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Gorgeous Coconut Cake

June 21, 2012


Everyone who knows me knows I’m a complete fool for coconut. If there’s some way, big or small, to incorporate it in food, whether sweet or savory, I find it.

Many years ago I ripped out a cake recipe from some magazine or other. The recipe sat around in the tear sheet pile for more than a few years until I finally rediscovered it about 3 years ago.

The first time I made it, a nephew exclaimed it was THE BEST CAKE EVER.

I had to agree, it was exceptional. Though unadorned except for a sprinkling of confectioners sugar on top, and simply flavored with just a hint of lemon and almond within, it was perfectly luscious, with a buttery, moist & light texture that is the hallmark of a truly excellent scratch cake.

But alas, it had no coconut, and given my penchant for that particular ingredient and for futzing with what’s already great to see if I can, perhaps, make it even more so — well, this coconut cake was born.

This recipe calls for coconut milk powder (from King Arthur Flour) in the glaze, but you can omit it and just make a standard confectioner sugar glaze instead.

That said, if you really want to treat yourself, go over to the King Arthur Flour website & buy yourself both the coconut milk powder AND the spectacular tube pan I used. I promise, you won’t regret either purchase!

You’ll Need:

For the cake —

12 oz butter, room temperature, plus another 2 tbs or so for the pan

3 cups all purpose flour for the cake, plus another 2 tbs or so for the pan

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup milk, room temperature

1 tsp almond extract

1 tsp lemon extract

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp coconut extract

3 cups sugar

6 eggs, room temperature

A sieve

A large mixing bowl

A large (12 oz or so) drinking glass

A 10″ tube pan

A mixer & mixing bowl

A rubber spatula

For the glaze —

3/4 cup confectioners sugar

1/4 cup coconut milk powder

2 – 3 tbs lemon juice

A small bowl

A whisk

A small pastry brush or clean unused small paintbrush

For the decoration —

3/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut, toasted (TIP: The easiest way to toast coconut is in the microwave. Just watch it carefully, as you would toasting it any other way, as it burns quickly.)


1. Lay out all ingredients at least 2 hours before you plan to bake so things can get to room temperature.

2. Right before you start mixing, preheat the oven to 325.

3. Butter the tube pan liberally then toss in a few tbs of flour and tip to evenly coat the butter. Tap out any excess.

4. Put the flour, baking powder & salt in the sieve over the large mixing bowl. Sift them together 3 times. Reserve.

5. In the drinking glass, combine the milk & the extracts. Reserve.

6. In the mixer, cream the butter about 2 minutes, until light & fluffy.

7. Gradually add the sugar to the butter, 1/2 a cup at a time, scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition with the spatula, then beat about 3 minutes, until satiny smooth.

8. Add 1 egg at a time to the sugar & butter mixture & beat 15 seconds, then scrape down the bowl, and repeat until all 6 eggs are incorporated.

9. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1/2 of the milk mixture, then the next 1/3 of flour, then the remaining half of the milk, then the last 1/3 of flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with the spatula, then increase speed of the mixer & beat just until the batter is smooth & silky but no more.

10. Turn the batter out into the prepared pan, smoothing the top & if using the pan used for the cake as pictured, press the batter into the indentations along the insides. Then tap the pan firmly on the counter to remove any air bubbles.

11. Bake until light golden brown & a toothpick inserted into the center comes out dry, approximately 75 minutes.

12. Let the cake cool for 30 minutes in the pan, then invert it on a plate & let it cool completely before glazing & decorating.

13. To make the glaze, just before you plan to use it, combine the confectioners sugar, coconut milk powder & 2 tbs of lemon juice in a bowl & whisk until smooth. If its too thick, add more lemon juice. You want it a paintable consistency.

14. Paint stripes of glaze on the cooled cake, then sprinkle the stripes with toasted coconut.

Serves 10 – 12

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