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Toasted Coconut Layer Cake

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Toasted Coconut Layer Cake. A moist two layer coconut cake with a toasted coconut in the cake and buttercream, a rich coconut custard filling and toasted coconut chips. This is definitely for the hard core coconut lovers. It is ALLLL coconut. 

Toasted Coconut Layer Cake. Just in time for fall.  ha ha. This year is flying by, like they all do, and I am now getting around to posting some recipes I tested this summer. 

Toasted Coconut Layer Cake

I know my summer flew by a lot faster than planned. Lots of tennis for my kids, the better they get, the more tournaments they play in. We also started swimming a lot more this summer as well. The more I am driving around to lessons and tennis clubs and the pool it leaves not as much time for my blog as I would like. Same goes for the school year. We switched schools again. A  new hybrid homeschool program. Its amazing but oh so much work. 

I love it but it is taking some time to get adjusted too. Great thing is they can sleep in and get started on work when they want. No more rushing around in the morning to get ready for school, find shoes, iron uniforms. Except for the early mornings they have tennis lessons. With their coach and with me. I took on part of the coaching role now so we go out a few mornings a week with me as well to a court near our house. It’s awesome having one so close to use.

My husband is in his last year of school as well as working full time still. With him so busy I am doing everything else from buying new sofas, chauffeuring the kids everywhere, learning math to be able to teach it to my kids, cooking all the meals and cleaning all the dishes. Its busy to say the least, but we love it. I wouldn’t change a thing.

One good thing about me cooking all the time is I have been doing a ton of recipe testing. I have a lot of amazing recipes I am hoping to be able to share the rest of this year.  Enough about my life.  Let’s dig in to this toasted coconut layer cake first, shall we?

Toasted Coconut Layer Cake
Once in a while I will ask on my social media pages what recipes my readers would like to see. This last time I had a few coconut requests, one being coconut cheesecake. I have only made three cheesecakes in my life (aside from testing them) so I am not super comfortable making them, aslo not my favorite to eat. Another friend told me about a coconut cake her grandmother used to make so I decided a layer cake was more my speed than a cheesecake. I have made many versions of a coconut layer cake in my lifetime and this toasted coconut version is my favorite. 

Toasted Coconut Layer Cake

Of course I can’t just make a basic coconut cake, I have to make it “fancier” with using toasted coconut in the buttercream and making a rich coconut custard filling. Of course these two steps are completely optional! That is what is great about this cake – you can customize it to how you want it. 

Toasted Coconut Layer Cake

A few notes before baking this toasted coconut layer cake:

  • Three inch high side pans work best. Two inch high side pans wont allow the cake to rise as high, will end up much more dense. I made this cake with 8″ round 3″high pans. You can find them on Amazon or any well stocked store that carries baking supplies such as Michael’s
  • I always butter the pans, then add a parchment circle ( place pan on parchment, trace then cut out just inside the tracing line) butter the parchment and then lightly flour. This helps keep the cake from sticking to the pans.
  • Not everyone loves coconut flakes in the actual cake itself. I decided to go with a little trick of blending it with some of the sugar to make the coconut pretty fine so you still get the flavor but not the large flakes. I used a small food processor for this. A blender works too.
  • The custard filling is totally optional. I love having a filling to cakes other than just the buttercream. You can substitute this with your favorite jam ( raspberry is amazing with coconut) or curd ( lemon or pineapple yum!) or leave out all together,
  • For the frosting – I am ALL about Swiss Meringue Buttercream. It is my go-to. Once you get the hang of it you will love it too. It is silky smooth and less sweet than traditional American buttercream ( butter and powdered sugar). I get that not everyone is up for the task of making a meringue buttercream. You can substitute your favorite recipe or even make a cream cheese frosting. I do suggest keeping the frosting coconut flavored. 
  • This brings me to my next note about toasted coconut syrup. I make my own – just a simple syrup with toasted coconut ( recipe is in the recipe notes) and it adds another depth of coconut flavor to the buttercream. 

Toasted Coconut Layer Cake

  • Notes continued : 

  • Like all recipes read it over several times to make sure you have down what you need to do before you get started.
  • Measure out all your ingredients, I highly suggest a food scale that has ounces as well as grams. Weighing ingredients, either ounces or grams, is much more accurate, especially when it comes to flour. Scooping and leveling can actually add more flour to the recipe than needed and make for a cake that doesn’t bake well or taste as good. It will be drier and denser. 
  • In the recipe I have indicated ingredient amounts in cups, ounces and grams. Choose ONE. Don’t add them all up. For example 2 3/4 C flour (330g)(11.6oz) this means your flour measurement will be 2 3/4 (two and three quarter) cups OR 330 grams OR 11.6 ounces. I have had readers in the past ask if they were to add BOTH cups of flour and grams of flour to the recipe. 
  • Brands of ingredients tend to differ in amounts. For example Gold Medal AP flour is 30 grams per 1/4 of a cup. King Arthur AP flour is 25 grams per 1/4 a cup. 


  • Check recipe notes! I have ingredient brand suggestions, substitutions and other helpful tips in the notes.
  •  Having the proper equipment also ensures that the recipe will come out as stated. IF you are to make any substitutions with anything ( gluten free flours, egg or dairy free) please do so at your own risk. I have tested the recipe as is and cannot offer substitutions as I have not tested it with those. However, if you do make this recipe successfully with substitutions feel free to leave a blog comment stating what you did, I love seeing variations of my recipes that worked well

One last thing before the recipe:

  • Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me via contact or comments with questions. I want all my recipes to be a success for you especially this amazing toasted coconut layer cake. I will try to get back to you in a timely manner. I really hope you all love the cake as much as I do.

Toasted Coconut Layer Cake

Toasted Coconut Layer Cake

Makes one 2 layer 8 inch cake
Servings depend on how big or how thin you cut the slices

Prep time 60 min
Baking the cakes 35-40 min plus cooling time
Custard - 10-12 minutes plus cooling time
Buttercream - 20 minutes

Please read the recipe carefully before making. There are several steps to this recipe, some that are optional. The custard can be made up to a few days ahead of time to save time the day of making and assembling the cake. The cakes can also be made ahead of time, wrapped in plastic wrap then foil before fully cooling then frozen. Thaw before assembling the cake.

I have indicated amounts of ingredients in cups, ounces and grams. Choose ONE. I suggest using a food scale for either grams or ounces, more accurate than scooping and leveling in measuring cups. Scooping and leveling tends to add more flour than when weighing on a food scale.

Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 2 minutes
Additional Time 3 hours
Total Time 4 hours 2 minutes


  • Toasted Coconut Layer Cake
  • Ingredients:

For the Cake:

  • 2 3/4 C all-purpose flour(12 ounces)(330g)
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 sticks butter, room temperature ( 1 Cup)(8 ounces) (226 g)
  • 1 3/4 C granulated sugar (12.25 ounces) (347g)
  • 6 egg whites (from large eggs, at room temperature)
  • 1 1/4 C coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp coconut extract
  • *optional: 2/3 C unsweetened toasted coconut flakes

For the Custard:

  • 1 C sugar (7ounces)(198 g)
  • 2 tbsp AP flour (1 ounce)(28g)
  • 1 C coconut milk ( canned, not carton or sweetened)(8 ounces)
  • 3 egg yolks (from large eggs, at room temperature)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp coconut extract OR coconut rum
  • pinch Kosher salt ( about 1/4 tsp)

For the Buttercream:

  • 5 egg whites ( from large eggs)
  • 1 1/4 C granulated sugar (8.75 ounce) (248G)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 4 sticks butter, cool room temperature (2 cups)(16 oz)(452g)
  • 1 tbsp coconut extract or coconut rum
  • 2-4 Tbsp C Toasted coconut syrup** OR sweetened coconut cream ( the kind used for Piña Coladas, found at a liquor store)


For the Cake:

    Preheat oven to 350º. Set oven rack to middle position.

 Prepare two 8” cake pans by spreading a little bit of butter on the bottom, topping with a parchment paper round, butter the paper then lightly dust with flour. Shake off any excess flour.  You can also use a baking spray in place of the butter and flour. 3” high side cake pans are preferred, you can use 2”high side pans, however, the cakes wont rise as high. 

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Set aside

*If using the optional 2/3 cups unsweetened coconut flakes - in a small blender or food processor combine the coconut flakes with 3/4 c of the sugar and process or blend until the coconut is finely ground with the sugar.  Omit this step if not adding the coconut flakes into the batter.*

Cream together the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. ( If using the coconut flakes as stated in the step above, only cream the remaining cup of sugar with the butter then add in the coconut sugar once it is light and fluffy then cream for another 2 minutes with the coconut sugar). 

Add in the egg whites one at a time, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl between each addition. 

Add in the extracts and mix well. Set mixer speed to low then alternate adding in the flour mixture with the coconut mixture in three additions each. Once all is combined, stop the mixer and mix the batter with a spatula just to make sure all the flour has been added in and no streaks remain in the batter. 

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. Set in oven and bake 35-40 minutes or until golden and toothpick placed in center comes out with just a few crumbs. Let cool in pans for ten minutes. Invert onto wire cooling rack, remove pans and parchment paper and cool completely until ready to assemble. 

For the Custard:

Combine sugar, flour, coconut milk and salt in a saucepan set over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved and mixture is steaming, 2-3 minutes. Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl then slowly add in the heated milk to the eggs, whisking constantly to temper the eggs. 

Once the yolk mixture is heated and thoroughly mixed, add back to the saucepan and stir slowly until thickened, 6-8 minutes. Scrape the bottom often to keep the custard from sticking

 Strain into a clean bowl to remove any cooked bits of yolks. Stir in the extracts, press a piece plastic wrap over the top of the custard, and chill completely until set. 

For the Buttercream:

First set the butter out on the counter to thaw slightly before starting the buttercream. It should be at cool room temperature before being added in. 

Next, set a saucepan with one inch of water over medium heat and bring to a simmer. In a stand mixer bowl, whisk the egg whites with the sugar, salt and cream of tartar. Set the bowl over the simmering water and keep whisking until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is hot, around 160-170 deg. About 5-7 minutes.

Transfer bowl to stand mixer, attach the whisk attachment, then slowly bring to full speed and whip until the bowl is room temperature, almost cool, to the touch, about 10 minutes. 

Add in the butter one tablespoon at a time, mixing for a few seconds between each addition. The mixture may look liquid but keep mixing as you add in the butter. 

Once it is all added in and mixed well, it will thicken and be very smooth.

 Last add in the flavorings - coconut extract and or rum, toasted coconut syrup or sweetened coconut cream, and mix on medium low until well incorporated. Keep at room temperature until ready to use. 

To assemble:

Trim off tops of cakes if there is a small dome to make a flat, even surface, place one layer cut side up on a cake plate or on a cardboard circle on a cake decorating turntable. Spread about a cup or so of buttercream about 1/4 of an inch thick spreading into an even layer. Place some buttercream in a piping bag and cut off the tip about 1” up from the end. Pipe frosting around the edge to form a 1/2” or so border to keep the custard in. Fill with the custard, you might not use all, then top with the other cake layer, cut side down. Crumb coat the cake with buttercream - a thin layer around the edges and top to seal the cake, especially the middle to keep any custard from seeping out, then chill to set the buttercream.

 Finish frosting it with another smooth layer then using a small spatula make swirls around the edges and top. Press large, toasted coconut chips around the bottom two inches of the cake. Serve at room temperature. Keep chilled until ready to use, thaw before serving. 


**Toasted Coconut Syrup Recipe:

1 1/2  C sugar

1 C water

1 C toasted coconut (unsweetened)

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil, stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let sit for an hour. Strain into a bowl or bottle with a lid. Chill completely before using. 

There are several optional steps to this cake. 

  1. Toasted coconut blended with sugar in cake batter. You can omit this step and just cream together the sugar and butter. The toasted coconut blended with the sugar add an extra layer of toasted coconut flavor to the cake. 
  2. The coconut custard. I love adding in a filling to cakes besides just the buttercream. You can make this cake with just the buttercream as the filing as well as frosting. The coconut custard is really good and adds an extra layer of flavor as well as texture to the cake. 
  3. Buttercream -  I am a big fan of Swiss Meringue Buttercream for cake and cupcakes. It is silky smooth, spreads and pipes easily and is on the less sweet side than traditional American buttercream ( butter and powdered sugar buttercream). However, if you are more comfortable making a traditional buttercream, or even a cream cheese buttercream by all means use your favorite recipe in place of my recipe. I do suggest keeping the frosting you choose to make flavored with coconut. 
  4. Toasted Coconut Syrup - I love making my own flavorings and syrups for baking and cocktails. This is a great flavor addition to the buttercream if you feel adventurous and want to make it. You can always use sweetened coconut cream to flavor your buttercream. I find it at liquor stores. It is a common item, there are several different brand names ( Coco Lopez is one) and is most often used in Piña Coladas. 

Toasted Coconut Layer Cake

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    October 1, 2019 at 10:59 am

    Yum! I’d love a piece. Beautiful photography as always.

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