Coconut Layer Cake
For Valentine's Day this year I baked a coconut layer cake for Allen and me to indulge in. The first time I made this recipe was for my Winter Wonderland Cake. I love coconut cake and the coconut flavor in this recipe is prominent from the coconut milk, coconut extract, and desiccated coconut. I adapted the Cook's Illustrated white layer cake recipe (link below) into a coconut layer cake. I replaced the milk to coconut milk and used coconut extract instead of almond extract. The coconut frosting is adapted from, The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2010 (pgs. 498-99). This cake is light and moist and has a tender crumb. The coconut taste is superb and the desiccated coconut all over the cake gives it a great texture. I used unsweetened desiccated coconut to cut the sugar content a wee bit. I also substituted granulated sugar for vanilla sugar which also brings out the flavor profile. For the filling, I used raspberry preserves, but you can use strawberry or cherry preserves/filling, pastry cream, coconut curd or whatever you prefer. The preserves bring out the coconut flavor and gives the cake a nice pop of color perfect for Valentine's Day. I wish you and your loved ones a Happy Valentine's Day.
Coconut Cake Ingredients
2 1/4 cups Cake Flour, plus more for pans
4 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Coarse Salt
1 3/4 cups Vanilla Sugar (or Granulated Sugar)
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) Unsalted Butter, softened
1 cup Coconut Milk, canned and room temperature
6 Large Egg Whites, room temperature
2 teaspoons Coconut Extract
1 teaspoon Clear Vanilla Extract
Heat oven to 350°F.
Grease 2 9-inch cake pans, line with parchment paper, grease and sprinkle with cake flour. Tap pans on counter to remove excess cake flour.
In a medium sized bowl whisk together the coconut milk, egg whites, coconut and vanilla extracts; set aside. Take 1/2 cup of the coconut mixture and place it into a small bowl.
Using a mixer with the paddle attachment, mix on low speed the cake flour, baking powder and salt until combined; about 1 minute.
Increase mixer speed to medium and add the softened butter to the flour mixture and beat until it resembles light crumbs; about 1 minute.
Turn mixer to low speed and add all but 1/2 cup of the coconut milk mixture then increase speed to medium and beat until smooth, light and fluffy; about 1-2 minutes.
Scrape sides of the bowl and beat on medium-high speed: about 20 seconds.
Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add the remaining 1/2 cup of the coconut mixture and beat until batter is combined; about 1 minute.
Add the batter evenly into the prepared pans, smooth the tops with a spatula or knife, and lightly tap the pans against the countertops two to four times to settle the batter.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs; 22-25 minutes.
Ovens vary so check the cake at 22 minutes or earlier and adjust the baking time accordingly.
Cool cakes in pans for 10 minutes. Run a small knife around the edge of the cakes.
Cool for 20 more minutes, peel off the parchment paper and flip the cakes right side up onto wire racks lined with parchment paper; cool completely.
Take the cooled cake, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge overnight or wait at least 1 hour if frosting the same day.
If you can chill the cake overnight, it will be easier to frost and not be as crumbly, and the flavors develop more as well.
Raspberry Preserves (or filling of your choice)
Coconut Frosting Ingredients
2 tablespoons Heavy Cream
1 teaspoon Coconut Extract
1 teaspoon Clear Vanilla Extract
1/2 teaspoon Coarse Salt
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) Unsalted Butter, softened
1/4 cup Coconut Milk, canned and room temperature
3 cups Confectioners/Powdered Sugar
Shredded or Desiccated Coconut (Unsweetened)
Coconut Frosting Directions
In a small bowl, stir together the cream, coconut and vanilla extracts, and salt.
Using a mixer with a paddle attachment, beat butter and coconut milk mixture on medium-high speed until smooth; about 30-45 seconds.
Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and gradually beat in confectioners/powdered sugar, then continue beating until smooth; about 3 minutes.
If the cake tops are not flat, use a large, serrated knife to remove the domes off the top of the cake.
Place 4-5 dots of icing on a cake circle and spread with spatula. This helps adhere it to the cake and prevent it from moving around.
Place one of the cake layers top side down on a cardboard cake circle.
Place a non-slip surface on the cake turntable to keep the cake from sliding around. Place the cake circle with the first cake layer on the turntable.
Add some of the frosting to a decorating bag fitted with a large round tip like Wilton 12 or Ateco 808 to create a dam of icing inside the outer edge of the cake. This helps the filling from seeping out.
Using a spatula spread the raspberry preserves evenly on top of the cake layer inside the dam.
The filling should fill the dam halfway.
Add the coconut frosting on top of the filling and spread to an even layer to fill the remaining dam space.
Add shredded or desiccated coconut over the frosting.
Place the top layer top side down over the first layer and press lightly to adhere.
Frost the top and sides of the cake with a large spatula.
Cover the entire cake or use as much or little as you want of the shredded or desiccated coconut. Decorate as desired.
Chill the cake in the fridge for 2-3 hours and let it come to room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
For the Cook's Illustrated White Layer Cake recipe, visit Epicurious: