Carol’s Coconut Cake

I first tried this recipe at my friend, Carol’s house.  She used a recipe from Our State Magazine. A North Carolina favorite!It is a moist and delicious cake with just the right amount of coconut flavor.  So many times people I know say, “I don’t like coconut…it’s not the flavor but the texture.”

Well, the texture of this cake is just like any other, but it’s very moist and delicious.  As far as the coconut flakes go, that’s something that you can control.  If you don’t like the texture of the coconut flakes, you can just add a little less.  What I do is I mix some coconut flakes with chocolate sprinkles or shaved chocolate and chopped up almonds.  I use that mixture as a topping on the frosting.  Even people who say they don’t like coconut, love this recipe; I was one of those, so I know!

This time, I used the recipe to make cupcakes.  I followed the same method, omitting the filling and coconut syrup. Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed!



  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 3 cups flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3 cups plus 2 Tbsp sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 3/4 cup coconut water


  1. Preheat the oven to 325º.  Grease and flour two or three 9-inch cake pans.
  2. Heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until the butter melts. Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool at room temperature.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  4. Using a hand or stand mixer set to medium-high, beat the eggs and 3 cups of sugar for about 3 minutes until it is thick and pale yellow, scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
  5. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, gently stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture just until combined (one thing I’ve learned about baking almost anything that takes flour is that the more or more vigorously you stir, the tougher your baked goods will be, so be gently!).  Add the cooled milk mixture and the vanilla and almond extracts and again stir gently until smooth.
  6. Divide the batter evenly in the prepared cake pans.  Bake for about 30 minutes.  If you would like to make a three layer cake, use three pans and bake for about 25 minutes.  If making cupcakes, you can get 24 out of this recipe and you should bake them for about 15-18 minutes.  Insert a wooden tooth pick or knife in the center; if it comes up dry, your cake is done, if not bake for a few more minutes and then check again.  Place the pans on a cooling rack and allow them  to reach room temperature before removing the cakes from the pans and before frosting.

To make a butter cream/coconut frosting and filling:

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp coconut flavoring
  • 6 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 3 – 5 Tbsp (or more) well-stirred cream of coconut
  • 3 cups coconut flakes (use as much or as little as you desire).  I personally like the flakes as a topping so I do not add this until the end.  I mix in chocolate shavings or sprinkles and finely chopped almonds.
  1. Beat the butter, vanilla and coconut flavoring in a large bowl using an electric mixer set on medium speed until it is smooth.  Add 1/4 cup of the powdered sugar along with 1 Tbsp of the cream of coconut and beat in between each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go along.  Do not add all the powdered sugar at once you’ll you will end up with a cloud of sugar!  When you have incorporated all the powdered sugar and cream of coconut, set aside 1 cup of the buttercream frosting to use as filling.
  2. To make the filling: If adding coconut flakes to the filling, add 1 1/2 cups of coconut flakes to the reserved cup of buttercream.  It should be spreadable, so add some cream of coconut as needed to achieve a spreadable mixture.
  3. Make coconut syrup by simmering the coconut water and the remaining 2 Tbsp granulated sugar in a small sauce pan over med/low heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves.  Remove from the heat.
  4. For assembly: Place one of the cooled cake layers on a cake plate or stand, this will be the base.  Tuck pieces of parchment or wax paper under the edges all around to keep the cake plate clean as you frost.  Brush or drizzle about 2 1/2 Tbsp of the coconut syrup and then spread the filling.  Top with the next layer, repeating this step if making a three layer cake.
  5. Brush or drizzle the remaining coconut syrup over the last layer (top) and frost the entire cake with the buttercream.  You can frost it smoothly using a spatula or place the frosting in a piping bag using the tip of your choice to decorate.  You can also top with a mixture of sprinkles, coconut flakes and chopped almonds.  Gently remove the wax paper from around the bottom edges of the cake.





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