Photo: Beth Dreiling Hontzas; Styling: Rose Nguyen
Prep Time
30 Mins
Bake Time
47 Mins
Cool Time
1 Hour 10 Mins
Makes 12 servings

Brooks Hamaker, from New Orleans, makes this cake with the precision of a skilled baker who has made his masterpiece many times. If the tops of the layers are a little rounded, he recommends leveling them with a serrated knife. "This is a tall cake," he says, "and it needs to be level if you want your friends to admire your work before they devour the cake--as they absolutely will."

How to Make It

Step 1

Preheat oven to 325°. Bake coconut in a single layer in a shallow pan 6 minutes. Place almonds in a single layer in another shallow pan; bake, with coconut, 7 to 9 minutes or until almonds are fragrant and coconut is lightly browned, stirring occasionally.

Step 2

Line 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with parchment paper. Grease and flour paper.

Step 3

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a very large bowl.

Step 4

Beat butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy; gradually add sugars, beating until blended. Beat 8 minutes or until very fluffy, scraping bottom and sides of bowl as needed. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition (about 30 seconds per egg). Stir in whipping cream and next 3 ingredients.

Step 5

Gently fold butter mixture into flour mixture, in batches, just until combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.

Step 6

Bake at 325° for 30 to 32 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely (about 1 hour).

Step 7

Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate. Spread half of chilled Coconut-Almond Filling over cake layer. Top with 1 layer, pressing down gently. Repeat procedure with remaining half of Coconut-Almond Filling and remaining cake layer.

Step 8

Gently spread Coconut-Cream Cheese Frosting on top and sides of cake. Press toasted coconut onto sides of cake; sprinkle toasted almonds on top. Garnish, if desired.

Ratings & Reviews

This cake takes a little planning ahead

January 14, 2017
I have baked this cake twice. The first time it was slightly dry, which, it turns out, was due to my pans. I bought Fat Daddio's (bright) pans for the next one, and what a difference. The layers baked evenly from side to side, and remained level. I'm getting rid of all my dark pans and switching to Daddio's. I bake a lot and it's well worth the investment-which isn't all that big.My family loves this cake. Definitely do the filling first and refrigerate it a few hours. Next time I will simply add the flour to the batter and beat it in; I see no reason to add the batter to the flour and fold it. It is an unusually stiff batter, but makes good layers. The frosting is a bit too goopy; it would benefit from more confectioner's sugar for a firmer consistency. I had more than a cup of frosting left over each time; I plan to cut it by a forth next time. The only other change I made was cut the almond flavoring way back to less than a teaspoon in the filling and none in the cake. We aren't that fond of almond flavoring. I probably will omit it and use pecans some day as well. Nice recipe. I enjoyed baking it.

Very Thick Batter

August 14, 2015
Just put the cake into the oven.  I thought it was odd that the directions said to fold the wet into the dry -- I'm used to going the other way.  When I finished folding, the batter was very thick -- almost bread like, as opposed to a pourable cake batter.  Oh well, we'll see what we get. 

JessAK's Review

August 23, 2013
This has become my signature cake at the office and for the holidays. It is the most requested and raved about cake I make. It IS a tad complicated, but I like complicated cakes. If you need a rich, creamy showstopper, look no further!

ELSchuller's Review

June 30, 2012
I didn't find this cake to be as much work as the reviews below led me to believe. I did the filling the night before, so it was thickened and ready to go by the time the cakes were finished the next day. I used a brand new oven and it cooks super fast so the cakes were a little browned, but I think if they'd cooked less they would have been more moist. I will say, though, this cake is INCREDIBLY RICH. I am the type that could eat a whole sheet cake single handed, and I couldn't have more than one piece of this. The coconut and almond flavors come through beautifully, but between 16 oz of cream cheese, a lb of butter and over 4 cups of sugar, this cake pushes the sweet boundary even for me. That being said, my fiance and I both loved it and I will definitely make it again at some point.

smscarbr's Review

February 26, 2011
It is very moist (which we loved) but was more of a yellow cake and didn't have the strong coconut cake flavor we were hoping for. It is a great cake if you are not an expert cake decorator. It took us less than 5 minutes to decorate with the icing and toppings. It does take awhile to bake. Do not be confused by the estimated time on the original recipe. You also have a separate recipe for the layers and for the icing. The recipe for the coconut mixture in the layers is supposed to chill for 8 hours. That is not reflected in the recipe! I probably won't make it again but it was good enough to keep eating! Pictures can be found on my blog, pecan-pecan.

cusslady's Review

February 15, 2011
I made this cake for my husband for valentine's day. It was delicious, but I don't know how often I will make it, because it was a LOT of work. (One reason it was so much work was that I only have a hand-held mixer.) Next time, though, I'll have my brain in gear and make the filling 8 hours before I make the cake, rather than making it while the cake was in the oven. I had to wait 8 hours before I could complete the cake!

simplythebest's Review

November 13, 2010
This cake was fantastic, very decadent. I made this cake the day before and kept it in an airtight container, it was perfectly moist the next day when I frosted it. In fact, I made 12 small cakes (1 cake between 2 people) and I had rave reviews on how beautiful they looked and tasted. I am definately making this cake for Xmas.

palmgirl's Review

October 30, 2010
The taste is great, but my layers fell apart. The toothpicks were dry. It's a lot of work. What did I do wrong?

Poutine's Review

December 21, 2009
This is an amazing cake. My SO said it was the best cake I've ever made, and I've made a lot of cakes!! The only problem I had was separating the layers into 6 so I just made it a 3layer cake. It was still impressive and oh so amazing. A must bake cake if you love coconut.

ILMelody's Review

May 11, 2009
I made this for my husbands Easter get together and everyone loved it!!! We brought home the leftovers and ate it till every crumb was gone which took us about 3 days and it was delicious down to the last crumb!!! I am making it again for my foodie friends this week.