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    Moist Coconut Cake

    So I just thought that I wasn’t a huge coconut cake fan, BUT this recipe changed my mind. So much so that I would consider this coconut cake to be one of my new favourites – it’s that good! This recipe consists of super soft and moist coconut cake layers, topped with an incredibly delicious coconut cream cheese frosting. It’s finished off with shredded coconut added to the outside of the cake which adds amazing texture to the cake – YUM!

    Coconut cake

    What makes this coconut cake recipe so great?

    There’s a few different elements which makes this recipe truly stand out.

    Firstly, my recipe not only uses coconut flavouring (you can use coconut extract or essence), but also coconut milk. This adds extra coconut flavor to the cake and contributes to the fluffy texture. This is because coconut milk adds moisture to the cake batter and it has a high fat content, which contributes to a super tender crumb.

    Secondly, this cake recipe uses the creaming method when it comes to mixing the cake batter. This is when the butter and sugar is mixed together at the beginning for a few minutes. What this does is it creates air pockets in the mixture, which expand during baking, giving your cake a light and fluffy texture.

    Lastly, the dry ingredients are slowly incorporated into the batter at the end by hand mixing with a spatula. This is to prevent overmixing of the batter as this can lead to a tough and dense cake.

    How to make coconut cake

    Begin by preheating your oven to 160 °C (320°F) with the fan on (if your oven doesn’t have a fan option, then you will need to increase the baking temperature to 175°C/350°F) and grease two 8 inch cake pans (I use my homemade cake release). You also want to line the bottoms with baking/parchment paper. The coconut cake layers do tend to stick to the bottom of the pan, so you need to line the bottom of the cake tins with baking paper just to make sure they come out in one piece!

    coconut cake

    In a bowl, sift together your all purpose flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Using a whisk or fork, mix until well combined. Set aside.

    coconut cake

    In another mixing bowl, add in your butter, vegetable oil and sugar. Using an electric mixer (hand or stand mixer are both fine), cream together for 2 minutes until lighter in colour.

    coconut cake

    Add in eggs one by one, mixing well in between each addition (about 10-15 seconds between eggs). Scrape down the bowl as needed.

    Add in your vanilla extract/essence, coconut essence/extract and half a cup of the coconut milk, and mix until well combined. Now set your mixer aside as the remainder of the batter will be finished by hand.

    coconut cake

    Add in half of your premixed dry ingredients to your wet mixture, and gently fold it in with a spatula until just combined. Then add in the remaining 3/4 cup of coconut milk, and fold it in until just combined. Lastly, add in the remaining dry ingredients and gently fold it into the mixture until just combined. Do not overmix (see note 6 on recipe card below).

    coconut cake

    coconut cake

    Finish off by adding in the shredded coconut and gently fold with a spatula until just combined. Do not overmix the batter.

    Pour batter evenly into the two 8 inch cake tins, and bake for 33 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

    coconut cake

    Once baked, allow the cake layers to cool in the cake tins for about 15-20 minutes, and then turn them out onto a wire rack to completely cool before frosting with the coconut cream cheese frosting recipe below.

    How to make coconut cream cheese frosting

    Cream your butter for a few minutes until it’s light and fluffy. Either use a hand mixer or stand mixer on a medium high speed. If using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment.

    coconut cake

    Add in the icing sugar in 3 batches while mixing on low. Ensure that each batch of icing sugar is mixed into the butter well before adding in the next batch.

    Next add in your cold cream cheese, vanilla and coconut essence/extract. Mix just until the frosting is smooth. Avoid over-mixing.

    coconut cake

    How to decorate a coconut cake

    There are so many great ways to decorate a coconut cake! Here is how I did mine 🙂

    Firstly, I like to trim off the caramelized edges of the cake layers, but this is totally optional and not necessary. I purely did this for aesthetic purposes. 

    Once that’s done place a generous amount of frosting on your first cake layer and spread it out with an offset spatula or knife.

    coconut cake

    Place your next cake layer on top and spread out a generous amount of frosting on the top and sides. You can use a cake scraper to smooth out the sides (see video demonstration).

    Cover the top and sides with the shredded coconut by gently pushing the coconut into the frosting.

    coconut cake

    And that is it! Your coconut cake is ready to serve 🙂

    Commonly Asked Questions

    How do you store coconut cake?

    This cake can be left out at room temperature for about half a day, but due to the cream cheese, it will need to be refrigerated after that/overnight. Place in an airtight container before putting it in the fridge to prevent the cake from drying out. For more tips on how to safely store a cake in the fridge, check out my blog post on 3 uncommon baking tips.

    If you’re not using the cream cheese frosting, then the cake can be left at room temperature for a few days (be sure to wrap it in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container to keep it nice and fresh).

    Can I turn this cake into a coconut sheet cake?

    Yes, you can use this recipe to make a coconut sheet cake (a 9×13 inch cake pan will work best). You will just need to adjust the cooking time as needed, and will only need half the amount of frosting.

    Should I use sweetened or unsweetened coconut for this recipe?

    You want to use unsweetened coconut for this recipe. Sweetened coconut may make the cake too sweet!

    Can I use desiccated coconut or coconut flakes?

    You can use dessicated coconut or coconut flakes instead of shredded coconut, however dessicated coconut is much finer so may not provide the same texture that the latter two would.

    How do you press coconut on a cake?

    The easiest way I find to do this is just with my hands! Grab a palmful of shredded coconut (or whichever type of coconut you’re using), and place it on the side of the cake by gently pressing your palm into the cake. It’s also best if the frosting is a little soft so the coconut sticks easier.

    Coconut cake

    Moist Coconut Cake

    This coconut cake recipe is so soft and moist, and has just the right amount of coconut flavour! It's paired with a coconut cream cheese frosting, and coated with shredded coconut which adds incredible texture to the cake.
    4.99 from 55 votes
    Print Pin Rate Watch Video
    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 33 minutes
    Cooling Time: 1 hour
    Total Time: 1 hour 43 minutes
    Servings: 12 people

    IMPORTANT: For accuracy, I would recommend using the gram measurements provided as those are the exact quantities I use. Cup measurements are given as estimates (based on US cup measurements) to make it easier for those who do not have a scale.

    Ingredients
     

    Coconut Cake

    • cups (280 g) flour - regular, all purpose
    • ¼ cup (30 g) cornstarch - also known as cornflour
    • 1 tbsp baking powder
    • ½ tsp salt - omit if using salted butter
    • ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter - room temp
    • 3 tbsp unflavoured vegetable oil - I use canola oil
    • 1⅔ cups (332 g) white granulated sugar
    • 3 large eggs - room temperature
    • tsps vanilla essence/extract
    • 1 tsp coconut essence/extract - can substitute with 1/2 tsp almond essence/extract (see note 1)
    • cups (275 g) canned coconut milk
    • 1 cup (80 g) shredded coconut - dried & unsweetened, also called threaded coconut

    Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

    • 1 cup (225 g) unsalted butter - room temperature
    • cups (570 g) icing sugar - also called powdered/confectioners sugar
    • cups (335 g) cream cheese - cold, firm type (see note 2)
    • tsps vanilla essence/extract
    • 1 tsp coconut essence/extract - can substitute with 1/2 tsp almond essence/extract (see note 1)
    • cups (120 g) shredded coconut - dried & unsweetened, for decorating (recommended for texture - see note 8). Also called threaded coconut

    Instructions

    Coconut Cake

    • Preheat oven to 160 °C (320°F) with the fan on (see note 3 if you don't have a fan function) and grease the bottom and sides of two 8 inch cake tins (mine are 3 inches deep), and also line the bottom of the tin with baking/parchment paper (see note 4).
    • In a bowl, sift together your flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Using a whisk or fork, mix until well combined. Set aside.
    • In another large bowl, add in your butter, vegetable oil and sugar. Using an electric mixer (hand or stand mixer are both fine - see note 5), cream together for 2 minutes until lighter in colour.
    • Add in eggs one by one, mixing well in between each addition (about 10-15 seconds between eggs).
    • Add in your vanilla, coconut essence/extract and half a cup of the coconut milk, and mix until well combined. Now set your mixer aside as the remainder of the batter will be finished by hand.
    • Add in half of your premixed dry ingredients to your wet mixture, and gently fold it in with a spatula until just combined. Then add in the remaining 3/4 cup of coconut milk, and fold it in until just combined. Lastly, add in the remaining dry ingredients and gently fold it into the mixture until just combined. Do not overmix (see note 6).
    • Finish off by adding in the shredded coconut and gently fold with a spatula until just combined. Do not overmix the batter.
    • Distribute the batter evenly into the two 8 inch cake tins, and bake for 33 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
    • Once baked, allow the cake layers to cool in the cake tins for about 15-20 minutes, and then turn them out onto a wire rack to completely cool before frosting with the coconut cream cheese frosting recipe below.

    Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

    • Cream your butter for a few minutes until it's light and fluffy. Either use a hand mixer or stand mixer on a medium high speed. If using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment.
    • Add in the icing sugar in 3 batches while mixing on low. Ensure that each batch of icing sugar is mixed into the butter well before adding in the next batch.
    • Next add in your cold cream cheese, vanilla and coconut essence/extract. Mix just until the frosting is smooth. Avoid over-mixing (see note 7).

    Assembly

    • Trim off the caramelized edges of the cake layers if you wish (this is optional and not necessary).
    • Place a generous amount of frosting on your first cake layer and spread it out with an offset spatula or knife.
    • Place your next cake layer on top and spread out a generous amount of frosting on the top and sides. You can use a cake scraper to smooth out the sides (see video demonstration).
    • Cover the top and sides with the shredded coconut by gently pushing the coconut into the frosting.

    Video

    YouTube video

    Notes

    Note 1. Coconut essence or extract can be difficult to find in some places. If you can't access it, then using 1/2 tsp of almond extract/essence as a substitute for 1 tsp of coconut essence/extract works well. You will have slightly less of a coconut flavour but the difference isn't drastic 🙂
    Note 2. To ensure that your frosting isn't too soft, you want to use a firm cream cheese, not the spreadable type. You also want to use cold cream cheese as this will help your frosting stay firmer for longer, particularly if you want to use it for piping. If you stay in a hot climate and your frosting is softening up after some time, simply place it into the fridge for 30 minutes and then rewhip it. This will bring it back to a pipeable consistency.
    Note 3. In this recipe I use an oven with the fan function turned on. The fan forced function cooks cakes/cupcakes faster, so if your oven doesn't have a fan option, then you will need to increase the baking temperature to 175°C (347°F) so that the cake/cupcake bakes at the same rate as mine 🙂
    Note 4. The cake layers tend to stick to the bottom of the pan even when using cake release, so you need to line the bottom of the cake tins with baking paper just to make sure they come out in one piece.
    Note 5. If using a stand mixer, then use the paddle attachment for the initial mixing, but continue to do the last step by hand as stated in the recipe.
    Note 6. By gently folding in the ingredients, it prevents too much gluten from forming, thus giving us a softer cake. Only mix until the strands of flour have disappeared and the batter is uniform. 
    Note 7. Only mix the frosting until it's smooth. Once it's smooth stop mixing as over-mixing can result in a less stable frosting. This is because of the liquid in the cream cheese breaking down the icing sugar. 
    Note 8. The shredded coconut as a decoration on the outside of the cake adds great texture to the cake, so I would recommend doing this. If you prefer not to decorate your cake in this way, then you can also fold the shredded coconut into your coconut cream cheese frosting and then use the frosting to decorate the cake. 

    Nutrition

    Calories: 672kcal | Carbohydrates: 114g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 43g | Saturated Fat: 28g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 115mg | Sodium: 493mg | Potassium: 273mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 41g | Vitamin A: 833IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 190mg | Iron: 2mg

    Nutritional information are estimates only as they are automatically calculated by a third party application. Actual values may differ based on brands and types of products used.

    Keyword: coconut cake, coconut cream cheese frosting, coconut milk cake, moist coconut cake
    Tried this recipe?I love hearing from you! Tag me @cakesbymk.nz on instagram so I can see your amazing creations 🙂

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    89 Comments

    • Uzezi Debis O.

      For a first time try on coconut cake, this recipe was spot on, light, moist and fluffy.
      I used coconut oil instead of canola oil
      Thanks a lot!!
      Will definitely be repeating this recipe for years to come😍😍

      • Cakes by MK

        Awesome! So so happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe Uzezi! 😀 I’ll have to try it out with coconut oil one day 😀

    • Gayle

      5 stars
      One of the best coconut cakes I’ve made EVER! So deliciously moist!

      • Cakes by MK

        Yay! So so happy to hear you loved it Gayle 😀 really appreciate the feedback 🙂

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    About me

    Welcome to my blog! My name is Maryam and I LOVE baking! :) I hope to provide you with the tools (i.e. simple, from-scratch, quality tested recipes), so that you can confidently bake up delicious treats to share with your family and friends!

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