Cakes & Cupcakes Currently Craving

The Best Coconut Layer Cake

April 2, 2021

This post is sponsored by C&H®  Sugar. As always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. Thank you for […]

This post is sponsored by C&H®  Sugar. As always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Browned Butter Blondie possible.

A light and fluffy coconut layer cake topped with a silky smooth cream cheese frosting and heaps of sweet coconut flakes. Top with fresh flowers for a show stopping springtime centerpiece!

The Best Coconut Layer Cake

It’s almost Easter peeps! Easter is not one of my favorite holidays. It IS my favorite holiday! The other 364 days of the year don’t even stand a chance. I think we can all agree that every Easter table needs a show stopping centerpiece that screams spring. I might take this back later, but I’m pretty sure this is my favorite cake that I’ve ever made. I don’t make a lot of layer cakes so if I’m going to go through all the effort of baking and stacking and frosting and all that jazz, it had better be a really good cake. This cake is not just good. It’s not even great. It’s INCREDIBLE!

This cake is moist and tender, full of flavor and oh-so-pretty to look at. Made with a light and super fluffy coconut cake covered in a silky smooth cream cheese frosting and topped with heaps of sweetened coconut flakes – this cake has it all. Honestly, I’m not sure it gets any better. Oh, and did I mention that decorating this triple layer cake is a piece of errrr….well, cake! Just add your favorite fresh flowers in pretty pastel colors for a perfectly festive spring cake. She’s a beauty if I do say so myself and I can’t wait to tell you how to make it.

INGREDIENTS YOU NEED FOR COCONUT LAYER CAKE

There are a handful of ingredients that make this coconut layer cake the best ever. Stock up on the items below and follow the recipe to a tee and you’ll never look at another coconut cake the same way again.

Cake flour. I’m not one to stock my pantry with a dozen different types of flour. But cake flour is finer, lighter and softer than regular all purpose and it creates delightfully delicious cakes with a light, close crumb. Take it from me – it makes all the difference. I mean, if you are going to go through all the trouble to bake a cake from scratch, you want it to be the very best cake ever – right? Exactly. Cake flour is where it’s at.

Butter. No shade to vegetable oil, but I love an all butter cake. The flavor can’t be beat. Don’t forget to soften the butter to room temperature for both the cake and the cream cheese buttercream.

Sugar. This cake gets all its sweetness and flavor thanks to my favorite sugars from C&H® Sugar. And the high sugar content in the recipe makes the cake extra soft and fluffy. I’ve been using C&H® Sugar ever since I was a kid, baking chocolate chip cookies with my mom after school in our little yellow kitchen. My pantry is always stocked with C&H® Granulated Sugar and C&H® Confectioners Sugar so that I can whip up my favorite baked goods at a moment’s notice. And I love that I can order C&H® Sugar for delivery to my doorstep through Chicory. Just use the “Get ingredients” button on the recipe page to order all of the ingredients for this cake and select your preferred retailer. Easy peasy!

Coconut milk. This recipe calls for unsweetened coconut milk. The kind in a can that you cook with. Not the one that you drink. Pro-tip: shake the can well before opening and strain the milk though a fine mesh strainer before adding it to the batter. For even more delicious coconut flavor, add some to the cream cheese frosting in place of the heavy cream.

Eggs. I know what you’re thinking. Six eggs is a LOT of eggs for one cake but trust me when I say it makes for one delicious and super fluffy crumb. You’ll add 4 egg yolks straight to the batter and then 6 egg whites whipped to firm peaks will be folded in at the end. I find it easier to separate eggs when they are cold, but leave time for the eggs to reach room temperature before mixing the batter.

Baking powder. A heaping tablespoon gives the cake texture and rise. Be sure to check the expiration date for freshness!

Cream cheese. The coconut covered buttercream gets its silky smooth texture and that signature tangy flavor we all know and love from softened cream cheese. Use the full fat version for the very best taste.

TIPS FOR THE BEST COCONUT LAYER CAKE

Everyone loves a simple sheet cake or a pretty Bundt, but nothing says “wow” like a beautiful layer cake. Baking and decorating a multi-layer cake might seem challenging at first, but with a few tips and tricks you can bake up a show stopping cake in no time. Follow the helpful hints below for the best ever coconut layer cake.

Use room temperature ingredients. Make sure that all of your ingredients including butter, milk, and eggs are at room temperature so that everything combines well together into a smooth batter. Cold ingredients do not emulsify well and can lead to a lumpy, bumpy batter and a cake that bakes unevenly. By creaming together room temperature butter with the sugar, you’ll create a fluffy, moist cake that is still sturdy enough to hold plenty of frosting. For best results, leave your ingredients out the night before you bake the cake.

Prep your pans. A little prep goes a long way. For perfectly baked layers, line the bottom of each pan with a circle of parchment paper and then grease the sides of the pan with nonstick baking spray. I like to use a baker’s spray that has a touch of flour in it for clean cake edges and a quick, easy release. Once your pans are prepped, divide the batter evenly between the cake pans using a spatula or measuring cup. For perfectly uniform layers, place each pan on a digital kitchen scale and weigh each layer, adding or subtracting batter until they are all equal.

Do not over mix. The number one mistake many novice bakers make is over mixing the batter. Too much stirring can lead to a dense, flat cake. Once you add the dry ingredients in to the wet, keep the stirring to a minimum so that you avoid deflating the air that you mixed into the batter while creaming the butter and sugar together. Less is more!

Chill the cake before frosting. This coconut layer cake bakes up super light and fluffy which can make it a little tricky to stack and frost if the layers are not properly cooled. Frosting a warm cake is messy business! For best results, cool the layers on a wire rack until room temperature and then wrap each cake separately in plastic wrap. Place the layers flat in the refrigerator or freezer for at least one hour. Once chilled, remove the layers from the plastic wrap and begin stacking and frosting the cake. I always love a good crumb coat which helps seal in those pesky crumbs. Chill the assembled cake once more for about 15 minutes until the crumb coat is set and then add a final layer of buttercream. No need to be a perfectionist with this frosting layer – it will all be covered in heaps of coconut flakes!

Don’t skimp on the coconut. I tested this coconut cake many times over to get the flavor and texture juuusst right. I didn’t want any of that artificial coconut flavor so you won’t find any coconut extract here. Instead we use full fat, unsweetened coconut milk which adds flavor and moisture. The finished cake has a delightful coconut taste without being overpowering. For even more coconut flavor, the cake is covered in sweetened coconut flakes that really make the flavor shine through. If you prefer your coconut flakes smaller, run them through a food processor before gently pressing the coconut on to the buttercream layer. For less mess, place the cake stand or plate over a large baking sheet to catch any coconut that falls off.

HOW TO MAKE THE BEST CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

This is my favorite cream cheese frosting. I’ve been making it for years and I wouldn’t change a single thing about it. It has the perfect ratio of butter to cream cheese to sugar ratio for the most amazing flavor and texture. It’s silky smooth and totally lick-from-the-spoon worthy. To make the frosting, start by sifting 6 cups of C&H® Confectioners Sugar. Basically the whole two pound bag. This is cake after all, so now is not the time to skimp on sugar. Begin by whipping the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer for a minute or two until it’s soft and creamy. Next, add the cream cheese and whip together on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Slowly add the C&H® Confectioners Sugar, one cup at a time until it’s incorporated with the butter and cream cheese. The frosting will be thick so now is a good time to add a few tablespoons of heavy cream {or more coconut milk} to thin out the buttercream to the desired consistency. Whip it on high speed for one to two minutes using a paddle attachment. The buttercream should be thick, but still smooth and spreadable. Keep the frosting at room temperature until you’re ready to frost your cake.

HOW TO STORE A LAYER CAKE

I don’t know everything but I’m pretty sure you’ll barely have a single crumb of this best ever coconut layer cake left over. If you do, store any extra cake tightly covered in the refrigerator to keep the cream cheese frosting cold. A cake dome or plastic cake carrier will keep it fresh for up to 6 days. To freeze individual slices, plate them and cover tightly with two layers of plastic wrap. When the craving strikes, simply defrost a slice at room temperature and grab a fork! You can also freeze the cake layers, individually wrapped, for up to 3 months. Remove the layers from the freezer and whip up a fresh batch of the cream cheese buttercream and frost the cake as you normally would. Good news! If the layers are frozen, you can skip the crumb coat.

That’s all for now friends. I hope you feel inspired to bake this coconut layer cake for Easter Sunday – or just because it’s spring!! I promise you’re going to love it.

Happy Easter and happy baking!

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The Best Coconut Layer Cake

  • Author: Heather | Browned Butter Blondie
  • Prep Time: 25
  • Cook Time: 25 min plus cooling time
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 10-12 slices 1x

Description

A light and fluffy coconut layer cake topped with a silky smooth cream cheese frosting and heaps of sweet coconut flakes. Top with fresh flowers for a show stopping springtime centerpiece!


Ingredients

Scale

For Cake

3 cups (390 g) cake flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

18 tablespoons (254 g) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 3/4 cups (350 g) C&H® Granulated Sugar

4 egg yolks, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup full fat unsweetened coconut milk (from a can)

6 egg whites, room temperature

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

Coconut Buttercream

1 1/4 cup (254 g) unsalted butter, room temperature

6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

6 cups C&H® Confectioners Sugar, sifted

1/4 teaspoon salt

45 tablespoons heavy cream or coconut milk

3 cups unsweetened coconut flakes


Instructions

For Cake

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spray 3 8-inch cake pans with non-stick baking spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter on medium high until light and creamy, about 3-4 minutes.

Add the C&H® Granulated Sugar and mix on medium high speed for 2 minutes, until light and fluffy.

Add the egg yolks one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl between each addition.

Add the vanilla and mix until combined.

With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the coconut milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Do not over mix.

In a separate bowl, use a hand mixer to beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until firm peaks form. Do not over mix, you don’t want the egg whites to be dry.

Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and use a spatula to fold in 1/3 of the egg whites. Once incorporated, fold in the remaining egg whites being careful not to over mix the batter.

Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pans, dividing evenly.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until tops are golden brown and the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Cool completely before frosting.

For the Coconut Buttercream

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.

Add the cream cheese and mix on medium for 2 minutes.

Add the vanilla and salt, mix to combine.

With the mixer on low, slowly add the C&H® Confectioners Sugar, one cup at a time until incorporated. Once all the sugar has been added, increase the speed to medium and mix for 30 seconds until light and fluffy.

Add the heavy cream, one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. For more coconut flavor, use coconut milk instead of heavy cream. The buttercream should be smooth and spreadable.

To Assemble the Cake

Place one chilled layer of cake on a cake stand or plate. Add ¾ cup of buttercream and use an offset spatula to spread into an even layer, pushing the frosting to the edges.

Top with a second layer of cake and repeat with the buttercream. Add the third layer of cake, being careful that the cake is even and straight. Make adjustments as needed.

Top with 1 ½ cups of frosting and smooth the frosting over the top of the cake, pushing it down and over the sides. Continue with the crumb coat, taking care to remove the crumbs from the offset spatula as you work.

Chill the cake for 15-20 minutes.

Frost the cake with the remaining frosting, covering the sides and top evenly.

Place the cake stand or plate over a large cookie sheet. Carefully press the coconut flakes into the side and top of the cake while frosting is soft. Cover the cake entirely.

Return the cake to the refrigerator to set. Top with flowers before serving if desired.

 


 

 

 

 

  • Reply
    Sakina
    March 26, 2022 at 4:56 pm

    Made this today and it was so delicious!!! The cake itself was so soft and fluffy! I rarely get that texture with egg white whipped cakes so I was pleasantly surprised and very happy! And everything put together was just scrumptious! Thank you so much for the recipe!

  • Reply
    Dana
    May 11, 2021 at 12:48 am

    SUPER delicious cake! Made this for Mother’s Day and it was a hit. Love that you cover it with coconut so you don’t have to ice it perfectly!

    • Reply
      Heather Mubarak
      May 11, 2021 at 6:34 am

      I’m so happy that you loved this cake! It really is the perfect Mother’s Day dessert!!

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