Best Ever Coconut Layer Cake


coconut layer cake slice on a white plate with flowers and a fork

This Coconut Layer Cake could not be more perfect! Supremely moist and soft with a fluffy, tender crumb and a yummy coconut buttercream frosting topped with lightly toasted coconut to really drive home the coconut flavor!

I have been SO inspired by spring desserts as of late!

Spring is just an inspiring kinda time. It feels like a new beginning, a fresh start, a clean color palette. My allergies make my life a living hell and summer likes to rear its hideous head far too early for us here in Sacramento, but for the most part, I enjoy springtime.

I love the groundbreaking florals and pastels, the Easter candy (it tastes better than Halloween candy – fight me!), and the breezy weather. And of course, the springy food!

What is springy food? Just cute, light, fresh, and seasonal fare. Of course, coconut knows no particular season, except arguably summertime, but I am hereby petitioning to make coconut a springtime dessert as well. It is just so beautiful and would be perfect at a spring brunch table or even Easter if you manage to squeeze it in this weekend!

This layer cake is super flavorful, moist and tender with a fluffy crumb and tons of coconut flavor in both the cake, frosting, and the topping. No shortage of coconutty goodness here! Here’s the breakdown.

coconut layer cake on a blue cake stand

The Cake

The cake is based off of my Very Best Vanilla Cake recipe which truly is the very best! This yields such a moist and perfect cake – the layers are incredible and the flavor’s amazing. I tweaked this so instead of a pure vanilla flavor, it would also have a coconut flavor thanks to some coconut extract. Super easy. The cake gets its moisture and deliciousness from a few sources: oil and buttermilk, which combined imparts a ton of decadent moisture and makes this cake super rich and amazing.

coconut layer cake on a blue pedestal

The Frosting

The frosting is a simple coconut vanilla buttercream frosting that comes together in seconds. It consists of butter, coconut extract, vanilla extract, some heavy whipping cream, and confectioners’ sugar. That’s it! Love when things are easy and delicious. You’ll whip it all together and frost your cake. Easy as that.

coconut layer cake slice with flowers and a fork on a plate

The Topping

The topping is just some shredded sweetened coconut that I lightly toasted. Toasted coconut varies in “toastiness” and I wanted just a light toast on mine with only a few specks of browned bits. This took about 5-7 minutes in a dry skillet over medium-low heat. If you want a toastier coconut, it may take longer. The key with toasting coconut is to ALWAYS watch it and never step away, even for a second! It may seem like nothing’s happening and then bam, you have browned coconut.

coconut layer cake slice with a fork in it Moist, sweet, fluffy and creamy with amazing coconut flavor: you’re going to LOVE this dreamy Coconut Layer Cake!

coconut layer cake with a fork on a plate

Best Ever Coconut Layer Cake

This Coconut Layer Cake is the best! Supremely soft and moist with amazing coconut flavor in a light and tender cake. You’re going to love this show-stopping and easy cake!

Prep Time10 mins

Cook Time30 mins

Total Time40 mins

Course: Cake, Cakes/Cupcakes, Dessert

Cuisine: American, Dessert

Ingredients

For the Coconut Cake:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • cups granulated white sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tsp coconut extract start with 1 tsp and increase if desired
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • cups buttermilk, at room temperature

For the Coconut Buttercream Frosting:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • tsp coconut extract
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 5 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • cups lightly toasted coconut see Note for toasting instructions

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350° degrees F. Lightly grease the bottom of two 9″ round light metal cake pans. Place a parchment paper round in the bottom and regrease the bottom and sides of the pans. Set aside.

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, oil, and granulated sugar together with the paddle attachment until creamy and fluffy, about 1 minute. Gradually add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed, followed by the vanilla and coconut extracts. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually add in part of the flour, mixing well, followed by some of the buttermilk, mixing well. Alternate adding in the flour and buttermilk, mixing after each addition, until a soft batter comes together.

  • Divide the batter evenly among the baking pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean or with moist, but not wet, crumbs. Cool completely in the pans.

  • For the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and extracts together with a paddle attachment until fluffy, about 30 seconds. Gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar, about one cup at a time, alternating with a little of the heavy cream until frosting is light and fluffy.

  • Frost your cakes with the buttercream and immediately press the lightly toasted coconut into the still tacky buttercream frosting before the frosting sets. For best results, store the cake airtight at room temperature or in the fridge.

  • Note: For a 9×13 rectangular baking pan, bake approximately 30-35 minutes. For cupcakes, bake for approximately 15-18 minutes. For three 9″ round cake pans, bake for approximately 18-20 minutes.

Notes

To lightly toast your coconut, place sweetened shredded coconut into a large dry skillet over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until light golden brown in spots. Do NOT step away from the skillet as it turns brown very quickly. Allow to cool completely before garnishing the cake. 

closeup of a slice of coconut layer cake with bite missingYou’re going to love this springy and coconutty cake!

best coconut layer cake photo collage

Have a super sweet day!

xo, Hayley

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