Classic Coconut Cake

This layer cake is a coconut lover's dream. Complete with coconut sponge, coconut filling, and a light whipped cream frosting, this dreamy cake bursts with tropical flavor. The cake batter itself is studded with coconut flakes to add pops of flavor and texture to the cake. The real punch of coconut flavor comes from the coconut filling, which features both frozen coconut flakes and coconut extract. If you're feeling fancy, feel free to substitute the whipped cream frosting for a classic meringue to channel the nostalgia of your childhood coconut cream pies.Large flakes of toasted coconut make a beautiful garnish for this cream-filled cake. Look for organic unsweetened coconut flakes at health and specialty grocery stores (if you'd prefer, you may substitute regular sweetened flaked coconut). Make this cake as the ultimate birthday treat for the coconut-lover in your life. This centerpiece-worthy cake certainly makes the list of our favorite coconut desserts.

Classic Coconut Cake
Photo: Southern Living
Total Time:
3 hrs 10 mins
12 servings


Coconut Cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 2/3 cups sugar

  • 1 cup shortening

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened

  • 1 cup milk

  • 2 teaspoons coconut extract

  • 5 large eggs

  • 1 (6-oz.) package frozen flaked coconut, thawed

  • Coconut shavings, for garnish

Coconut Filling

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup milk

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • 1 (6-oz.) package frozen flaked coconut, thawed

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

Whipped Cream Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coconut extract


  1. Make the Coconut Cake: Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease and flour 4 (9-inch) round cake pans.

  2. Beat first 7 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until well blended. Add extract,beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Stir in flaked coconut. Pour batter into prepared pans.

  3. Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely (about 1 hour).

  4. Meanwhile, reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Arrange coconut shavings in a single layer in a shallow pan. Bake, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted.

  5. Make the Coconut Filling: Cook first 4 ingredients in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, 12 to 15 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat, and stir in coconut and extracts. Let cool completely (about 30 minutes).

  6. Make the Whipped Cream Frosting: Beat all ingredients at high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.

  7. Spread Coconut Filling between layers of cake, leaving a 1-inch border. Spread Whipped Cream Frosting on top and sides of cake. Sprinkle toasted coconut on top of cake, pressing gently to adhere.

Related Articles