The Ultimate Moist, Fluffy, Ridiculous Coconut Cake

Here are some things I've realized. And that you should have warned me about, you smug cat owners.

1. Cats are fluffy.

Yes, they are cute-fluffy, but they are also fur-tumbleweeds-on-all-surfaces, must-vacuum-all-the-time, why-is-there-cat-hair-in-my-mouth fluffy. I don't think I've ever used up an entire lint roller in my life, but since Buckle got here, I've gone through two. I have to dust, vacuum, and wash all throws/rugs every weekend without fail or the creep of the cat dander will eventually cover me like an evil, carnivorous fur coat.

He also hates his furminator and tries to attack it. Good thing he loves the prickly hairbrush.

2. Cats are busybodies.

If you have cabinets, they need to know what's in those cabinets. They don't want a cursory glance. They want to get in those cabinets and roll around until they have fully explored the texture of the cabinet contents.

If you have some dinner, they need to smell that dinner. And paw at that dinner. And if at all possible (for instance, if you have gone to retrieve a forgotten napkin or fork), taste that dinner.

If they hear a noise, see you pick something up, detect a motion in their peripheral vision, or just have a weird hunch, immediate and thorough investigation is essential.


What's this? Cake? What's cake? I'm going to need to investigate that...

3. Cats are terrifying.

Every now and then Buckle will go bat-you-know-what-crazy for no apparent reason, dive through the house, tackle an utterly-terrified Byrd, jump on three or four separate pieces of furniture, knock something over, and then hide under the buffet.

During this time, I close my eyes tightly and hope nothing expensive is in his path.

4. Cats sleep a lot. In weird places.

I emailed my friend Jamie shortly after Buckle came home just to make sure he wasn't sick: "Are cats supposed to sleep, like, 20 hours a day?" Apparently, yes.

Buckle's favorite spot to sleep is on my bright orange tray, using The Wednesday Chef's amazing book, My Berlin Kitchen, as a pillow. He's got good taste in literature, I'll admit, but there are fluffy pillows and blankets all over the room. And he chooses to sleep squished into a too-small tray with the corner of a book digging into his side. I don't get it.

5. Cats are worth it.

Worth the fur, worth the terror, worth the furniture cleaning (We had an incident. Don't get me started.) I'm already forgetting what it was like without Buckle here at home with us. As I punctuated that last sentence, he just stretched out and curled into an even more absurd position in his little book tray, as if to underscore my point. He's a big sweet baby, and I'm glad he's mine.

* * *

Buckle's already given his furry "thumbs up" to this cake -- he tried his best to reach it during the photo shoot. I love all coconut cakes, and have tried this one and this one. Both were amazing in their own ways, but I knew it was time to Frankenstein together the ultimate coconut cake. And this is it.

This cake combines the perfect white cake from The Way the Cookie Crumbles's careful experiments, an insane coconut pastry cream filling from Zoë Bakes, a thick coconut syrup drizzled onto each layer to keep it moist, and a buttery coconut Swiss meringue buttercream to top it all off. It's a time consuming recipe, but if you're as crazy about coconut as I am, it's worth it.

My sweet friend Mara and I were both gunning to make this ultimate treat, so we teamed up to present it to you two different ways! Go see her version of this masterpiece at What's For Dinner? I love her version so much -- not only is it an awesome coconut cake, but it tells a story!

One year ago: Savory Sweet Potato & Chorizo “Cinnamon Rolls”
Two years ago: April Fool’s Day Cupfakes
Three years ago: Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Squares with Shortbread Crust

5 from 1 reviews
The Ultimate Moist, Fluffy, Ridiculous Coconut Cake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This is it. The ultimate coconut cake. Perfect white cake is drizzled with coconut syrup, filled with rich coconut pastry cream, and slathered with coconut Swiss meringue buttercream. If you love coconut, this one’s for you.
Author:
Serves: 14-16
Ingredients
Perfect White Cake Ingredients:
  • 2¼ cups cake flour (9 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 6 large egg whites (¾ cup), at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1 inch vanilla bean seeds)
  • 1½ cups + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (11.35 ounces)
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1½ sticks), softened but still cool
Coconut Pastry Cream Ingredients:
  • 1 can (14 fluid ounces) unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
Coconut Syrup Ingredients:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup coconut water
Coconut Swiss Buttercream Ingredients:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large egg whites , at room temperature
  • 24 tablespoons (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 3 cups sweetened coconut flakes
Instructions
  1. NOTE ON TIMING: This cake has many steps, but none of them are particularly hard. For convenience, I’d split it up over 2-3 days. On the first day, bake the cake layers and let them cool before wrapping and freezing them. Make the coconut syrup and leave it covered in the fridge. On the second day, make the coconut pastry cream and frosting. Assemble the cake. Serve it then or on the third day.
  2. Make the cake: Set oven rack in middle position. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or butter/flour two 9-inch cake pans very well. Add a parchment paper circle in the bottom of each and grease that too. You don’t want your layers to stick! Pour milk, coconut milk, egg whites, and extracts into a small bowl and whisk gently until blended.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and continue beating until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no powdery streaks left.
  4. Add all but about 1/2 cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Scrape down the sides of bowl before beating just a little longer.
  5. Divide batter evenly between two prepared cake pans and smooth the tops with a spatula before dropping it from about 3 inches high to eliminate any bubbles in the batter. Arrange pans on middle rack. Bake until a thin skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs, 23 to 25 minutes. If you wait until the toothpick comes out totally clean, your cake might’ve gone too long and could be dry; be careful not to overbake! Check early and often.
  6. Let the cakes rest in pans for a few minutes before running a knife around the edges of the pan and inverting the cakes onto wire racks. Invert them again so they’ll be right-side up and let them cool completeley, about 1 1/2 hours, before wrapping in wax paper and plastic wrap to freeze until pretty firm, about 30 minutes.
  7. Make the coconut pastry cream: Heat the coconut milk, sugar, salt and vanilla bean or extract in a medium saucepan over medium heat. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and corn starch. Once the cream is hot, remove the vanilla bean (if used), scraping out any remaining seeds and returning them to the cream. Add 1/2 cup of the hot cream slowly to the yolks, whisking as you add, to temper the eggs so they won’t cook into an omelette in the middle of your pastry cream. That would be a bummer. Then pour the yolk mixture into the pot of hot cream and whisk. Continue to whisk with heat on medium-high for 3 more minutes. The mixture will turn thick and bubble. You need to continue to whisk for the full 3 minutes or the pastry cream will separate once it is cool. After the 3 minutes, whisk in the butter. Add the coconut flakes. Pour into a shallow dish to cool.
  8. Cover with plastic wrap pressed right against the pastry cream. This will prevent a thick skin from forming on the surface. Refrigerate for at least an hour or freeze for 30 minutes. Once it is cold, stir the pastry cream to loosen. Whip the 1/2 cup cream to medium peaks. Stir in 1/3 to the pastry cream to lighten. Fold in the remaining cream until the pastry cream is nice and light. Avoid eating entire bowl of pastry cream with a spoon.
  9. To make coconut syrup: Combine the sugar, water, and coconut water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool completely, about 20 minutes.
  10. Make Coconut Swiss buttercream icing: Combine sugar and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil without stirring until syrup reaches 240° on a digital thermometer, about 5 minutes.
  11. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer with whisk attachment, beat egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer on medium speed, gradually pour in hot syrup in a thin stream; avoid pouring syrup on whisk. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until stiff peaks form and mixture is cool, about 8 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add butter 1 tablespoon at a time, beating after each addition. (If at any time buttercream appears curdled, beat on high until smooth, then reduce speed to medium and continue beating in butter.) Once all butter is added, beat on high speed until buttercream is smooth and fluffy, about 1 minute. Beat in vanilla and coconut extract.
  12. Assemble the cake: Carefully slice each cake layer in half with a long serrated knife. Drizzle a couple tablespoons of coconut syrup over the “inner” side (the one that seems most porous) of each layer. Spread 1/3 of the coconut pastry cream filling onto the first cake layer. Spread it almost to the edge, but pipe a thick bead of buttercream around the very outside edge of each layer to ensure no spillage. Sprinkle with flaked coconut. Repeat with the other layers. Frost the cake with a very thin crumb coat and set it in the freezer to set for about 15 minutes. Bring it out and continue frosting the rest of the cake generously. Carefully push handfuls of fluffy coconut all over the sides of the cake and on top. Keep the cake in the refrigerator, but let sit out for about 30 minutes before slicing and serving so the frosting will be soft.

 

207 Comments on The Ultimate Moist, Fluffy, Ridiculous Coconut Cake

  1. Foodiewife
    April 1, 2013 at 4:45 pm (2 years ago)

    I remember your angst about bringing a feline into your life. Welcome to kitty world! I love cats and dogs, equally. Your list of cats attributes (or would that be detriments?) are spot on, funny and very true. They have a way of capturing our hearts. I had litter mates, who would sumo wrestle and entertain us. One is lost to cancer, but the other one remains a treasured family member. Now, as for this cake– I have THREE coconut cake versions on my blog and always open to a new version. The pastry cream really knocks this one out of the ball park! Wow! I say, the more coconut the better!

    Reply
  2. Michael
    April 1, 2013 at 4:55 pm (2 years ago)

    That cake looks ridiculous. Everyone seems to be posting about coconut cake these days! It’s making me crave one SO bad.

    Reply
  3. Paula @ Vintage Kitchen
    April 1, 2013 at 7:39 pm (2 years ago)

    Totally worth it, your new buddy. And the cake too Julie! I haven´t made a coconut cake in ages.

    Reply
  4. Roz
    April 1, 2013 at 8:03 pm (2 years ago)

    Oh I am SO glad that I clicked thru all of the links on FB to get to your blog. Everything is just so delicious looking and sounding! I’m thrilled to be your newest follower and enthusiast!

    Roz

    Reply
    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      April 1, 2013 at 8:05 pm (2 years ago)

      Thank you, Roz! I’m loving your recipes and blog, too! That salisbury steak with porcini mushrooms is killing me!

      Reply
      • Roz
        April 6, 2013 at 3:40 am (2 years ago)

        I’ll make the entree’s and you bring dessert! We’ll make a great pair!

        Reply
  5. Averie @ Averie Cooks
    April 1, 2013 at 10:41 pm (2 years ago)

    Wow. It really DOES look like the ultimate cake. Just the fact that you’ve nailed a perfect white cake…that’s not easy to do. Most are dry and not flavorful and just that aspect alone is a gem – but then the coconut and the pastry cream and the frosting! Pinning!

    Reply
    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      April 1, 2013 at 10:46 pm (2 years ago)

      Thanks, Averie! I can’t take credit for that perfect white cake, though — The Way the Cookie Crumbles did a full-out experiment to find the perfect one! I just benefitted from her hard work! 😉 Love the process she went through!

      Reply
  6. Rosie @ Blueberry Kitchen
    April 1, 2013 at 10:49 pm (2 years ago)

    Your cake looks so delicious! I love that it’s filled with pastry cream too. :)

    Reply
  7. Rose from Magpies Recipes
    April 1, 2013 at 11:01 pm (2 years ago)

    Oh my gosh that cake looks so fluffytastic! I love coconut in anything so this is just irresistible! Have never had a cake but you make me want to!

    Reply
  8. Shanna@ pineapple and coconut
    April 2, 2013 at 12:39 am (2 years ago)

    Being that I am slightly obsessed with coconut I have YET to make a full on coconut cake like this one. I need to. yours really does look so perfect!!

    Reply
  9. Kristina
    April 2, 2013 at 12:57 am (2 years ago)

    We call #3 “crazy o’clock”. 😉

    Also, OMG, that cake…

    Reply
  10. sbg
    April 2, 2013 at 1:03 am (2 years ago)

    Lawd, that cake. I have to get a job soon, so I can make even more stuff. The only thing I’m earning while baking at home unemployed is more weight.

    Cats are ridiculous creatures. Just don’t do what I do and accidentally teach them words. Like “hungry” (this will make my Roy thunder from parts unknown, even if I whisper it; see also: rouse from a dead sleep) and “cheese” (which makes my Johnny run around like mad – she’s a total cheesehead). All. My. Own. Fault.

    Reply
  11. Margaret T. Breese
    April 2, 2013 at 2:46 am (2 years ago)

    LOL….Buckles “twin” resides with me….a marmalade tabby boy that literally CLUNG to me when I found him outside on my porch last Christmas!!!! After careful feeding and lots of love, Kitt is almost 13 pounds of “where the BLEEP did that hair come from?” loveliness.I made a cardinal error of taking a brush to him ONCE….and now I find hair everywhere…including the TV screen……LOL.

    My sweet tooth ACHED just looking at that cake!!!!

    *hugs*

    LadyM

    Reply
  12. PapaLos @ The Man, The Chef, The Dad
    April 2, 2013 at 4:13 am (2 years ago)

    That cake looks crazy coconutty! I’m not huge on coconut but seeing that slice makes me want to try it out.

    I’m interested in getting a cat and I know my wife is too. I don’t think my dog (which is also “why do I have hair in my mouth” fluffy.. hahaha) would be that interested though.

    Reply
  13. Anjo Angela Lim
    April 2, 2013 at 12:05 pm (2 years ago)

    This looks unbelievably amaaaazing!! I want to reach in and just grab the whole cake for myself. And then run to the bathroom, shut myself in, and stick my face in it. Ummmm. Slurp.

    What do you mean by coconut water, though? Like, coconut milk? Coconut juice?

    Reply
  14. Jennifer-The Adventuresome Kitchen
    April 2, 2013 at 3:25 pm (2 years ago)

    Your kitty is the exact same color of one of my kitties!! Such a pretty, peachy, sandy color! Love your fluffy coconut cake too!

    Reply
  15. Kate
    April 2, 2013 at 4:13 pm (2 years ago)

    All those descriptions fit my crazy cats as well, one which looks enough like Buckle to be a brother. The cat hair thing is an issue…. my furry look-a-like cat LOVES being hand-groomed, but since it’s ultra-messy, we do it outside on the patio. He crouches down as I drag my hands over his back, rub his fur backwards, drag my hands over it again and again, loosening all the hair, dander and crud that he apparently hates to clean off himself. Can’t imagine why. The breeze just sweeps it away. Maybe not an option, but it works magic. That and basically just forcing the furminator on him. Also? Those wild rumpus times are my favorite. FAVORITE.

    Reply
  16. Laura Dembowski
    April 2, 2013 at 5:30 pm (2 years ago)

    I totally want a slice of that cake right now! It looks amazing. I just made coconut cake and loved it, but the addition of the cream filling sounds incredible!

    Reply
  17. Damaris @bliss.com
    April 2, 2013 at 8:45 pm (2 years ago)

    This cake is my dream. I love coconut and for me cakes need to be moist. I am definitely trying this.

    Reply
  18. Susan Taylor
    April 2, 2013 at 9:46 pm (2 years ago)

    Ummy-yummy! I’m heading to the grocery store to get the coconut stuff so I can bake this cake!!!!

    Reply
  19. Amy | Club Narwhal
    April 3, 2013 at 1:31 pm (2 years ago)

    Oh man, this made me smile so hard this morning–both your very spot on observations on the Way of the Cat and this glorious, glorious coconut dream. I cannot wait to try this recipe out!

    Reply
  20. Cheryl Myklebust
    April 3, 2013 at 1:46 pm (2 years ago)

    My mother used this frosting on all her cakes and I grew up making it. The difference is that we didn’t have a candy thermometer. My mother taught me to cook the sugar syrup until it “haired.” Strange term for a recipe I know but what it meant was to cook the syrup until a small amount dropped from a spoon back into the pan made a hair-like string. When that happened, it was time to mix the sugar syrup into the beaten eggs whites. I am not sure why the frosting was considered not to last and should be eaten the same day. My mother and I never refrigerated a cake and this frosting always held up beautifully until the cake was gone. This is a wonderful frosting and it made me happy to see it posted since I have only seen it a couple of times in the hundreds of old cookbooks that I have collected.

    Reply
  21. CateyLou
    April 3, 2013 at 7:39 pm (2 years ago)

    This cake looks absolutely perfect. So light and fluffy! Your pictures are beautiful too. Thanks for the notes on timing, very helpful!

    Reply
  22. fallconsmate
    April 4, 2013 at 2:12 am (2 years ago)

    wee little dogs are weird-on-legs, too. we don’t have the shedding issues because shadow is a poodle, but we have nights when she goes zooming all over the house, sliding all over the tile floors.

    i generally announce it as “we have now entered the dog insanity portion of the evening!” (but i wouldnt have it any other way. *G*)

    Reply
  23. Becky
    April 4, 2013 at 6:28 pm (2 years ago)

    Hah! Buckle hears the Call of the Wild, does he? Our three do too, usually at 2 or 3 in the morning. Then they sleep all day! Cats.

    Yum! My MIL made a very similar cake for Easter, we just gobbled it up!

    Reply
  24. Dina
    April 5, 2013 at 11:43 pm (2 years ago)

    beautiful coconut cake and cute kitty!

    Reply
  25. Stephanie
    April 6, 2013 at 10:34 pm (2 years ago)

    Hi…I was just curious about the egg whites. you say 6 egg whites which is 3/4 cup but when i go to measure it out i come up with 3/4 cup and 1/3 cup when i use all whites egg whites so i’m not sure what to use…

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      April 7, 2013 at 12:16 am (2 years ago)

      I used liquid egg whites and used 3/4 cup :)

      Reply
      • Stephanie
        April 7, 2013 at 2:00 pm (2 years ago)

        Thanks!

        Reply
  26. Jackie
    April 14, 2013 at 6:14 pm (2 years ago)

    Hi Julie

    When we print out recipes from your blog, is there a reason why we can’t print a picture of the recipe.

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      April 14, 2013 at 6:56 pm (2 years ago)

      Hey Jackie! I turned it off because I assumed folks wouldn’t want to print the picture. Maybe I’ll turn it back on — you can still click it to exclude it from printing if you want. I’m going to fix it now — tell me if it works!

      Reply
  27. Jackie
    April 15, 2013 at 12:24 am (2 years ago)

    Hi Julie

    I just tried it, I clicked on the print button and still no picture.

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      April 15, 2013 at 12:58 am (2 years ago)

      That happened to me at first and I realized I had the “remove images” option checked up top. Is that it?

      Reply
  28. Jackie
    April 15, 2013 at 7:35 am (2 years ago)

    Hi Julie

    Yes Julie that was it, I unchecked the remove image block and the picture popped up. Thanks Julie.

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      April 15, 2013 at 1:39 pm (2 years ago)

      Hooray!! Glad it worked!

      Reply
  29. Joni
    April 15, 2013 at 6:28 pm (2 years ago)

    Wow!!! Another pinner gave me this link – woohoo!!! LOVE your blog – I will be your devoted follower :)
    Thanks for the awesome recipe, can’t wait to make this!!!
    Not sure about cats…..I’m a dog person, but good luck!
    Joni

    Reply
  30. Carla
    April 17, 2013 at 2:18 am (2 years ago)

    Oh wow, that cake looks absolutely divine! My mom is a huge sucker for coconut cake & I bet she would love this. Pinned it so I can make it for her sometime.

    Regarding cats & cabinets… I’ve learned to stop freaking out if I can’t find my cat. There’s a 99.9% chance that he did not escape outside, he’s just hanging out inside the cabinet where I keep my pots & pans. Weirdo.

    Reply
  31. Emilie
    April 17, 2013 at 3:23 am (2 years ago)

    I can’t wait to make this cake! My family always wants me to stick to a tried and true basic recipe but I am all about trying new ones until I find the absolute ultimate in every respect. This one looks like it might be it! I’m curious, though, about the coconut water in the syrup. I’ve never heard of it before. Is that a specialty baking item, or is it supposed to be coconut milk?

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      April 26, 2013 at 9:58 pm (2 years ago)

      Coconut water is sold in a lot of stores now — it’d be near the juice/water section. You can also just make plain syrup, though, with 2 parts sugar to 1 part water.

      Reply
  32. Priscilla
    April 17, 2013 at 2:45 pm (2 years ago)

    Hi Julie,

    Thank you so much for this recipe I am actually in the process of trying it out right now. This was the best recipe I have found online based on the picture and reviews!

    I have two questions though. I made the syrup yesterday and I noticed that you wrote the ingredients as such:
    Coconut Syrup Ingredients: 1 cup sugar; 1/4 cup water; 1/4 cup coconut water.
    But in the how to for the syrup you wrote use coconut milk. Which was not part of the ingredients. Can you please let me know about this?

    Also, the frosting on top…I haven’t done it yet, was planning on completing the recipe tonight. If I don’t use the coconut flakes, does the frosting itself slather on thick? Or is it light?

    Thanks for your help!!

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      April 26, 2013 at 9:57 pm (2 years ago)

      I meant coconut water in the directions! I’ll adjust that now. The frosting slathers on pretty thick!

      Reply
  33. J.S. @ Sun Diego Eats
    April 17, 2013 at 8:13 pm (2 years ago)

    I love combining different recipes that I know work to make the ultimate franken-recipe! The epicurious.com double chocolate cake recipe is my go to chocolate one but I didn’t have a go to white cake recipe so I’m going to try that one out!

    And cat ownership is definitely hard to “get” before you get a cat as they are not as outwardly friendly as dogs. But definitely worth it…even though my cat likes to stand on me until I wake up to feed it and it loves eating all the flowers off my plants haha.

    Reply
  34. Fazila
    April 17, 2013 at 9:40 pm (2 years ago)

    Hi I was just wondering for the butter cream icing. Should the egg whites be eaten raw? is it okay to use fresh eggs or should i buy a carton of egg whites?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      April 26, 2013 at 9:56 pm (2 years ago)

      It’s better to use fresh eggs when whipping egg whites to peaks. The syrup might cook the egg whites to a safe temperature, but if you’d like to be safe, you could use pasteurized eggs.

      Reply
  35. Christina
    April 25, 2013 at 8:15 pm (2 years ago)

    Hi! Just noticed that in the ingredients for the coconut syrup it says coconut WATER but in the directions it says MILK. Wondering which one is correct?

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      April 26, 2013 at 9:54 pm (2 years ago)

      I use coconut water in the syrup.

      Reply
  36. Terry
    May 1, 2013 at 3:10 pm (2 years ago)

    Love your kitty cat!!!

    Reply
  37. Angelina
    May 13, 2013 at 11:31 pm (2 years ago)

    I’m soooo making this cake! I was also laughing out loud while reading your commentary on cats. We have 4 siamese cats and we recently rescued an orphaned kitten (he’s a tabby) that I am having to bottle feed every 2 hours. More work than a newborn baby, but it’s to worth it. My husband never owned cats until he met me. Now he frequently says that he can’t imagine life without them. They are very adept at turning my big, “manly” husband into a cooing sap who loves to get on his hands and knees to play with them and who will wake up out of a dead sleep when our blue point siamese girl tickles his face face with her whiskers so that he can hold up the blankets and let her in to curl up between his legs and sleep there.

    They have so many unique quirks and habits (especially their nosy need to explore everything that you mentioned) but they are also some of the most charming and endearing creatures on the planet. Asking people whether or not they like cats is often my “litmus test” to determine if I will like the person or not. It never fails!

    Reply
  38. Jessica R
    May 21, 2013 at 2:39 pm (2 years ago)

    This coconut cake looks amazingly good! I’m wondering if I can make cupcakes from this as well? I’ve been looking for a good coconut cupcake recipe that is moist and this looks like it may fit the bill. thx!

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      May 21, 2013 at 2:47 pm (2 years ago)

      That sounds yummy! Maybe filled with the coconut pastry cream? Enjoy!

      Reply
  39. Anne Moscicki
    May 21, 2013 at 5:39 pm (2 years ago)

    Wow…I made this over two days, and took it to a party last night. It’s an amazing cake, even people who do not – ever! – eat dessert finished a piece. Mine was not a lovely as yours — my pastry cream could have been thicker –and I did not use coconut extract and was still very happy with the coconut flavor. Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      May 21, 2013 at 5:49 pm (2 years ago)

      That is so great to hear, Anne! :) Thank you for letting me know!

      Reply
  40. Taylor
    June 1, 2013 at 3:33 am (2 years ago)

    I decided to make this cake for my mom’s birthday. Everything went great until the frosting. It was fine until I put it in the fridge for a few to let it stiffen up some before frosting.. and then it was like it just broke apart. I had already done the crumb layer so I just blended it for a few minutes and continued. But I could cry.. It doesn’t look like the beautiful frosting in the picture at all. I’m not sure where I went wrong, but I think it might have something to do with the egg whites. Oh well.. I hope it still tastes ok. Just disappointed. Not a cheap cake to make.

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      June 1, 2013 at 11:52 pm (2 years ago)

      I’m sorry to hear that, Taylor. This frosting does get harder if refrigerated (there is a LOT of butter in it, and it almost mimics butter’s texture when cold, imo), which is why I suggest letting the cake sit out for half an hour before eating it (after frosting.) Also, the frosting shouldn’t have needed to stiffen up after making it. So that leaves me pondering two possibilities: (A) something was wrong with the frosting in the first place making it too runny — I’m thinking about egg whites not whipped to stiff peaks, or the frosting was too hot when butter was added, or (B) the frosting was fine and putting it in the fridge hardened it, and perhaps just leaving it out at room temp until softened and then whipping it would have put it back to its normal state. Any of that sound possible?

      Reply
  41. Arianna
    June 11, 2013 at 8:06 pm (2 years ago)

    Tried this recipe today and it was amazing! A great mix of moisture and fluffiness. The only thing I changed was that I creamed the butter and sugar together before adding the rest of the dry ingredients. This is a great base cake for a lot of different flavors, and definitely my new go to! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      June 11, 2013 at 8:46 pm (2 years ago)

      I’m really glad you enjoyed it, Arianna!

      Reply
  42. Doris
    June 13, 2013 at 12:35 am (2 years ago)

    I could picture myself nose diving into this cake and never coming up for air—just too divine. I also have cats but a word to the wise—if you have Oriental rugs be careful! I should have had mine declawed when I first got them. They can be quite destructive and I have a scratching post but they go after the rugs. I have tried a lot of deterrents that are advertised but no luck. If any of you out there have a good remedy, would you be kind enough to share?

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      June 13, 2013 at 2:27 am (2 years ago)

      Thank you, Doris! I have found a nice solution: they’re called soft paws and they’re little rubber claw covers. There’s a bit of a learning curve to get them on, but it gets a lot easier after you do it a time or two, and they’ve been great! They’ve really controlled any damage he could do. Here’s a review of them: http://www.thatmutt.com/2011/12/23/products-to-stop-cats-from-scratching-soft-paws-review/

      They’re much better than declawing, which is similar to cutting off a cat’s fingertips (some people think it just removes the claw, but it removes more) and can permanently disfigure the cat and hurt their gait/ability to jump/desire to use their litterbox. I hope you try and love them!

      Reply
  43. Foodie
    June 16, 2013 at 8:42 pm (2 years ago)

    I made this cake n it was dry n not that great. I was very disappointed….the cream filling was amazing though.

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      June 17, 2013 at 1:41 am (2 years ago)

      I’m literally shocked (and sorry) to hear that. Did you soak the layers in the coconut syrup and let the cake sit at room temp for the 25 minutes before eating?

      Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      June 17, 2013 at 1:43 am (2 years ago)

      Also, did you make sure to take the cake layers out of the oven when a toothpick came out with a few moist crumbs? If you waited until a toothpick was clean, the cake layers would’ve been overbaked (and yes, dry). Also, what altitude you’re at could make a difference. I’m in NC.

      Reply
      • Foodie
        June 17, 2013 at 2:39 am (2 years ago)

        I made it all in one day…it took me almost 9 hrs between cooling and cooking and whatnot. I live in CA and our weather has been drastick 109 degrees one day 72 the next….I dont know if that has anything to do with it. I took it out when it still had moist crumbs on the cake. I did a different frosting. I made a chocolate ganache made from 100% (4oz) and 60% (4oz) and some stevia to sweeten it. It was the cake that seemed lackluster. I did make it in a slightly different order than you said….. I blended the sugar n butter together like i do for all cakes added the liquids and then added the dry ingredients… because that was how i was taught to make baked goods…. I really loved the idea and I feel bad saying anything bad about it but just was curious if you or anyone had ever had less then spectacular results from this cake

        Reply
        • Julie Ruble
          June 17, 2013 at 2:59 am (2 years ago)

          I had great results and never had an issue (see the moistness of the cake, above). If you changed the directions of the recipe, I’d wager that’s why yours turned out differently — mixing the butter in as described instead of creaming it (as in most cakes) is what I assume makes the cake porous (as with other times you cut fat into flour — scones, biscuits, pie crusts, etc.), which would definitely change how much of the syrup the cake soaked up. I’m sorry yours was dry.

          Reply
  44. Katie
    June 17, 2013 at 3:14 am (2 years ago)

    I made this for my dad for Father’s Day since he loves coconut. We all thought this cake was absolutely delicious! Thank you so much for sharing! However I was too scared to cut the cakes in half (knowing I would potentially demolish the entire thing) therefore only doing one layer of pastry cream. I will definitely attempt it for next time though since I know it will be that more decadent with all the layers! But my question is, can I freeze the extra pastry cream? How long would it last? Or if you say no, you need to eat it pretty soon, I don’t mind taking a spoon to it :)

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      June 17, 2013 at 3:34 am (2 years ago)

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Katie! And I’m so sad to say that I don’t think the cream will do well frozen. What I did with leftover cream was bake up some tart shells — maybe out of pie crust dough or puff pastry — and filled them with the cream topped with whipped cream. Instant coconut cream pies :) Hope that helps!

      Reply
      • Katie
        June 17, 2013 at 7:13 pm (2 years ago)

        Mmm all great ideas. I will have to do that. Thanks! One more question – any tips for cutting the cake in half? I’m not sure how thick your cakes turned out but mine were only maybe a little more than an inch thick. I thought if I accidentally cut it at an angle the whole thing would end up being off balance and refuse to assemble. Having the cakes frozen definitely is key, but any tips for cutting it straight and will it still assemble evenly if you do happen to mess up?

        Reply
        • Julie Ruble
          June 17, 2013 at 7:30 pm (2 years ago)

          Mine were about that thickness, also. Practice is the name of the game, though you hate to practice with a special occasion cake 😉 There are lots of options:

          -Always use a LONG serrated knife and use a back-and-forth sawing motion, which cuts the cake easier.
          -Use a ruler (standing vertically) to find the halfway point at several points around the cake. Stick toothpicks here and use them as a “guide.”
          -Alternatively, CakeSpy just posted a cute tip about using a sewing hoop as a guide: http://www.cakespy.com/blog/2013/6/13/cakespy-for-craftsy-how-to-level-a-cake.html
          -They make contraptions that help you cut cakes in half: http://www.amazon.com/Wilton-415-815-Cake-Leveler/dp/B00004S7YB

          If all else fails and I’m a little off-level (I usually am, but don’t tell), I “correct” with the cream filling: pile a little more on one side or the other, squish one side of the layer down a little, etc., until I get it even-looking! :)

          Reply
          • Katie
            June 17, 2013 at 11:31 pm (2 years ago)

            Great tips! Thank you SO much! And thanks again for a delicious recipe. It was a lot of time and work but totally worth it! :)

            Reply
  45. Sara
    June 18, 2013 at 4:11 pm (2 years ago)

    I absolutely loved this cake! The pastry cream and butter cream were amazing. However, I noticed that my cake (although it had a great flavor) seemed to be really crumbly. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to fix this?

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      June 18, 2013 at 4:39 pm (2 years ago)

      Hi Sara, My cake was not crumbly — do you mean crumbly as in dry, or just tender/fragile? It is a tender cake, and that’s why I freeze it before working with it. If it was dry, please see conversation with Foodie above to see if you might have had any of those issues.

      Reply
  46. Kendra Turner
    June 21, 2013 at 5:19 pm (2 years ago)

    Hello! This cake looks amazing! I am planning on making it for a birthday dinner next Saturday. I got all the ingredients yesterday and when I went to get milk I saw that there is carton coconut milk. I had gotten the canned coconut milk for the cake but wanted to see what you used. I’m not sure if canned coconut milk and carton coconut milk are the same so if you could let me know what to use for the coconut milk in the cake that would be great!
    Thanks!
    Kendra

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      June 21, 2013 at 5:34 pm (2 years ago)

      I can’t wait for you to try it, Kendra! I used canned coconut milk in the cake :)

      Reply
      • Kendra Turner
        June 21, 2013 at 6:30 pm (2 years ago)

        Thanks! I can’t wait either I usually make my coconut cake with seven minute frosting but I’m not a huge fan of it so I’m happy to find your recipe using Swiss Meringue which is my favorite.

        Thanks for all your great recipes!!

        Reply
      • Nicole
        January 26, 2014 at 12:49 pm (1 year ago)

        Hi Julie, my question is similar to Kendra – just to be sure I’m buying the correct ingredients, did you buy 2 14oz cans of unsweetened coconut milk (one whole can to be used for the pastry cream and 1/2C from the other can to be used in the cake)?

        Thanks!
        Nicole

        Reply
        • Julie Ruble
          January 26, 2014 at 12:56 pm (1 year ago)

          Yep, that’s right!

          Reply
          • Nicole
            January 26, 2014 at 1:28 pm (1 year ago)

            Thank you! Can’t wait to make this :)

            Reply
  47. Jill
    July 2, 2013 at 10:49 am (2 years ago)

    I’m in the process of making my THIRD one of these coconut cakes. Everyone who has tried it has absolutely gone nuts over it. Thank you so much for this recipe!

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      July 3, 2013 at 10:46 pm (2 years ago)

      That is so great to hear, Jill :)

      Reply
  48. Brooke F.
    July 3, 2013 at 3:51 pm (2 years ago)

    Yes, cats are a joy! Truly an enrichment to your life. They are humorous, entertaining, loving, adorable and comforting…. now that you have one you’ll never want to NOT. They truly are disarming!

    Reply
  49. Dani
    July 14, 2013 at 8:04 pm (2 years ago)

    Just made this for my boyfriend’s birthday. Just… wow. This cake is certainly a labor of love, and worth every minute. Since I’m apparently unable to read instructions, I forgot to add the whipping cream to the custard and only realized it as I settled the last layer on top. Oops! Aaaand I didn’t add the coconut between layers either. No worry, though, because the cake is so moist and so delicious. Absolutely perfection. (Oh, and the boyfriend loves it too!)

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      July 14, 2013 at 10:07 pm (2 years ago)

      Aw, I’m so glad you both love it, Dani!! It really is quite the process, but one I’d repeat over and over again :) Thanks!

      Reply
  50. Tamara
    August 12, 2013 at 3:56 pm (2 years ago)

    This coconut cake sounds amazing! I am all about taking the best aspects of certain recipes and combining them to make one Frankencake. My dad’s birthday is coming up and he loves coconut cake just as much as I do, so I’m very eager to try your recipe. I think I will definitely be dividing the work over several so that assembly is all I have to do on B-day. Thanks for this wonderful recipe!

    Reply
  51. jojo
    September 7, 2013 at 12:02 pm (2 years ago)

    What kind of cake flour was used in this coconut cake?

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      September 7, 2013 at 12:17 pm (2 years ago)

      Not sure what you mean, Jojo — regular Cake Flour (it’s in the flour aisle of the grocery store, usually in a box). Any brand should do. If you can’t find it, there are easy substitutions on the internet using all-purpose flour and corn starch.

      Reply
  52. Elva
    September 18, 2013 at 4:47 pm (2 years ago)

    Hello,
    I’d like to give this recipe a try. I’m making a cake for my whole family this weekend so I’d like to have everything just right. Quick question. We don’t like very sweet cakes. Would it be ok if I reduce the sugar a little bit? WOuld that affect the texture o f the cake? Also I might have to freeze the cakes for a couple of days before assembling. Should I let the cakes thaw to room temperature before working with them? If so do I leave them in the wrapping paper to taw or unwrap them? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      September 18, 2013 at 5:58 pm (2 years ago)

      You can reduce the sugar about 1/4 cup without worrying, I’d say. Keep the cakes frozen to work with them if you can (as long as there’s enough time for the final cake to chill in the fridge and thaw before serving) because they’re much easier to work with that way.

      Reply
  53. Elva
    September 18, 2013 at 4:48 pm (2 years ago)

    Also, there seem to be a lot of liquid in the recipe. Are the cakes crumbly at all when you cut into them?

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      September 18, 2013 at 5:57 pm (2 years ago)

      I didn’t find them crumbly.

      Reply
  54. Elva
    September 18, 2013 at 6:35 pm (2 years ago)

    Thank you for the quick response. I’ll do that. One more thing, do you think I could substitute the 1/2 cup of coconut milk with cream of coconut for a richer flavour? Cause I’m using a lemon curd filling but don’t want to take away the coconut flavour. Will the cream make the cake a lot denser? Thanks again.

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      September 18, 2013 at 6:39 pm (2 years ago)

      I think that’d be fine — I don’t think it’ll change the texture. Hope you enjoy!

      Reply
  55. Elva
    September 19, 2013 at 3:47 am (2 years ago)

    Help!! I just finished making the cake but they are only a little less than inch tall! Is it normal? what did I do wrong? Also there are a lot of little holes on the surface of the cake. I did tap the pans before putting them in the oven. Are all these normal or didi I do something wrong?

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      September 19, 2013 at 3:51 am (2 years ago)

      Both of these things are normal. The porous texture of the cake is perfect for soaking up the coconut syrup, and the eventual height of the overall cake comes from slicing the layers and putting in the filling. No worries!

      Reply
  56. Svetlana
    September 28, 2013 at 11:01 pm (2 years ago)

    Sounds amazing.I want to make it over two days,when I take it out of freezer, do I let it though completely before cutting?

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      September 28, 2013 at 11:56 pm (2 years ago)

      Nope, cut it frozen — makes it so much easier to work with. Fill & frost it while frozen, too. Just make sure it has enough time to sit in the fridge after that so that it’ll be thawed before serving.

      Reply
  57. Katrina Thomas
    October 20, 2013 at 3:21 pm (2 years ago)

    I wanted to thank you for this fine recipe. I have refused to eat coconut since my childhood (Parentally induced overdose) and would have never thought to make this cake except for the fact a friend was having a birthday who had never had a Birthday party and we decided to do it up right with a special surprise party. I was disheartened to find her favorite cake was cocoanut, but squared my shoulders and started my online search for the Ultimate Cocoanut Cake, which brought me to your recipe, and your happy site! I would love to share photos of the process and the happy result. Birthday girl best birthday BEST CAKE EVER. People were unabashedly requesting to take slices home. I had 2 chefs there and I was shocked for them to say best cake they ever ate. So thank you. Your sharing made a big difference in the happiness level of my 69 year old birthday girl. It was so good she cried!

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      October 22, 2013 at 10:55 am (2 years ago)

      HOORAY!! Katrina, that makes me so happy to hear! Thank you for your kind words :)

      Reply
  58. Elle
    October 23, 2013 at 7:58 pm (2 years ago)

    I’m an accomplished cook. Not braggin’ just sayin’.

    OK, so I made this coconut cake for my husband’s birthday. Took me two days, yes. One slice has to contain 2000 calories it was so rich. He said it was the best coconut cake he’s ever eaten, even better than his Southern gradma’s. That was a big deal since he adores coconut just about as much as her. The draw back was the “coconut water” buried in the preparations area. When I got there I just went WTF? I’d have to go across town to find that at the import store. Sooooo, I substituted water and coconut extract mixed together for it. I know it’s not the same thing, but what was I to do? It worked. No one knew the difference–not my husband, the water man, the UPS man or any other vendor at whom I pushed a slice. This cake was so rich that I gave it away to everyone who’d bite. just to get it out of the frig quickly. They all came back and raved. If I ever want to work that hard again I’ll think about doing it over remembering the coconut water. Thanks for the recipe. It’s definitely the cats pajamas.

    Reply
  59. Mag
    November 12, 2013 at 3:16 am (2 years ago)

    Hah, was searching for a coconut cake recipe when I came across this post about your cat (and the cake). Lurrrve the way you describe the “joys” of cat-ownership. I know, I have 3. Oh, and I love baking. Will have to try out your recipe sometime. Cheers!

    Reply
  60. Katrina Thomas
    November 16, 2013 at 5:40 pm (2 years ago)

    My whole life I have thought I hated Coconut. I have in 36 some odd years of cooking never used it. As it happens though, I really wanted to make a birthday cake for a friend who was turning 69 and had never had a birthday party…. and it turns out her favorite was Coconut. I scoured web sites to find something I could get excited about baking even though I didn’t think I would eat any of the resulting cake…. I was a professional Caterer in my younger days, and I have to say this is probably the best cake I have EVER baked. It was the hit of the party, and when people were leaving they all asked to take some home, not the plump juicy grilled chicken that everyone loved… they couldn’t leave without the promise of another slice of this cake. Thank you for your recipe. It was especially appreciated by the birthday girl. I have some photos of the cooking process if you would like to consider any of them for the site.

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      November 16, 2013 at 6:51 pm (2 years ago)

      Thank you, Katrina! That makes me so happy to hear :) I’d love to see your photos to share on Willow Bird Baking’s Facebook page!

      Reply
  61. Nicole W
    December 5, 2013 at 3:35 pm (1 year ago)

    Help! I’m making this cake now and my goodness does it smell great! I’m taking your advice and breaking it up over two days. Can I leave the cake in the freezer until I start working on it tomorrow? Or do I leave it for 30 mins and move it to the fridge? Thanks!!! Can’t wait to try it.

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      December 5, 2013 at 4:11 pm (1 year ago)

      Hey Nicole! Just leave it in the freezer — makes it easy to work on! But do all the work tomorrow a few hours before you want to serve it so the whole cake has time to sit out and thaw after you fill and frost it.

      Reply
      • Nicole W
        December 5, 2013 at 9:27 pm (1 year ago)

        Thank you!!!

        Reply
  62. AnnMarie
    December 18, 2013 at 8:35 pm (1 year ago)

    Making this cake for my granddaughters 7th birthday. It sounds soooo yummy. I will be doing the cake over two days as you suggested. Can it be kept in the refrigerator overnight after it is iced and served the following afternoon? Also do you need to ice the cake as soon as the icing is made as someone said it hardens up in the refrigerator?

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      December 18, 2013 at 8:37 pm (1 year ago)

      You do need to ice the cake as soon as the icing is made, but then you can refrigerate it overnight. Just be sure to let it sit out about 30-45 minutes before serving so the icing will be nice and soft. I hope she loves it :)

      Reply
  63. jessica r
    January 12, 2014 at 3:48 pm (1 year ago)

    Hi, this recipe sounds amazing. I’m just trying it now and the batter is pretty runny. Is this normal. When you mentioned to smooth the tops with a spatula after pouring into pans, I got the impression it would be a thicker batter. I hope I didn’t mess up.

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      January 12, 2014 at 4:07 pm (1 year ago)

      Hi Jessica! Oh man, I feel so bad that I don’t remember the batter texture, because it’s been so long since I made this cake. I’d say double check that you put the right amount of flour in and added the ingredients in the right order (since this recipe is different than most cake recipes in that regard) and if so, go for it! Please let me know how it goes.

      Reply
  64. Donna
    January 24, 2014 at 5:49 pm (1 year ago)

    I just need to tell you this cake is unbelievably amazing. I made this over the Christmas holiday and it was beyond great. It not only tasted of coconut but it was moist and flavorful. This is the kind of cake I dream about eating again and again.

    If anyone is wondering if this cake lives up to the hype, it really does. Just make it and taste it.

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      January 24, 2014 at 5:59 pm (1 year ago)

      Aww, thank you so much, Donna! That made my day :) So glad you enjoyed the cake!

      Reply
  65. Monica
    February 7, 2014 at 4:13 am (1 year ago)

    I made this cake yesterday and all I can say is OMG!!! Amazing. Have one question though…on the last layer(very top) do I put pastry cream on that as well as buttercream directly on top of pastry cream or just buttercream?

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      February 7, 2014 at 7:03 am (1 year ago)

      Just buttercream. I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Monica!!

      Reply
  66. Margaret
    February 8, 2014 at 9:42 pm (1 year ago)

    I would like to make this but the 3 sticks of butter in the frosting are freaking me out! I’m health conscious and although I do indulge once in a while, I think this would kill my arteries! LOL Any suggestions about modifications or substitutions to cut down on the fat? Otherwise, I love the idea of the pastry cream in the layers instead of frosting! :)

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      February 8, 2014 at 9:57 pm (1 year ago)

      Hi Margaret,

      I might choose another type of frosting — perhaps just frost with some freshly whipped, slightly sweetened cream? Hope that helps!

      Reply
  67. Nicole
    February 22, 2014 at 11:25 am (1 year ago)

    I assume you mean 1/2 milk mixture at a time, not a 1/2cup? The whole mixture is closer to 2 cups after adding egg whites and extract. Just wanted to be sure I was supposed to add all of it. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      February 22, 2014 at 12:03 pm (1 year ago)

      Nope, the recipe is correct: add all but about a 1/2 cup, mix, and then add that last 1/2 cup. Hope you enjoy!

      Reply
      • Nicole
        February 22, 2014 at 2:20 pm (1 year ago)

        Oh jeez, I’m sorry… I was reading “add 1/2 cup” then add 2nd “half cup.” Whew I did it right.. baking now!

        Reply
        • Julie Ruble
          February 22, 2014 at 2:26 pm (1 year ago)

          No worries :) Can’t wait to hear what you think!

          Reply
          • Nicole
            February 23, 2014 at 6:07 am (1 year ago)

            I made the coconut syrup ahead and but it in the fridge overnight and it solidified. Is this expected (and I can reheat?) or does that mean the sugar wasn’t completely dissolved and I should start over?

            Reply
            • Julie Ruble
              February 23, 2014 at 9:18 am (1 year ago)

              I think you should be able to heat it over low and stir it as it re-liquifies — no harm in trying, anyhow!

              Reply
  68. Amber
    February 22, 2014 at 1:04 pm (1 year ago)

    Hi Julie :) I’m planning to make a coconut cake for my sons pirate themed birthday, I thought it would offer a fun tropical flavor. I was wondering if you’ve ever baked with coconut oil. I’d like to substitute the butter for the coconut oil but I don’t want the cake to be a disaster… Thanks for your input :)

    Reply
  69. Gillian S.
    February 28, 2014 at 9:07 pm (1 year ago)

    Would it be ok if I substituted a coconut cream cheese frosting instead of the swiss buttercream? I just LOVE cream cheese frosting! But would it be too rich for this cake?

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      March 1, 2014 at 12:37 pm (1 year ago)

      It would certainly be very rich, and I don’t know if I’m the person to ask about TOO rich, since I don’t think I’ve ever had anything too rich for my sweet tooth! LOL. To me, it sounds like it’d be great. Just serve it in small slices with lots of milk and coffee.

      Reply
  70. Kathy
    March 2, 2014 at 8:20 am (1 year ago)

    Hey Julie,

    Do you think the pastry cream would keep in the fridge for a couple days, or would it just set up and not be spreadable later?

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      March 2, 2014 at 8:59 am (1 year ago)

      It would be spreadable if left out at room temp for awhile, but since it’s only good for 3ish days in the fridge, I would be careful not to make it too early.

      Reply
  71. Tyler
    March 5, 2014 at 1:11 am (1 year ago)

    I made this cake for my sister’s birthday…it turned out picture perfect! She said it was the best white cake she has ever had, which is high praise, as she’s a pastry chef. This is a well laid out, organized recipe, and a joy to work with. I opted to toast the coconut for the outside of the cake, and it really gave it that ‘wow’ factor!

    A fantastic recipe!

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      March 5, 2014 at 1:28 am (1 year ago)

      Yay! That is high praise, Tyler! Thank you so much! Glad you were able to make her day so special. A recipe’s only as good as the chef, after all!

      Reply
  72. Gisele
    March 8, 2014 at 6:14 pm (1 year ago)

    – Julie …. I made this cake last evening (completed it this morning). The results were amazing!
    Your description of the process for each component was clear and precise. Thank you for sharing this incredible cake recipe.
    And, LOVE the photos as well. warmest regards – Gisele.

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      March 26, 2014 at 9:18 am (1 year ago)

      YAY! Thank you, Gisele! That is great to hear!

      Reply
  73. Sandra L.
    March 13, 2014 at 10:48 am (1 year ago)

    I love your recipes. I know what I am doing next week with a couple of days of from work.!! I tried to sign up for your emails but I have not received anything like it said I would. Hope I get some soon.!!
    Sandi
    Windsor, Ontario

    P.S. YES!!!!! Cats are hairballs !! Have four and don’t know what I would do without them.

    Reply
  74. Susan
    March 22, 2014 at 5:35 pm (1 year ago)

    I was so excited to make this cake for my daughter’s birthday. The steps for the white cake were different from my usual cake recipes, but i followed them and was disappointed that it didn’t seem to rise very much. I made an extra layer by halving the recipe. The next day I went on to the buttercream. It turned to soup while the butter was being added. I put it in the fridge in the hopes that it will rethicken. It was nice and fluffy but then just went flat. I was following the time indicated an everything. Now it’s on to make the pastry cream. I hope that part works. I have made dozens of cakes, but this one is just stumping me. I may have to use a buttercream/cream cheese frosting I found on another site.

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      March 22, 2014 at 5:43 pm (1 year ago)

      Hi Susan,
      The layers are not very tall — the height of the cake is accomplished by splitting each layer and adding pastry cream between them. The buttercream is a typical Swiss meringue buttercream. If it seems to split while adding the butter, you can turn it on high and beat for a few minutes to reincorporate. Was your butter softened to room temp by leaving it out, or heating it? Heating it sometimes oversoftens. As you can see, the recipe has worked for many other people, so I’m hoping to assist you in finding what happened with yours.

      I hope you enjoy the finished product, but I’m sorry it didn’t work out as you’d planned.

      Reply
  75. DairyFree
    March 23, 2014 at 6:06 pm (1 year ago)

    I made this cake for daughter’s 4th birthday – she can’t have dairy, but she loves coconut, and I’ve found that coconut oil substitutes well for butter. So, I made the cake with coconut oil rather than butter and used coconut cream in place of milk. I also swapped out the butter in the custard for coconut oil as well. And for the frosting I whipped canned coconut cream (chilled first and drained of the water) and added a little powdered sugar and vanilla – it was incredibly delicious (and easy)! For those that like coconut, it was their favorite cake ever (and now the one my husband will request for his own birthday), but some of the kiddos weren’t into the intensity of the coconut flavor. I, however, loved it! Thanks for the great recipe!

    Reply
  76. Bizliz
    April 6, 2014 at 3:34 pm (1 year ago)

    OK..First I’m writing about the cake…but also because Buckles and my cat, Puss are DOUBLES!!!! I’m not kidding. it’s really uncanny… LOL I just moved my 82 year old mother next door to me (yikes!) and was searching the web for a coconut cake recipe to make for Easter. This is her FAVORITE cake. At her age, with Parkinson’s disease, it’s the small pleasures that make the biggest difference. I’m going to try out your recipe even though I am a’cook” not a baker… hope I can pull it off! Thanks for the amazing help. :-)

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      April 6, 2014 at 7:22 pm (1 year ago)

      You can do it, Bizliz! Just split it into a few days and take it nice and slow. I hope your mom loves it!!

      Reply
  77. Heidi
    April 17, 2014 at 6:24 pm (1 year ago)

    There are no words for how delicious this cake looks. Not sure I’m up to all the steps required, but we’ll see. And couldn’t agree with you more on how cats are worth it. Period. Can’t imagine life without ours……

    Reply
  78. Meg
    April 21, 2014 at 8:56 am (1 year ago)

    Just made this for Easter! It came out great (and I’m usually an inept baker.) I wanted to point out that in the batter directions you say to mix in the ‘milk’ – for the life of me I couldn’t figure out if you meant both the regular and the coconut. I didn’t see coconut anywhere else in that section, so I put them in together (and it turned out perfect) but might be worth spelling out for other inept bakers like myself. :)

    Thanks for the awesome cake! Tons of compliments and heavenly leftovers.

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      April 21, 2014 at 1:52 pm (1 year ago)

      Can’t believe no one pointed that out until now! I think it was confusing, too, so I fixed it :) Thanks Meg, and I’m so glad you enjoyed!

      Reply
  79. Casey
    May 14, 2014 at 8:12 am (1 year ago)

    I am currently making this in steps over a couple days. The coconut cream is delicious. I think I am going to try putting it in a pie shell one day and top it with meringue to make a coconut cream pie.

    Reply
  80. Colleen O H
    May 18, 2014 at 11:23 am (1 year ago)

    Hi Julie-
    Love your cat story & the way you write a recipe! I don’t enjoy baking, but am embarking on your cake out of love for my son-his birthday desert.
    Question- when adding the butter to the cream filling, is it melted, softened? Thank you!

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      May 18, 2014 at 4:30 pm (1 year ago)

      How sweet of you! I hope he enjoys it! As for the butter, it can just be cold. Whisking it into the hot mixture melts it in.

      Reply
  81. Juliana
    May 20, 2014 at 12:58 pm (1 year ago)

    Hi! This recipe looks absoultly fabalous! I cant wait to make it.I was wondering though,what coconut milk do you use in the cake? The canned kind?

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      May 20, 2014 at 4:25 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks! Yep, canned. Hope you love it!

      Reply
  82. Phae
    May 25, 2014 at 9:30 pm (12 months ago)

    I followed the directions to the T except the part where you are NOT supposed to eat the coconut pastry cream with a spoon. Fail.
    So delish. Making it again tomorrow for my son’s 1st birthday!

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      May 25, 2014 at 9:41 pm (12 months ago)

      So glad you enjoyed it, Phae :) Happy birthday to your little one!

      Reply
  83. Frank
    June 17, 2014 at 4:23 pm (11 months ago)

    Made this for my wife’s birthday party. Huge hit. Managed it in one day, but started early. One friend already asked for the recipe. Thanks!

    Reply
  84. Toni
    June 17, 2014 at 7:25 pm (11 months ago)

    Question: Want to make this a little smaller using 2 six inch rounds. Any suggestion on how to adjust the ingredient measurements? Would love to make this for my hubby. He is a coconut lover and this cake looks divine!

    Reply
  85. Susan
    June 23, 2014 at 12:05 pm (11 months ago)

    I came across your post while looking for a coconut cake recipe for my husband’s birthday and I’m so glad I did. Not only did I find a wonderful cake, but a beautiful kitty, too! We adopted 2 brothers – Tom Sawyer & Hucleberry Finn – and they keep us constatly entertained. I’m sure that your love for Buckle has only deepened since you wrote this post!

    Reply
  86. Jennifer
    July 10, 2014 at 5:11 pm (11 months ago)

    I love Coconut Cake, I’ve never made one, but randomly decided I was making one this weekend, just because I love them. This recipe is definitely labor intensive, I would definitely split it up over several days, it sounds incredibly amazing. I do have a couple of questions. Does this frosting “crust”? It doesn’t have any shortening in it so I’m a little worried that it won’t “crust” properly. I realize butter will re-harden but that’s not quite the same as a “crusting” Swiss buttercream. I’m wondering if you can split the butter & use part high-ratio shortening part butter and even a small part Coconut Oil? Also, can you bake the cakes in three pans and just make it a three layer cake vs. cutting two cakes in half?

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      July 10, 2014 at 5:25 pm (11 months ago)

      Hi Jennifer! This recipe is for Swiss Meringue Buttercream, which typically does not crust, and this one is no exception. It does hold its shape for piping, etc., if you wanted to do that. I wouldn’t use shortening in this recipe; instead, if you wanted crusting buttercream, I’d use another recipe for the frosting (like a simple buttercream with softened butter, shortening, and powdered sugar).

      If you bake the cake in different pans, just be prepared to bake for shorter time and check early and often. They’re quite short layers, so I’d be afraid the batter wouldn’t stretch well to 3 pans, however, and I also like that dividing the layers leaves a porous side to absorb the coconut syrup. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  87. Ursula
    July 23, 2014 at 10:38 am (10 months ago)

    My little brother is getting married and they asked me to make their cake. I tested this cake out recently and it turned out great. Their only request was to reduce the sugar a little bit… but other than that this cake is what I will be making. I was just wondering if this recipe can be doubled? Or do I need to make it in individual batches? Also, how many days prior do you think I could decorated? The day before, or two days before?

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      July 23, 2014 at 11:11 am (10 months ago)

      My instinct says that you could double the recipe and bake in 4 pans without a problem. I wouldn’t try to double the coconut pastry cream or frosting, which are more finicky. I’d make those in batches just for safety’s sake. It might work, but I’m sure you don’t want to take any chances. I think you could decorate the cake 2 days before without a problem (again, just to be safe, I might do it the day before), but just be sure it has enough time to sit out before serving to let the buttercream soften. P.S. Congrats to your brother!

      Reply
  88. Phuong
    August 1, 2014 at 12:59 am (10 months ago)

    Hello!
    After having my uncle’s coconut cake I wanted to make my own though I have absolutely zero experience in baking. I found other coconut cake recipes but many did not include much coconut until I found your recipe. I followed your cake recipe and I think it turned out really well! I was wondering if I could refridgerate the buttercream and pastry cream before decorating. I’ve heard that icing or frosting will crust in the fridge so I’m not sure how to store the buttercream or pastry cream. I haven’t made it yet. Also my family is small I’m not sure how much cake we can eat in a day, do you have any tips for storing cake? Thank you for your time!

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      August 1, 2014 at 1:07 am (10 months ago)

      Hi Phuong! I’m so glad you’re tackling the recipe! I’m sure it will turn out wonderfully. You can definitely refrigerate the pastry cream for a day before assembly (just cover it with plastic wrap pressed against the surface, but the buttercream needs to be made the day you’re decorating so it’ll be the right texture to use. After you assemble the cake, the whole thing can be refrigerated before eating — even for a day or so — as long as you let it sit out about 30 minutes before you serve it to make sure the texture is right.

      To store the cake, just cover it and refrigerate :) I don’t usually care how it looks at that point, so I sometimes even slice it up and put the slices into tupperwares. You can keep it a few days. Enjoy!

      Reply
      • Phuong
        August 5, 2014 at 11:01 pm (10 months ago)

        Thank you for your fast reply! The finished cake was amazing! I kept thinking to myself I can’t believe my first cake actually turned out so well, almost perfect!! I loved the pastry cream and buttercream! I didn’t use the syrup and eyeballed the coconut flakes to my liking because I’m not that much a fan of sweets but everything was reallly yummy! I had a little trouble making the buttercream but I think it was because my house was too hot/humid so I stuck it in freezer for a bit and continued whipping and it was fine (I think). I’m so glad I followed this recipe!

        Reply
        • Julie Ruble
          August 5, 2014 at 11:05 pm (10 months ago)

          Hooray!!! I’m so glad it turned out well, Phuong! Congratulations on baking a lovely cake!

          Reply
  89. helena overton
    August 8, 2014 at 5:46 am (10 months ago)

    Thank you thank you thank you!!!!! I have been looking for the perfect coconut cake for the past 6 months. I’m going to be whipping up a baking storm this evening. So happy!! (Can you tell…?) xxx

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      August 8, 2014 at 12:32 pm (10 months ago)

      Yay! I can’t wait to hear what you think, Helena! Enjoy!!

      Reply
  90. NA
    August 16, 2014 at 9:41 pm (9 months ago)

    Made this for a bridal shower and it was a huge hit! So moist.

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      August 16, 2014 at 9:53 pm (9 months ago)

      Hooray! So glad everyone enjoyed it!!

      Reply
  91. Mira
    August 16, 2014 at 10:36 pm (9 months ago)

    Worst cake I have ever baked. Lousy layers, crappy taste. DO NOT TRY IT! Expensive to make and not worth the time involved in making it. It was for a very special day—lousy, lousy, lousy—what a kick in the pants…Nobody even attempted to lie and say it was good and we live in the South where no one is direct and everyone lies about another’s cooking. In the South, no matter how bad it is, you never mention it–not the case here.

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      August 16, 2014 at 10:52 pm (9 months ago)

      Hi Mira! Wow, so sorry you didn’t enjoy it. I’m shocked, since this cake has met with only rave reviews from family, friends, and commenters. Can you tell me more about what was wrong with it? I hate that your special day was less than stellar.

      Reply
  92. Lyn
    August 29, 2014 at 12:41 pm (9 months ago)

    I have EIGHT indoor cats. EIGHT. I never planned to have even ONE. Lint rollers? I go through about one every three days. In the last 25 years I’ve ALWAYS had a cat hair in one of my eyes (usually my left one, for whatever reason). Disinfectant wipes are everywhere in the house, along with disinfectant liquid cleaner, 7 on-hand bags of litter, 2 huge bins of dry food, and about 10 kitty brushes. Brush one and they all come. We’ve gone through cat toys and kitty condos and blankets and beds. They prefer to sleep on anything we have touched as opposed to their own pricey kitty beds. Once I get them all out of the kitchen and get all the surfaces disinfected, I hope to make this luscious-looking coconut cake! Thank you!

    Reply
  93. gina rombley
    August 29, 2014 at 1:36 pm (9 months ago)

    I used this cake recipe for a coconut cake with a key lime pie baked in it. The cake was better than the pie! Yummy, moist and delicious!!!! This is now my go-to recipe for coconut cake.

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      September 10, 2014 at 1:53 pm (8 months ago)

      Oh my goshhhh that sounds amazing, Gina! I need that recipe! 😉 So glad you enjoyed the cake!

      Reply
  94. Erin
    September 10, 2014 at 1:45 pm (8 months ago)

    I just found this recipe and made it for my Grandma’s 90th birthday last weekend. It was AMAZING! It is a time consuming cake to make and was a little expensive but totally worth it once I tasted it. Everyone at the party raved about it and I had several people ask me if I could make them one for their birthday. Thanks for the awesome recipe.

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      September 10, 2014 at 1:52 pm (8 months ago)

      Hooray! That is wonderful to hear! So glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply
  95. Genie
    September 12, 2014 at 12:11 pm (8 months ago)

    Am I missing something ? You have whipping cream as an ingredient for the pastry filling, but I don’t see it in the instructions?

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      September 12, 2014 at 5:11 pm (8 months ago)

      Here it is, Genie: “Whip the 1/2 cup cream to medium peaks. Stir in 1/3 to the pastry cream to lighten. Fold in the remaining cream until the pastry cream is nice and light.” Enjoy!

      Reply
  96. Phyllis
    October 30, 2014 at 3:16 pm (7 months ago)

    After adding all the butter, one tablespoon at a time, the icing turned into a nasty, separated mess! I have put the cake together and it’s in the fridge along with the bowl of yuck. Wish I’d used my old favorite coconut cake recipe. Ina, I’ll never stray from your excellent cake recipe. This recipe is not worth the trouble.

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      October 30, 2014 at 3:40 pm (7 months ago)

      Phyllis, Hm, while I’m glad you shared your experience, I’m not sure why it was necessary to do so in an unkind way.

      I’m sorry your Swiss Meringue Buttercream separated. This is a common problem people experience with SMB and is unrelated to the quality of the recipe. Here are tips for fixing it: http://www.cakecentral.com/b/tutorial/fix-broken-buttercream. I assure you it is, indeed, fixable.

      I love Ina, as well, but I’m glad plenty of folks have tried and enjoyed this recipe :)

      Reply
  97. Brad Walton
    November 9, 2014 at 2:12 pm (6 months ago)

    I love this cake! I read this recipe about ten times before I decided to actually commit and give it a try. I’m so glad I did. This was my first experience with Swiss meringue buttercream, and I’m very impressed with the results. Your warning about the coconut pastry cream made me laugh, but when I finished making it I seriously had to stop myself from eating it all with a spoon.

    It was a very delicious, fun, and educational experience. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      November 9, 2014 at 2:16 pm (6 months ago)

      I’m so very glad to hear it, Brad! This comment made my day. So happy you decided to give it a try!

      Reply
  98. Dianne
    November 16, 2014 at 1:53 am (6 months ago)

    Received an order from a client and chose this recipe over hundreds others. I’m a happy baker. Love it! I got some extra fillings… thinking of making some profiteroles later. Thanks Julie!

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      November 21, 2014 at 11:48 pm (6 months ago)

      Hooray! So glad to hear it, Dianne!

      Reply
  99. Kim
    November 21, 2014 at 11:42 pm (6 months ago)

    Looks amazing! Can the cake recipe be safely doubled?

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      November 21, 2014 at 11:47 pm (6 months ago)

      Thanks, Kim! I haven’t tried it, but as long as your mixer has the capacity, I’d say it should work fine!

      Reply
  100. Pat
    November 22, 2014 at 11:54 pm (6 months ago)

    I made this cake for guests we had tonight. The pizza from the wood fired oven was pretty hard to top but this cake did! I’m not a novice as we owned and I baked for a small neighborhood restaurants for 17 years and this was the single best cake I have made in my entire life. Thank you for the recipe and I will be checking out more of your recipes.

    Reply
  101. Anonymous
    December 7, 2014 at 7:28 am (6 months ago)

    Can i use all-purpose flour instead of cake flour? will it make any difference?

    Reply
  102. Alan
    February 10, 2015 at 11:59 pm (3 months ago)

    It’s simple….this is the best cake I’ve ever eaten.
    I was ALMOST too intimidated to make this but I sure am glad I did. Just follow the directions exactly and you’ll be rewarded.
    Outstanding!!!!

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      February 11, 2015 at 12:02 am (3 months ago)

      What a lovely comment to receive! I’m so glad you tackled it, Alan, and it sounds like you did a wonderful job. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Thank you!

      Reply
  103. Chris
    February 22, 2015 at 8:21 pm (3 months ago)

    Made this cake for a friend’s b-day last week and it was honestly the most epic, involved, but DELICIOUS cake I’ve ever made! My boyfriend hates coconut, but he just willingly finished off the last leftover piece mere moments ago.

    The white cake recipe is serious, and will most likely be my go to for any white cake from now on.

    I couldn’t find coconut extract at any of my grocery stores, so I ended up substituting Cointreau instead. I also forgot to put the raw coconut shreds on each layer. The end result was maybe a touch less coconut-y than it was supposed to be, but was epically delicious none-the-less!

    I did as you suggested and spaced the prep out over a few days, which was super helpful.

    The end result was like a coconut tres leches cake! Super moist, sweet and gooey good!

    Discovered your blog via this recipe and now I am obsessed. You are a genius! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

    x C

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      February 23, 2015 at 12:08 pm (3 months ago)

      Yayyyy! I’m so glad to hear this, Chris! Good substitution choices. Happy birthday to your friend!

      Reply
  104. kelly
    March 29, 2015 at 12:22 am (2 months ago)

    I made this cake and both layers slid off of my cooling racks and broke into a million pieces onto my floor, but I must say, the carnage was holy fabulous!!! I will make two more layers tomorrow but I was wondering if I could make this recipe straight white cake instead of coconut as per a birthday request? What could I sub for the coconut water? Thanks for an amazing recipe,very much looking forward to the finished product!!

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      March 29, 2015 at 12:24 am (2 months ago)

      Oh no, Kelly!! I hate those kitchen disasters! Good for you for persevering! You can definitely make it as a straight white cake — just use a simple syrup instead of the coconut water (a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water, boiled to dissolve the sugar and cooled). Enjoy!!

      Reply
  105. Sherri
    April 4, 2015 at 8:14 pm (2 months ago)

    I made this cake with Cup 4 Cuo gluten free flour. The cake and custard are amazing. My frosting was a fail. I’m guessing my sugar water wasn’t the right temp. I don’t have a candy thermometer. It was way too buttery for me. I will definitely make the cake and pudding again. Thanks!

    Reply
  106. Willa
    April 5, 2015 at 11:21 pm (2 months ago)

    I made this cake for Easter Brunch and it was a huge hit! It is labor intensive but worth it :) I had to bake the cake twice because I think i beat the batter for too long the first time, (I was adjusting my new KitchenAid stand mixer), and I think it glutenized. I also had to redo the sugar syrup for the frosting as I got distracted while it was cooking and it burned a bit. Despite those inconveniences, it was a fun project and a fantastic cake! Thanks, Julie!

    Reply
    • Julie Ruble
      April 5, 2015 at 11:27 pm (2 months ago)

      Yay! I’m so glad to hear that, Willa! Happy Easter!

      Reply

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