Brown Betty Bakery Coconut Cake

This Brown Betty Bakery coconut cake is dubbed Company’s Comin’ Coconut Cake at the boutique where it’s sold in Philadelphia. True to it’s name, this beauty of a pound cake will have you dreaming up excuses to invite guests for dinner.

A Brown Betty Bakery coconut cake on a decorative white cake stand.

This coconut cake from Philadelphia’s Brown Betty Dessert Boutique is charmingly dubbed “Company’s Comin’ Coconut Cake” by the good folks at the bakery—and we can understand why. Truly a three-layer extravaganza, the pound cake baked in round layers is so tender and moist as to bring tears to your eyes. But that’s not all. The layers are sandwiched with a coconut 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 quite cross over into coconutty obscenity.–Renee Schettler Rossi

Brown Betty Bakery Coconut Cake

  • Quick Glance
  • (7)
  • 45 M
  • 1 H, 20 M
  • Serves 20 (or more) people
4.7/5 - 7 reviews
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Special Equipment: three 9-inch round cake pans


  • For the coconut cake
  • For the coconut filling
  • For the cream cheese frosting


Make the coconut cake

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.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

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.

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.

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

In a small bowl, stir the cornstarch, water, and vanilla until the cornstarch has dissolved.

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.

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

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.

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

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. Originally published December 20, 2012.

Print RecipeBuy the The Brown Betty Cookbook cookbook

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Recipe Testers' Tips

I’ve several friends that love coconut, so I was happy to make this coconut 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.

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.


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  1. I just cried when I saw this recipe. I adore coconut layer cakes and have made many of them, even for my own birthday! But now I have to be gluten free. No wonder I was sick all the time. I loved to bake, and gluten free baking is not the same and rarely tastes as good. Whine whine. Just needed to tell someone, after I saw the picture of this cake. I do bake gluten free though and have at least 20 different g.f. flours. Just lots more work.

    1. Alene, I understand. I’m gluten-free as well and, well, nothing is ever quite the same as the real deal, is it? And yet there are options. I love that you’ve taken it upon yourself to try different flours and experiment. If I may, I’d like to share a couple of our gluten-free recipes that our testers rave about. They’re not coconut cake, but they are lovely in their own right. One is our Flourless Almond Cake and another is our Paleo Cake in both Vanilla and Chocolate. In case you wish to experiment a little more. And for your coconut fix, while not cake, these Coconut Macaroons are really something special, even without the chocolate. Just sharing in case you ever feel like experimenting a little more.

  2. Hello,
    I was wondering if I should go by 1 stick (8 oz) of butter or use just 4 oz? My 1 stick of butter is actually 8 oz…
    I made this several years ago and it was so delicious; I just can’t remember what measurement of butter I used back then.

    1. ktejo, so glad you asked! In American recipes, assume that 1 stick of butter = 4 ounces. So you would count your stick of butter as 2 sticks. So happy to hear that this recipe stuck in your memory! And you’re welcome!

  3. Can anyone tell me how much a cup of flour should weigh in this recipe? I like to bake with weight measurements rather than volume. Thanks!

    1. Mary, 1 cup flour is 4 1/4 ounces or 120 grams. We, like you, prefer to use weights but sometimes, as in this recipe, the cookbook doesn’t include the weights. About 1 1/2 years ago we began to add weight measurements to all the recipes on our site but some of the older recipes we haven’t yet converted. If you need a reference that has some weights so you can convert recipes yourself, I’d like to recommend the ingredient weight chart from King Arthur Flour.

    1. Suzan, we didn’t try freezing it so I can’t say for certain. If you do wish to make it ahead and freeze it, I would only make the cake layers in advance. And I would let them cool completely then wrap them in several layers of plastic wrap and tuck them inside large resealable freezer bags. Then I would make the frosting just before you intend to assemble and serve the cake.

  4. 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.

    1. 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?

  5. 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?


    1. 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.

  6. 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!!

  7. 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!!!!’

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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?

    1. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

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

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