This Coconut Cake is a coconut lover’s dream! It isn’t just a white cake with coconut frosting but is infused with 3 types of coconut for ultimate coconut bliss!
This homemade Coconut Cake will be the hit of Easter and every other occasion! Its unbelievably light and tender thanks to a unique Baker’s Illustrated mixing method and is infused with coconut through and through. It’s smothered in a thick cream cheese Coconut Frosting then cocooned in toasted coconut. And the best part is you can make the entire cake beforehand and freeze it, then just pull it out a few hours before your Easter festivities for stunningly delicious, stress free easy Coconut Cake!
Can you believe Easter is just around the corner?! It falls on April 1st this year so it’s sneaking up on us which means it’s time to break out all those spring desserts! When I think Spring desserts, I think Coconut Cake – yesssss! As well as Coconut Banana Cream Pie, Lemon Blueberry Cake, Carrot Cake with Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting, Strawberry Shortcakes, Blueberry Cheesecake Pie, Key Lime Cheesecake Dip and on and on. Bring on spring!
Looking for More Easter Cake Recipes?
- Cream Cheese Stuffed Carrot Cake
- Lemon Poke Cake
- Strawberry Cream Cheese Pound Cake
- Chocolate Covered Strawberry Pound Cake
- Blueberry Muffin Cake
Now, are you ready for the Best Coconut Cake recipe you’ll ever try? I can say that without being completely arrogant – just confident – because this recipe is slightly adapted form Baker’s Illustrated but with my own frosting. And we all know Baker’s Illustrated knows their stuff. They tested and tested using coconut milk, coconut cream and cream of coconut and finally landed on this buttery, coconut flavored, easy moist Coconut Cake recipe that is the softest cake you will ever make!
I sent this Coconut Cake to work with my husband after photographing (which I, of course, regretted because I wanted to face plant into more Coconut Cake) and he said they devoured it in minutes with rave reviews. And you will get nothing but rave reviews and people begging you for this Coconut Cake recipe. So let’s get to it!
How do you make homemade coconut cake?
Coconut Cake is wildly delicious and pretty straightforward but I’ve included some tips and tricks to make your life easier and to ensure you end up with the Best Coconut Cake humanly possible!
Prevent Sticking: To prevent any sticking issues, be sure to generously grease and flour your pans as this is a very moist cake and will want to stick. By using parchment paper in the bottom of our pans we eliminate much of that issue. I personally am a big fan of cooking spray WITH flour and use this instead of buttering and flouring my pans and I’ve never had a problem with cakes sticking.
Don’t substitute cream of coconut. We beat our egg, egg whites together in a medium bowl with cream of coconut, water, and coconut extract and vanilla extract. If you aren’t familiar with cream of coconut, I have detailed it below. DON’T be tempted to substitute it unless substituting with your own homemade cream of coconut.
Use a bowl/cup with a spout. I prefer to beat these liquid ingredients in a medium measuring cup with a spout because we are going to be pouring this mixture into our dry mixture which naturally makes it way easier to pour. It’s about 2 cups in volume so you can plan accordingly.
Why Cake Flour? We combine our cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer and mix on low to combine. Cake flour helps us to achieve a light and tender crumb because it has less protein which becomes gluten, which means less structure which means a lighter cake.
Make your own Cake Flour. Cake flour can be found in the baking section of your grocery store with all the other flours. If you want to make your own cake flour for this recipe then combine 2 cups all-purpose flour with ¼ cup + ½ tablespoon cornstarch and sift together.
Don’t microwave your butter. We mix our butter into the flour mixture one piece at a time until it resembles coarse meal. It is important that the butter be softened at room temperature and not microwaved because we want the coolest butter possible while still being soft.
This mixing method differs wildly from the traditional method of creaming butter and sugar and is the same method I used in my pillowy soft White Cake With Cranberry Frosting. This method comes from Baking Illustrated who conducted dozens of experiments to find the best mixing method. They found that instead of creaming the butter and sugar as usual, if you work the butter into the flour and then whisk in the liquid ingredients, you don’t get an overglutenized cake that can be dry and riddled with small holes, but instead achieve a wonderfully velvety, soft, moist, tender cake. And they were right. Thank you Baking Illustrated.
Get rid of air bubbles. Next, we divide our batter between 2 9-inch cake pans and drop on the counter a few times to get rid of any air bubbles.
Don’t open oven door. You will know your cakes are done when they have pulled away from the sides of the pans and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Don’t be tempted to open the door while baking before 25 minutes as this can cause your cakes to fall in the center.
Don’t microwave butter or cream cheese for frosting! The frosting is pretty straight forward but one word of caution – use room temperature – NEVER MICROWAVED butter and cream cheese! I used to wonder why my frostings were runny and then I read that you should never microwave butter or cream cheese for frosting – and it has made all the difference!
How to thicken frosting. If your frosting is runny for whatever reason, then you can stick it in the refrigerator to thicken up. You can also mix in additional powdered sugar (and a dash of salt to balance it) but I would be very cautious about doing this as this can make the frosting overly sweet.
How to Toast Coconut
Once our homemade Coconut Cakes emerge glorious from the oven and are cooling, we are ready to toast our coconut because every Best Coconut Cake needs toasted coconut! The oven toasting enhances the coconut flavor and brings out the “nuttiness” which is a beautiful juxtaposition against the sweetness.
Toasting coconut in the oven is super easy and will fill your home with the sweet tropical smell of coconut! I prefer the oven method because baking sheets can hold much more coconut than skillets so you can spread the coconut out more evenly. You also don’t have to babysit your oven toasting coconut as much – you just need to stir it a couple times.
- First, increase oven temperature from 325 to 350 degrees F.
- Place shredded coconut evenly on a large baking sheet (a jelly roll pan). If you don’t have a jelly roll pan, a regular size baking sheet will still work just be prepared that your coconut will take longer to toast.
- Toast coconut for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take care to watch the coconut closely towards the end because once it starts to toast, it toasts quickly and can go from golden to burnt easily.
WHAT IS CREAM OF COCONUT VS. COCONUT CREAM?
This easy Coconut Cake is infused with cream of coconut. I was first introduced to Cream of Coconut by my sister on my 30th birthday years ago. She gifted me a basket overflowing with 30 of her favorite things and Cream of Coconut was one of them.
Cream of Coconut is not to be confused with coconut cream. When you open a can of coconut milk (specifically full fat), you will notice the solidified cream that has risen to the top – that is Coconut Cream. I use Coconut Cream in a few recipes such as my Coconut Honey Lime Shrimp and Red Velvet Angel Food Cake with Coconut Cream Frosting.
Cream of Coconut, on the other hand, is a sweetened version of coconut cream boasting an intense sweet coconut flavor. In other words, you are going to want to drink this stuff. It’s lusciously smooth and thick much like sweetened condensed milk. Please do not be tempted to substitute it with coconut milk or coconut cream – the are not the same.
Cream of Coconut is most often used in mixed drinks and can be found near other drink mixers at your grocery store but does NOT contain alcohol. If you have trouble locating it, just ask someone at the store as it is a very common ingredient. There are both liquid and powered forms so just take care you get the liquid form. I use Coco Real Cream of
Coconut in the convenient squeezable form. And if you are looking for more uses of it, try a little stirred into your rice – AH-MAZING!
WHAT GOES BEST WITH COCONUT?
I kept this a straightforward easy Coconut Cake but if you are thinking of jazzing it up, then go for it! You can add flavor to the filling in between the layers such as lemon curd, mango curd, raspberry filling, strawberry filling, pineapple, bananas etc. You can even reserve about 1 cup of the frosting and mix it with the aforementioned flavorings or mix it with strawberry or orange preserves – the possibilities are endless!
CAN YOU FREEZE COCONUT CAKE?
Yes! Don’t you love a dessert you can make beforehand and freeze and simply pull it out a few hours before it’s time to dig in? This method makes dessert time stress free for everyone – especially during the holidays.
To freeze your finished Coconut Cake:
- If you are planning on freezing, then prep/frost your cake on a freezer safe plate/platter.
- Place frosted Coconut Cake with coconut in the freezer until it is firm to the touch.
- Once firm, wrap tightly in plastic wrap then repeat with a second layer of plastic wrap. Next wrap tightly in 1-2 layers of foil until completely sealed.
- If you are freezing individual slices, then place these plastic/foil wrapped slices in a freezer bag. If you are freezing your entire Coconut Cake for an extended period of time, then secure the aluminum foil with freezer tape to prevent freezer burn.
- You can store your Coconut Cake for up to 4 months. You can also wrap and freeze unfrosted layers of Coconut Cake using the same method and frost when you need them.
- To thaw your finished Coconut Cake, remove cake from the freezer and carefully remove the plastic and foil. Allow to thaw for about four hours before serving.
Coconut Cake. Dreams do come true.
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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com
Adapted from Baker’s Illustrated Coconut Cake
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