singular sensation – coconut cream cake

by hungryrabbit on January 18, 2013

Coconut Cream Cake

A much belated Happy New Year to you all–it’s been almost a month since the last recipe. If you happened to see my tweets and barrage of Instagram photos during that interval, you learned that M and I were in Japan and Hong Kong for a vacation and family visit. It was also three weeks of amazing eats. Stay tuned for photos and stories.

I had planned to make an apple dessert upon my return, thinking this would be the right homey treat for re-entry back to everyday life. Instead, I found myself thinking of the sweet and even savory flavors from our trip. We experienced mango, passion fruit, coconut, egg custards, multiple mousses, many types of mochi–and daily samplings of flakey pastries and airy cakes.

Some of these desserts would be familiar to a Western palette but most were new. I found several to admire and to select for re-interpretation, but it will take a bit of time to deconstruct and decipher them.

For now, it’s best for me to deal with each ingredient, one at a time. This will extend the vacation glow just a bit longer to savor flavor memories.


Coconut Cream Cake

recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
yield: One 9-inch cake


1 large egg, room temperature
5 large egg whites, room temperature
3/4 cup cream of coconut
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract
2-1/4 cups cake flour (9 ounces), sifted
1 cup (7ounces) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (6 ounces/1-1/2 sticks), cut into 12 pieces, softened, but still cool
Coconut Frosting, recipe to follow
2 cups large coconut flakes, toasted, for decoration


1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325℉. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and dust with flour.

2. Beat whole egg and egg whites in large measuring cup with fork to combine. Add cream of coconut, unsweetened coconut milk, vanilla, and coconut extract; beat with fork until thoroughly combined.

3. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Mix on lowest speed to combine, about 30 seconds. With mixer running, add butter 1 piece at a time, then beat until mixture resembles coarse meal, with butter bits no larger than small peas, 2 to 2-1/2 minutes.

4. Add 1/2 of egg mixture, increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add remaining egg mixture in steady stream. Stop mixer and scrape down bowl with rubber spatula, then beat at medium-high speed until fully combine, about 30 seconds. (Batter will be thick.)

5. Divide batter evenly between cake pans and level with offset spatula. Bake until golden brown, cakes pull away from sides of pans, and toothpick inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes (rotate cakes after about 20 minutes).

6. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, then loosen cakes from sides of pans with paring knife, invert cakes onto racks and then re-invert; cool to room temperature.

Coconut Frosting


4 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 pound unsalted butter (4 sticks), each stick cut into 6 pieces, softened, but still cool
1/4 cup cream of coconut
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Combine whites, sugar, and salt in bowl of standing mixer; set bowl over saucepan containing, about 1-1/2-inches, of barely simmering water. Whisk constantly until mixture is opaque and warm to the touch and registers about 120℉ on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 minutes.

2. Transfer bowl to mixer and beat whites on high speed with whisk attachment until barely warm, whites are glossy and sticky, about 7 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-high and beat in butter 1 piece at a time. Beat in cream of coconut, coconut and vanilla extracts. Stop mixer and scrape bottom and sides of bowl. Continue to beat at medium-high speed until well-combined, about 1 minute.


1. Cut each cake in half horizontally. Place one cake layer on the bottom of cake stand or serving platter. Spread a generous layer of frosting over cake layer and top with another layer. Repeat with the remaining cake layers.

2. Spread frosting on top and side of cake. Garnish with toasted coconut flakes. Serve.


Related Posts with Thumbnails

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Lynn January 18, 2013 at 10:56 am

Welcome home! Look forward to hearing about the food adventures (and seeing pics?) from your trip. In the meantime, your coconut cake will be a nice weekend baking break from a crazy week. Your cakes always look like castles- they stand tall, demand respect then welcome you in to indulge ;-)

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar January 18, 2013 at 1:21 pm

This cake is so pretty! And sounds awesome.

Elle January 18, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Absolutely gorgeous! I completely enjoyed your photos on Facebook. Except that they always appeared when it was time for breakfast and I was starving, ha!

astheroshe January 18, 2013 at 4:36 pm

Yum! I love anything coconut :) WINNER!

chandni January 19, 2013 at 2:34 am

Amazing recipe, amazing photography Well done!! best regards chandni

Regina @ SpecialtyCakeCreations January 19, 2013 at 7:38 am

This looks fantastic! And totally reminds me of a coconut cake we had in Thailand. I am starting to really fall in love with all the different coconut products and its uses. Coconut water, milk, cream, flakes, butter, oil… all from one amazing fruit :)

Serena January 19, 2013 at 11:27 am

This cake looks absolutely amazing! I love your pictures!

Laura Dembowski January 19, 2013 at 12:37 pm

That looks like heaven! Coconut cake is my fave and yours is beautiful!

Dina January 19, 2013 at 1:31 pm

this is a really good coconut cake recipe. i’d love to try it!

Denise January 19, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Welcome back! I loved following along during your culinary capers – you feed us well! This cake is gorgeous, and I am thinking I am going to ask a certain someone to make for my birthday!

Lori @ RecipeGirl January 19, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Wow, how perfect you made that cake. Impressive and delicious!

Jenni January 19, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Wow, this cake is utterly divine! :)

The Healthy Epicurean January 19, 2013 at 5:13 pm

Oh wow! How divine does that look? Pure ambrosia

Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite January 20, 2013 at 6:09 pm

What a spectacular way to welcome 2013 Ken! Of course we loved all your Instagram pictures from your travels but wow – we’ve missed your gorgeous recipes. Please send me a slice of this stat.

Casey January 22, 2013 at 5:50 am

Yummm. Love the photo of the fork with eaten cake all over it. Looks so gooood.

ec January 23, 2013 at 11:24 am

this looks delicious….

Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction January 24, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Gorgeous! That cake is calling my name… Now, if you could just package it up and send it to me, that would be fabulous. :)

Rosie @ Blueberry Kitchen January 26, 2013 at 7:18 am

Oh wow the cake looks absolutely gorgeous, sounds delicious too!

Laura March 6, 2013 at 5:52 pm

I have a hard time leaving recipes alone. Sooooo, with the left over yolks I decided to make lemon curd and put it between the layers with some of the coconut frosting. Smells like heaven! Can’t wait to eat it later! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

Laura March 6, 2013 at 5:54 pm

By the way, do you use unsweetened coconut flakes or sweetened? Thanks

hungryrabbit March 6, 2013 at 7:55 pm

Hi Laura, I could only imagine the tangy lemon curd contrast beautifully with the coconut. I used unsweetened coconut flakes, but if you like a sweeter cake, by all means use the sweetened kind. -Ken

Laura March 7, 2013 at 3:53 pm

It was wonderful! Thank you! I took the cake to work and all of my coworkers raved about it!

KelseyLynn April 2, 2013 at 11:53 pm

This looks awesome! Can’t wait to make it later this week for my birthday! Did you use canned coconut milk or the kind that comes in a carton that is sold by the soy and almond milk?

hungryrabbit April 3, 2013 at 7:22 am

Hi KelseyLynn, it’s canned unsweetened coconut milk and not from the cartons. Happy Baking! -Ken

Jacqui May 9, 2013 at 8:48 am

Hi, thank you for this recipe, I think it is the coconut cake I have been looking for! Can I just ask is cream of coconut just tinned coconut cream not milk? Thanks, Jacqui

hungryrabbit May 9, 2013 at 11:18 am

Hi Jacqui, cream of coconut, aka Coco Lopez is a sweetened coconut cream, usually use for cocktail such as Pina Colada. It does come in a can but make sure you differentiate cream of coconut from unsweetened coconut milk, which also comes in a can. Happy baking! -Ken

Laurice May 19, 2013 at 12:35 am

I must be doing something wrong. Cakes were not very high despite only making it in 8″ pans. Did this make it flat? It was also far from the lovely white colour of yours. I dreamt of white cake all week.

hungryrabbit May 19, 2013 at 10:14 pm

Hi Laurice, first thing comes to mind is your baking powder has past it’s prime and lost the leavening strength. As for the white cake part, I’m not sure what went wrong. – Ken

Laurice May 21, 2013 at 12:48 am

Thanks Ken I will check the use by date. Maybe I used an old one!

ec May 22, 2013 at 3:32 pm

wow this look absolutely stunning

Monica May 26, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Beautiful & delicious cake but, my icing was too thin. Any suggestions? I whipped the egg whites 8 minutes & until stiff & glossy? Maybe butter wasn’t cold enough?

hungryrabbit May 26, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Hi Monica, it could be 1. the warm butter, 2. the egg whites are still too warm to add butter or 3. you need to whip it a bit longer. Place the icing in the fridge for 20-30 min and beat it again. Hope this helps -Ken

Laurice July 22, 2013 at 6:35 pm

Hi Ken, I’m going to try this cake again (even though mine wasn’t as spectacular looking as yours it tasted divine). My sons birthday is this weekend and his favourite cake is a Lamington. So I will make this cake with a dark chocolate frosting with toasted coconut. Can’t wait!

hungryrabbit July 22, 2013 at 7:38 pm

Hi Laurice, if your son loves chocolate and coconut, may I suggest 2 more of my recipes for your consideration. German Choc Cake and German Choc Lamingtons Happy Baking! -Ken

Kim August 3, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Your cake seems amazing and so pretty! Rive Gauche Patisserie makes a coconut cake, more traditional with a cream cheese and butter icing! Can’t wait to try yours!

Susie September 15, 2013 at 7:11 pm

This recipe was fantastic, the batter alone came out so beautiful it made me want to cry!!! This was just simply delish. Thank you so much for such a great recipe.

hungryrabbit September 15, 2013 at 7:44 pm

Hi Susie, I’m so glad you liked the cake. Thank you for the comment, it’s words like your that make blogging all worth while. -Ken

Robin December 10, 2013 at 2:34 pm

This is the most amazing cake I’ve ever had, bar none! The time it takes to make it is so worth it. My guests went wild. Making it for Christmas Dinner. Going to experiment and attempt a jelly roll style. Decorate with silver or gold candy beads for a simple wedding or green, gold, red for holiday. Some don’t care for the large flakes of coconut- you can refine by pulsating in a chopper. This added coconut adds extra rich flavor but finishes the decor of the cake itself.

This cake is to die for!

Jacqueline December 15, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Hi Ken,

I made the Cooks Illustrated recipe last year and it was so dry. How far does your recipe stray from their recipe? Unsure of what I did wrong – overcooking (however, they didn’t look overcooked). It was certainly beautiful (added fondant snowflakes as I served it as Christmas Eve Dessert). I’m nervous about attempting it again, but you are getting wonderful reviews from those who have tried your recipe!

hungryrabbit December 15, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Hi Jacqueline, I didn’t alter the recipe too much. Did you leave the cake out for too long when cooling them on the rack? Did you use unsweetened coconut milk from the can or unsweetened milk beverage from the carton? I sure hope you’ll try it again. Happy Baking -Ken

Mary March 12, 2014 at 10:39 pm

I have not been able to locate the large coconut flakes here in Texas. Any ideas?

hungryrabbit March 13, 2014 at 7:23 am

Hi Mary, you can usually find them in Whole Foods or large health food stores. Short of that, there’s always Amazon -Ken

Leave a Comment

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post:

Copyright © 2014 Hungry Rabbit NYC
Site by Kinetic Webs