Coconut-Filled Lemon Cake

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Recipe photo
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: 1 bundt-style cake

Recipe photo

Moist lemon cake, glazed with lemon syrup, harbors a surprise inside — sweet coconut filling. Remember the "tunnel" bundt-style cakes that were so popular back in the day? This is a "taste of the tropics" clone.

Our thanks to cookbook author Maida Heatter, grande dame of delicious desserts, for the inspiration behind the cake part of this recipe.

Coconut-Filled Lemon Cake

star rating (19) rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: 1 bundt-style cake
Published: 05/04/2010




  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt*
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • finely grated rind of 2 lemons OR 3/4 teaspoon lemon oil
  • *Use just 1/2 teaspoon salt if you're using salted butter.


  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Tips from our bakers

  • If you have superfine sugar in your pantry, use it in the glaze for this cake; it dissolves more easily in the lemon juice.


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1) Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt in a large bowl till the mixture is soft and fluffy.

2) Add the confectioners' sugar, and beat at high speed till the mixture forms fairly stiff peaks. When you scoop some up in a spoon, it should hold its shape easily.

3) Stir in the coconut flavor or vanilla.

4) Toss the coconut with the flour, and add to the egg white mixture, stirring till thoroughly combined. Set it aside while you make the cake.

5) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a a 9" to 10", 9- to 10-cup capacity bundt-style pan, or a 10" tube pan.

6) Beat together the butter, sugar, and salt, first till combined, then till fluffy.

7) Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, and scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl after you've added the first 2 eggs.

8) Add the baking powder, then add the flour alternately with the milk, starting and ending with the flour. Mix until smooth. Stir in the grated lemon rind or lemon oil.

9) Spoon about 1/3 of the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. You want to add enough to cover the bottom, and start to come up the sides; but not so much that you don't have enough left over to cover the filling.

10) Distribute the stiff filling atop the batter, centering it within the ring of batter so it doesn't touch the sides of the pan. Pat it down gently.

11) Dollop the remaining batter on top, again smoothing it with a spatula.

12) Bake the cake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

13) While the cake is baking, make the glaze by stirring together the lemon juice and sugar. Set it aside.

14) Remove the cake from the oven, and set it on a rack. After 5 minutes, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen, and turn the cake out onto a rack. Place another rack on top, and flip it over, so it's right-side-up.

15) Poke the hot cake all over with a cake tester or toothpick. Stir the glaze to combine, and immediately brush it on the hot cake. Let it sink in, then brush on more glaze, continuing until all the glaze is used up.

16) Allow the cake to cool before slicing.

Yield: about 16 servings.


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  • star rating 01/27/2012
  • debronskitoes from KAF Community
  • This came out awesome! I made a few changes and it turned out great (as it probably would have if I had just followed the recipe). But...I used canned Thai coconut milk in place of regular milk. I also added 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract to the cake to further punch up the coconut flavor.For the glaze I made the sugar superfine by whirling it in my bullet, used more like 2/3 cup lemon juice, and added a stick of melted butter to it just before putting it on the cake. The cake was a real winner!
  • star rating 10/31/2011
  • hehunt8 from KAF Community
  • I agree the cake was a bit dense, but good and moist. I plan on trying the pina coloda version. I use a ziploc bag with the end cut out (about an inch cut) to squeeze the filling of the coconut in the middle of the batter instead of spooning it in. It makes a perfect "tube" of filling through the center of the cake. I hope that helps!
  • star rating 09/13/2011
  • judiekirk81 from KAF Community
  • Although the cake had good flavor, I found that the cake itself was very dense. The filling in yours looks creamy, mind was not at all the way I would have liked it. It was dry and crumbly. Not at all what I would want to serve to friends and family. Having followed your instructions, I would like to know if toasting the coconut would improve the flavor of the filling and would the addition of cake enhancer help with the texture?
    I am sorry that you experienced difficulty with this recipe. We'd love to help you on the baker's hotline to see if anything may have gone wrong to affect the texture of your cake. Toasting coconut does enhance flavor indeed, but you would want to be sure it is completely cooled before it is added to the filling. ~Amy
  • star rating 05/22/2011
  • donnellydeb from KAF Community
  • Very good cake. I added one tablespoon of lemon juice powder to the cake and 1 tsp to the glaze - it added a bit more pop to the lemon flavor. Baked only 50 minutes and got a moist, flavorful cake.
  • star rating 01/30/2011
  • klhetzel from KAF Community
  • Followed this recipe, with the addition of the pineapple from Reiko in Sunnyvale, CA. I made it as a pina colada cake. This was a huge hit at the church function I took it to. I was told by several that I can bring this cake again!
  • star rating 07/25/2010
  • Roseanne from New York
  • I felt that this cake, while tasty, was different than I had expected. The filling, in particular was dry. I was expecting a filling with somewhat of a creamy texture. The lemon taste was excellent, and the cake itself was not dry, so I am wondering if this is the way it is supposed to be or whether it should have baked for 50 minutes and not 55. I took this cake to a party, and people seemed to like it, but I was disappointed.
  • star rating 06/08/2010
  • Jennifer from Colorado
  • Elevations changes (6000 ft) + 2 T. flour and only 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder. Rose well and not too dense. I only had a nine cup tunnel pan and the batter ran over the edge, so double check your size! One caveat: The coconut filling in the picture looks creamy, like marshmallow cream or something. Mine turned out to be macaroon-like, without the crispy outside of the macaroon. The color difference was insignificant, so you couldn't see the coconut much. Also, glaze holds much of the lemon flavor and is indispensable. I would make this again and it would be an easy sell at a bake sale.
  • star rating 05/24/2010
  • Siran from Warwick,NY
  • This was a great cake!! Nice intense lemon flavor and the sweet tunnel of coconut was outstanding!
  • star rating 05/24/2010
  • Kate from Fairfax, VA
  • FANTASTIC! The cake itself is easy and wonderfully moist! I actually made these as cupcakes with the coconut filling in the middle and they were so delicious! Once cooled (after the initial glaze), i made a really thick glaze/icing with powdered sugar and lemon juice - YUM! I will be making this again and again! May mix up the 'filling' as most of the creamy parts got baked into the cupcake.
  • star rating 05/16/2010
  • Rieko from Sunnyvale, CA
  • This was perfect for as a pina colada cake - Drained 20 oz can of crushed pineapple (in juice not syrup) squeezing as much juice as possible and reserving the juice for glaze. In the filling, I used 1 tsp vanilla and 1/4 tsp coconut extract. Added 1 tsp pineapple extract and folded in drained pineapple to the batter. It took about a full hour to bake the cake. Used the pineapple juice and sugar for glaze. Coworkers enjoyed the cake, especially with the bits of pineapple and coconut center. It was very moist and flavorful. Thanks for another wonderful and fun recipe.
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