Coconut Cream Cake – The Perfect Easter Dessert


Finished photo

This is the Coconut Cream Cake that was so very popular at the bakery. Easter seems synonymous with coconut and I’m not sure why but happy it is.

Fairly early in the life of the shop, I got a mailer from General Mills touting their flours. It was a beautiful color brochure with cakes and sweet breads. I tried the cakes and the one that just amazed me is the one we used  with minor changes. This very almond flavored cake is the most moist white cake I have ever eaten.  We used the white chiffon cake for our wedding cakes and it never ceased to get raves.

Because this is a very loose batter, it is important when folding in the whites to make sure you go to the bottom of the bowl each time. When making one cake this isn’t a big deal, when making a batch in a 60 quart bowl, it is very important so that all of the layers have all of the ingredients. If making this in a large batch, it is also important to scale out quickly as the batter can thin out if it sits too long.

Make sure it goes into the oven right away and doesn’t sit. But even with its little idiosyncrasies it is, by far and away, the best white cake ever.  To make it even better, these layers freeze beautifully. Just freeze them until hard, then wrap well.  They will keep for a month.  To use, remove the covering and thaw at room temperature.

One of the reasons I favor chiffon cakes is their moistness and the ability of the cake to stay moist for days.  Any cake that uses oil will maintain its moistness better than a cake made with butter. There is definitely a place for butter cakes.  We used them for wedding cakes but not for the wholesale clients which needed a longer shelf life.

I have blogged the pastry cream used in this Coconut Cream Cake.  Just follow that recipe and make it at least one day ahead, although you can make it several days ahead and refrigerate it.

The rest is just assembling it.  This Coconut Cream Cake is the cake with which I trained fledgling decorators.  As you will see any mistakes made are easily covered with the coconut which encases the entire cake.  When they could finish this perfectly, they could move on.

If you remember the old fashioned Coconut Cream Cake, or if you are new to it, give it a try and see why this is the Coconut Cream Cake of my client’s dreams.

Pastry Cream 

Make the pastry cream in the blog at least one day ahead.  It can be made several days ahead and stored in the refrigerator.

White Chiffon Cake

Ingredients for Coconut Cream Cake

2 1/4 cup sifted cake flour (225 grams or 8 ounces)
1 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar (215 grams or 7 1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup non fat dry milk (30 grams or 1 ounce)
1/3 cup vegetable oil (60 grams or 2 ounces)
1/3 cup water (70 grams or 2 1/2 ounces)
3 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons almond extract
2/3 cup water (140 grams or 5 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar (85 grams or 3 ounces)

Prepare three 9×2 inch round cake pans by spraying the centers and lining them with parchment rounds.  Spray the center of the rounds; set aside. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place the flour, 1 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, baking powder, salt, dry milk, vegetable oil, 1/3 cup water, egg yolks, vanilla and almond extracts in a mixing bowl. Cake ingredientsMix on medium for 2 minutes. Cake ingredients mixingScrape the bowl.  Lower the speed of the mixer and add the 2/3 cup water half at a time, mixing well after each addition.

In a clean mixing bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and cream of tarter until soft peaks form. Whites in bowlWhite BeatingGradually add the remaining sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Adding sugar to whitesThis is a heavy meringue and will take a while to beat. Whites on WhiskWhisk 1/4 of the beaten whites into the batter; One quarter whites in batterfold in the remaining whites.Remainder of egg whites in batterFoldingFolding 2

Divide the batter evenly between the pans (315 grams or 11 ounces each pan).scaling batter

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. The cakes will be very slightly colored if at all, the tester will come out clean and the center will spring back when lightly touched.Baked Layers

As the layers cool, they will fall slightly and pull away from the side of the pan but remain flat – that is how it should be.Batter pulling away

Finished batter weights 945 or 33 1/2 ounces grams. Baked layers are 3/4 inch tall.

Assembly of the Coconut Cream Cake

Filling ingredients

1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar (22 grams or 3/4 ounce)
Pastry Cream, chilled
2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut (170 grams or 6 ounces)
3 White Chiffon Cake Layers, thawed if frozen

Combine cream and powdered sugar in mixing bowl; beat until stiff. Cream in bowlFold into pastry cream. Whipped cream in pastry creamFoldingFolding doneStir coconut into filling. Coconut inCoconut mixed inSpread half of filling, 420 grams or 14 3/4 ounces to within 1/2 inch of edge of one layer of cake. Filling on first layerFilling spread on 1st layerPlace another layer of cake over filling and spread the remainder of the filling over it. 2nd layer onFilling on 2nd layerTop with the last layer of cake.Top Layer on

Yield: 860 grams or 30 1/2 ounces filling.

Frosting  Coconut Cream  Cake

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar (40 grams or 1 1/3 ounces
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups sweetened, shredded coconut (255 grams or 9 ounces)

Combine cream, sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Frosting ingredients in bowlBeat until very stiff.  Frosting mixedSpread the cream over the sides of the cake. Frosting side of cakeSmooth the sides.  A bench scraper works fine here.  Frosting smoothing sidesFinish by spreading the remaining cream over the top of the cake.  Frosting top of cakeSmoothing top of cakeAs you can see in the photo, the cake is not perfectly frosted.  Cake finished with roostingPress coconut onto sides and top. Place the coconut in a pie plate or other container. Coconut in pie plateHold the whipped cream frosted cake in one hand and pick up some coconut in your other hand.  Keeping the cake over the pie plate, pat the coconut onto the side of the cake.  Applying coconut to sideThe excess coconut will fall back into the pie plate.  Pat the coconut lightly in place on the top and sides.  Patting sidespatting coconut on topPlace in refrigerator overnight to set up.

Note: This cake may be made in its entirety, frozen, covered and then frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

There is also a Chocolate Version should you prefer chocolate or take a look at the Coconut Cream Pie with a Difference.

Pastry has not only been my profession, but my passion. If there is anything in particular you would like to see or any questions about baking or pastry, please let me know. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss a post!
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27 thoughts on “Coconut Cream Cake – The Perfect Easter Dessert

  1. Alberta Parker

    THANK YOU! for sharing this delicious cake! It was our Easter dinner dessert and a hit with all of us. This is most definitely one of the best cakes I have made (and I like to bake). Very easy and quickly comes together. I followed your recipe with one small oversight – I used all purpose flour (weighed) and didn’t realize I did until the cake was in the oven, even though the cake flour was on the counter! Even still, the cake was moist and light and 3 days later still yummy. I frosted with whip cream and refrigerated.

    Additionally, my 6 year old granddaughter and I made your painted cookie recipe and they are also delicious. Both of these recipes will be repeated for sure.

    I really enjoy your blog and all of your great tips. Thanks so much!

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hello Alberta, thank you for this wonderful comment. So happy both worked out well. I baked with my grandson when he was little and he still bakes to this day. The cake is one of my favorites. I laughed about the cake flour. I think we have all done something like that and only realized it after it was too late.

  2. Feyi

    Hi Helen, I will be trying this recipe this Easter. I also came across your painted sugar cookies on your blog and will like to do them this Easter too. Is the all purpose flour used bleached or unbleached in the recipe? So when it says all purpose flour on your blog are you referring to bleached or unbleached? Thanks

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Feyi – It doesn’t make any difference in the recipe. It’s a personal preference. I use bleached all-purpose flour.

      1. Feyi

        Thank you Helen. I baked the cookies today. Perfection .
        It came out perfectly well following all your tips of chilling in between steps.
        I am in love with your site. Thank you for sharing all your knowledge.
        I came across your yellow cake recipe, can sour cream be substitute for buttermilk or buttermilk is just it? Thank you

        1. hfletcher Post author

          Hi Feyi, so happy the cookies worked well for you. Sour cream should work, just keep all the ingredients for the rest of the recipe the same.

          1. Feyi

            Thank you. I was able to snag a copy of your book on Amazon last night and I am super excited. I would love to treasure it eventhough we have access to your blog.
            I was going through your site again and found another recipe for yellow cake – the tale of one layer yellow cake. Now which one should I try? And can I add lemon zest to it? My son’s 1st birthday is coming right after Easter and I am thinking of baking a vanilla lemon cake . Or what would you suggest? Thanks Helen. You are a gem!

  3. Crystal Moody

    Hi Helen! Could you use coconut extract instead of almond extract in this coconut cake? Or if making a lemon cake with lemon curd, lemon extract?

  4. Eileen Murphy

    Lovely, I had lemons that needed to be used recently and the curd is in my freezer. This is perfect, I can do the layers ahead and be ready to make icing and easy assembly. Instead of being in the kitchen I will have more time to enjoy my company. (small group, all fully vaccinated of course)Thank you Helen. I hope your Easter celebration is wonderful.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Eileen, Good for you. This will be a great dessert and as you said, you have more time with your guests. Enjoy the day.

  5. Debra Egan

    Hello Helen. What do you recommend to use to spray the center of the baking pans before and after lining them with parchment paper? Thank you.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hello Debra, I use a commercial product called Vegeline but any non-stick baking spray with a lecithin base will be fine.
      I’ve used the original Pam and it worked fine.

    2. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Debra, I use a commercial product called Vegeline. It is lecithin based and I have used the original Pam with good results.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Kim: We used lemon curd between the layers and finished it with Italian Buttercream. We also used a whipped ganache. Use it wherever you want a light white cake.

  6. Janet

    Looks like I have found a wonderful recipe to try this weekend….gluten free works very well in Chiffon cakes…. Thank you Helen!!

    1. Harriette Brown

      Hello Helen I tried the recipe gluten free using Pamela baking flour adding 1t vinegar to the veg oil and proceeding with your recipe also used more vanilla than almond extract. It turned out great. They ate it before pictures. Again thanks for sharing your gift.

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