Lemon Coconut Cake with Lemon Curd Filling

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Today's light and fruity Lemon Coconut Cake with Lemon Curd Filling and Whipped Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting is the perfect dessert for spring!

Lemon cakes are a year-round favorite but in the spring, we especially crave lemon cakes, cakes with fruit, and all sorts of wonderful combinations.

Lemon Coconut Cake Recipe

Lemon and coconut are a match made in heaven, and this light, ultra moist dessert has the perfect balance of lemon flavor and coconut.

One of the things that makes this delicious lemon cake different from the others is that we've folded coconut right into the batter.

We've made a coconut layer cake in the past with lemon filling which is another great combination, but today's cake has the lemon cake front and center.

How to Make a Lemon Coconut Cake

Today's lemon cake is a moist lemon buttermilk cake with coconut folded into it. It is light, fluffy, and wonderfully moist! 

We are using the conventional mixing method (as opposed to reverse creaming) which results in a nice, soft cake- and it all comes together very easily.

**Find the full, printable recipe further down-- but here is a quick rundown of the steps!

Preheat: Preheat oven (to 350 degrees f). In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt for 30 seconds to help distribute the ingredients and aerate.

Buttermilk Mixture: In another bowl, add the buttermilk, oil, lemon extract and lemon juice. Using buttermilk in the recipe is helpful as the acidity helps to soften the gluten (resulting in a softer cake)!

Butter and Sugar: In the bowl of your mixer, add the butter and mix at medium speed until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and continue to mix on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes until fluffy and light.

Eggs: Add the room temperature eggs one at a time (We like to wait until the yellow of the yolk disappears almost completely before adding the next)

Dry and Wet Ingredients: With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients (I did 3 additions of dry ingredients and 2 of liquid).

Shredded Coconut: Finally, fold in the shredded coconut and divide the batter between the three prepared 8 inch cake pans. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 22-24 minutes until the center of the cake springs back when lightly touched or until a toothpick comes out clean (or with just a few crumbs attached)

Lemon Coconut Cake

 

 

Lemon Curd and Coconut Whipped Cream Cheese Filling

Our moist lemon and coconut cake layers deserve to be filled with an equally luscious filling. That's where our lemon curd and coconut whipped cream cheese filling come in!

Lemon Curd

  • If you've never tried our Lemon Curd filling, you are going to be amazed not only by the flavor (thanks to the fresh lemon juice and lemon zest) but also by how quickly it comes together over the heat of the stovetop.
  • Making lemon curd is just a matter of combining sugar, corn starch, and water in a saucepan over medium heat and then combining with the butter, egg yolks, and lemon. 
  • The result is so silky smooth and wonderful! This tangy lemon curd is not overly tart- it has just the right amount of lemon to give your cakes and cupcakes an extra flavor boost! 
  • The lemon curd will thicken as it cools. 
Lemon Curd Filling
  • After spreading our cake layer with lemon, we followed with coconut cream cheese filling so that we can keep the balance of coconut and lemon equal. 

Whipped Coconut Cream Cheese Filling

We love cream cheese frosting recipes and have made tons of variations over the years. However, sometimes we want a lighter consistency to our frostings and fillings.

This is exactly what we wanted for today's cake, and so we used our go-to whipped cream cheese frosting recipe and added coconut extract. We only used a teaspoon of coconut extract but you can easily adjust it to your liking!

Whipped cream cheese frosting is just a matter of whipping up heavy cream in a cold bowl (with a cold whisk attachment preferably) on high speed until stiff peaks form. 

Whipped Cream

Then, mix the cream cheese, sugar, and flavorings and then gently combine with the whipped cream. The result is just as you would imagine-- the whipped consistency is still there, but is slightly more stabilized by the cream cheese and sugar mixture. 

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

* While I find it difficult to frost cakes with a perfectly smooth finish when working with whipped frostings like this - it pipes great and is fine to use for textured frostings (as we tried with out Butter Pecan Cake). 

The decorating is especially easy when flaked coconut is involved! I simply frosted with coconut whipped cream cheese frosting and pressed the coconut into it. 

Assembling the Coconut Lemon Cake 

Place the first cool (or room temperature) cake layer on your cake base or cake stand.

Spread with a fairly thin layer of (cooled) lemon curd. The lemon curd at this point will have thickened to a very spreadable consistency. I like to spread softer fillings to about ¼ to ½ inch from the edge fo the cake to prevent it from escaping. 

Lemon Coconut Cake

Is it necessary to pipe a dam?

If I were using a buttercream or cream cheese (not whipped) frosting, I would pipe a dam of buttercream about ¼ inch from the edge of the cake layer before adding a soft filling.

However, since our whipped coconut cream cheese filling is going to be used as our frosting as well, and it is no thicker than our lemon curd, we are skipping the dam today. Instead, just do not take the fillings all the way to the edge of the cake. This worked well for us!

 

Adding the Coconut Whipped Cream Cheese Filling

Spread a layer of coconut whipped cream cheese filling on top of the lemon curd. It will spread very easily. However, remember not to take it all the way to the edge of the cake. I sprinkled a little shredded coconut on top of the Whipped Coconut Cream Cheese layer of filling but this is optional ;0) 

Stack the second layer and repeat the steps, spreading with a thin layer of lemon curd followed by the coconut whipped cream cheese frosting (and extra coconut if you like).  

Lemon Coconut Cake

Finish with the final lemon coconut cake layer. At this point, I spread the top of the cake with lemon curd, and filled in the gaps in between the cake layers with coconut whipped cream cheese frosting (applied from a disposable piping bag with the tip snipped away).

This gives us a little extra insurance that everything will stay contained.

You can see the "fill in the gaps" step in the cake photo below- you can also see that I may have gotten a little carried away with the amount of lemon and coconut filling that I used! This meant larger gaps to fill with frosting ;0)

Lemon Coconut Cake

Next, frost the cake as usual around the sides with the coconut whipped cream cheese frosting, and press coconut flakes into it. I finished off the cake with a piped border around the top edge. 

Moist Lemon Coconut Cake with Lemon Curd Filling
Lemon Coconut Cake Recipe- SO light, fluffy, and flavorful!

More Lemon and Coconut Recipes!

We've made lots of coconut cakes and lemon cakes over the years-- we just love both of these fruity flavors! In fact, we have a "sister recipe" to today's cake which is our Coconut Lemon Cake.

Some other popular lemon cakes are our Lemon Almond Cake, Lemon Velvet Cake, Lemon Cake from Scratch, and Lemon Pound Cake.

If it is Coconut Cake Recipes that you love, we have so many flavorful options for you! Our coconut pound cake, Italian Cream Cake, and Pina Colada Cake are just a few examples.

Lemon Coconut Cake- So moist and delicious!

Doctored Cake Mix Version of Lemon Coconut Cake

If you prefer working with doctored cake mixes,  you are in luck! We have a DELICIOUS Lemon Coconut Cake- Doctored Mix cake recipe

The layers are so moist with a fine crumb and have a light lemon flavor.  You will love this recipe!

Lemon Coconut Cake

Thanks so much for stopping by! Don't miss our full collection of tried and true Cake Recipes! We have so many delicious cakes to share with you (including cake recipes from scratch as well as cake mix recipes)!

We also have a huge collection of cake decorating tutorials. Whether you are interested in how to make a cake, how to frost a cake, buttercream flowers, or themed birthday cake ideas, we have something for you!

Lemon Coconut Cake with Lemon Curd Filling

Lemon Coconut Cake with Lemon Curd Filling and Whipped Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

You'll love these moist lemon cake layers with coconut baked right into the batter. The filling of lemon curd and whipped coconut cream cheese frosting is heavenly!

Ingredients

For the Lemon Coconut Cake Layers

  • 1 ½ sticks (170g) unsalted butter, softened ( holds it shape but dents when pressed)
  • 2 cups (400g) sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 3 cups (342g) cake flour (spooned into measuring cup and leveled off) If you do not have cake flour see substitution in Notes below.
  • 2 teaspoons (8g) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (3g) baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon (3g) salt
  • 1 ¼ cups (296g) buttermilk — if you do not have buttermilk, see substitution below
  • ¼ cup (57g) lemon juice
  • ¼ cup (54g) vegetable oil
  • 1 Tablespoon (10g) Lemon Extract
  • 1 ½ cup (113g) sweetened coconut (shredded)
  • Zest of two lemons

For the Lemon Curd Filling

  • ¾ cup (150g) sugar
  • ¼ cup (30g) cornstarch
  • 1 cup (236g) water
  • 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tablespoons (18g) butter
  • 1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 4 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

For the Coconut Whipped Cream Cheese Filling and Frosting

  • Two 8 ounce (423g total weight) packages cream cheese, softened. It must bee full fat, not reduced fat or cream cheese in a tub, those are too soft.
  • 2 cups (230g) powdered sugar, sift then measure
  • 2 teaspoons (8g) vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) coconut extract
  • 3 cups (696g) heavy whipping cream
  • *Optional: We sprinkled some coconut between the cake layers on top of the filling.

For the outside of the cake

  • Additional coconut to press into the frosting
  • Optional: Piping tip 2D for border
  • **One 14 oz bag shredded coconut should be enough for the coconut used both inside and outside of the cake.

Instructions

For the Lemon Coconut Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, grease and flour three 8×2 inch round pans.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and zest for 30 seconds. Set aside
  3. In another bowl, add the buttermilk, oil and lemon extract and lemon juice.  Set aside..
  4. In the bowl of your mixer, add the butter and mix at medium speed until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and continue to mix on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes until lightened in color and fluffy.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time mixing until the yellow of the yolk is blended.
  6. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients (3 additions of dry ingredients and 2 of liquid). Mix just until blended.
  7. Fold in the shredded coconut. Divide batter between three prepared 8 inch cake pans.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 22-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with just few crumbs attached. Let cool 10 minutes and turn out.

For the Lemon Curd Filling

  1. Combine sugar, cornstarch and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly, until mixture thickens and comes to a boil (3-4 minutes).
  2. Boil, stirring, for 1 minute more.. Remove the pan from the heat.
  3. Spoon about ½ cup of the hot mixture into a small bowl with egg yolks and stir quickly until combined. Continue stirring, while pouring the egg mixture back into the saucepan.
  4. Return pan to medium heat and cook, stirring, until the curd is thickened and lemon colored (1-2 min). Remove from heat and stir in the butter, lemon juice, and lemon zest.-- Let the lemon curd cool, then press plastic wrap onto the surface, this will prevent a skin from forming on the top. Refrigerate.

This will fill a 2-3 layer 8 or 9 inch cake with some leftover. The recipe can be halved.

(I have refrigerated the lemon curd for a week and it was fine....I'm not sure how long it will keep beyond that. Makes about 1 ¼ cups.)

For the Coconut Whipped Cream Cheese Filling and Frosting

  1. Freeze your mixing bowl and beaters 15 minutes before whipping the cream (30 minutes if chilling in the refrigerator. 
  2. Use the whisk attachment for a stand mixer, beaters on your hand mixer.  Beat the cream until stiff peaks form.  This can happen very quickly so don't walk away from the mixer.  You are at the stiff peak stage when you lift the beater and the cream stands straight or falls over slightly, Keep in the refrigerator while completing the next step.  
  3. In another bowl combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar and extracts.  Beat until very smooth.  Fold the whipped cream into this mixture. Cover and refrigerate.  If you are piping this frosting and it becomes too soft, just refrigerate the filled piping bag for a short while.  

Assembling the Cake

  1. Place the first cake layer on the pedestal or cake base. Spread with lemon curd (stopping about ¼ to ½ inch from the edge of the cake layer.
  2. Spread the curd with a layer of the whipped cream cheese frosting. Repeat steps for the next layer, and top with the third layer. *I had enough lemon curd leftover to spread the top with lemon curd as well.
  3. Fill in any gaps between the cake layers with frosting- I do this by loading the frosting into a disposable piping bag with the tip snipped away. This step helps to keep the filling contained. (Normally I would pipe a dam of buttercream when working with soft fillings but we aren't working with buttercream today. This is why it's a good idea not to take the filling all the way to the edge of the cake.).
  4. Frost around the sides of the cake with the coconut whipped cream cheese frosting. Press coconut into the sides. Lemon curd is on top of the cake and I'm leaving that exposed. I piped a border using a 2D piping tip with the remaining frosting.

Notes

Substitute for Buttermilk: No Buttermilk? Here is a substitution: To a measuring cup, add 1 Tablespoon plus one teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice. Add milk to the 1 ¼ mark, stir. Wait 5 minutes and it is ready to use.

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

Recipe makes approximately 7 ½ cups batter.

*If making standard sized cupcakes with this recipe, bake at 350 for 18-20 .minutes or until toothpick comes out clean (or with a few crumbs attached).

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37 Comments

  1. Hi Luella, You can bake the cake layers in advance and freeze them. Freezing the cake layers while they are still warm will make them more moist. Wrap the layers individually in plastic wrap and in aluminum foil. Keeping them air tight while frozen will keep them tasting fresh. When ready to use remove from the refrigerator and place on the countertop. When condensation forms on top of the foil, unwrap and continue to thaw. You can fill and frost the cake while the layers are partially frozen. Hope you will enjoy the recipe. It will also be fine to make the cake the day before the event and refrigerate under a cake cover. Take out 2 hours before serving so the chill will be off the cake. It does need refrigeration because of the curd and cream cheese frosting.

    1. I love your cakes but this one can still be improved IMO. I hardly taste the coconut in the frosting and the recipe made twice the frosting I needed (even after adding it between layers, as suggested). For me, the frosting was also too soft (even after rechilling and yes I whipped to stiff peaks). I also prefer a non cornstarch based lemon curd but this one was was awfully easy to make - but not so pretty to see. That said, the cake is long gone. Love your website! Thanks for all the great recipes!

  2. Hi,
    I couldn't find sweetened shredded coconut here in Australia.Only plain shredded coconut is available here. Is there any other alternative for that

  3. Hi
    I couldn't find sweetened shredded coconut here in Australia. There is only plain shredded coconut available. What is the alternative?

  4. Hi, planning to try this recipe. Could you pls advice if I can use regular full fat milk instead of the buttermilk?

  5. Hi Jennifer, You could use milk but buttermilk will give you a more tender cake. To make buttermilk using regular milk -- add 1 Tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice to a measuring cup then add milk to the 1 cup mark. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes, this is a good substitute for buttermilk. Hope you will enjoy the recipe.

  6. I made this cake this weekend and it was a 10/10, 4 star, major SUCCESS!!! I highly recommend this to anyone interested in making it. I didn't have coconut extract so omitted it and it still tasted amazing :D Every single person who tried it was blown away. Thanks!

  7. It did not rise as expected more like pound cake than layer. I checked my baking powder. It was good taste good just no rise

  8. Hi Deborah, Yes, it will be fine to make the cake a day ahead. Keep the cake refrigerated and under a cake cover or air tight keeper. Remove from refrigerator 2 hours before serving to give it time to warm a bit for best flavor and texture.

  9. Hi, jyst wanted too know if the frosting can be made a few days ahead and kept in the fridge. Also can it be frozen until you want too use it.