Coconut cake has a special place in our hearts. It brings to mind memories of traveling through Death Valley in a convertable (just for your information this is not a good idea) and getting serious sunstroke. We were partially rescued by a slice of this cold, creamy, white fluffy cake when we reached our Oasis.

This particular coconut cake, by the Goddess that is Ina Garten, cannot be bettered. It also makes a perfect Easter cake and can be covered in mini chocolate eggs or pretty flowers if you want to dress it up. You can find her original recipe in The Barefoot Contessa at Home which is also one of our favorite cookbooks.

For the Cake

  • 275g plain flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp of baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 275g of unsalted butter softened
  • 300g sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 11/2 tsp natural vanilla extract
  • 1/2tsp of almond extract
  • 175ml milk
  • 90g of desiccated coconut

For the Frosting

  • 500g icing sugar, sifted
  • 500g cream cheese, softened
  • 250g butter softened
  • 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 175g desiccated coconut


You can bake this cake up to a day ahead. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Ice on the day of eating otherwise the coconut frosting goes a little crusty.

What To Do

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, then line them parchment paper.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy.
  4. Crack the eggs into a small bowl.  Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl once during mixing.
  5. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.  The mixture might look curdled; don’t be concerned.
  6. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  7. Alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter in three parts, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined.
  8. Fold in the 4 ounces of coconut with a spatula.
  9. Pour the batter evenly into the 2 pans and smooth the top with a knife.
  10. Bake in the center of the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until the tops are browned and a cake tester comes out clean.
  11. Cool on a baking rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a baking rack to finish cooling.
  12. For the frosting, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and almond extract.
  13. Add the Icing sugar and mix until just smooth.
  14. To assemble, place one layer on a flat serving plate, top side down, and spread with frosting.
  15. Place the second layer on top, top side up, and frost the top and sides.
  16. To decorate the cake, sprinkle the top with coconut and lightly press more coconut onto the sides.
  17. Serve at room temperature.

Copyright 2006, Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, All Rights Reserved