Coconut is a happy ingredient… it makes me think about summer and piña coladas, spicy Thai food and travel to far-away tropical islands, homemade macaroon cookies and Almond Joys, and that delicious smelling Hawaiian Tropic Dark Tanning Oil we used to slather on back in the 1980’s.
When I saw this Coconut Cake recipe in the Signature Tastes of Seattle cookbook, I immediately wanted to give it a try. It comes from Kingfish Cafe in Seattle, a restaurant owned and operated by sisters Laurel & Leslie Coaston. At Kingfish Cafe, you will find southern food influenced by years of home cooking. The restaurant’s website says it best:
” Soulfully cooked food is richly flavored, passed down from generation to generation, and filled with tradition and history. We are firm believers in simple pleasures, and we are delighted to share our version of Southern hospitality with you.”
There is just something about this cake… it tastes like something my grandma would have made. I’m guessing it is one of the recipes the Coaston sisters grew up eating at family birthday parties.
Okay, what you should know… this coconut cake is moist, tender, and sweet – but not too sweet. It’s straightforward to make, but like all good cakes made from scratch, you’ll need a bit of prep time (plan on 1/2 hour) to make the batter. Be sure to buy sweetened canned coconut. It’s stocked with drink mixers at the store, not in the Asian section.
SIDE NOTE: Instead of following the recipe and baking the cake in two 9-inch cake pans like any sensible person, I tried using three 6-inch cake pans. The result was a cake about as high as it was wide – my own Coconut Leaning Tower of Pisa. Fortunately, a generous recipe of cream cheese frosting held everything together and the cake cut beautifully.
This cake holds up well for a few days and it’s a recipe I would recommend for a special occasion like Easter dinner, a birthday, or even a wedding.
Love coconut, too? Check out these other recipes from A Passionate Plate:
4/19/14 COCONUT CAKE UPDATE
I haven’t posted anything new for two weeks because I can’t stop making this cake! I took one to a dinner party and the entire cake was completely devoured. I’ve found that a layer of lemon curd in the center makes it even better so I will be adding that to the recipe from now on. Here is my Easter version – two 10″ layers with lemon curd, coconut and cream cheese frosting in the center. I highly recommend this cake.
- FOR THE CAKE:
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup canned sweetened coconut
- 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk
- pinch of salt
- FOR THE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- 2 – 8 oz. packages cream cheese
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 2 cups sifted confectioners sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 4 cups sweetened shredded coconut
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Butter and flour 2 9-inch cake pans with 2-inch sides (or spray with non-stick baking spray).
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and 1/2 tsp. salt.
- Using a stand mixer, beat together the sugar, butter, sweetened cream of coconut and orange juice until fluffy.
- Beat in the egg yolks and vanilla.
- On low speed, add the dry ingredients, and mix just until blended.
- Add the butter milk and mix just until blended.
- Remove the batter to another bowl and set aside.
- Wash and dry the bowl and beater thoroughly.
- Add the eggs whites to clean, dry mixing bowl and beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff but not dry.
- Fp;d the beaten egg whites into the cake batter until combined. Do not over mix.
- Divide the batter into two prepared pans.
- Bake 40 to 45 minutes until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Cool cakes in pans for 10 minutes, then run a sharp knife around the pans, turn the cakes out onto a rack, and let them cool completely.
- Meanwhile, prepare the cream cheese frosting.
- Combine the cream cheese and butter together and mix until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and stir in the confectioners sugar until smooth.
- When cakes are completely cool, frost with the cream cheese frosting. Spread 1 cup of cream cheese frosting over the first layer and sprinkle 1 cup shredded coconut over the top.
- Top with second cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake and sprinkle with remaining coconut, gently pressing into the sides to adhere.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving.