Southern Coconut Cake


This is not the easiest cake in the world, but any true southern cook will have this cake in their recipe box. I make it for holidays such as Christmas(decorated with Holly) and Easter(decorated with colored chocolate eggs). Let me tell you something. The presentation of this cake is amazing. There is just something about all that fluffy coconut and that pure white color. Then when you and your guests/family cut into this cake and taste it, the wonderful flavor and light texture of the cake will immediately have you hooked. It WILL become one of your holiday must have recipes. There are many versions of this recipe on the internet.  So this is a combination of my grandmothers and my personal twist. By the way, I don’t serve my cake like this all the time, Michael decided to fancy it up for the picture.

  • 3 cups sifted cake flour (sift before measuring)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 egg yolks, well beaten
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 4 egg whites, well beaten


  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 tablespoons of coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cups grated coconut


I used the Kitchen Aid mixer for the whole thing. I beat the ingredients with the wire whip up until it says to stir in the coconut and vanilla – at that point I transferred the batter to a large mixing bowl and stirred in the coconut and vanilla (do not beat) – I beat the egg whites to firm and spooned them into the center of the batter. Then I gently folded them into the batter, making sure not to deflate the egg whites.   Its important to stir the coconut and vanilla and fold the egg whites or your cake will turn out dense and flat. This batter will make 3 layers that are about 2 inches thick so your end result will be a beautifully tall cake but not too tall. Then into the pans to bake – watch this cake like a hawk. It may take less time depending on your oven and it can still look like it needs to bake more to be done – watch it carefully.

The frosting is 7 minute frosting  and make sure to beat the frosting for at least 7 minutes (otherwise it won’t be firm enough to stick and will slide off your cake – it took me a couple times to figure this one out) 

Measure the sifted cake flour into a bowl. Add baking powder and salt. Sift these ingredients 3 times. In a mixing bowl, cream butter thoroughly; add sugar gradually. Continue creaming until light and fluffy. Add the beaten egg yolks and beat well. Add flour mixture alternately with the milk, beating well after each addition. Stir in coconut and vanilla. Fold in egg whites gently. Bake in greased 8-inch pans at 350° for about 30 minutes, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Makes three 8-inch layers.


Mix all ingredients, and then with the end of a wooden spoon, poke holes all over the first layer, pour 1/3 of the mixture over layer, add second layer of cake and repeat, then again with third layer.

Combine sugar, corn syrup, water, egg whites, cream of tartar and salt in top of double boiler. Cook over rapidly boiling water, beating with electric hand-held mixer until mixture stands in peaks. Remove from heat; add vanilla. Continue beating until frosting is firm enough to hold when spread on cake. Frost cake sprinkle immediately with grated coconut, pressing coconut onto sides of cake with hands.


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5 Comments on Southern Coconut Cake

  1. What a great recipe and beautiful cake. The NYT or maybe the WSJ, yeah I think it was the Journal just had a whole article on this cake and how hard it is to get just right. Looks like you nailed it. Have a great Christmas.

  2. That is one beautiful cake, I love coconut.

  3. This looks fabulous. I am baking challenged, but I printed this. I love how you have made it for different holidays. Thanks so much for linking up to the Weekend Potluck. I’m looking forward to following your blog.

  4. avatar Tina Sponsler // February 11, 2013 at 12:01 am // Reply

    Help! I have made the frosting twice now and still can not get any peaks to form. I mixed it for we’ll over seven minutes each time. Comparing yours and Miss Paula’s recipes, the biggest difference seems to be in the amount of syrup. Is 1/2 cup correct?

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