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)

Share This Post...



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

Comment Pages 1 2
  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

Comment Pages 1 2

Leave a Comment





(Your comment may need to be approved before it will appear on the site. Thanks for your patience! If it is your first time commenting you may want to review the Comment Guidelines.)