This easy homemade coconut cake is moist, tender and filled with real coconut flavor. Then it’s topped with fluffy coconut frosting and even more toasted coconut. Coconut lovers will rejoice over this tropical cake with real coconut flavor.
This coconut cake is hands down, no doubt about it, the BEST coconut cake I’ve ever tried. I don’t normally like to use platitudes like that about my own recipes – but seriously, it’s incredible.
- The cake crumb is tender, soft, and deliciously moist.
- It has a delicious coconut flavor that’s not too sweet or over powering.
- Then for a double dose of coconut – it’s topped with coconut buttercream frosting.
- And some toasted coconut on top for good measure.
Talk about a winner.
Coconut Cake Recipe
To make the perfect coconut cake recipe – this recipe is a little bit more specific. It’s definitely not a challenging recipe, but here’s the run down:
- Whisk together the dry ingredients – cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Separate the eggs, then whisk the egg whites with a little cream of tartar til stiff peaks form.
- In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, stir together the sour cream and coconut milk.
- Then beat together the butter and sugar; followed by the egg yolks, vanilla extract, and coconut extract.
- Mix in about 1/2 of the coconut milk & sour cream mixture into the butter mixture, followed by about 1/2 of the dry ingredients. Then repeat with the rest of the coconut milk & dry ingredients.
- From here, fold the egg whites into the batter about 1/2 at a time.
From there – the cake is ready to bake.
The coconut frosting is an easy buttercream made with butter, coconut milk, powdered sugar, salt, and a little coconut extract (if you like an extra coconut-y flavor). Simple, fluffy, creamy and completely delicious. The only tip here is to make sure the butter is softened but not melt-y before getting started.
Then this fluffy, moist, completely delicious coconut cake is all yours. I top it off with toasted coconut (or regular coconut) and a few berries for a pop of color. It’s seriously amazing.
Questions about Making this Coconut Cake
Do I have to use cake flour? For this recipe using all-purpose flour as a 1:1 substitute will result in a cake crumb that’s dry and crumbly. I really recommend buying cake flour (not self rising) because it will produce the best results. If you’re in a pinch – whisk all-purpose flour then measure out 2 1/2 cups. Remove 1/3 cup of the all-purpose flour and replace with cornstarch. Sift together at least 3 times before using.
Why do you separate the eggs? By whisking the egg whites separately and then folding them in at the end of the recipe it creates a lighter cake texture. Beating the egg whites aerates them – therefore adding volume to the batter and a lighter, fluffier crumb.
What kind of coconut milk should I use? I recommend using full-fat coconut milk that comes in a can (not coconut water or coconut cream). Make sure to give it a very good shake first so it’s well mixed and you don’t just get the thick part or the watery part.
How do you toast coconut? To toast the coconut:
- Preheat the oven to 325F degrees.
- Spread flaked coconut in a thin layer on a cookie sheet. (I line the cookie sheet first since mine are pretty old).
- Bake for 5-10 minutes in the oven. Watch carefully because it can go from toasted to burnt quite quickly.
Where do you find coconut extract? Coconut extract comes in a small vial/bottle. It can be found in the baking or spice aisle of most grocery stores, near where you’d find the vanilla extract.
Can this cake be made into a layer cake? Yes, absolutely. Line the bottom of three 8 inch round pans with parchment and lightly grease the sides. Divide the batter between the 3 pans and bake (about 20-25 minutes). Or for a double layer cake – line and grease two 8 inch pans and bake for 25-30 minutes. For the frosting – you’ll need to double the recipe.
Coconut Cake with Coconut Frosting
- 2 1/2 cups cake flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 5 large eggs , separated
- 1/2 cup coconut milk , mix well first before measuring
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter , softened
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tsp coconut extract
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter , softened
- 4-6 tbsp coconut milk
- 1/2 - 1 tsp coconut extract , optional
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 - 3.5 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup coconut , toasted or not
- Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Butter and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
- In a large bowl beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form - set aside.
- Mix together the coconut milk and sour cream in a liquid measuring cup or small bowl.
- In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Then mix in the egg yolks, coconut extract and vanilla extract.
- Mix about 1/2 of the coconut milk and sour cream into the butter mixture, followed by about 1/2 of the dry ingredients. Repeat with the rest of the coconut milk and sour cream, and dry ingredients.
- Gently fold the egg whites into the batter, about 1/2 at a time.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow to cool.
- Beat the butter until fluffy.
- Then mix in 4 tablespoons coconut milk, coconut extract (optional) and salt.
- Beat in the powdered sugar about 1 cup at a time until it's sweet enough for your liking, adding in a little extra coconut milk as needed.
- Frost the cooled cake, and sprinkle with coconut and berries (optional).