Mix It Up

Coconut Layer Cake

Posted on: February 23, 2012

In 2005, when my son was in the seventh grade, we took him to Gatlinburg, TN for spring break.  It probably wasn’t the best time to go because it was still pretty cool outside and the leaves weren’t on the trees, but we still had a great time.  We stayed in a chalet (cabin) up high in the mountain that had a great view.  We toured downtown Gatlinburg and ate at some great restaurants.  One of them was called Just Desserts.  It was a little place with about 6-10 tables but had some wonderful food and desserts.  Everything was homemade!  The bread for the sandwiches, the soups and the desserts.  The dessert I had was a coconut cake.  It was moist, had great coconut flavor and was beautiful!  I’ve spent the last 7 years trying to find a recipe that would duplicate that cake.  I’ve tried about five different recipes with no luck, until I visited Sweet Pea’s Kitchen website and used her recipe.  Finally!  I found a recipe that would match what I ate in Gatlinburg.

This cake gets its moistness and great coconut flavor from coconut oil and cream of coconut.  You can order coconut oil from this website  or find it from Kroger or Wal-mart but I didn’t think it wasn’t nearly as good.  The cream of coconut can be found at those stores also, in the alcohol beverage aisle.  Don’t think this cake is the only thing you can use coconut oil for.  I’ve used it for all my Asian-style recipes and can use it in cookie and quick bread recipes.  I also use it to grease my pans for the coconut cake before I flour it.  Before I end this post I need to mention the Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting.  I love this  frosting!  It works perfectly for this cake.  It’s really not hard to make either.  Don’t be afraid, I know you can do it!  Make this cake!  You won’t be disappointed.

For the Cake:
1 large egg
5 large egg whites
3/4 cup cream of coconut
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract
2 1/4 cups cake flour, sifted
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces, softened, but still cool
6 tablespoons Kelapo Virgin Coconut Oil
2 cups packed sweetened shredded coconut

For the Frosting:
4 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
4 sticks (1 lb) cut into 6 pieces, softened, but still cool
1/4 cup cream of coconut
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease bottom and sides of  two 9-inch round cake pans; dust with flour, tapping out excess.
  2. In large measuring cup beat egg whites and whole egg with a fork to combine. Add cream of coconut, water, vanilla, and coconut extract and beat with fork until thoroughly combined.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix on low speed to combine, about 30 seconds. With stand mixer still running on low speed, add butter and coconut oil 1 tablespoon at a time and beat until mixture resembles coarse meal, with bits no larger than small peas, 2-2 1/2 minutes.
  4. With the stand mixer still running, add 1 cup liquid. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 45 seconds. With mixer still running, add remaining 1 cup liquid in steady stream. Stop mixer and scrape down bowl with rubber spatula, then beat at medium-high speed to combine, about 15 seconds.
  5. Divide batter between prepared cake pans and level with offset spatula. Bake until golden brown, cakes pull away from sides of pans, and toothpick inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes Rotate pans halfway through baking. Do not turn off oven.
  6. While cakes are cooling spread shredded coconut on a rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven until coconut is a mix of golden brown and white, about 15-20 minutes, stirring 2 or 3 times. Cool to room temperature.
  7. For the buttercream: in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine whites, sugar, and salt. Place the stand mixer bowl over a barely simmering pot of water making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Whisk constantly until mixture is opaque and registers 120 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 minutes.
  8. Transfer bowl to the mixer and beat whites on high speed with whisk attachment until barely warm (about 80 degrees) and whites are glossy and sticking, about 7 minutes. Reduce speed to medium high and beat in butter 1 piece at a time. Beat in cream of coconut and coconut and vanilla extracts. Stop mixer and scrape bottom and sides of bowl. Continue beating at medium-high until well combine, about 1 minute.
  9. To assemble the cake: cut layers in half horizontally using a long serrated knife so each cake forms 2 layers. Put a dab of icing on a cardboard round cut just larger than the cake and center one cake layer on the round. Place a large blob of icing in the center of the layer and spread it to the edges with an icing spatula. Repeat with remaining cake layers. Ice the sides of the cake. Sprinkle the top of the cake with coconut. Then press the coconut into the sides.
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