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This dreamy Coconut Layer Cake has 3 layers of fluffy yellow cake, a coconut soaking syrup, a coconut filling, AND is covered with cream cheese frosting coated with…you guessed it…coconut!
So I heard it might be cold where you live! Being a California wussy, I’m not really familiar with cold weather, but I’ve seen movies and read books about this substance you call “snow” and apparently it comes from the sky and is quite chilly and it requires you to wear cute boots and sassy scarves? Sounds delightful!
Since I’m not regularly exposed to the real thing, I decided to make a snowy coconut cake instead, so we could feel like we’re walking through a winter wonderland! Or eating a winter wonderland. Or walking through a winter wonderland where fully assembled cakes randomly appear on the ground right in front of you…I don’t know…the metaphor kind of breaks down as soon as you start thinking about it.
The important thing, though, is that I ended up with a gorgeous, delicious coconut cake, and also that I never have to shovel snow from my walk or defrost my car windows. Joy to the world!
This cake features three layers of soft yellow cake, brushed with a coconut milk soaking syrup. The filling is a soft and sticky coconut filling (think the interior of an Almond Joy, only more moist) and it’s frosted with a cream cheese frosting, and covered—of course—in a thick, shaggy layer of shredded coconut.
Although coconut is not a traditional December flavor, this still makes a great holiday cake. It’s large and substantial, so it can feed quite the hungry crowd. It keeps well, so it can be made several days in advance and served without losing much moisture or flavor. And although it has several components, the actual assembly and decorating is really simple—there are few cake mistakes that handfuls of coconut cannot cover up! Seriously—throw it on a cake stand, scatter some pine cones around, and your guests will be cooing about your maaaaahvelous holiday coconut cake!
The Best Coconut Brownies
Coconut Layer Cake
For the Cake:
- 13 1/2 oz all-purpose flour, (3 cups)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 8 oz unsalted butter, (1 cup), at room temperature
- 14 oz granulated sugar, (2 cups)
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup evaporated milk
For the Coconut Soaking Syrup:
- 1/2 cup coconut milk, sweetened
- 1 3/4 oz granulated sugar, (1/4 cup)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Coconut Filling:
- 8 oz heavy cream, (1 cup)
- 5 1/4 oz granulated sugar, (3/4 cup)
- 3 oz unsalted butter, (6 tbsp)
- 7 1/2 oz sweetened shredded coconut, (2 cups)
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Cream Cheese Buttercream and Assembly:
- 1 lb cream cheese, at room temperature
- 4 oz unsalted butter, (1/2 cup), at room temperature
- 8 oz powdered sugar, (2 cups)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 7 1/2 oz sweetened shredded coconut, (2 cups), for topping
To Make the Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line three 9-inch cake pans with parchment circles, and spray the pans with nonstick cooking spray. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside for now.
- Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted wit ha paddle attachment, or use a hand-held electric beater. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla extract.
- Turn the mixer to low speed and add a third of the dry ingredients. When they’re mostly incorporated add half the evaporated milk, then half of the remaining flour. Finish by adding the rest of the milk, then the rest of the flour. Mix until the batter is smooth, then scrape down the bottom and sides with a spatula.
- Divide the batter into the three pans (if you want to weigh it out, each pan gets about 16.67 oz batter). Tap the pan a few times firmly on the counter top to level the batter and knock out any air bubbles. Place the pans on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when touched. Cool the cake in the pans until completely cool. In the meantime, prepare the glaze, filling, and frosting.
To Make the Coconut Soaking Syrup:
- In a small bowl, stir together the coconut milk, sugar, and vanilla; set aside.
To Make the Coconut Filling:
- Combine the cream, sugar, and butter in a large pot and place over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced and slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut, cornstarch, and vanilla. Cool and then store in the refrigerator until ready to use. If you need to cool it down quickly, spread it into a thin layer on a baking sheet and press a layer of cling wrap on top, and refrigerate until completely cool and thick.
To Make the Cream Cheese Buttercream:
- Place the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or use a handheld electric beater. Beat on medium speed until very smooth and lump-free, about 2 minutes. Stop the machine periodically to scrape off the paddle and sides of the bowl. While beating, gradually sprinkle in the powdered sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and continue to mix until combined.
- When the cakes are cool, turn them out of the pans, remove the parchment paper, and trim any uneven edges. Place one cake on your serving platter or a cardboard cake round. With a pastry brush, coat all of the cakes with the coconut soaking syrup.
- Put some of the frosting in a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip, or a large plastic bag with a hole cut in the corner. Pipe a circle around the outer edge of the cake on the serving tray, and fill the center with half of the coconut filling. The frosting circle will act as a moat and keep the coconut filling from leaking out. Top it with another cake round, and repeat the frosting and filling procedure a second time. Place the third cake round on top, and frost the top and sides of the cake with the rest of the cream cheese frosting. Generously cover the top and sides of the cake with shredded coconut. Refrigerate the cake for at least 45 minutes before cutting and serving.
Our recipes are developed using weight measurements, and we highly recommend using a kitchen scale for baking whenever possible. However, if you prefer to use cups, volume measurements are provided as well. PLEASE NOTE: the adage “8 oz = 1 cup” is NOT true when speaking about weight, so don’t be concerned if the measurements don’t fit this formula.Click here to learn more about baking measurements and conversion.
Hello from (very) snowy Canada! Agreed – this cake looks like a big puff ball of snow. Before it gets all grungy on the ground in the middle of the city. Definitely the best cake for all snow-or-no-snow holidays! This one will definitely be on my Christmas table.
I’ve been looking for this recipe!!
Thanks! Looks delish.
Hope I win the whole recipe book.
Man, does that look good…..Got it pinned to try it out….Thanks for sharing..
Cake looks wonderful and I like the lemon curd suggestion. Wish me luck because I want this book,bad.
I found this recipe through Pinterest. Coconut cake is my favorite and I can’t wait to make this!
Ooooooh coconut is my fave. This may have to be my first attempt at a layer cake. I miss Lemonade so much since my move to Philly.
The cake looks so good. I’ve made a coconut cake before, but always looking for different recipes. I’m going to try making this one for Christmas.
Oh wow, I go on a blog fast for a week and missed this bad boy? Now I have go to see what other treats you’ve whipped up in the meantime. Be still, my beating heart, watering mouth and growling stomach.
I wish my husband didn’t hate coconut! I’ll have to think of an excuse to make this! It looks amazing 🙂
Oh and I definitely want to win that cook book!
I can assure you there is nothing, absolutely nothing, delightful about snow, cold, winter, ice. None of it. I am doing my best to move to CA! It won’t stop snowing here in MI 🙁 But I love coconut cake. It probably my favorite dessert, and that filling is calling my name!
I have just found your site and have posted it on my Pinterest site. I just had hand surgury and this is such an enjoyable site. Thank you for making the world a little sweeter!
I loved the picture of the coconut cake so much that I made it. What a delicious cake. I’ll be sure to serve it again and again. I love lemons in most dessert recipes and would be thrilled to win THE LEMONADE COOKBOOK. Your site is amazing.
June, I’m so glad to hear you made the cake and enjoyed it! We scarfed it down too–a definite winner! Thanks for visiting. 🙂
I cannot find “sweetened” coconut milk anywhere…I bought a can of coconut milk…any suggestions or is the 1/4 cup sugar in the recipe enough to sweeten it?
Hey Teresa, I think it should probably be fine! The purpose of the syrup is to give the cake moisture and little more coconut flavor. I would suggest tasting it before applying to the cake and if you would like it sweeter you could always whisk in a little more sugar. However I think it should work great as is!:) I would love to hear how it goes once you give it a try!
I absolutely LOVE coconut cake! Looks delish! Can’t wait to try the recipe myself. In fact, I would love to try all of the recipes in the cookbook!
Good luck to all who has entered!
I need to make this coconut cake for my dad….it look yummy… If I am a cookbook winner – I will be overjoyed!
What a lovely cake. So elegant. Can’t wait to make it. The coconut buttercream frosting sounds delicious.
This looks like a great cookbook and that cake is gorgeous!
I love Lemonade, such a great place. The cake looks wonderful, I can’t wait to make it. Thanks!
This cake looks moist and delicious I will be trying this for the christmas holiday.
hello. Pity that your recipes are written in cups. I am from Europe and I simply don’t have time to convert in grams each time I make a recipe. Perhaps you could try to consider giving alternatives to your Europe future fans? Thanks in advance!
Hi Monica, I completely agree! This recipe is from 4 years ago, and back then I was still stuck in cups-land. My more recent recipes do offer a metric conversion tool, but unfortunately all of the old recipes need to have this enabled manually, and there are hundreds and hundreds of them. My goal is to one day have every recipe in both metric and imperial, but it’s a long process. 🙂
Sweetened or unsweetened coconut milk??
Hey Andrea, sorry about the confusion! It should be sweetened coconut milk. I will change that in the recipe! I would love to hear how it goes once you give it a try!
Hey Elizabeth, thanks for your reply. I am so excited to make this cake for Easter. I have contemplated that whole process for so long, and it looks delis! I have enjoyed so many of your amazing recipes which you so generously share. But, I have never actually baked a cake in my life. Kindof feels indulgent without many guests to share it with. I am a little intimidated, but very excited. So, here goes!! Cheers to you for sharing a wealth of knowledge! Happy Easter and I will report back soon.
Since I am a complete novice, what is your opinion of silicone cake pans? Thank you, I value your experience.
Hey one more question: the icing around the edge of each cake layer, it that on top edges?