Coconut Birthday Cake

I have fond memories of childhood birthdays. Once, when I turned 9 (or was it 10?), my parents gifted me a spectular western saddle that I thought was fantastic. So fantastic, I said it was the best gift I’d gotten in 13 years! I’ve now grown past the stage where I add on a few years to my actual age.

When I was 16, I asked my parents for a file cabinet, and I couldn’t have been happier. I wanted to organize all the writing, school work, etc. And I was going to be serious about it, which obviously required a filing cabinet!

For some reason, those specific gifts stand out. While I can remember other gifts I may have gotten, I don’t have the same vivid memories I do have blurting out “13 years” and of seeing the filing cabinet sitting in the back of the pick up. What I do have vivid memories of?

The cakes. The very many cakes.

For my fifth birthday, my Omi made me a heart shaped cake decorated like a lady bug. For another birthday, my mom made me a mocha brownie torte with whipped cream frosting (it was so good, I asked for it for a birthday later on). Then there was the orange and dark chocolate cheesecake with the intricate looking swirls of flavors. For my 21st birthday, my mom made me a black forest cake. I could probably keep telling you about all those delicious cakes.

I blame my cake-privaleged birthday past (and a love of good cake) as catalyst for carrying this tradition forward into my adult life. Historically, you’ve read my posts about Casey’s birthday cakes (one, two, and two-point-one). Time to start talking about the others.

With a cake as beautiful and delicious as this coconut cake, I think we’re at an ideal starting location. For my mother-in-law’s birthday, I scanned pinterest for the best coconut cake recipe I could find, and dug up a bon-appetit recipe from 1999. Gotta love the internet!

For the coconut lover in your life, give this recipe a go. As a note, I cut the sugars in the cake from 1 and 3/4 to 1 1/4 cup. In the frosting, I only included 1 cup of powdered sugar. Even with these cuts, the cake and frosting where very sweet, hence the decision to go rustic and not frost the sides.

Coconut Layer Cake, adapted from Bon Appetit 1999

  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bake soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup  unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup canned sweetened cream of coconut
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Whisk together the four through salt in a medium mixing bowl until combined. Using a stand mixture fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add in the cream of coconut and four egg yolks and vanilla extract. Beat on medium-low speed until combined. Working in thirds, slowly beat in the dry ingredients mixed at the beginning, then the milk. Mix until just combined.

In a spotless bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff but some moisture remains. Fold these egg whites into the previously mixed cake batter. Divide cake batter between the prepped pans. Bake for about 45 minutes on a center oven rack, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool cakes for 10-15 minutes in the pans. Using a small, sharp knife, carefully run the blade around the pan sides to loosen the cake. Turn the cakes onto racks and cool completely.

Coconut Frosting

  • 2 packages 1/3-less-fat cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup canned sweetened cream of coconut
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Flaked sweetened coconut to your liking

Combine cream cheese and butter in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until fluffy.  Add powdered sugar, cream of coconut and vanilla extract. Mix until combined. Slowly store in flaked sweetened coconut if desired.

To assemble the cake: place one layer on your serving dish and slide strips of wax or parchment paper between the cake and the serving dish. Top the cake with frosting. If using fruit (like I did with raspberries), layer whole or half pieces of fruit in the first layer. Place second layer on top, then frost the top, working your way to the sides should you desire. Carefully remove strips of wax paper. Serve. Enjoy.

And if you don’t have a birthday coming up, just remember:

  1. Martha Brown said:

    Being the coconut fan that I am, I can attest to the fact that this cake was absolutely DELICIOUS! Thank you, Katie, for sweetening up my birthday. 🙂


  2. Katie said:

    You’re welcome! It was a fun cake to make and a wonderful occasion for which to make it!

    Though, I set a pretty high standard for next year 😉


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