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Coconut-Vanilla Bean Cake with Coconut Meringue Buttercream Frosting

Coconut Cake with Coconut Meringue Buttercream Frosting

For the past few Easters, I have been wanting to make a coconut cake for dessert. It just seems to scream light, fresh… spring! Each year, I never get around to it and end up making something else. This year, fate intervened. I ordered the Flour cookbook a few weeks ago, which is the origin of the amazing vanilla cream-filled doughnuts that I featured recently. It sat idle for a little while, until one day I started flipping through it and the book basically fell open to the page where this recipe for coconut cake was listed. It was an epiphany, I tell you. I loved the description from the start. Not only is there shredded coconut in the cake as well as on the cake, but there is also coconut milk in the cake itself and in the frosting. Need more evidence that this is quite possibly the best coconut cake, ever? The seeds of an entire vanilla bean are scraped right into the cake batter. That sealed the deal for me. A cake that’s bursting with coconut flavor and vanilla beans? I went all-in and it turned out to be a fabulous decision.

Coconut Cake with Coconut Meringue Buttercream Frosting

I took particular interest in the fact that the frosting was actually a meringue buttercream. I’ve only made one once before (see: Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Meringue Buttercream), and while it’s not as quick or easy as your standard butter and powdered sugar frosting, it’s absolutely delicious. Actually, more like phenomenal. This coconut version lived up to the hype, as well. A meringue buttercream almost has the consistency of satin; it’s not nearly as heavy as a powdered sugar-based frosting and it melts in your mouth. I could have easily eaten this frosting by the spoonful (and did, in fact, eat more than my fair share by the finger-ful).

Coconut Cake with Coconut Meringue Buttercream Frosting

The layering of coconut flavors in this cake is spectacular. While the coconut shines through, it’s not overpowering in the least; instead, it delivers quite a light, fresh-tasting cake. It’s perfect for any holiday, especially Easter or a spring or summer special occasion. You could dress it up with toasted coconut, colorful egg-shaped candies, or leave it as-is. However you choose to decorate it, you’re guaranteed to absolutely devour this cake. I already can’t wait to make it again!

Also, splitting the vanilla bean made me crave some fresh-churned vanilla bean ice cream! That would make a great accompaniment to this fabulous cake.

Coconut Cake with Coconut Meringue Buttercream Frosting

One year ago: Conch Fritters
Two years ago: Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes and S’mores Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies
Three years ago: Cucumber-Tomato Bruschetta Appetizer
Four years ago: Coconut Butter Thins
Five years ago: The Perfect Party Cake
Six years ago: Baked Mac n Cheese

Coconut-Vanilla Bean Cake with Coconut Meringue Buttercream Frosting

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Cook Time: 35 to 45 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

A fabulous, moist coconut cake studded with vanilla beans is filled and coated with a coconut meringue buttercream frosting.

Ingredients:

For the Cake:
2¼ cups cake flour
1¼ cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 2-inch pieces
6 egg whites
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise

For the Frosting:
1½ cups granulated sugar
6 egg whites
1½ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
⅔ cup coconut milk

For the Garnish:
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Directions:

1. Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans; set aside.

2. Sift the cake flour into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the sugar, baking powder and salt and beat on low speed for 15 seconds to combine. Add the butter pieces and beat on low speed for 1 minute, or until the mixture is coarse and crumbly.

3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg whites, coconut milk and the 1 cup shredded coconut until combined. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the mixture and whisk to thoroughly incorporate the seeds throughout the mixture.

4. Add half of the coconut milk mixture to the dry ingredients and beat on medium-high for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the remainder of the coconut milk mixture and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds, or until the batter is well-mixed, light and fluffy.

5. Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the tops are firm and golden brown and spring back when pressed lightly in the center. Let the cakes cool completely in the pans on a wire rack.

6. Make the Frosting: In a small, heatproof bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg whites. Place the bowl on top of a saucepan with about an inch of simmering water (do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water). Heat the mixture, whisking occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the mixture is hot to the touch and the sugar is dissolved.

7. Remove the bowl from the heat and transfer the mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the mixture becomes a light, white meringue and the mixture is cool to the touch. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter a couple of pieces at a time. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the butter is thoroughly incorporated and the frosting is smooth and glossy. The frosting may initially look curdled after adding the butter, but continue beating and it will come together, looking smooth and creamy by the end of the mixing time.

8. Add the vanilla extract, salt and coconut milk and whip for another few minutes on medium speed, or until the coconut milk is thoroughly incorporated and the frosting is smooth. Again, the buttercream may look thin and separated, but continue mixing until it comes together. It will be more of a satin-like consistency, versus the thick powdered sugar frostings that are often used.

Note: Use the frosting within 30 minutes, or transfer to an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 1 day, then beat with a mixer (using the paddle attachment) until smooth before using. You can also store the frosting in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, then bring to room temperature and beat with a mixer (using the paddle attachment) for 6 to 8 minutes until smooth before using.

9. Assemble the Cake: Remove the cooled cakes from their pans and level the tops, if necessary. Place one cake layer on a cake stand and top with 2 cups of the frosting, using an offset spatula to spread it evenly to the edges.

10. Place the second layer on top, top-side down. Spoon 1 cup of the frosting onto the top of the cake and use a large offset spatula to spread the frosting on top and over the sides of the cake, covering it with a very thin layer (this is the crumb coat). Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

11. Use a wooden spoon to mix the remaining frosting to lighten it up since it has been sitting. Spoon it onto the cake and spread it evenly over the top and down the sides. Use an offset spatula to create a smooth finish. Press the 1 cup shredded coconut onto the top and sides of the frosted cake. The cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

(Recipe from Flour)

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139 Responses to “Coconut-Vanilla Bean Cake with Coconut Meringue Buttercream Frosting”

  1. Averie @ Averie Cooks on March 28, 2013 at 2:01 am

    You are the queen of amazing looking cakes this week. The 6 layer one and now this one…and it’s beautiful! The layers of flavor, how coconut is worked in in so many ways, the coconut meringue buttercream!!! <— wow. And a fresh vanilla bean to boot. Beautiful!

    Reply

  2. Heidi @ Bits of Sunshine on March 28, 2013 at 2:27 am

    Looks amazing! So clean and pure, weird to say – I know! But it does. What a nice cake for Easter!

    Reply

  3. Diana on March 28, 2013 at 3:26 am

    The Flour baking book is just awesome. You gotta try her famous banana bread and cinnamon rolls. Will definitely try this cake.

    Reply

  4. Pilar on March 28, 2013 at 5:04 am

    Me ha encantado la idea de hacer una tarta absolutamente blanca…!!!

    Reply

  5. Diana on March 28, 2013 at 6:42 am

    This looks stunning – can’t decide between this one or the amazing looking chocolate one you posted this week…..guess I will need to make both for Easter Dinner! ;-)

    Reply

  6. grace on March 28, 2013 at 6:47 am

    it’s a white-out! and in the very best way. :)

    Reply

  7. Terry on March 28, 2013 at 7:37 am

    HAPPY EASTER!!!… beautiful cake!

    Reply

  8. Sadie on March 28, 2013 at 8:29 am

    This looks uh-mazing!
    My husband will be in heaven, if i make this on Easter. Thanks for helping me score some serious “good wife” points!

    Reply

  9. Sophie on March 28, 2013 at 8:53 am

    I was just looking for a coconut frosting recipe yesterday, thank you! And I adore Flour (if you’re ever in Boston you should absolutely go).
    Going to put this on a lemon cake & put jelly beans & peeps on top to make a nest (Easter dessert and centerpiece done!)

    Reply

  10. Monica on March 28, 2013 at 8:55 am

    I love the addition of the vanilla beans. I also think the Flour cookbook is great…I need to stop by the bakery next time I visit Boston!

    Reply

  11. Joelle on March 28, 2013 at 9:19 am

    This looks fabulous!! I just want to make sure the coconut milk is the canned type, and not the kind that comes in a carton?

    Reply

    • Michelle on March 28th, 2013 at 9:49 am

      Yes, I used canned coconut milk.

      Reply

      • Joelle on March 28th, 2013 at 10:03 am

        Thank you!! I’m making this for Easter! Can’t wait!

        Reply

  12. Musing Mar on March 28, 2013 at 9:20 am

    Oh my gosh, this cake is so beautiful. As soon as I saw it I had to stop scrolling through my reader and had to review the recipe. Absolutely perfect for Spring!

    Reply

  13. Tieghan on March 28, 2013 at 9:21 am

    This cake is amazing! Two amazing cakes in one week! I would not expect anything less from you!

    Reply

  14. Gerry @ foodness gracious on March 28, 2013 at 9:23 am

    Fantastic, where’d that missing slice go to? Huhhh ;) it should have came to me!

    Reply

  15. Dragonlady on March 28, 2013 at 9:33 am

    The icing scares my because I had complete failure with the strawberry meringue buttercream last fall. It was going great and then completely broke apart. Suggestions??

    Reply

    • Michelle on March 28th, 2013 at 3:38 pm

      All I can say is, try, try again! Meringue buttercreams are a nightmare for some people, and this one did break a couple of times as I mentioned above, but I kept mixing and it all came together. Once it’s finished mixing it still seems like it might not be thick enough, but like magic, it’s beautiful and works great.

      Reply

      • Dragonlady on March 28th, 2013 at 3:47 pm

        The cake looks awesome so I might just have to try again! We were in the middle of a late fall heat wave and the house was very warm so that may have played a big part in the last failure!

        Reply

    • Kate on March 30th, 2013 at 7:01 am

      I never make anything but meringue buttercream and I’ve never had an issue, even my very first time, although, I did make one with raspberry puree to flavor it, you have to be careful, adding too much moisture to the finished product will eventually ruin it….little by little. Also, there are three types of meringue buttercream: Swiss, Italian and French. This recipe is the Swiss method, I prefer the Italian method. They’re almost identical, the difference is in how the egg whites are heated. Look it up on youtube or google, I think it’s foolproof.

      Reply

  16. Tracey on March 28, 2013 at 10:20 am

    I made this recipe as cupcakes last year and they still rank up there as one of my favorites! The frosting especially, it’s out of this world good! You’re right, this is perfect for Easter – so pretty as a layer cake too :)

    Reply

  17. Marcie @ flavor the moments on March 28, 2013 at 10:25 am

    This is one heavenly looking cake! Coconut cake is right up there with my favorite cakes. I love that this one includes coconut milk and a lighter than air frosting!

    Reply

  18. Kathy on March 28, 2013 at 10:32 am

    What a beautiful cake! This is perfect for Easter!

    Reply

  19. marie @ little kitchie on March 28, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Not sure if I have ever seen a more beautiful cake! Coconut cake is the BEST!

    Reply

  20. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar on March 28, 2013 at 10:58 am

    This looks so lovely! What a gorgeous cake for spring :)

    Reply

  21. Penny Richardson on March 28, 2013 at 11:07 am

    My goodness. Your cake is absolutely GORGEOUS!!! Incredible. I think I have cake envy :)

    Reply

  22. marla on March 28, 2013 at 11:14 am

    Such a great lookin cake!!

    Reply

  23. bakingismyzen on March 28, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    Coconut…vanilla beans…you’ve got my attention….beautiful photos of your cake. Definitely will try it.
    Happy Easter!
    ~Carmen
    Baking is my Zen

    Reply

  24. The Bearfoot Baker on March 28, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    This cake and photo are beautiful! Gotta try this one soon! :)

    Reply

  25. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes on March 28, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    You’re killing me with all these perfectly delectable looking cakes this week!! I want them all!

    Reply

  26. Melissa @ Treats With a Twist on March 28, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    This sounds amazing! Truly takes me aback, because it reminds me of my birthday cakes. My grandma always always always made coconut cake with coconut frosting for all of our birthdays. The cake was coconut, the frosting was a 7min frosting, and tons of coconut pressed into it. Layers upon layers. It is still perfection to me. Now, I totally want to make this cake!!

    Reply

  27. Monica D on March 28, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Quick questions:
    1–Do you wait until the icing is set before you put the coconut flakes on it? If so for how long does it need to set?

    2-How do you get the coconut flakes evenly onto the cake and around it without jacking up the icing?

    3-Where can you buy vanilla beans?

    Thank you! :)

    Reply

    • Kate on March 30th, 2013 at 7:07 am

      This butter cream doesn’t set. If you refrigerate it it becomes hard, so definitely press the coconut on it before you put it in the ‘fridge. Don’t worry about jacking the frosting up, just don’t press really hard. Pressing the coconut into the sides will make a mess, just do it! I bought my vanilla beans at the grocery store. In the spice section.

      Reply

      • Monica D on March 30th, 2013 at 8:26 am

        Thanks Kate, this was very helpful!!! But how to you press the coconut onto the cake, with your hands? I saw online before a lady (older lady) used some sort of paper thingamabob and it placed it beautifully on there.

        Reply

        • Michelle on March 30th, 2013 at 11:28 am

          You don’t want to wait for the icing to set, or the coconut won’t stick. I just used my hands with a light touch. I buy vanilla beans at the grocery store, where the spices are located.

          Reply

  28. Marina on March 28, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    I made this into cupcakes and they are delicious! The coconut flavor is just right and the frosting is amazing!

    Reply

  29. Barb on March 28, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    My 13 year old daughter asked if I would do “that Julia and Julie thing” with the Brown Eyed Baker…..you know, make every one of your recipes!

    Reply

  30. Molly_Bakelette on March 28, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    I am so glad you got the Flour cookbook! It is fabulous! I made this cake over the summer and it was a huge hit! People still ask me about it!

    Also after you post those Flour donuts I really wanted them….and seeing as I was in Boston last weekend…I woke up early on Sunday and practically ran to Flour to get them! I hear they run out fast! I got one and it was AMAZING! I hope you get a chance to visit the actual bakery sometime! She also has another really good restaurant for dinner!

    xoxo M

    Reply

  31. Kiran @ KiranTarun.com on March 28, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    I baked a coconut cream birthday cake for the Husband just a few days ago. It’s up on the blog too. Your’s looks magnificent!

    Reply

  32. Stormie on March 28, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    What I want to know is what did you do with all those egg yolks or do you use the cartoned egg whites?

    Reply

    • Michelle on March 30th, 2013 at 11:33 am

      I don’t use egg whites from the carton. You can use leftover egg yolks for a number of things – pastry cream, ice cream, a custard-based dessert, etc.

      Reply

  33. Loretta | A Finn In The Kitchen on March 28, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    Wow. This looks absolutely dreamy! So flaming white, it’s gorgeous :)

    Reply

  34. Laura Dembowski on March 28, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    Coconut cake is my all time favorite dessert. I’ve been thinking about making one for Easter, as I haven’t shared it on my blog yet. This looks perfect with that light fluffy cake and meringue frosting – the best! Lovely cake!

    Reply

  35. Natasha on March 28, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    I want to dive right into this cake. Looks delicious!

    Reply

  36. Ines on March 29, 2013 at 6:49 am

    Funny, your cake is so different from my snowflake cake and still looks so much like it. :-) I will definetly try this one, too.
    I love your blog, even though i haven’t written any comments so far.
    Greeting from Berlin, Germany
    Ines
    Here is a link to mine: http://www.kleineloeffelhase.de/backen/schneeflockentorte-mi-sahne-und-kokos/

    Reply

  37. 3girls1apple on March 29, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Anything coconut im in. This looks so freaking goooooooooooood!!!
    http://www.3girls1apple.com

    Reply

  38. Jaclyn on March 29, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    This looks perfect! I love coconut cake and I love the addition of vanilla beans. Beautiful pictures!

    Reply

  39. Debra on March 29, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    Should I use sweetened or unswetened coconut milk. This is the best coconut cake I’ve ever seen!!! Can’t wait to try this.

    Reply

    • Kate on March 30th, 2013 at 7:08 am

      unsweetened. I baked the cake last night. unbelievable!

      Reply

  40. Sarah on March 30, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    Just made this, and it turned out beautifully! Thanks for the helpful coaching re merinque buttercream – it came together just as you described. Haven’t tied into it yet, but tastes along the way were very promising…

    Reply

  41. Kaitlyn Kenna on March 30, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    I was just wondering if I could substitute the vanilla bean for some vanilla extract? If so, how much extract would you suggest? I would love to use the real bean, but since I’m a “starving college student” I can’t afford those haha. Thanks :)

    Reply

  42. Kelly Sadler on March 31, 2013 at 12:18 am

    Happy Easter!! I made this cake tonight and can’t wait to try it!! My only question is, my two cakes are VERY flat. Did I do something wrong? Thanks!!

    Reply

    • Trish on March 31st, 2013 at 12:02 pm

      Funny you should say that. I just finished baking mine ,waited for them to cool and the don’t look like the picture,flat. I made the frosting it looks and tastes great, lets hope the flat cake does too.

      Reply

    • Michelle on March 31st, 2013 at 2:49 pm

      Hi Kelly, My cakes definitely weren’t flat, I’m not sure what would have caused them to be so, as long as you followed the directions and didn’t make any substitutions. Be sure your oven temperature is correct.

      Reply

  43. Beth Grussing on March 31, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Help!! I am making this for Easter dinner today and the frosting looks like cottage cheese. I followed EVERY step to a T. It looked beautiful until I (very slowly) added the coconut milk. I have been beating it for almost 10 minutes and it still hasn’t changed texture. Any tips for saving it???

    Reply

    • Lynne on July 9th, 2013 at 11:15 am

      Hi Beth,
      I made a Swiss meringue for some cupcakes I was frosting, and it fell apart. I had no time and no more ingredients, so I googled it, and found this: http://www.jasonandshawnda.com/foodiebride/archives/7640

      It totally fixed my meringue, and I now have confidence to fix it no matter what happens!

      Reply

  44. Deborah on March 31, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    Hi Michelle;

    I made this cake yesterday and it’s is great! Now was your cake dense? Mine turned out dense but it was still good. Love the flavors in it. Hubby said that next time I should add some Kahlua in it to step it up a bit more. Thanks for the recipe. Your site ROCKS!!!

    Reply

    • Michelle on April 2nd, 2013 at 11:29 am

      Hi Deborah, So happy you enjoyed the cake! It was a tad bit on the denser side when it comes to cake (versus “fluffy”), but still very moist.

      Reply

  45. Sherri Mask on March 31, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Despite all the mistakes I made (put the cake in the oven and realized i forgot to add the coconut milk which was sitting on the counter right of front of me in a measuring cup). I grabbed the cakes out of the oven, scraped the batter back in the mixing bowl, added the coconut milk and mixed. The cakes turned out beautifully and the frosting is to die for. I used powdered meringue and I was a little cautious about the egg white, worked perfectly. Great cake and I will make it again!

    Reply

  46. Rosie @ Blueberry Kitchen on March 31, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    This looks totally divine! Sounds so delicious too :)

    Reply

  47. cupcake with filling on March 31, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    even though I don’t really like the coconut shred… but I still love the nice white of your cake…perfect.

    Reply

  48. Melanie on March 31, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    Made this cake for Easter dinner. My entire family loved it. I’ve never made anything with a vanilla bean before and never attempted meringue buttercream frosting before this but I’m so glad I tried it I’m also very thankful for all the tips/hints in making the frosting, I may have given up halfway if not for them, I never would have thought it would come out smooth after adding the butter and then the coconut milk. We took your advice and paired it with homemade vanilla bean icecream (Atlton Brown’s recipe) and the match was heavenly! My dad just texted me and said “don’t lose that recipe”.

    Reply

    • Michelle on April 2nd, 2013 at 11:29 am

      Hi Melanie, So thrilled to hear your feedback! I’m glad your entire family enjoyed the cake!

      Reply

  49. NDMCM on March 31, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    I made your beautiful cake for Easter. It turned out very well. Thank you for creating your variation on the Flour version and sharing it with us all. A few comments:
    1. I had no trouble with the frosting curdling. It whipped up beautifully and I was happy to learn a new approach to frosting. All the same, I think I would prefer a straight butter cream the next time. I found the taste/texture of my attempt a little “slick.” Perhaps I used too much butter?
    2. The cake itself was amazing. Everyone loved the flavour and texture. My only quibble is that the cake formed a bit of a dense outer layer which was noticeable on serving. I found it a bit resistant to the knife. Perhaps there is a technique to avoid the creation of a “crispy” outer layer on the cake next time?
    Thanks again!

    Reply

    • Michelle on April 2nd, 2013 at 11:31 am

      I do find that meringue buttercreams, on the whole, have a bit of a “slick” texture, but they’re so silky smooth – just love them! As for the outer “crust” – I find this can happen for a few reasons – if you use non-stick pans, they can sometimes cause the outside to overbake a tad. Also, when you grease and flour, if too much flour is left inside, it can create a bit of a “crust” around the edges of the cake.

      Reply

  50. Izzie on April 1, 2013 at 11:16 am

    I made this yesterday for Easter. It turned out perfectly! Great recipe. My husband said it was one of the best cakes I have ever made! Thank you Thank you!

    Reply

  51. Kat on April 1, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    I made the chocolate cake for a family birthday on Tuesday–it was amazing! I even made my own marshmallows and fluff, which had everyone convinced I was crazy.
    I made this cake twice for Easter, once for my own family and again for a friend’s family. Both times the cake came out flat and dry. I also thought that it was missing something. I used high quality, very moist vanilla beans, I used a new package of excellent coconut, and a new box of cake flour. I might try a vanilla Kodak simple syrup poured over the cake layers next time, or ??? I dunno, this cake just lacked perfection.
    However, I slopped all those leftover egg yolks into David Lebovitz’s chocolate ice cream recipe (doubled) and watched all 16 Easter guests fall to the floor with bliss, so all was not lost!

    Reply

    • Kat on April 1st, 2013 at 12:47 pm

      That should say vodka, not Kodak :)

      Reply

  52. Emma on April 3, 2013 at 9:52 am

    I can only get coconut cream – would that be ok? I’ll be experimenting wildly anyway, since I’ll use Vitalite, not butter, and gluten-free flour. Fingers crossed!

    Reply

    • Emma on April 5th, 2013 at 10:09 am

      It worked BRILLIANTLY! I ended up making a different frosting, since margarine was such a disaster. But otherwise, this cake is back at the top of my list – yay!! :)

      Reply

  53. Anna K. on April 3, 2013 at 11:25 am

    I made this for Easter dinner. The frosting was stellar. Just follow the directions, and you’ll be fine. The cake was less appealing. Others have mentioned that it turned out flat, which mine didn’t, but it was quite tough and dense…to the extent that it was difficult to cut (with a recently-sharpened knife).

    I would say that if you’re planning to make this, find a different coconut cake recipe and add a vanilla bean to it. (The KAF coconut cake uses powdered coconut milk, which is intriguing.) But do make the frosting and assemble as written. Oh, and definitely toast the coconut for the garnish. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t get totally brown and brittle but it will make a world of difference to the flavor.

    Thanks for the recipe!

    Reply

  54. Kate on April 3, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    What a delicious cake. I made it for Easter for my boyfriend’s family. Lucky for my parents, his family would rather dive into a store bought cheesecake rather than a homemade confection so I took the leftover cake home to my parents for second dessert! My dad, who doesn’t have a particularly well developed palate, said it was unbelievable and asked me to bake another for his mom’s (my grandma’s) 88th birthday tomorrow. Absolutely! I’m the go-to-girl in my family for cakes and this one is at the top of my list now. It was so amazing!

    Reply

  55. Karen on April 3, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    i wonder if i can make this cake into cupcakes? has anyone tried yet?? also will the frosting melt at room temp??

    Reply

    • Maria Rojas on April 4th, 2013 at 10:02 am

      Hi Karen, I made the cake this weekend. Made cake and cupcake and they were both wonderful. The frosting, despite the issues I had with it, didn´t melt at room temp.

      Reply

    • Michelle on April 5th, 2013 at 11:17 am

      Hi Karen, I haven’t made these into cupcakes, so I can’t speak to that (thank you, Maria, for sharing your feedback!), but the frosting will not melt at room temperature.

      Reply

  56. Maria Rojas on April 4, 2013 at 10:00 am

    Hi! I made your cake for my syster in law b-day last weekend. Cake as super delicious but the frosting really made me sweat! It was sooo liquid (more like a glase) no matter how much I mixed it. I had to put it on a tray and then in the freezer, when it came out it was solid, so used the mixer again and it became watery :o( I was able to save some to frost the cake (because it tasted delicious), toasted the coconut to cover the whole thing. The best part is that everyone LOVED the cake and no one realized what happened with the frosting and that made me a SUPER HERO!!! LOL thanks for sharing!

    Reply

  57. Melanie on April 5, 2013 at 2:25 am

    So I made this cake tonight (with just a few modifications) for a girls night and it was fabulous! I thought the frosting sounded temperamental, but your directions were great and it turned out beautifully! Everyone enjoyed the cake and I had fun making it! :)

    Reply

  58. Alice on April 8, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    I have to say first that I have loved every recipe of yours that I have made.
    That said, I don’t know what I did wrong, but this cake came out very dry.

    Reply

  59. Erin on April 16, 2013 at 8:47 am

    I made these into cupcakes. The recipe made about 18 cupcakes and they turned out amazing. So moist and delicious. Hands down the best cupcake I’ve ever made. Thanks for the recipe. My whole family enjoys your Site.

    Reply

  60. Jennifer on April 19, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    What measure of other sugar may I use instead the granulated sugar?

    Reply

    • Michelle on April 19th, 2013 at 3:49 pm

      Hi Jennifer, I’m not sure what you mean. What other type of sugar would you want to use in place of granulated, and why? There really are no other types of sugar that you can substitute.

      Reply

      • Jennifer on April 19th, 2013 at 4:03 pm

        Maybe with brown or powdered sugar? Where I live is hard to find granulated sugar and I hoped to measure other type of sugar to get the sweetness or flavor that the granulated leaves.

        Reply

        • Michelle on April 21st, 2013 at 3:54 pm

          Hi Jennifer, Unfortunately both brown sugar and powdered sugar would really alter both the flavor and texture of this cake. I would not recommend substituting either one.

          Reply

  61. Jami on April 26, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    Hello, wondering if I would just use regular milk and make this just a vanilla cake? Just substitute an equal amount of milk for the coconut milk?

    Reply

    • Michelle on April 27th, 2013 at 10:21 am

      Hi Jami, I think you could probably do that without an issue, although coconut milk is a little thicker than regular milk. Be sure to use whole milk.

      Reply

  62. Sandra on April 30, 2013 at 7:23 am

    Not sure what happened…very flat, dry and dense. As there are numerous posts with the same issue, wonder if there is something missing from the cake?

    Reply

  63. Suzanne on May 6, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    If the cake is refrigerated, will it last longer? Or should we not refrigerate at all? Any tips on making sure this cake comes out moist and not dry like some of the previous posts?

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 7th, 2013 at 12:11 pm

      Hi Suzanne, I would not refrigerate this cake. I rarely, if ever, refrigerate cake because it will usually dry out. I would place it in an airtight cake keeper to stay moist if you need to store it for a couple of days.

      Reply

    • Mandy on April 14th, 2014 at 10:57 pm

      I know most bakers disagree, but I prefer cold cakes and feel it enhances the flavor when a baked good has been chilled. I just store cakes in an airtight container in the fridge, and have never had an issue with things drying out after only a couple of days. I stored the leftovers for this cake in the fridge, but it only lasted about 2 days because everyone in my family kept sneaking bites LOL

      Reply

  64. Suzanne on May 11, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    This cake was delicious! It could use a little more coconut umph…so I think I might try sub coconut extract for the vanilla…anyways, some people posted trouble with the frosting…it took 30 minutes after adding the coconut milk to the frosting to whip into frosting texture. I was worried, because it took so long to get from the curdled state to the frosting state, but turned out beautifully! My mom loved this cake and she is the ultimate test when it comes to cooking and baking! Thanks Michelle!

    Reply

  65. Angelina on May 16, 2013 at 5:32 am

    This is perfect for almost-summer! I’m baking this for my school’s graduation party for the seniors…hope they’ll love it! I’m adding some lemon to one layer, do you think that would work? Cause I read that coconut+lemon=heaven and this will be my first time baking anything with coconut in it so wish me luck!

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 16th, 2013 at 11:38 pm

      Hi Angelina, The lemon/coconut combination sounds great!

      Reply

  66. Sabine on June 11, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    I saw this cake and thought ‘wow this is something I would love to make’. Well today I made it. It was the first and last time. Well no it won’t be the last time because it is BY FAR one of the BEST cakes I have ever had! My cakes weren’t high and fluffy but I think they were as they were meant to be. The frosting is oh my goodness the best! I honestly have eaten three pieces of it already. I shouldn’t ever make it again as I will just eat it but it is definitely going to be my birthday cake yearly and mothers day cake. Too bad the two days are within weeks of each other! Thanks for posting this – it is beyond dreamy and fabulous! I wonder if the cake can be made without the coconut? I would love a nice vanilla bean white cake just like this one for bday cakes for the kids!!!!

    Reply

  67. Mike on July 6, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    I just made this cake and I substituted the butter for extra virgin coconut oil in cake and frosting. Holy WOW! Great recipe.

    Reply

    • Victoria on September 14th, 2013 at 7:30 pm

      I was thinking of doing the same thing! Did you sub out all the butter for coconut oil in the frosting and it turned out fine?

      Reply

      • Victoria on September 16th, 2013 at 7:52 pm

        I just made this! Only I…made cupcakes, turned them upside down, cut them in half and dyed the frosting and filled and frosted them in a mint and coral ombré effect. I also replaced the butter in the cake with coconut oil, but I do not recommend replacing any of the butter in the frosting, as it makes it less stable in my opinion. These were amazingly moist and so so flavorful!! Thanks so much for the recipe!

        Reply

  68. Lynne on July 10, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    I made this last night to bring to work for our monthly “birthdays” celebration, and everyone loved it. My cakes came out flat, but I realized after that I have 9″ cake pans, so that probably has something to do with it. Because of the reviews, I was conscious of it being tough, so I started checking it after 30 minutes, and it was done. I was really wondering if my $5 vanilla bean (yes, I had to pay $9.99 for two beans) was really worth it, but when we were eating it, one of my co-workers asked me if there was vanilla bean in it! I was happy someone noticed :-) It was a lot of work, and the ingredients were on the expensive side for a cake, but I’d make this again.

    Reply

  69. Cassidy on July 12, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    This cake is just amazing. I dont care if you like coconut or not, this cake is fantastic. the vanilla bean looks gorgeous, it has a nice suttle vanilla flavor and the coconut shred in the cake give it a nice contrast in texture. the frosting is super smooth and light. its a great summer cake. ive made this a few times now and every single person thats had it loves it. seriosuly, go make this. you will not regret it.

    Reply

  70. Kim on July 16, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    I am going to try to make cupcakes with this. Yum! My FILs birthday is tomorrow and coconut cake is his favorite.

    Reply

  71. Debby on July 27, 2013 at 8:43 am

    1. DONT REPLACE CAKE FLOUR WITH NORMAL FLOUR ( Australians, don’t even bother with this recipe. Won’t be making again )
    2. Don’t try replacing butter with margarine, it ruins the frosting.
    3. Attempt frosting one day in advance, it is tricky

    Reply

  72. Ramona on August 2, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    Just wanted to say that this meringue buttercream is the most heavenly thing I’ve ever tasted! It tastes like fluffy coconut marshmallow, and since I haven’t had marshmallow in years this went like WOW in my mouth. Thanks so much for the recipe!

    Reply

  73. Mariana on August 3, 2013 at 8:28 am

    Thank you! the recipe worked perfect, just followed your instructions and had the most delicious and fluffy frosting ever! I used it to fill & cover a vanilla sponge and put some mango slices inside and worked divine!!!!

    Reply

  74. Laura on August 29, 2013 at 10:05 am

    My nephews cannot eat dairy… Would it be possible to replace the butter and coconut milk with coconut cream? The fat content in the cream is close to that of butter while providing a bit less liquid to the frosting’s consistency than what the milk would.

    Reply

    • Michelle on August 29th, 2013 at 4:55 pm

      Hi Laura, I have never tried to substitute coconut cream for coconut milk and/or butter. Unfortunately, I can’t give you a definitive answer on how well that substitution would work. If you try it, please be sure to share your feedback!

      Reply

    • Tesee on February 20th, 2014 at 6:02 pm

      This comment is a little late but I just wanted to mention you could likely replace the butter with coconut oil and then use the coconut milk as directed.

      Reply

  75. Christina on September 8, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    Hi there! I’m making this cake tomorrow and I wanted to know if its okay to leave out at room temperature on the covered cake plate until the family eats it all? It normally takes us 3-4 days to finish a cake.

    Thanks for the recipe!

    Reply

  76. Roxanne Whitaker on September 18, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    Everyone of your recipes I try is phenomenal!! Thank you for your site. It’s the only place I go for recipes now.

    Reply

  77. Rida on September 22, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    I don’t have 2 8-inch pans so I made this in a 12×9 pan..my cake didn’t rise at all though, any idea what I did wrong?

    Reply

    • Michelle on September 23rd, 2013 at 3:06 pm

      Hi Rida, I’m not sure how switching pans may have affected the cake; it’s possible that this was the cause, but I’m not certain.

      Reply

  78. Mai on September 29, 2013 at 9:38 am

    This cake looks amazing ! I will have to bake this for my grandpa’s birthday, which is coming up soon. Just a quick question, I couldn’t really buy sweetened shredded coconut in Thailand, we only have the unsweetened type here. Will the unsweetened coconut do for this recipe?

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 3rd, 2013 at 1:07 pm

      Hi Mai, Yes, unsweetened coconut should be just fine.

      Reply

  79. Kim on October 13, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    I made this as cupcakes today for the second time. It made about 20 cupcakes. I did a half recipe for the frosting and it was more than enough. These are super yummy!!

    Reply

  80. Marni | Love and Duck Fat on October 15, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    I’m going to use this frosting for a chocolate cake and take pictures! It sounds divine and I love that there’s coconut milk in it!

    Reply

  81. Camas on October 20, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Would this recipe work for cupcakes?? If so, any cooking tips for temp and time?

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 22nd, 2013 at 6:08 pm

      I have not tried making this recipe as cupcakes, but if you give it a go, keep the temperature the same, but reduce the baking time (how long, I’m not sure, since I haven’t done it).

      Reply

  82. Marni | Love and Duck Fat on October 29, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    I just made this beautiful frosting for a chocolate cake and OMG is it good! It pairs so well with the chocolate-I put coconut milk in the cake too. Yum!
    I took pictures and everything if you want to check it out. :)
    http://loveandduckfat.com/chocolate-coconut-cake-coconut-meringue-buttercream-frosting/

    Thanks!

    Reply

  83. Joanne on November 9, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    I want to thank you for this wonderful cake and frosting recipe, it’s delicious! It’s my Dad’s 65th birthday in December and he loves a coconut and raisin cake with cranberry sauce between each layer. I just made this cake and frosting recipe combination to test it out and it’s perfect! The cake is wonderfully tasty and fluffy, it baked flawlessly. I love a swiss meringue buttercream frosting, I never thought to add coconut milk but the flavor is so beautiful and it pipes like a dream! I can’t wait to make this for him in another month, he’s going to be tickled pink! (well, blue ;)

    Reply

  84. Yulanda on November 28, 2013 at 2:17 am

    I’m making the frosting and it’s taking forever to come together, what is the longest time I can mix it? Please help.

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 30th, 2013 at 9:00 pm

      Hi Yulanda, There isn’t a set time, but I found that the frosting didn’t look like traditional powdered sugar frosting, it looked a little “slippier”, for lack of a better word. It might be done, but just not look like it.

      Reply

      • Yulanda on November 30th, 2013 at 9:32 pm

        Hi Michelle
        Thanks for responding, but I’m finished with the cake and it was delicious. I think what happened was that I didn’t shake the coconut milk together so regardless of how long I mixed it there was still liquid in the bowl, so I just took out the solid part and used the syrup to add flavor to the cake. Anyway very good I will definitely be using it again. :-)

        Reply

  85. Kim Q on November 28, 2013 at 9:03 am

    I was just reading the comments to see if anybody else got flat cakes too. I guess I am not the only one- I saw several comments mentioning that. My cakes did not rise at all. I followed the directions precisely and the oven temperature was as accurate as possible when factoring in that you have to open the door to put the cakes in. It wasn’t opened again until the cakes came out. Oh well. Hopefully it will taste good. It is a non-traditional Thanksgiving dessert. :) Thanks for the awesome recipes- you are my go to site for desserts.

    Reply

  86. Louisa on February 1, 2014 at 2:09 am

    Amazing recipe! I made this cake but didn’t separate into two layers. The cake was so moist and delicious – a huge crowd pleaser! Possibly the best cake i’ve ever made. Thanks!

    Reply

  87. Erin on February 10, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    What do you think about substituting Coconut oil for the butter?

    Reply

    • Michelle on February 10th, 2014 at 3:29 pm

      Hi Erin, I think it would alter the consistency and texture of the cake; having said that, I haven’t tried it. If you do, definitely let me know how it goes!

      Reply

  88. Sarah on March 13, 2014 at 8:31 am

    Hi.
    Is this dried coconut? We dont have shredded coconut like this in Denmark. Only dried, can that be used as well?

    Reply

    • Michelle on March 13th, 2014 at 11:09 am

      Hi Sarah, Yes, shredded coconut is dried coconut that has been shredded into flakes.

      Reply

  89. Mandy on April 14, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    I made this cake for my cousin’s birthday a couple of weeks ago, and it was heavenly. So moist and the vanilla beans really gave it a different flavoring. I have no patience for actual vanilla bean pods, so I just used vanilla bean paste. For the frosting, I just whipped up the cream from the coconut milk and added some powdered sugar and coconut extract to taste. We all really enjoyed the clean light taste of the frosting that way.

    Reply

  90. Kalieha on April 17, 2014 at 4:59 am

    Hi Michelle:)

    I wondered what temperature I should bake at if my oven is not fan forced?
    Can’t wait to start thank you for the amazing reciepe!

    Reply

    • Michelle on April 17th, 2014 at 9:32 am

      HI Kalieha, All of the temperatures listed for baking are for conventional ovens, so you should be fine.

      Reply

  91. Jelilat on April 18, 2014 at 11:17 am

    I just made this coconut cake with the frosting. I could not really taste the coconut flavor in the cake (I think it was because of the coconut milk I used and also I may have used unsweetened shredded coconut….shop keepers fault) but the frosting, oh dear God, was absolutely glorious <3 :-) I halved the entire recipe (cake & frosting) and added half a teaspoon of coconut essence to the frosting. I could not stop licking it. It is the yummiest thing I have had in a long time.

    I do need some advice though. I was lucky enough to get vanilla pods from a friend who traveled to the UK and brought it as a gift but they do not sell them in my country. It is also extremely difficult to find vanilla extract. What is readily available is vanilla essence. How do I substitute the vanilla pods for vanilla essence?

    Reply

    • Michelle on April 18th, 2014 at 2:19 pm

      Hi Jelilat, I am not familiar with vanilla essence, but from what I’ve read, it seems that it’s extremely concentrated (more so than vanilla extract) and that only a drop or two should be used in recipes. If this is the case, then I would follow those instructions. If you typically would use it in teaspoons like vanilla extract, then I would substitute 2 teaspoons of essence for 1 vanilla bean.

      Reply

      • Jelilat on April 18th, 2014 at 5:30 pm

        Great. Thanks a lot Michelle :-)

        Reply

  92. Mary on April 19, 2014 at 10:52 am

    This cake was a little time consuming but worth every minute! My family loved it!! Delicious!!!

    Reply

  93. sharon on April 28, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    I made this a couple months ago and it was AMAZING… I’m making it again tonight…

    Reply

  94. Cindy on July 13, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Wow, this cake looks heavenly! 2 questions: 1) will coconut milk from a carton work as well as the milk from a can? and 2) I’ve used smart balance butter spread in countless cookie and brownie recipes and they’ve come out just as good as if not better than when I used real butter, but will smart balance be ok to use in this cake and frosting? What would be the effects of using it? Thanks!

    Reply

    • Michelle on July 14th, 2014 at 12:41 pm

      Hi Cindy, As long as it’s pure coconut milk, it shouldn’t matter what the packaging is. As for the Smart Balance, I never recommend using anything other than butter unless a recipe specifically calls for it. Things like margarine and other spreads have higher water content than butter, which can affect the outcome of a recipe.

      Reply

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