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Creamy Coconut Cake

Coconutcakewithcoconuttop - creamy coconut cake

One of my favourite cake (and pie) flavours is coconut – it’s one of the things I like to make when something special is in order.

Often coconut cakes call for coconut milk, but I find it gets lost (and is a waste of pricey coconut milk) – when I make coconut cake I just use a regular white or yellow cake recipe, and add 2 tsp. coconut extract in place of the vanilla. Easy. Same with the frosting – I generally start with a lump of soft butter and add a dribble of extract, then add icing sugar and splashes of milk until I have something spreadable. Is that enough to go on? If not, I’ll add some more precise measurements below.

I kind of wish I had left it a pristine white, but I went and (over)toasted some shredded coconut, and so decided to sprinkle it over top anyway. I like the crunch it adds to the soft, buttery cake.

Coconutcakeslice - creamy coconut cake

Creamy Coconut Cake

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp. canola oil (optional)
3 large eggs
2 tsp. coconut extract
1 1/4 cups milk

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray two 8” or 9” round cake pans or one 9”x 13” pan with nonstick spray.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a larger bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer for about half a minute, until it’s pale and creamy. Pour in the sugar (and oil if you’re using it) and continue to beat for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each, and adding the coconut extract somewhere along the way. Scrape down the sides of the bowl whenever it needs it.

Add about one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir it in by hand or with the electric mixer on low speed, just until it’s combined. Add about half the milk in the same manner, then another third of the flour, the rest of the milk, and the rest of the flour, mixing just until the batter is blended.

Divide the batter between the greased cake pans and tap the bottoms a few times on the countertop to remove any air bubbles. To prevent a domed top, spread the top of the batter with a spatula, creating a slight dent in the middle and a raised edge. This compensates for the way a cake tends to rise higher in the middle.

Bake for 30-35 minutes for round layers or 40-45 minutes for a 9-x 13-inch cake, until golden, the edges are pulling away from the sides of the pan, and the tops are springy to the touch. Let them cool for about 10 minutes before running a knife around the edge of the pans and inverting them onto a wire rack. Cool completely before you frost them.

Coconut Frosting:
1/4-1/2 cup butter, softened (depending on whether you’re watching fat intake or not)
1 tsp. coconut or vanilla extract
3 cups icing sugar
1/4-1/3 cup milk, as needed to achieve a spreadable consistency

In a medium bowl, beat the butter and extract with an electric mixer until creamy. Add about a third each of the icing sugar and milk; beat and continue to add each until you have a spreadable frosting. Makes enough for 1 cake or a batch of cupcakes.


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