Heavenly Coconut Layer Cake

coconut cake.jpg

Its 40 C outside and I should be thinking ice cream, but no. Not today. Tomorrow it will still be 40 C and I can make ice cream then. One would assume that a creamy layer cake is not a summery dessert, but when it comes with the intense flavor of coconut then it beats any heat wave. 3 layers of buttery, coconut cake brushed with syrup, then layered with the most divine, creamy coconut frosting. I don’t have anything else to say, except if you love coconut as much as I do, make this cake. Ice cream melts too quickly when it’s 40 C anyway.

Ingredients for the cake

  • 250 grams unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup coconut cream (from a can)
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut, plus more for garnishing

For the syrup

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

For the frosting

  • 200 grams “Philadelphia” type cream cheese
  • ¼ cup coconut cream (from a can)
  • 2 cups double cream
  • ½ cup icing sugar
  • ½ cup desiccated coconut


Preheat oven to 175 C. Make the syrup by combining sugar, water and lemon in a small saucepan, over high heat. As soon as it boils, take pan off the heat and let syrup cool.

Make the cake. Cover the base of a 23 cm round cake pan with greaseproof paper. Butter and flour paper.

Sift flour with baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, cream the butter with the sugar. Beat for about 2 minutes until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.

Add about 3 tablespoons of the flour in the bowl and beat until mixed. Add the coconut cream, beat and then add the remaining flour. Beat only until flour is mixed. Don’t overbeat. Finally, mix in the coconut using a spatula or spoon.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes until a cake tester in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Take cake out of the oven and run a small spatula around the edges to release it from the pan. Leave cake to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Then invert it and peel off the greaseproof paper. Re-invert so that the cake it’s the right side up. Leave the cake to cool completely. At this stage you can wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before assembling.

Apply the syrup: Split the cool cake in 3 disks. With the help of a pastry brush, apply the syrup on the cut side of each cake disk, starting from the outside towards the centre (the perimeter of the cake is always drier, so it needs more syrup). Keep brushing the cakes until all syrup has been used.

Make the filling/frosting: Beat the cream cheese with the coconut cream in a bowl, using a spatula or wooden spoon. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater, beat the cream and icing sugar until just beginning to thicken. Fold cream cheese mixture into the cream mixture until combined. Mix in the coconut. You should have a creamy frosting with the right spreading consistency.

Assemble the cake: Place one of your cake disks on a serving platter. Spread about ¼ of the frosting. Top with the other disk and repeat the process. Cover with the last disk. Spread remaining frosting on the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle with extra coconut. Leave cake to cool for at least 4 hours before serving.

Note: If the idea of splitting a cake in 3 parts makes you quiver with fear, then split it in 2. Just make sure you apply the syrup on BOTH sides of each disk.

You can always refrigerate your cake for a couple of hours and it will surely be easier to split. If it breaks apart while splitting or transferring the disks, just join them while stacking them. No one will know, believe me.

2 thoughts on “Heavenly Coconut Layer Cake

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