconut cake is studded with shredded coconut, filled and covered with a luscious coconut frosting made from coconut milk, and adorned with BOTH toasted coconut and sweetened coconut.
This is what I mean. As soon as I think I’ve found my go-to cake recipe that’s customizable for any cake flavor, I test again. And again and again. My latest project? This Fluffy Coconut Cake. Similar to my Mexican Rice, this coconut cake also took years. Not quite a decade, but about two years.
This is the ultimate coconut cake. The cake itself is moist and fluffy and has tons of coconut flavor and coconut shreds. The frosting is smooth and creamy and is made using thick coconut cream and flavored with coconut water. Talk about coconut flavor overload (but in a good way)! Admittedly, I briefly considered filling the cake with lemon curd but ultimately decided to keep it purely coconut.
I flip flopped a lot about how I was going to decorate the cake and ended up using a mix of toasted coconut and shredded coconut. If you want a more southern and traditional look, just cover the entire thing in shredded coconut.
Tips for Success
- Like I mentioned earlier, I used coconut cream in the frosting. To get coconut cream, you’re going to need coconut milk, which you can find in the Asian section at your grocery store. Once you get it home, refrigerate the entire can. Then, right before you begin to make the coconut frosting, open the can WITHOUT SHAKING and scoop out the top layer. That thick and luscious layer is the coconut cream. Let the cream sit at room temperature while you’re making the frosting. When it comes time to add the cream, it will have lost its chill and will blend nicely with the frosting.
- Keep the liquid under the coconut cream. That’s the coconut water. Use it to flavor and thin out the coconut frosting.
- If you decide to frost the entire cake, as opposed to a naked cake, make sure to give it a crumb coat first. That’s cake-speak for applying a thin layer of frosting, roughly applied before the final layer of polished frosting. The crumb coat will catch all of the loose crumbs on the cake so that your final layer of frosting is beautiful and crumb-free.
- 3 cups cake flour, sifted twice
- ⅔ cup nonfat dry milk powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 6 large egg whites, room temperature
- 1 ½ cups milk, room temperature
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon coconut extract
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- ¾ cup sweetened shredded coconut
- 1 can (13.5 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk, chilled, DO NOT SHAKE
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 6 to 6 ½ cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon coconut water plus more if necessary
- Toasted coconut
- Sweetened shredded coconut
Pre-heat oven to 350°F and grease three 6-inch round cake pans.
In a large bowl, whisk together the cake flour, milk powder, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg whites, milk, and extracts.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy, about 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape down the sides and beat for another 30 seconds to combine.
Reduce the speed to low and add a quarter of the flour mixture. Once mostly combined, add a third of the egg mixture. Beat to combine and scrape down the sides. Repeat until all of the egg mixture has been added and ending with the flour mixture.
Once only a few streaks of flour remain, fold in the coconut to combine.
Fill each of the prepared cake pans about ⅔ full. Bake for 28 to 30 minutes, until the center of the cake bounces back when pressed gently, or when a toothpick or skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cool in cake pan for 20 minutes. Run a thin knife of small offset spatula along the side of the pan and invert the cake onto a cooling rack. Flip the cake right side up and let cool completely.
Once cool, level the tops of the cake using a serrated knife.
Open the can of coconut milk WITHOUT SHAKING and scoop out the top coconut cream layer and retain the bottom layer. Set the cream aside at room temperature while proceeding with the following steps.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until pale, smooth, and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides and beat for another 20 seconds. Slowly add 3 cups of sugar, 1 cup at a time, scraping down the sides in between addition.
Add the salt, vanilla, and 1 teaspoon of coconut water. Beat for 10 seconds to combine. Add the coconut cream and beat to combine. It's normal to look curdled. Slowly add 3 more cups of sugar. Beat on high until smooth and a spreadable consistency. If the frosting is too thin, use the remaining ½ cup of sugar to adjust, 1 tablespoon at a time. If too thick, add the coconut water 1 tablespoon at a time.
Fill, frost, and decorate the cake with toasted and shredded coconut as desired. I wrote a detailed tutorial on how to fill and frost a layered cake if you need some help.
Modified from King Arthur Flour
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