Brown Betty Bakery Coconut Cake

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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