I spent a long time researching coconut cake options. As much as I bake…and I bake A LOT…I had never made a coconut cake before. With Easter and Mother’s Day on the horizon, I knew I needed to find the perfect recipe. The recipe I’d write out on a recipe card and keep close to my baking pans for years to come.
After a few days of pulling up every coconut cake recipe I could find, I settled on this one. And I’m so glad I did. This recipe required a secret ingredient (and who doesn’t love secret ingredients?): coconut milk powder. The coconut milk powder replaces some of the flour in the recipe leading to a rich, creamy, and moist layer cake. Once you try using it, you won’t go back. I can’t wait to add coconut milk powder to other cake recipes too! Because it doesn’t impart as much as flavor as texture and richness.
We had a perfect Easter, spent with family, on a beautiful Colorado day. This cake was the star of our mid-day lunch…but it would be as equally fitting for Mother’s Day, which is just around the corner.
Creamy Coconut Cake
3 cups (12 ounces)e Cake Flour
2/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) coconut milk powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (5 ounces) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups (10 ounces) sugar
6 large egg whites (about 1 1/4 cups; packaged liquid egg whites work fine, too)
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) whole milk, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 drops coconut flavoring
1 (14-ounce can) unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter
5 1/2 cups (22 ounces) confectioners’ sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla or 3 to 4 drops strong coconut flavoring
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded sweetened coconut
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Soak two cake strips, if you have them. Grease and flour (or line with parchment circles and spray with nonstick spray) two 8-inch square cake pans that are at least 2 inches deep.
To make the cake: 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 two minutes of beating, and beat for at least three minutes more. Add 1/4 of the dry ingredients, mix until combined, and scrape the mixing bowl.
Combine the egg whites, milk, 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 two 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.
To make the frosting: Set a fine-mesh strainer or colander over a bowl and line it with a clean linen towel. Pour the coconut milk into the lined strainer and let the coconut water drain for up to 2 hours, until you have a thick lump of coconut cream.
After the coconut milk has drained, cream the butter with 2 cups confectioners’ sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat in the salt and vanilla (or coconut extract) until the mixture is smooth. Add the coconut cream 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.
To finish the cake: Split the cooled cake layers horizontally. Place half of one layer on a serving plate; spread with 1/4 of the frosting. Place the other half on top, spread with another 1/4 of the frosting. Repeat with the remaining layers until you’ve used them all.