Brown Betty Bakery Coconut Cake

Brown Betty Bakery Coconut Cake Recipe

Our bakery’s first ever review, in Philadelphia Weekly, was of this dense, extremely moist, three-layer coconut cake. My childhood friend, Khalilah, had to read the review to me, because I was too nervous to do it myself, and when I heard the cake being described as a “three-layer extravaganza,” I knew we had knocked it out of the park. To think, we had debated whether or not to even make coconut cake for that review, because so many people say they don’t like coconut cake. I’ve since learned those folks haven’t had good coconut cake. Our coconut cake.–Linda Hinton Brown and Norrinda Brown Hayat

LC Company's Comin' Coconut Cake Note

This cake from Philadelphia’s Brown Betty Dessert Boutique is charmingly dubbed “Company’s Comin’ Coconut Cake”—and we can understand why. Truly a three-layer extravaganza, the classic yellow cake is so moist as to bring tears to your eyes. But that’s not all. The layers are sandwiched with a coconutty filling, then slathered with cream cheese frosting, and then, as you can plainly see, strewn with coconut galore. Because the coconut plays a very real yet relatively restrained role, the cake is swell for situations when you crave a certain amount of coconuttiness but don’t care to cross over into coconutty obscenity.

Special Equipment: three 9-inch round cake pans

Brown Betty Bakery Coconut Cake Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 45 M
  • 1 H, 20 M
  • 20 (or more) people


  • For the cake
  • Vegetable shortening for the pans
  • Nonstick cooking spray with flour
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • For the coconut filling
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • For the cream cheese frosting
  • Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups sweetened flaked coconut for garnish


  • Make the cake
  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Coat three 9-inch round cake pans with vegetable shortening, line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper, and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  • 2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • 3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar on low speed and beat until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating until blended and scraping the bowl as necessary.
  • 4. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the cream, evaporated milk, and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add the flour mixture and beat until blended. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until smooth, about 1 minute.
  • 5. Divide the batter equally among the prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning them out onto wire racks to cool completely. Remove the parchment paper.
  • Make the coconut filling
  • 6. In a small bowl, stir the cornstarch, water, and vanilla until the cornstarch has dissolved.
  • 7. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir the cream, evaporated milk, sugar, and butter until melted and smooth. Add the cornstarch mixture to the cream mixture and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut. Cool to room temperature.
  • 8. Stir the sour cream into the cooled coconut mixture. You should have about 2 cups. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
  • Make the cream cheese frosting
  • 9. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the butter and beat until fluffy, scraping the bowl as necessary, about 3 minutes.
  • 10. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla until blended, scraping the bowl as necessary. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until fluffy. You should have about 3 cups. Set aside until ready to use.
  • Assemble the cake
  • 11. Place 1 cake layer, bottom-side up, on a cake plate. Use an offset spatula to spread half of the filling on top. Add the second cake layer, bottom-side down, and spread the top with the remaining filling. Top with the third layer, bottom-side up. Use a large offset spatula to spread the frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Use the palm of your hand to gently press the coconut onto the sides and top of the cake.
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Recipe Testers Reviews

Recipe Testers Reviews
Testers Choice
Carol Mattox

Dec 20, 2012

I’ve several friends that love coconut, so I was happy to make this cake for them. They all loved it. The recipe makes nice, level layers of moist (and dense) cake. Surprisingly, there’s no coconut milk or coconut extract at all in the cake layers, relying only on the filling and frosting for that coconutty flavor. This cream cheese frosting recipe makes a generous amount for a 3-layer cake. It whipped up nice and fluffy and would’ve been beautiful on the cake even without the coconut applied to the surface. It wasn’t too sweet, either. I can see this frosting working for a fresh ginger cake, or carrot cake as well. The recipe makes ample coconut filling for a 3-layer cake. The addition of sour cream is genius. It cuts the sweetness with just a hint of tang. One point I would question is the amount of flaked coconut. By volume, coconut measures a lot like brown sugar in that it can be packed into the measuring cup or just scooped up in the measuring cup, thus giving wide variations in how much was intended.

Testers Choice
Adrienne Lee

Dec 20, 2012

For a coconut cake, this is actually quite easy. The filling for the Company’s Comin’ Cake is fantastic all by itself. With just a little more milk (maybe replacing some of the cream with more milk) and not using the sour cream, it could stand on its own as a pudding! The frosting is a fairly standard cream cheese frosting recipe. The general consensus is that the cake could have more coconut flavor. If you just made the cake, it’d be a yellow cake.

  1. sparrow says:

    OH MY WORD! I tend to leave the baking to my husband and my daughter. But I tried making this for Easter.

    My rule is that if an item is labor-intensive to make, it has to be REALLY delicious. This. Cake. Is. Delicious.

    Every part of this cake looks and tastes phenomenal. The cake is a dreamy dense white concoction. The kind you dream about. (I’m not sure why the above poster says it’s a yellow cake; mine was white.)

    The coconut filling is wonderfully complex nutty/sweet combination with a delightful texture. I slathered a thick layer of raspberry jam on each layer of the dry cake before I iced with the coconut filling. It added a complementary fruity tang–and a cheerful red stripe–to the serene goodness of the coconut, vanilla, and cream cheese flavors.

    The icing is perfect. Not too sweet. I didn’t have no-salt butter but the found the flavor of the salted butter worked fine. I piled on the coconut by the handfuls!

    Probably the best white cake I’ve ever had. Definitely the best one I’ve ever made.

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi sparrow, I love, love, love this glowing review! Many thanks for taking the time to tell us about your results.

  2. missbrimmy says:

    I made this cake to announce our engagement at church this morning and it was delicious and got lots of compliments.

  3. penny says:

    the best and most moist cake I have ever eaten. I made it for my best friend’s best birthday party and it was gone within seconds.

  4. I’d love to make this cake, but as far as I know we don’t have sweetened coconut in the UK. Do you know a way that I can substitute with plain shredded / desicated coconut? Would tossing it together with some icing sugar work?

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi Made with Pink, you can try rehydrating desiccated coconut in warm simple syrup though it won’t be exactly the same as sweetened coconut. Since we only tried this recipe as written, please let us know how it turns out.

  5. Maria says:

    I made this cake on two occasions!!! The compliments were huge. I had so many requests about the recipe that I decided to send them this page. Thank you so much for that marvelous, moist, and awesome cake.

  6. Jennifer says:

    Do you refrigerate this cake after making it?

    • David Leite says:

      Jennifer, I never have, but I don’t see the problem with doing it. The only thing is please make sure to take it out of the fridge two hours before serving. That way it can come to room temperature.

  7. Jennifer Hunger says:

    Made this cake for my daughters birthday! It was a success. I was a little concerned because the batter was thick and my filling was thin. Keep in mind I am no professional chef. The finished product was amazing!!!!’

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Terrific, Jennifer! Thanks SO much for taking the time to let us know. And I dare say you’re a much better cook than you think. There are a lot of just mediocre recipes out there, even the best cook doesn’t stand a chance if the recipe isn’t good. That’s why we have our recipe testers—home cooks just like you—test our recipes prior to posting them. We don’t post far more recipes than we do post because they’re simply not worth your time, your money, your effort, and your expectations.

  8. nywoman says:

    I believe that congratulations are in order. Have a very happy one.

  9. melinda says:

    cheers David….it’s my b’day too (I’m 65 today) and happy to be celebrating….it’s pouring rain here in western NC but its only 63…so nice & cool…..cant remember wearing a sweatshirt on my b’day before, ever!! Hope your day is wonderful…and may we both have lots of cake & champagne!!

  10. debra says:

    Hi, i made the is cake to glowing reviews. i was told it was as good as the coconut cake from the Peninsula Grill in Charleston! But my question is has anyone made it with 6 layers instead of three? Cutting each cake in two. would i have to the double the filling? Would it be too unstable?


    • David Leite says:

      So glad you got all thumbs-up for the cake, Debra. (And for the record, I love the cake at the Peninsula!) You can cut the cake layers in half–which I’ve done with other cakes, but not this one. And you might not need all the frosting, but I suggest you do double it, just in case–a little leftover is never a bad thing. And I don’t think the cake would be unstable, as long as you don’t over fill it. If you want, keep it chilled until an hour or so before serving, which will make it even more stable.

  11. Andrew says:

    Every step of the cake was great – the cakes baked up very nice and flat. The filling was great. The one thing that mystifies me is the icing. I just can’t get it to be fluffy. It’s too runny and just falls down the sides of the cake. I tried adding more and more icing sugar but nothing worked. I’ll have to chill it a bit before I can get it to stay put and then press the coconut on. I keep re-reading the recipe to see what I missed but it’s so simple, that unless I measured the butter incorrectly or didn’t pack the icing sugar well enough, I just can’t figure it out. Not sure if anyone else had any trouble. I’m sure it’ll taste great.

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi Andrew, I’m so sorry that the frosting was runny. What type of cream cheese did you use? Full fat works best for frosting. The low fat varieties have more liquid would could cause a runny frosting. Also, the frosting could be thin if it is too warm or was over mixed. Hopefully, after refrigeration, the frosting was a bit easier to work with?

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