Coconut Cake
From Scratch

Coconut Cake From Scratch with Coconut Butter Frosting using fresh coconut.

Coconut Cake From Scratch Recipe makes a soft, moist white layer cake, filled and topped with creamy, light and fluffy Coconut Butter Cream Frosting and fresh, unsweetened grated coconut.

It is a classic cake you will enjoy making and serving to your family and friends.

It makes a beautiful small Wedding or Birthday Cake. 

Double or triple recipe as needed.

Included is an Old Fashioned Coconut Cake with yellow layers and topped with Boiled Coconut Frosting like our Grandmas used to make.

Start your Coconut Cake From Scratch by selecting the finest, freshest coconut you can find.

Drain the coconut water and store the water in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.

Pare the dark brown fiber from the broken coconut pieces with a small vegetable peeler or sharp knife.

Peel and grate your fresh coconut meat and store it in the refrigerator until you are ready to frost your cake.

I prefer using a vegetable peeler because it is easier to peel, plus safer to use than a knife.

Grated coconut is not added to the batter of this Coconut Cake From Scratch cake for two reasons; one, the cake layers are already very flavorful and two, the grated coconut would interfere with the satin-smooth texture of the white cake layers.

Coconut Cake From Scratch 

  • 2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (Do not substitute.)

  • 2 1/2 teaspoon double-acting baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 1/4 sticks butter (10 tablespoons), softened

  • 2 teaspoons coconut flavoring

  • 1 teaspoon almond flavoring

  • 2 clear corn syrup (I use Clear Karo Syrup)

  • 2/3 cup fine granulated sugar

  • 1/3 cup coconut water from a fresh opened coconut

  • 1/3 cup whole milk

  • 3 large egg whites*, room temperature

*Egg whites separate from the yolks better while eggs are cold and beat into a higher volume when beaten at room temperature.

Therefore, separate your egg whites and yolks immediately after removing them from the cold refrigerator.

Put the unbeaten egg yolks into a small, covered container back in the refrigerator to stay cold and fresh to be used in another recipe. 

Lightly grease two 9" round layer cake pans with butter.

Cut round parchment paper to fit and line inside bottom of pans.

Grease parchment paper and sides of pan.

Dust lightly with sifted flour.

Shake out excess flour.

Set prepared pans aside.

Sift together sifted cake flour, baking powder and salt into a small bowl.

Set aside.

Beat egg whites at room temperature on high speed until soft peaks form.

Do not overbeat.

 causes the beaten egg white bubbles to dissipate by losing air.

Set aside. 

Cream butter lightly in a stand mixing bowl on medium speed.

Add sugar a little at a time, creaming well after each addition. 

Stir in corn syrup, vanilla and almond flavorings.

Scrape down beaters, sides and bottom of bowl.

Turn mixer speed to high and beat until mixture is light and fluffy, the consistency of whipped cream, with no grains felt in the batter when rubbed between the tips of your two fingers.

Takes about 2 minutes to beat.

Mix coconut water and whole milk together in a measuring cup.

Gently, fold in flour and coconut mixture alternately, starting and ending with flour. 

Scrape down sides and bottom of mixing bowl again and mix on medium speed about 30 seconds.

Gently fold in beaten egg whites just until all is well incorporated.

The idea of mixing just a few steps at a time is so that you can mix the batter thoroughly, without overbeating it.

Overbeating will cause the gluten in the flour to start developing and can cause your cake to be tough.

Pour equal amounts of batter in each layer pans. 

Using your spatula, smooth batter on top before putting it in the oven to help it bake as even and flat on top as possible. 

Bake in a preheated oven 350F. until lightly browned and it tests done when probed with a toothpick or knife in center and sides of cake.

The cake will be pulling loose from sides of pan.

Should the top of your Coconut Cake From Scratch layers start browning too fast before getting done, place a sheet of parchment paper over them to slow down the browning. 

When done, place a clean pastry cloth on a cooling rack and sprinkle it lightly with sifted powdered sugar.

Loosen sides of cake layers with a sharp knife, flip the layers top side down onto the sprinkled powdered sugar and let them cool completely.

This technique will give you a more even cake to frost.

When your layers are thoroughly cooled, you are ready to make your light and fluffy Coconut Butter Cream Frosting and assemble your Coconut Cake From Scratch.

Coconut Butter Cream Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks)

  • 1 pound sifted powdered sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon coconut flavoring

  • 1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring

  • 1 fresh coconut, peeled and grated

Cream butter lightly on medium speed.

Add sugar, a little at a time as necessary to keep frosting at spreading consistency.

When finished adding sugar, fold in coconut and almond flavorings.

Turn mixer on high speed and beat until light and fluffy.

Assemble your Coconut Cake From Scratch layers with the Coconut Butter Cream Frosting between layers and on the sides.

Place your first cake layer upside down on your cake plate or whatever you plan to display your cake on to serve. 

Place cut strips of waxed paper around the bottom edge of your first cake layer to catch any excess or dropped frosting.

Frost the first layer and sides with a spatula and add the second layer, upside down.

This helps you achieve a flatter, more attractive top.

To achieve as clean a plate as possible around the bottom edges cake as place 2" to 3" long strips of waxed or parchment paper around the bottom edge catching any excess frosting.

These white coconut cake layers and slices are very attractive served on a white cake stand.

When you have spread the frosting on each layer top and sides of cake, sprinkle as much freshly grated coconut as you can get to stick to the cake.

Gently, press coconut on the sides and top of your cake with your palm to prevent it from falling off.

Gently, pull out strips of waxed paper.

When finished frosting your cake, let it set for 1 hour before serving.

Best to let it set in the refrigerator to firm up.

Old Fashioned Coconut Cake

This Old Fashioned Coconut Cake recipe was printed in a very old Boston Cooking School cookbook listed as a variation to a basic cake recipe.

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar

  • 2 eggs, well beaten

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 1 3/4 cups flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon coconut flavoring*

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Measure all ingredients.

Sift flour before measuring.

Out of sugar called for in the recipe, reserve 1 tablespoon for each egg white used.

Have eggs at room temperature

Take butter from refrigerator long enough in advance to so that it is easy to work with, but not melted.

Work with a wooden spoon until until soft and creamy.

Add remaining sugar gradually, beating until light.

If eggs are to be added whole, beat thoroughly and add reserved sugar.

If eggs are to be separated, beat whites until stiff but not dry, beat in sugar reserved for the purpose and set aside.

Beat yolks with same beater.

Adding eggs whole makes a fine textured cake and adding the whites last makes makes a very light cake.

Add beaten eggs or yolks to butter and sugar mixture.

Add dry ingredients and liquid alternately.

Beat thoroughly but do not stir.

Fold in egg whites, if eggs were separated.

Pour into prepared loaf or two 8" layer cake pans.

Bake in preheated 350 F. for 20-25 minutes until test done with a tooth pic.

Loaf cake may be sliced and served plain.

Frost Old Fashioned Coconut Cake layers with Boiled Coconut Frosting.

Boiled Coconut Frosting

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/3 cup water

  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tarter or 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1 egg white, room temperature

  • 1 teaspoon coconut flavoring 

  • 1/4 cup fresh grated, unsweetened coconut 
  • Additional Coconut (optional)

Beat egg white in stand mixing bowl until stiff. 

Put sugar, water and cream of tarter or lemon juice in a saucepan on stove top and stir it until sugar has dissolved and reached the boiling point.

Add 3 tablespoons of sugar syrup to the beaten egg whites, 1 tablespoonful at a time.

Boil remaining syrup without stirring, to 240F. or until it spins a long thread when tested.

Slowly, pour syrup on beaten egg white, beating constantly until thick enough to stand up in peaks. 

Fold in the 1/4 cup coconut.

Quickly, spread the Boiled Coconut Frosting on tops and sides of cake before the frosting becomes too stiff to spread. 

Sprinkle the top and sides of assembled cake with additional coconut, if desired.

Related Pages

Orange Coconut Cake Recipe

Pineapple Coconut Cake Recipe 

Old Fashioned Cake Recipes


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