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Fluffy Coconut Cake with Toasted Coconut Frosting

This year, I’ve decided to expand my baking methods repertoire by trying recipes that use batter making processes that I have not used before.  And I’m documenting it all in my “dessert of the month” series.

Now, before we proceed I need to give you a little warning.  I took pictures as I made this cake. Just in case it actually turned out.

(I feared it would not because the recipe called for real coconuts, hammers and machetes.)

(Okay, maybe not the machete part.  But it did call for a hammer. And having lived with coconut trees in my backyard in the Dominican Republic, I know full well that a hammer will not open a coconut.  At least not on the first whack.  But a machete.  That will open a coconut in one jab…if you know which angle to jab!)

(I’ve seen it done a number of times by Dominicans.  It’s quite impressive!)

(I decided to skip that part and do my own version of the “coconut syrup” and potentially ruin the entire cake.)

(But it worked out!)

(Sorry about all the parentheses.)

So.  All that parenthetical mess to say…I took a lot of pictures.  A lot.  Because I want you to learn as I am learning. That is after all why I write this silly website.  To help you learn how to be better cooks, how to be resourceful and creative with the ingredients that you get on sale at the store each week, and to have the courage to try something new in the kitchen!



Bake that Cake!

Draw a line around the base of whatever baking dish on parchment paper.

Cut, grease and dust with flour.

Prepare dry ingredients by mixing them into a bowl.

Sift out onto a piece of wax or parchment paper.

Makes a pretty flour mountain!

Open the coconut milk.  And if it looks like this, then scrape out the contents into a small mixing bowl and whisk.  Coconut milk naturally separates, so you just have to whisk it back into submission.

Don’t fret.

Beat together the softened butter with the sugar.  Until nice and fluffy.

Beat in the egg yolks.

One at a time.  Beating until nice and fluffy.

Like this.

Now for the alternating.  In 3 parts, alternate adding the sifted flour mix…

and the coconut milk.

Flour. Coconut milk. Flour. Coconut Milk.

Why not have a lick?!

Batter will be nice and creamy.

Reason I did not make the batter in my stand mixer.

Because I wanted to use it to beat the egg whites.

…for a few minutes until stiff peak forms.

Stir in about 1/4 of the egg whites to the cake batter with a plastic spatula.

Then gently fold in the rest of the egg whites.

Batter is ready for the cake pans.  Bake and then get to work on the flakes and frosting.

Toast the coconut flakes in a small skillet, until begin to golden.

But watch closely, as you don’t want them to burn!

Time for the frosting.

I have never in my life made frosting using this method, but boy was it tasty!

You add 2 egg whites, sugar and cream of tarter plus some water to a double boiler saucepan/set up.

(A double boiler is 2 nested saucepans.  One that sits on the burner and has water that boils and then heats a second saucepan that nests inside the bottom saucepan.  The gentler heat from the boiling water below is what is needed to make this uber-creamy frosting.)

Turn on medium heat and bring water to a simmer.  Once simmering, start beating the frosting.  It takes about 5 minutes for the frosting to form.  So yes, just stand there and sing your favorite 80s songs and then it will be done.

(I chose Vanilla Ice…Ice Ice Baby!  Because that’s the only one that I have completely memorized.  And yes, I just admitted that.)

Once the frosting will reach a peak…

Gently beat in the vanilla and coconut extract.

Here is the toasted coconut flakes.  Slightly browned. Ready for the cake.

Here are the cakes…ready to flip and frost.

Place a baking sheet on top of the cake pans and flip.  Remove the disposable pan and parchment paper, or cake pans and parchment paper.  Put the cooling rack on the bottoms of the cake and flip again.

Really, you can flip them out however you want…

But the end goal is to have them in tact and cooling for a few minutes before you begin the final assembly phase!

Get your serving plate and add some frosting to the base of it.

Place one part of the cake upside down.  I did not shave off the top of the cake to make it sit evenly on the serving dish, as I wanted every single coconutty crumb to be present in the final product!

Add some frosting and coconut flakes.

Add a thin layer of icing on what will be the bottom of the top layer.


Top with the other cake.  Now it’s all nice and sticky inside.

Slather the rest of the frosting over the cake.

Don’t be shy.

There’s plenty to go around and around.

And plenty for tasting too.

*quality control*

Slice and eat.

Or just stare and drool.

Other than the coconut hammering that then creates the coconut syrup (which you can see in the picture in the book.  You “paint it into the cake before assembling.), this was an amazing cake!

I took this cake to a church potluck.



And more raves.

And to be honest, I think that the coconut syrup would have been coconut flavor overkill.

It was perfectly delicious without it.


Fluffy Coconut Cake with Toasted Coconut Frosting

Adapted from Fluffy Coconut Layer Cake with Toasted Coconut Frosting in The William Sonoma Baking Book


  • Flour for dusting
  • 3 cups cake flour (I used all-purpose)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1  cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (or use homemade vanilla extract!)
  • 1/2 tsp coconut extract
  • 2 cups coconut flakes, unsweetened
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tarter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (or homemade!)
  • 1/2 tsp coconut extract


  • Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease 2 cake pans (9-inch) and then line with parchment paper and grease the paper and dust with flour.
  • Sift the cake flour (or all purpose flour), baking powder, baking soda onto waxed paper.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat together the softened butter and sugar on high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time.  On low mixing speed,  add the flour mixture in three additions, and add the coconut milk in 3 additions, alternating as you mix.  Beat in the vanilla and coconut extracts.
  • In a clean bowl, beat together the egg whites with a wire whisk until the egg whites form stiff peaks, about 5 minutes.  Using a plastic spatula, stir in 1/4 of the egg whites and then gently fold in the rest of the egg whites.   Divide the batter between the 2 cake pans and
  • Bake the cakes about 30 minutes in the preheated oven.  Let cool for 5 minutes, then flip out of the pans and back onto the cooling rack.
  • While the cakes are baking, toast the coconut flakes in a small skillet for 1 to 2 minutes, tossing a few times while they toast.
  • To make the frosting, combine the egg whiles, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1/2 cup water and cream of tarter in a double boiler.  Bring the water to a simmer and then start beating the frosting with a hand mixer. Beat on high speed for 5 to 7 minutes, or until peaks form.  Remove from heat and then beat in the vanilla and coconut extracts.  Let cool slightly before frosting the cake.
  • To assemble the cake, place a small amount of frosting on the serving platter.  Place one of the cakes upside down onto the frosting on the platter.  Add a small amount of frosting on the bottom layer, then sprinkle the toasted coconut flakes on top. Add a little frosting to the underneath of the top cake layer.  Place top layer onto the coconut flakes.  Spread the frosting all over the top and sides of the cake layers.  Sprinkle the rest of the toasted coconut over the tops and sides of the cake.
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