Coconut Cream Cake

This year I baked my own birthday cake. I have to admit, I didn’t mind one bit! I knew exactly what I wanted. I’d been dreaming about this cake that I’d spotted on Pioneer Woman some time ago, but never justified making, because it contained coconut. Lots and lots of it- in the batter, in the frosting, and even more on top! And Dustin despises coconut. And usually, I try to please him. But this was my birthday. The one day a year I could make whatever dessert I wanted and not feel guilty for not thinking of him. So I made this beautiful coconuty cake for my family who was coming to celebrate, and mostly for me!

I give him credit, because even when he claims to dislike an ingredient, Dustin is usually willing to try at least one bite of anything. Well the silly thing is, Dustin turns out to not only like this cake, but to absolutely love it! As do the rest of us, but that was more expected. He even said it was one of the best cakes I’d ever made! That from a coconut hater.

We all agreed that this cake is incredible. Soft and moist in the middle, with three layers separated by coconut and pecan studded cream cheese frosting (that is sweetened with a generous portion of powdered sugar), and topped with golden toasted coconut. It was one of my best birthday cakes ever. (A close competitor with last year’s German Chocolate Cake– another one of my favorites!)

Coconut Cream Cake


For the Cake:
1 stick salted butter, room temperature (I used unsalted and added 1/2 tsp. salt)
1 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
5 whole egg, separated
1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup buttermilk

For the Frosting:
2 packages (8 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick salted butter, at room temperature (you can add a pinch of salt if you use unsalted butter)
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
6 cups powdered sugar
1 cup chopped pecans (could be toasted for extra flavor)
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
several squeezes fresh lemon juice (about half a lemon, optional but highly recommended)

1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted (for topping the cake, optional)


1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter and flour 3, 9-in. round cake pans.

2. In a medium bowl, beat egg whites until stiff and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, cream butter, oil, and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in egg yolks, vanilla, and coconut.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt (if using).

5. Alternate adding the buttermilk and dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in the egg whites.

6. Pour evenly into the three prepared pans. Sprinkle the top of each with 1 Tbsp. sugar.

7. Bake in preheated oven for 16-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before removing from the pan to cool completely.

8. To make the frosting, in a large bowl cream butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and lemon juice. Add the powdered sugar slowly, beating until smooth and creamy. Stir in the pecans and coconut. Store in the refrigerator until the cake has cooled completely and is ready to frost. Sprinkle the top of the frosted cake with toasted coconut (optional) and serve.

Makes 1 9-in. round, 3-layer cake.

(Adapted from Pioneer Woman)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

26 Responses to Coconut Cream Cake

  1. delilas March 16, 2010 at 1:46 pm #

    I heard ALL about this delish cake on Sunday! It does look wonderful and I love coconut. Happy late Birthday!!!

  2. Phil and Bri March 17, 2010 at 2:08 am #

    Hey! Do you think I could substitute the coconut for carrots?? I love me some carrot cake! Not so much the coconut, but the cake looks amazing! 🙂

  3. Jessie March 17, 2010 at 11:31 am #

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Jessie March 17, 2010 at 11:34 am #

    Phil and Bri- I don’t think substituting carrots would work very well in this recipe. I do have a carrot cake recipe on here that is AMAZING (probably my favorite dessert recipe ever)and on that one you could leave out the coconut. BUT my husband HATES coconut and he loved this cake, and Pioneer Woman, who I got the recipe from, said the same thing.

  5. Dallings March 23, 2010 at 12:41 am #

    This is on my to do list. Dustin is a lucky man to have a good cook like you. I’m working on the L word with cooking. I’m glad you made a cake for you!

  6. Kristin April 12, 2010 at 5:32 pm #

    Very yummy! Brody loved it. Sadly mine didn’t look as pretty as yours. I need to invest in some more cake pans and a cake serving dish!

  7. Arlene January 2, 2013 at 12:26 am #

    So am I REALLY supposed to use 16 oz of cream cheese for the frosting????That is a LOT of cream cheese. It is unclear to me based on the recipe if I am supposed to use 2 – 8 oz packages or 2 packages totaling 8 oz. I hope it is 2-8 oz packages cause that is what I did. will let you know if it was wrong or right after dinner. Now I am second guessing myself and worried.

  8. Jessie January 2, 2013 at 1:54 am #

    Yep two eight ounce packages is correct! Sounds like a lot but its rich and delicious- let us know how it turns out!

  9. JenGin February 3, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

    My husband’s new favorite cake! He doesn’t even like coconut cake!

  10. Murad Ahmad April 4, 2013 at 7:45 pm #

    aaakkkhhh…Love it.

  11. Annie Braun November 15, 2013 at 10:25 am #

    I’m just wondering about the stick of butter. How much one stick is? I only have a big block and now am not sure how much to use.

    • Jessie Davis November 15, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

      one stick is equal to 1/2 cup!

  12. Debbie April 20, 2014 at 6:51 pm #

    Could I add pineapple?

    • Jessie Davis April 21, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

      I’ve never tried adding pineapple- because it is so moist it would probably affect the texture of the cake quite a bit. I have a recipe for hummingbird cake with pineapple and you could add coconut that might be a safer bet! Or a carrot cake.

  13. Connie April 21, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

    Has anyone used a 9×13 pan? How long did it take in the oven?

  14. Kristen July 26, 2014 at 10:56 pm #

    I made this today and can’t wait to try it tomorrow but wanted to say that I 3/4 the frosting and still had some leftover so I think I’ll just do half of the frosting next time.

  15. Jeff August 6, 2014 at 4:35 pm #

    Turns out this cake is insanely delicious when you refrigerate it and eat it cold. Seriously, it was awesome at room temperature, but when we took it out of the fridge the next day, it tasted at least 27% better — no joke.

  16. Katie August 25, 2014 at 5:54 pm #

    Could this be done in a bundt pan? I don’t have round cake pans (may have to buy some just to make this cake!)

    • Jessie Davis August 26, 2014 at 9:14 am #

      I’m not sure that would work- it would definitely change the baking time and consistency of the cake. I’d go for sheet pans or square/rectangular that you could layer if you don’t have round.

      • Katie August 29, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

        What would you recommend for the cooking time in a sheet pan? Thanks.

        • Jessie Davis August 29, 2014 at 3:09 pm #

          So it really depends on the size and how thick the cake is. The easiest conversion would be to use 3 8-inch square pans and bake for approx the same time (although most of us don’t have 3 square pans). I would estimate that this much batter would fill a single cookie sheet size pan or 2 9×13 pans. (This is a total guess though.) And you’re just going to have to watch them closely while baking. The thinner the batter is spread the shorter baking time, the thicker, the longer. I always reduce the time suggested and then check every few minutes until done. Sorry I’m not more help! p.s. round cake pans can be found for cheap at Walmart or Amazon, etc. I use them all the lime for layer cakes so I think they’re worth the investment. (8 or 9 inch will work for pretty much any recipe.)

  17. Carol March 10, 2015 at 8:30 pm #

    just stumbled upon this recipe, looks and sounds delish, I was wondering if I use avocado oil instead of canola oil.

    • Jessie Davis March 11, 2015 at 7:46 am #

      I don’t have any experience cooking with avocado oil so I’m not sure. Does it have a mild flavor? Let us know if you give it a try!

  18. Eunice June 7, 2016 at 1:50 pm #

    Can margarine be substituted for butter?

    • Jessie Davis June 10, 2016 at 9:27 pm #


  19. Chris July 4, 2016 at 9:45 am #

    Instead of baking in a whole pan, can this recipe be made into cupcakes?