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Coconut Cake


Coconut Cake Recipe

This moist coconut cake is reminiscent of the venerable classic that was a staple of birthdays for years, and is now most often found in the freezer case at the grocery store. Still, there's nothing like a fresh, moist, homemade coconut cake. If you've never made one, here's a great place to start.

Thanks to feedback from you, our fellow bakers, we have simplified our recipe for the frosting, adding cream cheese for a touch of tang to balance out the sweetness.

At a glance

1 cake, 16 servings
Nutrition information


Choose your measure:


  • 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached Cake Flour or King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk powder*
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 large egg whites (about 1 1/4 cups; packaged liquid egg whites work fine, too)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 drops coconut flavor
  • *See "tips," below.


  • 15 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coconut flavor, optional, for enhanced flavor
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon coconut milk powder
  • 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar


  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Soak two cake strips, if you have them. Grease and flour (or line with parchment circles and spray with non-stick spray) two 8" square cake pans (or two 9" round cake pans) that are at least 2" deep. Note: If you want a taller cake, use two 8" round cake pans that are at least 2" deep.
  2. To make the cake: Whisk together the cake flour, coconut milk powder, salt, and baking powder; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until the mixture is extremely light and fluffy; scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl after 2 minutes of beating, and beat for at least 3 minutes more. Add 1/4 of the dry ingredients; mix until combined, and scrape the mixing bowl.
  4. Combine the egg whites, milk, and flavors; add 1/3 of the mixture to the ingredients in the bowl and mix until combined. Continue adding dry and wet ingredients by turns, until all are incorporated. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl one last time, and mix for another minute.
  5. Divide the batter between the two pans, and wrap the outsides with the soaked cake strips. If you don't have cake strips, place the pans in larger pans; add water to the larger pans until it's halfway up the sides of the cake pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cake springs back when lightly touched in the center and the edges just begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. A toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean, or with a few moist crumbs clinging to it.
  6. Remove the cakes from the oven and place on a rack; remove the cake strips. Let the layers cool for 20 minutes, then turn out of the pan and return to the rack to finish cooling completely before filling and frosting.
  7. To make the frosting: Combine the butter, cream cheese, vanilla, salt, and coconut flavor in a large mixing bowl. Beat the ingredients together at medium speed until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  8. Sift the coconut milk powder and confectioners’ sugar together in a separate large bowl. Gradually add the sugar mixture to the butter and cream cheese mixture, mixing at low speed until fully incorporated then beating at medium-high speed until the frosting is light and fluffy.
  9. To finish the cake: Split the cooled cake layers horizontally. Place half of one layer on a serving plate; spread with a scant cup of frosting. Place the other cake half on top, spread with another scant cup of frosting. Repeat with the remaining layers until you've used them all. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.
  10. To decorate the cake: Press some coconut onto the sides of the cake and sprinkle the remaining over the top.
  11. Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve, and let it stand at room temperature for an hour before slicing and enjoying.

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size 175g
  • Servings Per Batch 16
Amount Per Serving:
  • Calories 520
  • Calories from Fat 180
  • Total Fat 20g
  • Saturated Fat 14g
  • Trans Fat .5g
  • Cholesterol 35mg
  • Sodium 310mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 83g
  • Dietary Fiber 2g
  • Sugars 63g
  • Protein 6g

* The nutrition information provided for this recipe is determined by the ESHA Genesis R&D software program. Substituting any ingredients may change the posted nutrition information.