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coconut cake on a white cakestand in a green and white flowered blue tray

Heavenly Coconut Cake

Course Dessert
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings 10


The Cake

  • 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 larger eggs room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour I use King Arthur's
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

The Filling

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 7 oz package sweetened coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

The Frosting

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 plus 1/8 tsp cream of tartar


Make the Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour lightly 3- 9"cake pans and line with either wax paper or parchment. You can use two (which I did in the image) and you'll just bake the cake a little longer. Pour the milk and vanilla into a glass measuring cup.

  2. Combine the flours and place in a medium bowl.

  3. Cream the butter in a large bowl or electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat until light and fluffy and add the sugar. Continue beating for three minutes. Add the eggs, beating well after each addition.
  4. Add the flours alternately with the milk and vanilla mixture in four groups, beating well after each and ending with the milk. 
  5. Divide the batter evenly among the pans. Three pans: Bake for 20-25 minutes. Two pans: Bake for 25-30 minutes. Either way, check with a cake tester which should be clean.

  6. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Remove to wire rack until completely cool.

Make the Filling

  1. Combine the milk and sugar in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking the whole time until thick and bubbly, which should take about 5 minutes.

  2. Remove from heat and add coconut. Stir in vanilla, cover and set aside to cool completely.

Make the Frosting

  1. Get ready by putting the egg whites and vanilla in a large mixing bowl of electric mixer.

  2. In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar, and cream of tartar over high heat. Bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes, counting once the mixture begins to bubble on the edges. Remove from heat.
  3. On medium-high speed, beat the egg whites and vanilla until foamy approximately 1 minute.
  4. Keep the mixer on and with a thin, steady stream, pour the sugar mixture into the egg whites. Continue to beat on medium-high until fluffy and stiff peaks form. This will take around 5 minutes and the frosting will be bright, white and glossy. Try and resist tasting it. Or you'll eat the whole thing. And your cake will be lonely.

Assemble the Cake

  1. Place one layer of cake on your serving platter or cake plate and spread 1/2 of the filling on top. If you're only using two layers, use as much as makes sense to you and save the rest to eat vanilla wafers or graham crackers and chocolate for an upscale s'more. 

  2. Place the next layer on (and repeat steps 1 & 2 if necessary).

  3. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the frosting.

  4. Top with extra sweetened coconut.