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Moist Coconut Cake


This recipe is adapted from King Arthur Flour. I wanted a white coconut cake, that would be moist and would have a perfect balance of coconut. I used coconut milk powder and coconut flavor (from King Arthur Flour) and buttermilk. The middle of the cake was filled with lemon curd. For the frosting, I made a buttercream with coconut creme, and a balance of almond, vanilla and coconut extract. Coconut flakes were toasted, and then pressed onto the cake. At last, I created a cake recipe that was tender and moist. The balance of the lemon curd was perfect with the sweetness of the buttercream frosting. Success!

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  • CAKE:
  • 3 cups King Arthur Flour unbleached cake flour, 12-ounces
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk powder, 2.5-ounces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, 5-ounces
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, 10-ounces
  • 6 large egg whites, about 1 1/4 cups; packaged liquid egg whites work fine, too
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature, 12-ounces
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 drops coconut flavoring
  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed
  • 3/4 cup creme of coconut, not coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, 1 stick, 4-ounces
  • 5 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, divided, 22-ounces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, optional
  • 3 to 4 drops strong coconut flavoring


Servings 12
Preparation time 70mins
Cooking time 120mins
Adapted from


Step 1

In a 2 quart saucepan, combine lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, eggs, and butter.
Cook over medium-low heat until thick enough to hold marks from the whisk, and the first bubble appears on the surface, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat.

The curd can be stored in the refrigerator, in a tight-fitting jar, for up to 1 week.

Whisk together the cake flour, coconut milk powder, salt, and baking powder; set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until the mixture is extremely light and fluffy; scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl after 2 minutes of beating, and beat for at least 3 minutes more. Add 1/4 of the dry ingredients, mix until combined, and scrape the mixing bowl.

Combine the egg whites, buttermilk, and flavorings; add 1/3 of the mixture to the ingredients in the bowl and mix until combined. Continue adding dry and wet ingredients by turns, until all are incorporated. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl one last time, and mix for another minute.

Divide the batter between the 2 prepared cake pans, and wrap the outsides with the soaked cake strips. If you don’t have cake strips, place the pans in larger pans and fill the water halfway up the sides of the layers. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cake springs back when lightly touched in the center and the edges just begin to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Remove from the oven and place on a rack; remove the cake strips. Let the layers cool for 20 minutes, then turn out of the pan and return to the rack to finish cooling completely before filling and frosting.

While cakes are cooling, spread shredded coconut on a rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven until shreds are a mix of golden brown and white, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring 2 or 3 times. Cool to room temperature.

Cream the butter with 2 cups confectioners’ sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat in the salt, vanilla, coconut extract, and almond extract (if using) until the mixture is smooth. Add the cream of coconut and mix, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl. Add the remaining confectioners’ sugar until you have a smooth, spreadable frosting. Cover and hold at room temperature until ready to use.

If using the lemon curd for the middle layer, pipe or spread a thick circle of frosting around the cake. Fill the middle with 1 generous cup of lemon curd.

Frosting the tops and sides of the cake, not worrying about perfection.

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