This year we’re having Easter dinner at the home of my brother and sister-in-law, and my brother asked me to bring dessert. After considering several possibilities, I decided to make a coconut cake. A recipe from America’s Test Kitchen inspired my own adaptation and I’m really pleased with the results. So without further ado (drumroll, please) I bring you my recipe for an absolutely Sensational Coconut Layer Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting!
For this recipe you’ll need Coco Lopez Real Cream of Coconut which you’ll find near coconut milk in the ethnic foods aisle of your grocery store or in the section with the cocktail mixers and sodas. Coco Lopez is an essential ingredient in pina colada cocktails and it’s the key to this moist cake with fabulous coconut flavor. You’ll also need coconut extract (imitation is what I had on hand), sweetened coconut, and semi-sweet chocolate.
Here is a selection of my favorite tools when I’m baking cakes. First is our food scale that weighs ounces and pounds, or grams and kilograms and is one of the busiest tools in our kitchen.
Next are my cake pans, cake strips, and the thin plastic spreader (less than $1 from a restaurant supply store) that I use to run around the outside of the pan to help release the cakes when I turn them out to cool. The plastic works great and doesn’t damage the pan like a metal knife will.
This golden butter cake is fast to make, especially if you weigh the dry ingredients. Whisk the eggs in a large mixing cup and whisk in the rest of the liquid ingredients. Unless I’m entering a baking contest, I use all-purpose flour for all my cakes, even in recipes that specify cake flour, but you can use the same amount of cake flour for this recipe, if you prefer. Put all of the dry ingredients in the bowl of your mixer and turn on low speed for half a minute to combine, then toss in the cold butter a piece at a time until the mixture looks like the photo below.
Now add most of the liquids to the mixing bowl, turn the mixer to medium speed, and beat for about a minute until smooth, then add the remaining liquid and beat until it’s smooth once again, about a half minute.
Scrape the batter into the baking pans, smooth the tops, and drop the pans onto the counter from a height of a couple of inches to break up any bubbles. If you have them, wrap cake strips soaked in cold water around the pans to keep the cakes from doming in the middle, and slide the pans into the oven for about half an hour.
When the cakes are done, remove the cake strips and cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes then turn them out of the pans onto a rack to cool completely before you frost them.
Watch out for the bunnies; keep them away from the cakes, they’re sneaky and they love cake!
When the cakes are completely cool, sift the powdered sugar (seriously, does anyone really call it confectioner’s sugar??) and make the cream cheese frosting. I added Coco Lopez and coconut extract to my signature cream cheese recipe that everyone loves.
Here’s my favorite sifter; sifting powdered sugar is essential for making silky smooth frosting without unpleasant lumps that clog frosting tips. If you don’t have a sifter, you can use a fine mesh strainer. I’ve had several sifters in different styles that all rusted out after just a couple of years even though I always handwashed them, so I finally invested in this stainless steel one that is easy to use and has been worth every penny.
Here’s a link to the offset spatulas that I own in three different sizes. The larger ones are great for frosting cakes and bars or evenly spreading fillings in lasagna or cinnamon rolls, etc. The small ones are so handy for icing individual cookies or correcting “oopsies” when I’m decorating.
If you want the best baking results, I recommend that you get the heaviest baking pans you can buy, and look for straight sides instead of sloping sides. Square pans with rounded corners or sharp right angles–your choice. Have at least two sturdy cooling racks and consider the price as an investment. Check out Hockenberg’s restaurant supply in the Midwest or Beltram in Florida (they both sell to the public). Cruise Home Goods, or the kitchen departments at TJ Maxx or Marshall’s for one-off great deals. Crate and Barrel has some good stuff at reasonable prices. And Target will occasionally offer high-quality cooking tools at a reasonable price. A couple of times, when I was frustrated because I couldn’t find a specific high-quality item after extended searching, I just bit the bullet and bought it from Williams-Sonoma, like that sifter.
Once the cakes are cool, put one of the layers on a serving plate, bottom side down and smoothly spread about a 1-1/2 cups of frosting on it. Add the second layer, bottom side up, then frost the top and sides, smoothing with the spatula. Cover the frosting on the top of the cake with a layer of sweetened coconut, then drizzle with melted semi-sweet chocolate. Pipe top and bottom borders, if you want, add candy eggs, and you’re done.
Shoo those naughty bunnies away…
Now serve the cake to your adoring family and friends.
Be sure to save some for midnight snacking. Here’s a tip anytime you have leftover cake: spread a thin layer of frosting (extra that you didn’t need or some that you scoop from borders or decorations) over the cut sides of the cake to keep it from drying out, then cover with a cake dome or a large bowl and store covered in the refrigerator.
Try this easy recipe for Sensational Coconut Layer Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting.
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Thanks, and bon appetit!
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
- ¾ cup (6 fluid oz) Coco Lopez Real Cream of Coconut
- 1/4 cup (2 fluid oz) filtered water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon coconut extract
- 2-1/4 cups (9 oz, 250 grams) cake flour or all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (7 oz, 200 grams) granulated sugar, preferably super fine or extra fine
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 oz (170 grams) salted butter, cool room temperature, (70°F) cut into 12 pieces
- 1 cup (8 oz, 226 grams) salted butter, cool room temperature (70°F)
- 4 cups (16 ounces, 454 grams) confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 2 tablespoons (1 fluid oz) Coco Lopez Real Cream of Coconut
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon coconut extract
- 16 ounces regular cream cheese, chilled and cut into 16 pieces
- 4 oz or more Baker's Angel Flake Sweetened Coconut
- 2 oz semii-sweet baking chocolate, melted
- Candy as desired, optional
- Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 350°F.
- Spray two 8" round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray, line them with parchment, and lightly spray the parchment..
- Use a fork or a whisk to lightly beat the eggs in a 4-cup meausring cup, then whisk in the Coco Lopez, water, vanilla extract, and coconut extract.
- Using the mixer's flat paddle, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in the bowl of stand mixer at low speed.
- With the mixer on low, toss in the pieces of butter one at a time and mix until the mixture resembles moist crumbs.
- Add all but 1/2 cup of the egg mixture to the bowl and beat at medium speed (or high speed if using handheld mixer) until smooth, light, and fluffy, about 1 minute.
- Reduce speed to low and add remaining 1/2 cup of egg mixture and beat 30 seconds more on medium.
- Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans and spread into even layer; lift the pans about 2" and drop the pans on the counter to eliminate bubbles in the batter, then wrap pans with wet cake strips, if using them.
- Bake until the cakes are light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes, depending on whether you used cake strips.
- Remove the cake strips, if used, and leave the cakes in the pans on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then turn cakes out onto the rack, remove the parchment, flip the cakes right side up and cool completely, about 2 hours.
- Sift the powdered sugar.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the flat paddle, beat the butter on medium until creamy, a minute or so, then with the mixer at low speed, add half the powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
- Add the Coco Lopez and extracts and beat on low speed until smooth.
- Add the remaining powdered sugar on low until combined, then beat on medium high until light, fluffy and smooth, 4 or 5 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.
- Frost the cake completely on top and sides, add shredded coconut to the top, then drizzle melted chocolate over.
- Add piped top and bottom borders and/or candy, if desired.
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