Coconut Cake Recipe from Scratch

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We love this delicious coconut cake recipe from scratch- it is so moist and flavorful! We love coconut cakes year-round but especially in the winter months!

DELICIOUS Coconut Cake Recipe from Scratch by MyCakeSchool.com! Online cake classes, cake recipes, and more!

Old Fashioned Favorite Cakes

I have so many great memories of amazing desserts and cakes at our family get-togethers.

There was always a good chance of finding a couple of homemade southern favorites like Red Velvet Cake, Italian Cream Cake, Pound Cake, German Chocolate Cake ,and of course, Coconut Cake!

There's just nothing better than flavorful coconut filling sandwiched between moist yellow cake layers and a generous coat of coconut cream cheese frosting. The finished cake, dressed in flaked coconut tastes as heavenly as it looks! 

Cake Layers for Coconut Cake Recipe From Scratch

Classic coconut cakes usually consist of yellow cake layers with coconut filling, coconut frosting and a generous layer of flaked coconut pressed around the sides and on top of the cake. 

We have several favorite yellow cake recipes (including this Yellow Cake from Scratch and our Yellow Velvet Cake recipe). However, for today's cake, we're using our scratch Yellow Birthday Cake!

This cake is soft, moist, and perfect for our coconut layer cake. We added a bit of coconut extract to the yellow cake batter as well. This is optional but you can never go wrong with a little extra coconut!

How to Make a Classic Coconut Cake

You can find the full, printable cake recipe further down in this post. Here is a quick rundown of our steps!

*Note that we are using a delicious scratch yellow cake recipe (coconut extract optional), but you can swap out any favorite yellow or white cake for this recipe!

  1. Preheat: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 3 (8x2) inch or 2 (9x2) inch round cake pans. We like having 3 layers because we like more coconut filling!
  2. Flour Mixture: In a medium sized bowl, add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to blend for 30 seconds. Set aside.
  3. Sour Cream Mixture: In another bowl or measuring cup, combine the sour cream, milk, vegetable oil, coconut extract, and vanilla extract
  4. Butter and Sugar: In the bowl of your mixer, beat the softened butter until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and beat on medium speed for 3-5 minutes until fluffy and lightened in color.
  5. Whole Eggs & Egg Yolks: Add the 3 whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks one at a time, mixing until the yellow of the yolk disappears.
  6. Alternately Add Dry and Wet Ingredients: With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and the sour cream mixture alternately, beginning and ending with the flour mixture (3 additions of dry ingredients, 2 of wet). Mix until combined and smooth- approximately 20-30 seconds after last addition.
  7. Time to Bake! Bake at 350 degrees for 25-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes on a wire rack, then turn out.

 

Yellow Birthday Cake

 

 

You'll love this moist and flavorful scratch Coconut Cake Recipe! My Cake School Online Cake Classes & Recipes!

 

Coconut Filling  

We went with a delicious cooked coconut filling for our coconut cake- it has rich, wonderful coconut flavor and it is simple to make! You can make it ahead if you'd like and refrigerate.

  1. First, In a small bowl add the flour or cornstarch with 1 Tablespoon water, stir to smooth. Add this to a saucepan with the sugar, butter and milk, bring to a boil. Stir constantly and watch closely as it can quickly come to a boil and boil over the pot.
  2. When it comes to a boil, remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and coconut extracts and the flaked coconut.
  3. Return the pan to the heat and cook on medium high until the mixture reduces and begins to thicken. Stir frequently. Allow to cool to room temperature before spreading between the cake layers.

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

We love cream cheese frosting! This coconut cream cheese frosting is a twist on our favorite cream cheese frosting recipe, but with coconut extract added. It is the perfect addition to our scratch coconut cake!

The frosting is a simple combination of cream cheese, powdered sugar, and flavoring. 

Keep in mind that cream cheese frostings are a bit on the softer side, and so feel free to refrigerate it as needed when you are decorating the cake! 

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

Decorating the Coconut Cake

We covered the entire cake with flaked coconut which is not only delicious, but it makes the cake even faster and easier to decorate ;0) 

*We made the Coconut Cake at Christmastime and so we decorated it with green fondant holly leaves and the holly berries were red Sixlets (although red fondant berries would work great too!)

You'll love this moist and flavorful scratch Coconut Cake Recipe by MyCakeSchool.com!

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Does Coconut Cake Need to be Refrigerated?

Yes, this coconut cake needs to be refrigerated because of the coconut filling and especially because of the coconut cream cheese frosting.

For best cake flavor and texture, remove the cake from the refrigerator 2-3 hours before serving so that the cake and frosting has a chance to soften. We hope that you enjoy the recipe!

Enjoy the Recipe!

Thanks for stopping by! We hope that you enjoy this delicious traditional Coconut Cake recipe. Coconut cake is always a crowd pleaser and perfect for celebrations year-round! I wish I had a slice right now!

You can find our tried and true cake recipes as well as hundreds of free cake recipes in our Cake Recipes and Tutorials Section!

Delicious Coconut Cake Recipe from Scratch! Yellow cake with coconut filling and coconut cream cheese frosting! SO good!

 

Coconut Cake Recipe from Scratch

You'll love this moist and flavorful scratch Coconut Cake Recipe by MyCakeSchool.com!

This Coconut Cake Recipe from scratch is a classic! Yellow cake with a delicious coconut filling and coconut cream cheese frosting- this recipe is the best!

Ingredients

For the Yellow Cake

  • (We have updated our yellow cake over the years- We now use a three layer version of yellow cake rather than torting a two layer cake recipe)
  • 2 Sticks (226 g) unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 2 cups (400 g) sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3 additional egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 cup (242 g) sour cream (we use full fat)
  • ½ cup (120g) milk (we use whole milk)
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract (4g)
  • 1 teaspoons coconut extract (4g)
  • 3 cups (342 g) cake flour *See substitution below
  • 3 teaspoons (12g) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (4g) salt
  • ¼ cup (54g) vegetable oil (we use canola oil)

FILLING FOR COCONUT CAKE (CAN BE MADE IN ADVANCE)

  • 2 Tablespoons (16g) flour or cornstarch plus 1 Tablespoon water
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons (28g) butter
  • ¾ cup (180) milk
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) coconut extract
  • 1 ½ cups (105g) sweetened flaked coconut

FOR THE COCONUT CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) (226g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 oz. (226g) cream cheese, softened
  • ½ teaspoon (3g) salt
  • 2 teaspoons (8g) vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) coconut extract
  • 4 to 4 ½ cups (420 - 470g) powdered sugar, additional powdered sugar if needed
  • 2 cups Flaked Sweetened Coconut for pressing into the frosted cake.

Instructions

For the Yellow Cake (This is our Yellow Birthday Cake Recipe)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 3 (8x2) inch or 2 (9x2) inch round cake pans. We like having 3 layers because we like more filling.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to blend for 30 seconds. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl or measuring cup, combine the sour cream, milk, oil, and vanilla extract, and coconut extract
  4. In the bowl of your mixer, beat the softened butter until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and beat on medium speed for 3-5 minutes until fluffy and lightened in color.
  5. Add the 3 whole eggs and 3 egg yolks one at a time, mixing until the yellow of the yolk disappears.
  6. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and the sour cream mixture alternately, beginning and ending with the flour mixture (3 additions of dry ingredients, 2 of wet). Mix until combined and smooth- approximately 20-30 seconds after last addition.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached. Let the cakes cool 5-10 minutes, then turn out.

FOR THE COCONUT FILLING...

  1. In a small bowl add the flour or cornstarch with 1 Tablespoon water, stir to smooth. Add this to a saucepan with the sugar, butter and milk, bring to a boil. Stir constantly and watch closely as it can quickly come to a boil and boil over the pot.
  2. When it comes to a boil, remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and coconut extracts and the flaked coconut.
  3. Return the pan to the heat and cook on medium high until the mixture reduces and begins to thicken. Stir frequently. Allow to cool to room temperature before spreading between the cake layers.

FOR THE FROSTING...

  1. 2 cups Flaked Sweetened Coconut for pressing into the frosted cake.
  2. In the bowl of your mixer beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and coconut extract. With the mixer on low speed gradually add the powdered sugar and ½ teaspoon salt. Beat until smooth.
  3. Makes 4 cups and will cover a 2 layer 8 inch round cake. Frosting should be refrigerated.

TO ASSEMBLE THE CAKE:


Place the first cake layer on the cake pedestal or cake plate. Spread with the coconut filling, top with the second cake layer, and repeat. Top with the third cake layer.

We split our 2 layers in half because we wanted 4 thin layers for this cake. Place 1 cake layer on a cake plate or cake board.

Once all the cake layers are filled, frost the cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting. Lightly press approximately 2 cups flaked sweetened coconut over the top and sides of the cake.

Press the coconut gently into the frosting so that it will stick. Cover the cake and refrigerate until ready to serve. For best flavor, remove the cake from the refrigerator 2 hours before serving.

Notes

Substitution for Cake Flour: (Using all purpose flour (plain in UK) to make Cake Flour) For each cup of flour in a recipe, remove 2 Tablespoons of flour and replace with 2 Tablespoons cornstarch (cornflour in the UK). This recipe has 3 cups of flour so you will measure out 3 cups of all purpose flour, remove 6 Tablespoons and replace with 6 Tablespoons cornstarch, whisk to blend

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26 Comments

  1. The recipe calls for "sweetened flaked coconut". But looking at all the pictures, it appears to be sweetened SHREDDED coconut instead. Can you clarify?

  2. Hi Jason, The two brands that I use, my grocery store brand package says coconut flakes on the package as well as Baker's brand. My coconut flakes are very thin short pieces of coconut. I think flakes and shredded are similar. Coconut chips are quite wide. Hope this helps

  3. I don't see flour in the ingredients for the filling, yet there is a question about, and answer confirming using flour to thicken the filling. Can you please explain if it has flour or not.

  4. Hi Mona, That is strange, it is 2 Tablespoons flour. It isn't in the ingredient list or instructions, yet a question was posted asking if 2 Tablespoons is enough....can't explain that. I will make the correction. Thank you

  5. Hi Bebe and Melissa,
    I have a few questions,
    1) for the filling will it work if I use coconut milk rather than regular milk to enhance the coconut flavour?
    2)will this cake stack well for a wedding cake?
    3) any idea what the shelf life is of the cake ?

  6. Hi Samantha, I have never tried using coconut milk as a replacement for milk in this recipe. Coconut milk can be thicker and higher in fat than regular milk so I am not sure how that will affect the recipe. It should stack well for a wedding cake. The filling as well as the frosting is perishable so the cake will need to be refrigerated. Remove from the refrigerator about 2 hours before serving allowing time for the cake to warm a bit. If kept refrigerated, it should be fine from 3 to 5 days, best if eaten by day 3, in my opinion. The cake layers can be made in advance wrapped individually airtight with plastic wrap, then aluminum foil. You can freeze the cake layers a month in advance.......assembling the cake close to the event

  7. I am sorry but we have never tried freezing this filling so I can't be sure of the outcome. It can be refrigerated for at least a week.