Coconut cake is my stepfather’s favorite cake, so in honor of his 95th birthday, I decided to make him one. The last time I tried was 17 years ago, and due to various distractions, the frosting I tried felt more like gummy worms than the light, fluffy frosting I was hoping for.
This time I started by watching this video by Paula Dean. This cake recipe is in three parts: the cake, the filling and the frosting. It includes a three-day “hibernation” in the refrigerator. The end result is worth the time and effort!
Type of cuisine: American
Preparation time: 1 hour + 3 days in the refrigerator
Cooking time: 25 to 30 minutes
Total time: 1 1/2 hours, plus 3 days in the refrigerator
Servings: Makes 1 cake
Here’s how to do it:
- To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch or three 8-inch cake molds. With the aid of electric mixer, cream the butter until fluffy. Add the sugar and continue to cream well for 6 to 8 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately add the flour and coconut milk to the creamed mixture, starting and ending with the flour. Add vanilla and continue beating until just blended. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Hold the pans 3 or 4 inches above the counter and knock them down several times to release any air bubbles. (This makes a level cake layer.) Bake for 25-30 minutes or until done.
- To make the filling, combine the sugar, sour cream, milk and coconut in a bowl until well blended.
- Remove the cake layers from the oven and leave the cake in the pan while you prepare to stack and fill. Remove the first layer and invert onto a cake plate. Slip pieces of waxed paper under the edges of the cake to protect your cake plate. Using the wrong end of a wooden spoon, poke holes about 1 inch apart until the entire cake has been pierced. Spread one-third of the topping mixture over the cake layer. Cover with a second layer, repeat the process. Cover with the last layer if you have three and repeat the operation. Put toothpicks in to make sure the diapers don’t slip! Put the cake in the refrigerator for three days to allow it to absorb the filling mixture.
- To make the icing, make sure your bowl, beaters, spatulas, etc. are clean and free of oil that will spoil the egg white. Separate the egg whites one at a time into a separate bowl to make sure you don’t get any yolk in the mixture. Place sugar, cream of tartar or corn syrup, salt, water and egg whites in a mixing bowl and beat for 1 minute with an electric hand mixer. By using the water bath method, place the bowl over rapidly boiling water. Make sure the boiling water doesn’t touch the bottom of the upper bowl to prevent the icing from getting grainy. Set a timer for 7 minutes and beat constantly at high speed with an electric mixer. Remove the bowl from the boiler and gently incorporate the vanilla using a spatula.
- Frost the sides of the chilled cake, then the top. Take handfuls of coconut and lightly press them against the side and top of the cake. Remove the waxed paper from the cake plate, lick the frosting off your fingers and marvel at the beautiful cake you’ve created!
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