Photo: Hector Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller
Hands-on Time
50 Mins
Total Time
6 Hours 25 Mins
Makes 10 to 12 servings

Look for packaged coconut shavings in your grocer's natural foods section.

How to Make It

Step 1

Prepare Filling: Whisk together first 3 ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Whisk egg yolks and next 2 ingredients in a glass bowl. Gradually whisk egg mixture into sugar mixture. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, 6 to 7 minutes or until mixture just starts to bubble. Cook, whisking constantly, 1 more minute; remove from heat.

Step 2

Whisk flaked coconut and next 3 ingredients into sugar-egg mixture; transfer to a medium bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on warm filling to prevent film from forming. Let stand 30 minutes; chill 4 to 24 hours.

Step 3

Meanwhile, prepare Cake Layers: Preheat oven to 350°. Beat 1 cup butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy. Gradually add 2 cups sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add 4 eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

Step 4

Stir together cake flour and next 2 ingredients in a bowl. Stir together milk and 1/2 cup coconut milk in a measuring cup. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in 1 tsp. vanilla and 1/2 tsp. coconut extract. Spoon batter into 2 greased (with shortening) and floured 9-inch cake pans.

Step 5

Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 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 6

Beat 1 cup heavy cream at high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gently fold whipped cream into chilled Filling.

Step 7

Assemble cake: Split each layer in half horizontally with a serrated knife to make 4 layers. Place 1 layer, cut side up, on a serving platter; spread with 1 1/3 cups Filling. Repeat with remaining Cake Layers and Filling, ending with a Cake Layer, cut side down. Spread top and sides of cake with Fluffy Coconut Frosting.

Ratings & Reviews

April 06, 2015
Yes, with the whip cream frosting, the cake needs to be refrigerated, just like you would refrigerate milk 

Absolutely to die for cake!

March 28, 2016
This cake tastes like something you'd eat at a high-end restaurant.  It was soo delicious.  The only thing that I did was cook the filling a little too got too thick.  I just cooled it in the frig and when I got ready to put the whip cream in the just sorta wouldn't mix...I then, got my mixer out and mixed it a little more and it was fine. ...After icing it with the whipped cream, I then took sweetened coconut and patted it all over the was soo pretty.  My family loved it...Thanks so much for this delicious recipe!Judy Brocksmith

November 08, 2015
Did you use coconut milk out of a can or carton...Curious if it makes a difference..Thank you

Perfect coconut cake!

March 27, 2016
I followed the recipe to the letter. Best cake I have ever made. Super moist and not too sweet. It took a good 6 hours in total, but 4 of that was waiting for the filling to chill. The filling was not runny at all. I think the key is following the ingredient list exactly and using the proper techniques when it comes to the cream at the end. Loved it and will make it every year. 

The cake everyone asks for!

March 26, 2016
I made this cake last Easter and then this year for my book club and everyone raved over it.  In fact, my family is insisting that I make it for Easter again this year.  It is delicious and worth every bit of time it takes to make.  I can't understand the difficulty people are having making this cake - I have followed the recipe and it works out just as it should.  The last time I made the cake, I forgot to add a cup of whipped cream to the filling and it was still delicious.

It takes two days to make, but it's the BEST COCONUT CAKE

April 10, 2015
I made this cake for Easter.  The results were perfect.  A beautiful cake with excellent flavor, moist, light, rich and not too sweet.  I've been trying to make a satisfactory coconut cake for years and have been disappointed until now.I had no difficulty with the filling.  Day 1, I made the filling, let it cool without the plastic wrap on the counter for 30 minutes and then put it into the refrigerator with plastic wrap atop. [steps 1 and 2] It was not runny at all.  Step 6 adds the stiffly-beaten whipped cream into the chilled filling without making it runny.  I used my hens eggs which are larger than standard large eggs, perhaps jumbo.  Perhaps this was the difference.I had toasted coconut shavings from Trader Joe's in my pantry.  The result was picture perfect and delicious.

Tricky but delicious!

April 10, 2015
 This cake had its troubles. The filling was of course, too runny, perhaps if I had left out the extra cup of whipped creak. However, I made do and although the cake slid, I got it back into position and frosted it cautiously. First of all, when it says to cook it for one more minute, you should definitely make sure it starts thickening! Even with the sloppiness, it was the best tasting coconut cake I have ever had the pleasure of consuming! We kicked it up a notch by buying a coconut and making homemade coconut shavings for a garnish. They toasted up nicely and I tossed them in powdered sugar. It made the cake feel gourmet and the saltiness of the coconut was surprisingly complimentary! So despite troubles with the filling, I recommend it and would totally make again! (plus, if it continues to slide, it would always make a delicious trifle instead ;)

Not worth the effort

April 08, 2015
Just made this cake for Easter and while the final result was great, the process of making it left me in tears.  I was ready to dump the filling in the trash as it was too runny to put on the cake.  I ended up doubling the cornstarch as well as adding a package of vanilla pudding to thicken it.  While everyone loved how it tasted, I will not be using this recipe again.

Best Coconut Cake!

April 07, 2015
My cake turned out perfectly. I was surprised to read other reviews saying the filling was runny. Mine was fine but after looking over the recipe again, I realized I had completely left out Step #6 which was the extra cup of whipping cream added to the filling. So if your filling was too runny, you might leave out the cup of whipping cream. I only made 3 layers so there was enough filling to go in between the layers. Everyone who ate this cake loved it! It was super moist and delicious!

Excellent cake for a special occasion!

April 06, 2015
Best coconut cake I've ever made.  The filling needed to be cooked longer than 7 to 8 minutes as stated in the recipe, otherwise it will be runny as other reviewers have stated.  It needs to be the consistency of coconut cream pie filling before you take it off the heat.  I also had to add 10 minutes to the cake layers cook time. It's a beautiful cake with wonderful flavor.  My only problem was trying to cut a piece and get it on the plate without it falling apart.  But no one cared since it tasted so good!  It's a lot of work but worth it!  Perfect for Easter.