My first job out of culinary school was working as a line chef; it was a position for which I was vastly unqualified at the time. On my second day, I learned that they did not have a pastry chef. Although I was hired as a saucier (responsible for the meats, fishes and sauces) I was also the only woman in the kitchen. What this meant is that I was promptly “asked” to do both positions (for no additional pay). As a young, inexperienced cook starting out, the only response was, “Yes, Chef.”
I actually hated desserts and preferred cooking over baking. In fact, I generally favored eating savory foods over sweet ones. Truthfully, I simply did not notice desserts; I never had. In my young chef’s mind, desserts were boring and too exact; there was no wiggle room for imperfections and less room for creativity. There was no fixing, adjusting, or helping a recipe that was going sideways–just failure. I do not like failure.
With my A-type personality and slight OCD tendencies, I probably would seem like a perfect candidate for pastry. But honestly, I simply lack the required patience needed to do this art form successfully. I have since learned a lot about all the amazing pasty chefs out there, and the desserts they can create. The best pastry chefs are incredibly skilled, but in different ways from great sauciers. I still don’t have a fraction of the skills of a great pastry chef, but with substantial effort, I’m able to do pastry well enough to get by.
Now, post-children, I have found that I do like sweets, probably a bit too much for a woman in her mid-40’s, but somethings never change completely. My friends still make fun of me for ordering a cheese plate for dessert over a soufflé. This coconut cake is one of my very favorite cakes for two reasons. First, it has coconut in it. Second, it’s almost error-proof and easily adaptable. You don’t need to be a pasty chef (or fill-in-pasty chef) to make it. This cake looks great without much hassle and I have found, almost everyone loves it.
I have made this cake recipe “as is.” I have also made it as a three-layer cake (shown here), six-layer cake, mini cakes, and large sheet cakes. I even thought about making it into a giant bunny cake for a friends Easter party. My oldest son packed himself a slice in his lunch box just this morning. He, like me, is not really a sweet person, but if you like coconut, I can virtually guarantee that you’ll like this.
Dre's Coconut Cake
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup canned sweetened cream of coconut
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk
- Pinch of salt
- 4 cups shredded sweetened coconut
- Step 1 Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans with 2-inch-high sides.
- Step 2 Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl to blend.
- Step 3 Using an electric mixer, such as a KitchenAid, fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter, sugar and sweetened cream of coconut until fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks and vanilla extract.
- Step 4 On low-speed, beat in the dry ingredients and then buttermilk just until blended.
- Step 5 Place this batter in a separate large mixing bowl. Clean your mixer bowl and whisk attachment.
- Step 6 Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff, but not dry.
- Step 7 Using a spatula, gently fold the whipped egg whites into the batter.
- Step 8 Divide the cake batter between the two prepared pans. Bake the cakes on the middle oven shelf until a tester inserted comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes.
- Step 9 Cool the cakes in their pans on racks for 10 minutes.
- Step 10 Run a small knife around the pan sides to loosen cakes before turning them out onto the racks to cool completely.
- Step 11 Trim the cake layers before frosting and coating in coconut. Cake should be stored in the refrigerator.
Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/2 cup canned sweetened cream of coconut
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Step 1 Place the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until fluffy.
- Step 2 Add the butter and beat to blend, about 1 minute.
- Step 3 Add the powdered sugar, sweetened cream of coconut and vanilla extract and beat on medium until well blended and smooth.
8 thoughts on “Dre’s Coconut Cake”
I made your Coconut Cake for my sons 12th birthday. It was SO delicious. He loved it! And for the record, I am a bake a cake out of the box kinda gal – this was my first by scratch cake making adventure. Loved the whole experience! Now in our cake rotation in the family.
Hooray!!!!!! Super proud of you B, what can’t you do?!?!?!?!? Just made the same cake for E’s birthday, so love that we have kiddos with birthdays so close. Really glad you all enjoyed, this one is a long-time family favorite. Keep on cooking and baking!
I am going to make this for 4th of July – and put little red white and blue flags and sparklers on top! xx oo Sally
I am thrilled to try this cake!! It’s my favorite.
Thank you Jan. I will have the banana cake you love up soon.
I am so excited to have this recipe, it is such a beautiful cake perfect for anytime of year
Can not wait to try this one, Dre! And so enjoy the history of sweets in you life! xo w
my mom made it. it is one of my favorite cakes ever. love, madeleine c.