Coconut Layer Cake

January seems to be a long, cold and dreary month. Many people struggle to fight off post-holiday winter blues. Fortunately for us, we have three family birthdays in January to look forward to and celebrate. We have a big dinner at my mom’s and my food assignment is usually the cake. We forget about dieting resolutions for a day and indulge in this rich, decadent coconut layer cake. It is a favorite among the coconut lovers in our family. We also sometimes make this cake for Easter. The recipe is adapted from one of my favorite food memoirs, Michael Lee West’s Consuming Passions: A Food-Obsessed Life. I can’t count how many times I have read this book. I read it almost annually and I am cheered and transported to a large and interesting Southern family who know and love their food. West is such a funny Southern writer. By the time I am finished reading her book, I am off to the kitchen, half-starved, ready to make some tasty Southern food. You must plan in advance in order to make this cake. On Day 1 you bake the cake, soak the cake layers, and make the filling. On Day 2 assemble and frost. Then cover and let sit in the refrigerator for 5 days to age. It is worth all the advanced effort. I promise.

Coconut Layer Cake
1 Pillsbury white cake mix, sifted
3 large whole eggs
1 c. water
1/3 c. canola oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 (9-inch) round cake pans. Line each cake pan bottom with a cut piece of parchment paper. In a mixer combine sifted cake mix with eggs, water, and oil. Beat on medium for 2 minutes until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool cake in the pans 10 minutes, then invert with parchment still attached onto a rack and cool completely. While the cake is baking make the coconut soaking syrup and the coconut sour cream filling. Once the cake layers are cool remove parchment rounds. Cut each cake layer in half horizontally so you have four cake layers. Place a piece of parchment on 2 baking sheets. Place two cake layers on each baking sheet. Brush all the coconut soaking syrup on the cake layers. Cover with several sheets of plastic wrap and chill overnight. The next day place one layer of cake cut side up on a cake plate. The cake will be sticky from its soak in the liquid and may be tricky or tear a bit, but that’s okay; just piece it together. Spread with 1/3 of the sour cream filling. For the second cake layer it is easiest to cut the parchment paper in half and lift the parchment to invert the cake on top of the filling. Spread with 1/3 of the sour cream filling. Repeat with a third layer of cake and the remaining filling. The fourth cake layer should be cut-side down. Spread top with coconut whipped cream first, then spread the whipped cream on the sides. You will have leftover frosting. Sprinkle coconut on the top and sides of the cake. Cover cake with several layers of plastic wrap and chill for 5 days. Serves 12-15.

Coconut Soaking Syrup
1 c. coconut milk
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a saucepan combine coconut milk and sugar. Whisk to mix well. Heat on medium, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. It should take about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla.

Coconut Sour Cream Filling
1 (16 oz.) container full-fat sour cream
1-1/2 c. powdered sugar, sifted
1-1/2 c. medium fine unsweetened coconut
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. coconut emulsion or extract

In a large bowl combine sour cream and sifted powdered sugar. Whisk until well combined. Add coconut and extracts. Mix until smooth. Spoon into an airtight container and chill overnight.

Coconut Whipped Cream Frosting
2 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. coconut emulsion or extract
1/2-3/4 c. medium fine unsweetened coconut

Pour cream into a mixing bowl and beat on high for about 30 seconds, then add sugar, cream of tartar, and extracts. Whip until thick. Spread on cake, then sprinkle top and sides with coconut.

Frosted Coconut Cake


Sliced Cake


This entry was posted in Cakes, Desserts, Easter. Bookmark the permalink.

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