Around here, if the Coconut Cake’s not made Christmas will not come. Seriously. I started making this cake at Christmas while I was working in retail. I was looking for shortcuts. I used a cake mix and doctored it up. Since then I have made the cake from scratch. It depends on how the month is going, usually I end up doing the mix version. Everybody still flips out. I’m giving you both versions.

The Cake using a mix.

1 box white cake mix. I use Betty Crocker

1 ¼ cups coconut milk. I use Goya.

3 large eggs. Use the whole egg not just the white.

¼ cup soft butter (salted)

¼ cup vegetable oil

If you want to go whole hog you and throw in ¼ sour cream as well. The coconut milk is so rich it doesn’t really need it.

Grease and flour two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans. Preheat oven to 350.

You can use a stand mixer if that’s what you’re used to. I’ve been using a hand mixer my whole life and go by how the batter feels. I have zero luck with stand mixers.

Sift the cake mix into a large bowl.

Add your eggs oil and butter and mix on med for about a minute. Add your coconut milk and keep mixing on med to med high for about two minutes until well blended.  Pour in pans and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.  Remove from oven, give them about seven minute,s and turn the pans over and dump your cakes. Cool on wire racks. I will do this ahead of time and freeze my layers. It makes the cake super moist. Take them out and let them thaw about 20 minutes before icing.


The cake from scratch:

This recipe is for three layers. But it’s my favorite for a white cake. You don’t have to bake all the layers at once if you don’t have three 9” pans. Just hold off and bake the extra layer after you pull the first two out. I’ll usually put a different icing on that extra layer for the person who doesn’t like coconut. If you want to make a three layer coconut you might have to make more icing.


1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

½ cup vegetable shortening room temp

3 cups granulated sugar

5 eggs, room temperature

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup goya coconut milk, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350º F.

Prepare three 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick baking spray or coated well with shortening or butter and floured, taking care to remove all excess flour.

Cream together butter and shortening until light and fluffy with an electric mixer. Slowly add sugar one cup at a time, making sure to fully incorporate each cup before adding another. Add eggs one at a time, making sure to fully incorporate each egg before adding another.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Pour milk and vanilla into measuring cup and whisk together with a fork. Add the flour to butter and shortening mixture alternately with milk mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.

Gently stir all ingredients until well combined. Stop mixer and scrape down sides and bottom of bowl, making sure to have all ingredients mixed well. Special note about mixing. Under mixing a cake won’t hurt you like overmixing. Be wary of the overmix the cake will fall flat every time. Err on the side of under.

Evenly distribute cake batter between cake pans and place pans into oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove and allow to cool slightly in cake pans for about 5 minutes, then cool completely on a wire rack.

The icing:

Buttercream icing. Oh yummy.

¾ cup butter

½ cup vegetable shortening. (I know I know, but trust me, it makes the icing much fluffier and lighter.)

41/2 -5 cups confectioner’s (icing) sugar

3 teaspoons vanilla (I know this seems like a lot, but it’s what keeps the icing from being too sweet. The lemon takes the bitter from the vanilla and it’s perfect every time)

½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice

2 to 3 tablespoons whole milk

A dash or two of salt

Cream your butter and shortening together and gradually add your sugar. This will save you from the sugar cloud and keep you from smelling like a giant cupcake.

Add the rest of your ingredients. If it’s too soft add a little more sugar if it’s too stiff add a little more milk.

Buttercream icing keeps well in the fridge so you can make this ahead of time as well.


The Coconut:

I’ve never measured how much coconut I use. I just get the big bag and keep throwing it on the cake until I think it’s enough. I usually have some left over. I use Baker’s angel flake coconut with one minor/major change.

I dump the coconut into a strainer and rinse off that gooey nasty sweet, but bitter stuff they coat it with. That stuff is disgusting. Ruins perfectly good coconut. Squeeze out the excess water and spread on a paper towel.


The assembly:

Your bottom layer will on your cake plate top side down. You’re now looking at the flat bottom of the layer. Spread your icing sprinkle with coconut. Put your top layer on bottom down. So your going bottom to bottom. Ice and sprinkle generously with coconut. You can mix the coconut into the icing as well. That’s up to you. Also, if you’re ambitious and you really want to ham it up. Use the 8 inch pans and split your layers. So you’ve got a four layer cake. If I do that, I will usually go ahead and mix the coconut in the icing for between the layers I think the flavors meld a little more.

Now me, I say give that cake a good 24 to 36 hours to sit before you cut it. It’s so much better after some time has gone by. It also freezes extremely well. Yep, the whole cake. I’ve made this cake as much as ten days ahead. Done everything but the final coat of coconut. Put it in Rubbermaid and stick it in the freezer. Give it plenty of time to thaw. Sprinkle and voila!