The BEST Coconut Cake – Tastes Better from Scratch


The most AMAZING Coconut Cake with layers of soft coconut cake, pineapple filling, and topped with coconut cream cheese frosting. The assembled cake is somewhat of a masterpiece, and could be one of my favorite cakes of all time!

A slice of Coconut Cake on a plate, with layers of pineapple filling and frosted with coconut cream cheese frosting.

I’ve reached food nerd status by how happy this Coconut Cake makes me. It’s incredible! Dare I say it–it’s on the same level as my Mom’s ridiculously amazing German Chocolate Cake. It’s that good.

The cake is incredibly moist (I hate that word, but it must be used here), and not overly sweet, which I really love because it blends so well with the flavors from the pineapple filling and frosting, without any one element being too sweet. Also, you can make the cake, filling and frosting in advance.

The recipe was inspired by this coconut cake from A Bountiful Kitchen. I added cream cheese buttercream frosting with a splash of coconut milk for extra creaminess and hints of coconut flavor.

How to make Coconut Cake:

  • Mix Dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  • Cream butter and sugar: In a separate mixing bowl, beat the butter on medium speed with electric mixers until light and fluffy. Add sugar and mix 1 minute.
  • Add coconut extract and 1 1/4 cups of the coconut milk.
  • Gradually add flour mixture and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.
Four process photos for making the batter for coconut cake in a mixing bowl.
  • In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the batter until incorporated.
  • Line bottom of 8” cake pans with parchment paper and spray bottom and sides of pan lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Divide batter evenly between the pans.
Coconut cake batter with egg whites being mixed in, then the batter poured into two round cake pans.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F 25-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Remove the pans from the oven and  allow to cool for 5 minutes before inverting them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Once cakes have cooled, use a sharp serrated knife cut each cake round in half horizontally, so that you end up with four thin cake rounds.
Two process photos for how to torte a cake layer in half.
  • Meanwhile, make the pineapple filling and coconut cream cheese frosting, and then you’re ready to assemble the cake.

Assemble cake:

Place one cake layer on a serving plate and spread half of the pineapple filling over it. Top with second cake layer, and smooth some of the coconut cream cheese frosting on top.

Side by side process photos of a layer of coconut cake with pineapple filling spread over the top, and then topped with another cake layer, and coconut frosting spread over the top.

Top with third layer of cake. Spread remaining pineapple filling on top. Top with the last later of cake. Frost the sides and top of the cake. Sprinkle with shredded coconut flakes, if desired.

Process photos for filling a coconut cake with layers of pineapple filling and coconut frosting.

For best results, refrigerate the cake for a few hours before serving.

A whole coconut cake served on a cake stand, with a few slices removed to show the layers of cake and coconut frosting inside the cake.

Make Ahead and Freezing Instructions:

This is one of those cakes that really tastes better after it’s been in the fridge for at least 4 hours, and I think it tastes even better on day two!

I like to prepare the cake, pineapple filling, and coconut cream cheese frosting a few days in advance, so each element is ready for whenever I choose to assemble it. Bake the cakes, and allow to cool completely. Torte in half, then wrap each layer really well in plastic wrap and place in a ziplock freezer bag. Freeze for up to one month. Frozen cakes are easier to work with, and to frost.

The pineapple filling and coconut frosting can be made up to a week in advance, or frozen for several weeks. Allow the coconut frosting to come to room temperature before using.

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A slice of Coconut Cake on a plate, with layers of pineapple filling and frosted with coconut cream cheese frosting.

Coconut Cake

The most AMAZING Coconut Cake with layers of moist coconut cake, pineapple filling, and topped with coconut cream cheese frosting.

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Course: Dessert

Cuisine: American

Prep Time: 4 hours 30 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 5 hours 10 minutes

Servings: 16

Calories: 575kcal

Cost: 6

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Ingredients

For the Pineapple Filling:

For the Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting:

Instructions

Coconut Cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of two 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper and spray the bottom and sides of the pan lightly with cooking spray.

  • In mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

  • In a separate mixing bowl, beat the butter on medium speed with an electric hand mixer or stand mixer for 1 minute, until light and fluffy. Add sugar and mix 1 minute.

  • Add 1 1/4 cups coconut milk and coconut extract and mix.

  • Gradually add flour mixture and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.

  • In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the batter until incorporated.

  • Divide cake batter evenly between prepared cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, or with few moist crumbs.

  • Remove the pans from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before inverting them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

  • Once cakes have cooled, use a sharp serrated knife to torte/cut each cake round in half horizontally, so that you end up with four thin cake rounds.

Pineapple Filling:

  • Add all ingredients to medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir well to combine. Cook, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens and looks “glossy”, about 5-8 minutes.

  • Pour filling into a container and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the filling. Once cooled, cover container and refrigerate until ready to use, up to one week.

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • Beat butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add powdered sugar and a splash of the remaining coconut milk and mix until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

  • Add a little more milk, to thin, or powdered sugar to stiffen, if needed, until you reach your desired frosting consistency.

  • Stir in coconut flakes, saving some for sprinkling on the sides and top of the cake, if desired.

Assemble:

  • Place one cake layer on serving plate. Spread half of the pineapple filling over it. Top with another cake layer, and smooth a layer of cream cheese frosting over it.

  • Top with third cake layer. Spread remaining half of the pineapple filling over it. Top with last (4th) cake layer. Frost the sides and top of the cake with coconut cream cheese frosting. Sprinkle outsides of cake with shredded coconut, if desired.

  • Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, before serving. (Tastes even better the next day!)

Notes

Make Ahead and Freezing Instructions: This is one of those cakes that really tastes better after it’s been in the fridge for at least 4 hours, and I think it tastes even better on day two! I like to prepare the cake, pineapple filling, and coconut cream cheese frosting a few days in advance, so each element is ready for whenever I choose to assemble it. Bake the cakes, and allow to cool completely. Torte in half, then wrap each layer really well in plastic wrap and place in a ziplock freezer bag. Freeze for up to one month. Frozen cakes are easier to work with, and to frost. The pineapple filling and coconut frosting can be made up to a week in advance, or frozen for several weeks. Allow the coconut frosting to come to room temperature before using.

Nutrition

Calories: 575kcal | Carbohydrates: 85g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Cholesterol: 46mg | Sodium: 265mg | Potassium: 265mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 69g | Vitamin A: 565IU | Vitamin C: 4.2mg | Calcium: 64mg | Iron: 1.5mg

Have you tried this recipe?! 
RATE this recipe and COMMENT below! I would love to hear your experience.

I originally shared this recipe February 2018. Updated March 2021 with process photos and more concise instructions.



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