Classic Coconut Cake

Classic Coconut Cake

One of the beauties of layer cake is that you can do much of the work in advance. The cake layers can be baked one day ahead, wrapped tightly and kept at room temperature. The frosting can be made up to a week ahead, wrapped tightly and refrigerated (bring it back to room temperature before using). You could even assemble and frost the whole glorious thing a day ahead; store it at room temperature, covered loosely with plastic wrap or a cake cover.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 1 person



  1. Step 1

    Bake the cake: Heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with cooking spray and line with parchment paper. Spray again and set aside.
  2. Step 2

    In a large bowl, whisk together flour, coconut, baking powder and salt; set aside. In a separate, smaller bowl, combine buttermilk and coconut oil; set aside.
  3. Step 3

    In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat sugar, butter and vanilla on medium-high speed until mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating each egg until well incorporated before adding the next one. Continue beating until the mixture is very pale and nearly doubled in volume, another 4 minutes. Scrape down sides of the bowl, making sure no pockets of butter and sugar are hiding at the bottom, and beat another minute or so.
  4. Step 4

    Reduce speed to medium-low and add a third of the flour mixture, followed by 1/2 the buttermilk mixture, and mix just to blend. Add another third of the flour mixture and the remaining buttermilk mixture and mix just to blend, then finish up by adding the remaining flour mixture.
  5. Step 5

    Divide batter among cake pans and smooth the tops. Bake in the middle racks until cakes are puffed, pale golden brown on top and starting to pull away from the sides, about 32 to 37 minutes. Let cool slightly in pans before inverting on wire racks to cool completely.
  6. Step 6

    Make the frosting: In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, butter, vanilla and salt together on high speed until nearly pure white and very fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.
  7. Step 7

    Place one cake round bottom-side-up on a large, flat plate (or cake stand). Using an offset spatula, frost with about 1 1/2 cups frosting and place second layer of cake on top, bottom-side-up (this will give your cake a flat, rather than a rounded top). Using an offset spatula, spread a thin layer of frosting over the top and around the sides of the cake, making sure to fill in any crevices or gaps where the two layers meet. Chill cake for 1 hour.
  8. Step 8

    Meanwhile, if you’d like to lightly toast the coconut, place it on a rimmed baking sheet and toast at 325 degrees until pale golden in spots, 3 to 5 minutes. (It will give the coconut a great toasted flavor, but you’ll lose the pure white snowball look of the finished cake.)
  9. Step 9

    Frost cake with remaining frosting on the top and up the sides. Pat coconut onto the sides and sprinkle on the top of the cake. Chill cake for at least 30 minutes more before slicing.