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The Best Southern Coconut Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

This recipe for Southern Coconut Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting is perfect for celebrating holidays, special events, or Wednesday (just because).

Southern Coconut Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

One thing Southerners appreciate is a good dessert – especially when it is a Southern Coconut Cake topped with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting.

This cake is relatively easy to make with simple ingredients.  At first glance, it might seem complicated, but it really isn’t.  There are basically 5 steps for baking the cake, then one more for the homemade coconut cream cheese frosting.  Let’s take a look at how to make a coconut cake.

How To Make Coconut Cake

For this Southern culinary favorite, you need the following ingredients for the cake:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1⁄2 tsp salt
  • 3⁄4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1⁄4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1⁄2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp coconut extract (optional)
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1⁄8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut

coconut cake ingredients

Before beginning, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9×13 baking dish with Baker’s Joy.  (Baker’s Joy is a mixture of cooking oil and flour that sprays easily and helps baked cakes to release from pans.)

The first step in the process is to sift together the dry ingredients.  This helps to ensure that there won’t be any clumps in the batter.  So pull out your sifter and sift together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt.  Set the flour mixture to the side.

sifting flour and dry ingredients

The second step is creaming together the butter, sugar, and vegetable oil until creamy (about 4-5 minutes).  If you have a stand mixer, use it.  Otherwise, it’s fine to use a handheld mixer.

The third step combining the wet and dry ingredients.  Start by adding sour cream, vanilla, coconut extract to the butter mixture and mix until combined.

Now, add the sifted dry ingredients and coconut milk to the butter mixture, starting with the dry ingredients. Alternate adding 1⁄2 of each at a time.  It’s important not to skip this step.  Alternating the ingredients helps to reduce the amount of mixing needed to make a smooth batter.

The longer that flour is mixed with liquid, the more structural gluten is developed.  If you overmix, it will cause the cake to turn out dense.

beating egg whites

Step four, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.   Beating the egg whites to this stage before adding to the cake mixture will help to create a lighter cake.

Fold the whipped egg white and coconut into the cake batter.  Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 30 – 40 minutes.  Keep an eye on the timer.  Once the cake has baked for 20 minutes, rotate the pan to help ensure even baking.

baked coconut cake

Final step: Bake the cake until it starts to pull away from the edges and a toothpick that has been inserted into the cake comes out clean.  (For newbie bakers, that means that there isn’t any cake mix residue on the toothpick.)

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4.75 from 4 votes

Southern Coconut Cake

This recipe for Southern Coconut Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting is perfect for celebrating holidays and special events.
Course Desserts
Cuisine American
Keyword cake, coconut, dessert, southern
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 55 minutes
Servings 16 servings
Calories 374kcal
Author Jane Smith

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 ⁄2 tsp salt
  • 3 ⁄4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 ⁄4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 ⁄2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp coconut extract optional
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 ⁄8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 cake pan with non-stick baking spray.
  • Sift together flour, corn starch, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
  • Cream together the butter, sugar, and vegetable oil until creamy (about 4-5 minutes).
  • Add sour cream, vanilla, coconut extract to the butter mixture and mix until combined.
  • Add the sifted dry ingredients and coconut milk, alternately, adding 1⁄2 of each at a time and set the batter aside.
  • Whip egg whites in a clean bowl with clean mixing blades. Once foamy, add the cream of tartar. Continue to whip on high until a soft stiff peak forms in the egg whites.
  • Fold the shredded coconut and egg whites into the cake batter until there are no more streaks in color.
  • Pour batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes, rotating the pan at the 20 min mark to ensure even baking. Test the cake for doneness with a toothpick or butter knife going into the center of the cake pan. Once it comes out clean, remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool at room temperature until completely cool (about 45- minutes to 1 hour).
  • Spread coconut cream cheese frosting on top.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 374kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 203mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 27g

Now, this cake just would not be complete without a scratch-made cream cheese frosting and toasted coconut.

frosted coconut cake

How To Make Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

For this simple frosting, you need the following ingredients:

  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 pounds powdered sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

cream cheese frosting ingredients

Start by creaming the cream cheese and butter on low until smooth.

beating cream cheese

Once it is smooth, I like to turn up the speed for a little bit to whip some air into the frosting.

Next, it’s time to add powdered sugar, coconut milk, and vanilla.  You will want to be sure that the speed of the mixer is on a low setting or you will have powdered sugar flying everywhere.

Mix until the frosting is nice and creamy.

getting ready to frost a cake

Spread the coconut cream cheese frosting over the cooled cake. (If you do it while the cake is hot, it will start to melt into the cake.)

For the pièce de résistance,  sprinkle toasted coconut on top of the frosted cake.

To make toasted coconut, spread 1-2 cups of shredded sweetened coconut in a flat layer on a baking sheet.  Place in an oven that has been preheated to 325 degrees.  It will probably take 5 minutes to get a nice, golden color.  Do not walk away while the coconut is toasting.  You will want to keep an eye on the coconut and remove it when it starts to brown.

Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool before sprinkling on the cake.

sprinkling coconut on a coconut sheet cake

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4.58 from 7 votes

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

This creamy frosting along with toasted coconut is the perfect way to top the Southern Coconut Cake.
Course Desserts
Cuisine American
Keyword coconut, cream cheese, dessert, frosting
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 1 batch
Calories 310kcal
Author Jane Smith

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 pounds powdered sugar
  • 1 ⁄2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Cream the cream cheese and butter on low until smooth.
  • Add powdered sugar, coconut milk, and vanilla.
  • Beat on medium-high for 3-4 minutes until well combined.
  • Increase speed on mixer to HIGH and beat for an additional 4-5 minutes until creamy and fluffy.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1/16 | Calories: 310kcal | Carbohydrates: 58g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 22mg | Sodium: 47mg | Sugar: 56g

Coconut Cake can be safely stored at room temperature for a few days.  It is perfectly fine to refrigerate coconut cake.  Either way, just be sure to cover the cake with plastic wrap after it has been cut to help keep it fresh.

You can bake this cake and freeze it for a few months unfrosted.  Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap to keep it from getting freezer burn, label and date it, and then freeze.  To thaw, remove it from the freezer the day before you plan on frosting it.

slice of coconut cake


Hungry for more Southern desserts?  Check out these other delicious sweets at Southern Kissed:

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Recipe Rating




Lesia Mojica

Thursday 24th of December 2020

I have been writing this recipe for almost one and a half hour., because I love coconut cake. It’s been excellent explanation and l will make it for sure, on 24 th of December. Thank you so much for sharing. I started at 1.30am and it’s almost 3.00am, I couldn’t sleep so I get up and starting writing. My regards from Los Angeles ca. The situation is because I’m writing on my phone and it’s turning off frecuently.

Sharon

Wednesday 23rd of December 2020

Do you use sweetened or unsweetened coconut?

Lynda

Wednesday 23rd of December 2020

I recommend that you use sweetened coconut.