Soft, white cake frosted with a coconut buttercream, and filled with coconut in every delectable layer. This Coconut Cake is the stuff of coconut dreams!
Yard Work with Kids
Just over a month ago, both my office and my kids’ preschool closed. My husband is still able to work, so the kids and I are getting a whole lot of quality time together. I find myself looking for things to get their wiggles out, especially things that can happen outside.
Two weeks ago, at least I think it was two weeks ago …. it could’ve been yesterday. Who knows with my sense of time these days. Anyhow, sometime in the recent past, I decided it would be a good idea for the kids and I to mulch. It turned out to be a great way for me to get energy out.
While I worked, my kids climbed the mulch pile in the driveway, threw tiny handfulls of mulch at each other, and yelled to any person within earshot of our driveway. Our closest neighbors were also mulching, so they received the majority of my kids’ questions. “Why are you driving that tractor?”, “Did you know I have a rake?”, “Do you have worms in your yard?”, “What are you having for dinner? What about dessert?”, etc, etc.
That was a really long way to get this point: My neighbor told my son he was having coconut cupcakes for dessert, and asked my son if he liked coconut. My son replied that he didn’t know if he liked coconut. After their little exchange, I immediately started craving coconut cake, and also felt like it was my duty to introduce my children to the wonders of coconut.
I worked hard to make this cake my version of coconut perfection. And here is how it goes:
Soft, White Cake
The cake is made with egg whites to give it a beautiful white color. Since egg whites can tend to dry a cake out, I added some sour cream to ensure the texture was nice and soft.
Next, I made the cake using canned coconut milk. Make sure you use full fat, canned coconut milk. It adds moisture as well as an extra hint of flavor.
I added coconut flakes to the cake batter because, well, this a coconut cake. For this addition, I highly recommend you use sweetened coconut flakes. The sweetened flakes are a bit more moist than their non-sweetened siblings, and simply make the cake even better.
Those same sweetened coconut flakes are also a delicious and textural addition the outside of the cake!
There are so many options for coconut cake frosting: buttercream, cream cheese, a mix of the two, or a “seven minute frosting” … just to name a few.
ALL are good. Maybe one day I’ll do a series of posts on different frostings. In any case, for this cake I choose to use buttercream, and here is why:
- You can use coconut milk to flavor the buttercream. Typically I use milk or whipping cream to lighten my buttercream. But for this cake, I used coconut milk. This also added a little coconut flavor to the frosting.
- When shortening is added into buttercream, it holds up well. I often take my cakes outside in the summer, or transport them. If buttercream gets too soft, the cake layers may slide. By adding shortening, it helps prevent the cake from shifting or moving when the butter softens.
- When shortening is added into buttercream, it pipes well. For all cakes that I make, even if I’m not piping designs, I pipe frosting between the layers. When shortening is added to buttercream, it helps prevent the heat of your hands from melting the frosting while you’re piping.
- Coconut sticks well to buttercream. Coconut also sticks well to cream cheese frosting, but as seven minute frosting sets rather quickly, it can be difficult to cover the cake with coconut.
- Buttercream is delicious.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 4 large egg whites room temperature*
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1/2 cup shortening
- pinch salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4-6 tbsp coconut milk
- 4-5 cups powdered sugar
- 2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottoms of three, 8 inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Butter and flour sides of pans (I use Baking PAM to do this).
- Use mixer on medium speed to beat butter and sugar together until lightened and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- On low speed, beat in egg whites, one at a time. Scrape down sides of bowl with a spatula as needed. After egg whites are mixed in, mix in vanilla extract.
- In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking powder.
- Alternate beating in flour mixture and coconut milk, in about 3-4 additions each, starting and ended with flour mixture.
- Fold in sour cream and coconut flakes until well combined.
- Divide batter evenly between three prepared pans. Bake until tops are a light golden color and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with just a few crumbs, about 20-22 minutes.
- Let cakes cool in pan for at least 5 minutes before removing. Allow cakes to cool completely before frosting.
- If needed, when cakes are cooled, use serrated knife or cake leveler to level cakes.
- Use electric mixer with paddle attachment to beat butter and shortening until lightened and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes.
- Mix in salt and vanilla extract.
- Alternate mixing in powdered sugar, in 1/2 to 1 cup increments, and coconut milk, in 1/2 to 1 tbsp increments, until desired taste and consistency are reached.
- Use frosting between cake layers and around the outside of the cake. Use your hands to gently press coconut flakes all over the top and sides of the frosting.
If you enjoyed this Coconut Cake you might also enjoy these other SugarSpicesLife recipes:
Links to items used to make this recipe: