This glorious Coconut Layer Cake is a stunner worthy of any special gathering. Whether it’s a birthday party, family event or holiday celebration, this scratch made cake will fit the bill.
Easy Coconut Layer Cake Recipe
One of my favorite Julia Child quotes is; “A party without a cake is just a meeting.” That’s the truth if it’s ever been told. Just the glimpse of a big beautiful layer cake on the table and people begin gathering around knowing something delicious is in store.
Homemade Coconut Layer Cake Recipe
My favorite thing about making this cake is, it must be made in advance to allow the filling ample time to soak into the cake layers. It makes it ideal for entertaining, and helpful to prepare desserts in advance to lower the stress level, for special gatherings and holidays.
How to Make the Best Coconut Cake Layer Cake
- Ingredients you’ll need to make homemade Coconut Layer Cake: For the layers you’ll need all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, coconut milk or buttermilk, vanilla extract, coconut extract, butter, granulated sugar, large eggs and sweetened flaked coconut.
- To make the Coconut Cream filling: Sour cream, unsweetened flaked coconut and granulated sugar.
- To make the Coconut Cake frosting: Softened cream cheese, butter, sour cream reserved from filling, powdered sugar and sweetened flaked coconut.
- I highly recommend not using a cake mix for the layers. Cake mixes have become increasingly scarce in volume and won’t make quite enough cake to handle the filling and frosting. In this case, go for the gold and follow the recipe for the cake batter.
- Please note: The filling for this coconut cake will soak into the cake layers. This is normal and doesn’t mean anything went wrong. This cake was photographed shortly after making so you could see what the filling between the layers would look like.
- Frozen fresh unsweetened coconut is typically found in the frozen foods section with the other frozen fruits. If you are unable to find it, substitute 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut in its place.
- When poking holes in the layers, keep in mind you will only spread the filling on two layers. The bottom layer and middle layer. Leave the top layer intact.
- Pro tip: Before placing the bottom layer on the cake pedestal, arrange three strips of wax paper along the edge. This can be gently removed after frosting and will keep the pedastal clean.
- If you’re a fan of toasted coconut, see this easy tutorial for how to toast coconut here.
- Store Coconut Layer Cake chilled in the refrigerator for up to one week.
More Coconut Dessert Recipes to Make
My family loves coconut in any way, shape or form. A few other coconut desserts you may like to try:
- Coconut Cream Lush is a tasty make ahead dessert option.
- Hawaiian Pineapple Coconut Loaf is terrific with your morning cup of coffee or hot tea.
- No trifle bowl needed to make this Coconut Cream Cake Pan Trifle.
- Caramel Rum Macaroon Cookies are chewy and sweet certain to delight the caramel fans in your life.
- Coconut Macaroon Cookies are dipped in chocolate for a handheld treat.
- Salted Caramel Coconut Cream Pie is rich and decadent.
- Low Carb Coconut Macadamia Bars from All Day I Dream About Food
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Helpful Kitchen Items:
Coconut Layer Cake
- 1 cup salted butter softened
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs room temperature
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk or buttermilk
- 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 12 oz packet frozen fresh unsweetened coconut thawed
- 1 8 oz sour cream
- 1 8 oz block cream cheese softened
- 1/2 cup salted butter softened
- 2-3 cups confectioner sugar
- 1/2 cup reserved coconut sour cream filling
- 2 cups sweetened flaked coconut for garnishing more as needed
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour three 8 or 9 inch round cake pans or spray with baking spray, Set aside.
- Cake: Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, sugar and vanilla for 2-3 minutes until fully combined.
- Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.
- In a separate bowl, use a whisk to sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- With the mixer on low speed, add sifted dry ingredients alternately with milk, starting and ending with flour. Beat until fully combined, making sure to stop to scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Add 1/2 cup coconut, mix well.
- Divide batter evenly between pans. Bake for 25-27 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes back clean.
- Meanwhile, to make the filling: In a medium size mixing bowl, stir together sugar, fresh coconut and sour cream until fully combined. Set aside. (Reserve 1/3 of filling in an airtight container chilled to add to frosting.)
- To assemble: Cool cake layers in pans for 20 minutes. Carefully remove first warm cake layer to a wax paper lined cake stand. Use a long skewer or fork to poke holes all over the surface then spread with 1/3 of sour cream filling. Top with middle layer. Repeat poking holes over surface then spread with remaining 1/3 sour cream filling. (Only poke holes in TWO layers.) Place third layer on top. Let sit on the counter to cool completely, this will only take 15-20 minutes.
- Cover assembled cake layers with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 day OR up to 3 days.
- To make frosting: Use an electric mixer to beat together cream cheese, butter and reserved 1/3 coconut filling. Add 2-3 cups powdered sugar beating on medium speed until fully combined. You can add more powdered sugar if desired to make the frosting more stiff.
- Frost top and sides of cake. Sprinkle with flaked coconut gently pressing into frosting. Chill for at least 4 hours or until frosting is set.
- Slice and serve, store leftovers covered and chilled. (This cake gets better and better each day)