Recipe: Coconut Chiffon Cake
“If there were ever a cake that could be deemed the most Southern, most classic, and most treasured layer cake of all, the Coconut Chiffon Cake would reign supreme.” Our Test Kitchen Professional Ivy Odom gives this storied cake quite the compliment, but she would never exaggerate—the Coconut Chiffon Cake is legendary in the South. This specific recipe is one of our most popular recipes of all time. Need proof? It’s been published more than 40 times since it was first printed in the December 1968 issue of Southern Living. When we call something “a classic” or “timeless,” we mean it, honey.
Ivy explains that for a standard chiffon cake, you need to make a well in your dry ingredients, add your wet ingredients into the well, and whip the wet ingredients into the dry. With this recipe, our dry ingredients that go in the bowl first are cake flour, sugar, and baking powder. Mix the dry ingredients before making your well, and then add the wet ingredients–canola oil, egg yolks (save the whites!), vanilla, and water. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together, and set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with cream of tartar until fluffy. The eggs are used to create air for the ultimate soft cake texture. Next, fold the egg white mixture into the batter, and you’re ready to pour it into your pans. We used four greased and floured 8-inch round cake pans for this recipe. Bake the cake at 350˚ for 12-14 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Our test kitchen recommends checking for doneness at the minimum bake time, as even one to two minutes of extra baking can result in a dry cake. Once the cakes are done, let them cool on wire racks in the pans for about 10 minutes, remove them from the pans, and then let them cool completely on the wire racks (about 30 minutes).
While the cakes are cooling, it’s time to make the coconut-mascarpone filling, which Ivy says is “reminiscent of a cloud.” In a bowl, whisk whipping cream until fluffy. In a separate bowl, add mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla, and stir together. Then fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture. Next, stir in grated coconut to complete the filling. Now that the filling and the cakes are finished, you can get to stacking. After you carefully (carefully!) stack your layers and filling, cover the cake with plastic wrap and chill for 12 hours.
Once the cake is chilled, you're ready for the White Chocolate Buttercream. In a bowl, combine chopped white chocolate and whipping cream, and heat them together until melted, and stir. Let the mixture cool completely (about 20 minutes) In a separate bowl, mix butter and powdered sugar with a hand- or standing-mixer, and then add the white chocolate mixture, vanilla, and more powdered sugar before mixing again until it’s fluffy. Carefully ice the top and sides of the cake, and cover with sweetened flaked coconut. Congratulations—you have now completed a beloved Southern recipe, the beautiful Coconut Chiffon Cake.