Coconut Cake

Cupcakes are cute. But cakes command attention in a way that cupcakes just can’t muster. Sort of like that scene in “Bull Durham” where Kevin Costner calls Susan Sarandon cute and her response is “Cute? Baby ducks are cute, I HATE cute! I want to be exotic and mysterious!” I think a lot of cupcakes feel that way.

Nothing against cupcakes. It’s just that there’s a time and a place for everything. Steph, the blogger at Momofukufor2, seems to share this sentiment, having conjured this stunning layer cake from what was a recipe for a cute cupcake. It elicits oohs and aahs from us every time we see it. She’s quick to offer up a kind word for the cuter cupcake incarnation, though. “This recipe bakes up great as cupcakes as well, but I find cake so much more festive.” So do we, Steph. So do we.–Renee Schettler Rossi

LC Hey, How'd You Get Those Chic Coconut Curls? Note

Notice those crazy coconut curls on the cake in the photo above? (How could you not?!) The graceful ribbon-like lengths lend a little ooh la la to cakes and cupcakes alike. How’d we get ‘em? Easy. We bought ‘em. Just look for natural coconut flakes at your local health-food store. Or search for those key words online (or, even easier, click here).

Coconut Cake Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 25 M
  • 1 H, 15 M
  • 2-layer 9-inch cake or 24 cupcakes


  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup packed unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pans
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • Seven-Minute Frosting
  • Flakes or shreds of unsweetened coconut


  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F (176°C). Line two 9-inch springform or cake pans with parchment circles cut to fit. If not using springform pans, butter and flour the pans.
  • 2. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and shredded coconut. Set aside.
  • 3. Combine the coconut milk and vanilla. Set aside.
  • 4. Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and egg whites and mix well. Add a third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, switch to a spatula, and stir just until incorporated. Then add half the coconut milk mixture and stir just until incorporated. Repeat, adding half of the remaining flour mixture, then the remaining coconut milk mixture, and ending with the remaining flour mixture. Do not overmix.
  • 5. Divide the batter evenly among the two pans. Bake until the top of the cake springs back when pressed lightly with a fingertip and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cakes comes out clean, 25 to 40 minutes (if making cupcakes, figure about 20 minutes). The cake will not color appreciably, so don’t rely on its hue as an indication of doneness. Cool the cakes completely in the pans on a wire rack.
  • 6. Working with one cake at a time, place the wire rack on top of the cake pan and invert the cake onto the rack. Then carefully invert it again so it’s right side up. Repeat with the remaining cake. Using a serrated knife, carefully slice off the mounded portion of one or both cakes to create a flat surface.
  • 7. Place a trimmed cake on a cake stand or platter. Spread a generous portion of the Seven-Minute Frosting over the top. Place the second cake on the first and very thinly coat the top and sides of the cake to seal in the crumbs. This is called a crumb coat. Then go ahead and generously slather the cake with the rest of the frosting. Quickly sprinkle some of the flaked or shredded coconut over the top of the cake. Gently press the rest of the coconut onto the sides. Behold!
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