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Coconut Cake

slices of coconut cake on plates

Based on our vanilla cake recipe, this Coconut Cake has a soft texture and the perfect amount of sweetness with coconut shreds added to the batter and used for decoration. Not to mention the Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting, ah-maze-ing!

top of coconut cake with toasted coconut shreds

Coconut Cake | Perfect for Spring!

If you are a coconut lover, you are going to go crazy for this Coconut Cake. Loaded inside and out with shredded coconut and topping with a coconut cream cheese frosting, it is to die for. You can choose to toast your coconut for some flavor and crunchy texture or leave it plain. Either way, you’re going to be digging into a cake that is soft, light and moist, perfect for Springtime or just because! Try it soon, friends 🙂

top down view of ingredients for coconut cake on a counter

Main Ingredients Needed

You are going to need a lot of pantry staples to make this Coconut Cake, but odds are, that you already have most of them on hand. If not, that okay, there’s nothing a quick trip to the store can’t fix. Here’s what you need:

For the Coconut Cake

  • Flour, Baking Soda, Baking Powder + Salt – these are all of the dry ingredients that fill out and lift the cake to give it the perfect texture. And let’s not forget about the salt which balances all the flavors out.
  • Buttermilk + Vanilla Extract – these two are mixed together for moisture and flavor. If you don’t have buttermilk you can use milk and white vinegar to create soured milk. Use 1 tablespoon of white vinegar for every cup of milk.
  • Sugar, Vegetable Oil + Butter – these three sweeten, add fat and, of course, moisture which creates a soft cake.
  • Eggs + Egg Whites – these are added in one by one and really give a lot of structure to the cake. Not to mention they ensure a light fluffy texture.
  • Shredded Sweetened Coconut – this is added to the batter and used as decoration. You can definitely toast these if desired.

For the Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Butter + Cream Cheese – the two main fats that start out the frosting. Cream cheese brings that signature tangy creaminess.
  • Powdered Sugar – this is used to fill out and sweeten the frosting.
  • Vanilla + Coconut Extract – these two are used as flavorings to the frosting. So good!

Tips + Tricks

Before you start making your Coconut Cake, read through all of my tips and tricks to ensure you get perfect cakes every time.

  • Baking Pans. Be sure to use lighter-colored or even glass baking pans. Darker Teflon pans tend to create darker and more crispy edges to cakes.
  • Use Room Temperature Ingredients. Using room temperature ingredients ensures a smooth, nicely incorporated batter.
  • Do Not Over Bake. Over baking leads to a drier cake. Be sure to bake in the lower 2/3rds of the oven and check with a toothpick, some moist crumbs are okay!
  • Line Baking Pans with Parchment Paper. This makes clean up a breeze. Spray your pans with nonstick cooking spray, line with parchment paper then spritz once more with nonstick cooking spray. Works every time!
  • Cool Completely Before Frosting. If you frost while your cakes are still warm, the frosting will melt. Which is not a good thing. So be patient and cool your cakes!
pouring in flour to a bowl

Coconut Cake Size Variations

You don’t have to make a layered coconut cake if you don’t want to! Try these other sizes out:

  • 9×13 – yields one 9×13 cake. Bake for 30-45 minutes.
  • 8-9 inch Round Cake – yields two cakes of this size. Bake for 30-40 minutes.
  • Cupcakes – yields 24 cupcakes with extra frosting. Bake for 18-20 minutes.
stirring in coconut shreds to cake batter

How to Make Coconut Cake

For full details on how to make Coconut Cake, see the recipe card down below 🙂

1. Preheat + Prep

Preheat the oven. Line your cake pans with parchment paper and/or spray with nonstick cooking spray and set it aside.

2. Mix Dry Ingredients Together

In a large bowl mix dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt) together. Set aside.

3. Mix Buttermilk + Vanilla

In a liquid measuring cup mix together buttermilk and vanilla extract. Set aside.

4. Make Coconut Cake Batter

In another large bowl combine butter, oil, and sugar. One at a time, mix in eggs and egg whites until the mixture becomes fluffy and very light. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix again to ensure a well-mixed base batter.

Starting and ending with the flour mixture, alternate adding in the flour and buttermilk mixtures. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix again.

Fold in the coconut shreds by hand.

5. Divide, Bake + Cool

Evenly divide the cake batter between pans and smooth the tops. Bake in the lower 2/3rds of the oven. The cake is done when you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.

Cool in the cake pans before inverting onto cooling racks. Cool completely before decorating.

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

While your cake layers are cooling you can make the coconut cream cheese frosting!

1. Cream Butter + Cream Cheese

Cream softened butter and room temperature cream cheese together. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix again.

2. Add Powdered Sugar + Extracts

Slowly mix in powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and coconut extract. Once worked in, increase the mixer speed and whip for about a minute. Scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl and mix again. You want a completely smooth frosting.

How to Assemble Coconut Cake

And if this is your first time assembling a layered cake I got your back! Here’s how you do it!

1. Layer + Frost

Place one layer down on a cake stand and top with 3/4 to 1 cup of frosting. Push frosting to the edges being sure to spread evenly.

If you are working with more than two layers, continue to stack and frost layers until all layers are stacked up together with frosting between them.

2. Frost Sides of Cake

With the remaining frosting, frost the outside of the cake. You can use a spatula, an offset spatula, a butter knife, or even the back of a spoon. Start at the top then work your way down.

3. Decorate with Coconut Shreds

Once the whole cake is frosted cover with coconut shreds (toasting them is optional). Refrigerate the coconut cake until you’re ready to serve.

Make-Ahead Instructions

Once cake layers are baked and cooled, wrap individually with plastic wrap and store in the fridge or at room temperature. For the frosting, prepare then cover and refrigerate. When you are ready to assemble, let the frosting come to room temperature then give it a quick mix to loosen it up. Stack layers and frost away!

Freezing Coconut Cake

You can freeze this cake (frosted or unfrosted) for up to 3 months! To thaw, transfer to the fridge overnight then bring everything to room temperature (as stated above) and assemble as normal.

close up of a slice of coconut cake

More Cake Recipes to Try!

Be sure to save this Coconut Cake Recipe, it’s a great one perfect for Springtime or Summertime!

The printable recipe card is down below, enjoy 🙂

slices of coconut cake on plates

Coconut Cake

This Coconut Cake has a soft texture and the perfect amount of sweetness with coconut shreds added to the batter and used for decoration.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 14 servings
Calories 837 kcal

Ingredients
  

For the Coconut Cake

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon real vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup salted butter softened
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 whole large eggs
  • 2 whole egg whites
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded desiccated coconut plus more for decoration

For the Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 cup salted butter very soft but not melted
  • 16 oz cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 pounds powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons coconut extract

Instructions
 

For the Coconut Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line your cake pans with parchment paper and/or spray with nonstick cooking spray and set it aside.
  • In a large bowl mix dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt) together. Set aside.
    dry ingredients in a bowl
  • In a liquid measuring cup mix together buttermilk and vanilla extract. Set aside.
    pouring vanilla into a jar of soured milk
  • In another large bowl combine butter, oil, and sugar. One at a time, mix in eggs and egg whites until the mixture becomes fluffy and very light. This should take about 3 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix again to ensure a well-mixed base batter.
    Starting and ending with the flour mixture, alternate adding in the flour and buttermilk mixtures. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix again.
    pouring in flour to a bowl
  • Fold in the coconut shreds by hand.
    stirring in coconut shreds to cake batter
  • Evenly divide the cake batter between pans and smooth the tops. Bake 30-40 minutes in the lower 2/3rds of the oven. The cake is done when you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
    pouring coconut cake batter into a cake tin
  • Cool 15-20 minutes in the cake pans before inverting onto cooling racks. Cool completely before decorating.

For the Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Cream softened butter and room temperature cream cheese together. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix again.
    bowl with beater covered in cake batter
  • Slowly mix in powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and coconut extract. Once worked in, increase the mixer speed and whip for about a minute. Scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl and mix again. You want a completely smooth frosting.
    cream cheese frosting

To Assemble

  • Place one layer down on a cake stand and top with 3/4 to 1 cup of frosting. Push frosting to the edges being sure to spread evenly.
    baked coconut cake with cream cheese frosting on top of it
  • If you are working with more than two layers, continue to stack and frost layers until all layers are stacked up together with frosting between them.
    cream cheese falling from spatula onto second layer of coconut cake
  • With the remaining frosting, frost the outside of the cake. You can use a spatula, an offset spatula, a butterknife, or even the back of a spoon. Start at the top then work your way down.
    roughly frosted coconut cake on a bright green cake stand
  • Once the whole cake is frosted cover with coconut shreds (toasting them is optional). Refrigerate until you're ready to serve.
    top of coconut cake with toasted coconut shreds

Notes

This Coconut Cake Recipe will make:
  • 1- 9×13 cake (bake for 30-45 minutes)
  • 2- 8 or 9-inch round cakes (30-40 minutes)
  • 24 cupcakes (bake for 18-20 minutes)
Regardless of how you bake this cake recipe, be sure to use lighter-colored baking pans (or glass). Using a darker Teflon will give you darker, crispier edges.

Nutrition

Calories: 837kcalCarbohydrates: 114gProtein: 5gFat: 42gSaturated Fat: 27gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 91mgSodium: 497mgPotassium: 131mgFiber: 1gSugar: 95gVitamin A: 1081IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 86mgIron: 1mg
Keyword coconut cake
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