Coconut Layer Cake

Coconut Layer Cake Recipe

Allysa has had this coconut layer cake recipe for years. It’s originally from a woman named Kathy who lives in the Midwest. It’s a wonderful cake and has become one of the all-time favorites among customers at the Magnolia Bakery. This cake is best served the day it’s filled and frosted.–David Leite

LC Playing Favorites Note

David—you know, David Leite, the namesake guy who started this site more than a decade ago—likes to bake. A lot. But this towering vision of goodness, with its swoops and swirls of frosting, its shower of shredded coconut, its pristine whiteness that’s oh so pretty to behold, just may be his favorite.

Coconut Layer Cake Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 45 M
  • 1 H, 15 M
  • Makes one 9-inch cake


  • For the cake
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For the filling
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • One 7-ounce package sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For the frosting
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • For the garnish
  • Sweetened shredded coconut, for sprinkling


  • Make the coconut layer cake
  • 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter and lightly flour three 9-by-2-inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with waxed paper.
  • 2. In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the flours and add them to the batter in 4 parts, alternating with the milk and the vanilla extract, beating well after each addition. Divide the batter among the cake pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.
  • Make the filling
  • 3. In a medium-size saucepan, whisk the milk with the sugar and the flour until thoroughly combined. Cook and stir constantly over medium-high heat (about 5 minutes) until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat and add the coconut. Stir in the vanilla extract. Cover and cool to room temperature.
  • 4. When the coconut cake has cooled, spread half the filling between the first 2 layers of cake, then the other half between the second and third layers. There. You’ve assembled the cake. Set it aside while you make the frosting, which needs to be used to frost the cake immediately after it’s mixed.
  • Make the frosting
  • 5. In an electric mixer bowl, combine the egg whites and the vanilla extract and set aside. In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine the water with the sugar and the cream of tartar. As the mixture begins to bubble at the edges, stir once to make sure the sugar is dissolved completely, then let it come to a rolling boll, which will take 2 to 3 minutes. Immediately remove from the heat.
  • 6. In a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the egg whites and the vanilla extract with the whisk attachment until foamy, about 1 minute.
  • 7. Without turning off the mixer, pour the sugar syrup into the beaten egg whites in a thin, steady stream. Continue beating constantly on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes or until stiff peaks form but the frosting is still creamy. Frost top and sides of cake immediately, being generous with your swoops and swirls and flourishes. Generously sprinkle the top of the cake with shredded coconut.
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