Cakes/ Classic Desserts/ Dessert/ easy/ Holiday/ quick

Coconut Cake

October 11, 2019

This light and fluffy coconut cake has a delicate crumb that is full of flavor and not dry at all. With a slight crunch and subtle coconut flavor, it pairs amazingly well with tropical flavors such as citrus and rum.

Perfect Coconut Tea Cake | prettysimplesweet.com

Along with chocolate chips and peanut butter cups, I used to keep toasted coconut flakes in a secret spot in the kitchen. Much like all of us, Erez has some of his own weaknesses, and crunchy coconut happens to be one of them. I say ‘used to keep’ because apparently that spot is no longer hidden. When I went to look for the coconut flakes, they were nowhere to be found. This is also why I’m posting this coconut cake recipe today instead of last week as promised. Erez sends his deepest apologies (but doesn’t seem to regret it one bit).

This coconut cream cake is the kind of cake that you can’t help but sneak a bite of throughout the day. It has a light and tender crumb with a subtle coconut flavor that you simply won’t be able to get enough of. With both coconut cream and flakes in the batter, you get a moist, sweet cake with a crunch of coconut in each bite.

Perfect Coconut Tea Cake | prettysimplesweet.com

How to Make Coconut Cake

Just like a basic white cake, the best coconut cake starts with creaming your butter and sugar. This is such an important step for any cake recipe. When creamed properly, butter and sugar become light and fluffy. This gives your final cake a tender crumb.

By beating the two ingredients together, the sugar aerates the butter. This creates fine bubbles in your batter that adds lightness and volume to the coconut cake. Start by using room temperature butter, not melted and not straight from the fridge. Once beaten for several minutes, the mixture will be fluffy, pale yellow with almost all of the sugar dissolved. 

What makes this coconut cream cake unique is the lemon/lime zest beaten in with the butter and sugar. The oils from the lemon or lime infuse the sugar with flavor and add bursts of fresh citrus throughout the cake. Save the juice for some lemon curd to put on top of a slice of this easy coconut cake.

Perfect Coconut Tea Cake | prettysimplesweet.com

Tips for the Best Coconut Cake

To get a light and fluffy cake, follow these tips to be sure not to overmix your batter:

  • Scrape down the bowl when beating together the butter, sugar and lemon/lime zest.
  • Alternate between adding the flour mixture and coconut cream to your batter.
  • Fold in the shredded coconut.

Perfect Coconut Tea Cake | prettysimplesweet.com

Optional Flavor Variations

This easy coconut cake is versatile, and I know how much you guys love that! Since the coconut flavor isn’t overwhelming, it gives plenty of room to play around with other ingredients that compliment it.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Add zest of one lime or lemon (tossed with the sugar) and 2 tablespoons of juice (adding it along with the coconut cream).
  • Replace half of the coconut cream with orange juice.
  • Add the zest of one orange.
  • Add 1/2 cup raisins that have been soaked in 1/4 cup dark rum (folding it into the batter).
  • For the glaze, instead of using just coconut cream, replace part of it with lime juice, lemon juice, or rum. I LOVE dark rum, but it’s not what you think, I promise. Start with just a little unless you want a strong flavor—I usually use 1 teaspoon.

While the glaze is optional, I love that it adds more coconut flavor and some crunch to contrast the tender coconut cake.

Perfect Coconut Tea Cake | prettysimplesweet.com

More coconut recipes:

5 from 10 votes
Perfect Coconut Tea Cake | prettysimplesweet.com
Coconut Cake
YIELD: 1 loaf cake (See notes for other pan sizes)
 

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups (210 g/7.5 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick/113 g) butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups (250 g/8.8 oz) granulated sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon or lime
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum (optional)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) coconut cream (unsweetened)*
  • 1 cup (100 g/3.5 oz) shredded (sweetened or unsweetened) or desiccated coconut
Glaze:
  • 3/4 cup (85 g/3 oz) powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coconut cream , plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon dark rum (optional)
  • 1/2 cup flaked or shredded coconut , for topping
Instructions
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350F/180C. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter, sugar, and lemon/lime zest on medium speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Occasionally scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract and rum. On low speed, beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the coconut cream in 2 additions, starting and ending with the flour. Do not overmix. Fold in the shredded coconut.
  4. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. If the top is browning too fast while baking, cover pan loosely with aluminum foil. Allow cake to cool completely before adding the glaze.

  5. To make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, coconut cream, and rum until smooth. Add more coconut cream as necessary until you reach a thick yet pourable consistency. Pour over top of cake and let drizzle down the sides. Sprinkle flaked coconut on top. Allow glaze to set, 15-30 minutes.

  6. Store cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3-4 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Cake can be frozen without glaze for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge.
Recipe Notes

- You can substitute coconut cream with coconut milk.
- I find that the cake improves, both in taste and texture, a day after it’s made.
- This cake can also be baked in an 8x8-inch square or a 9-inch round cake pan, although the baking time will decrease to 35-40 minutes.

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41 Comments

  • Reply
    Kennedy Cole@KCole's Creative Corner
    June 11, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    I love the addition of lemon and lime zest to this cake! Citrus pairs so well with coconut. And I’m sure the coconut cream makes this cake so moist and decadent. This recipe is definitely a keeper! And I love the toasted coconut shaving added on top. That makes for a nice presentational. Only a fellow food blogger would appreciate that! 🙂
    I recently made a cooking and baking blog, too.
    I would greatly appreciate it if you would check it out!
    Thanks so much!

  • Reply
    Lynn
    June 11, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    I m drooling by just looking at it 🙂
    Question:
    shredded coconut refers to freshly grated coconut that comes with the milk? if yes, should I squeeze out the milk before adding into the batter ?
    btw. at which stage shall I add this shredded coconut into the batter ?
    RUM – any substitution? I dun have any

    • Reply
      Shiran
      June 13, 2015 at 6:01 am

      Hi Lynn! 🙂 Shredded coconut is a dry mixture that is a bit moister than desiccated coconut and the shreds are longer. You can Google it to see how it looks like. If it’s not available in your area (it’s a common ingredient in the US), use desiccated coconut instead. Fold it into the batter before pouring it into the pan. You don’t have to use the rum, just leave it out.

    • Reply
      Debbi McDonald
      January 25, 2020 at 7:25 am

      Hello! Mine is the oven! Just wanted to ask, do you apply the glaze while it is warm??

  • Reply
    Thalia @ butter and brioche
    June 11, 2015 at 11:24 pm

    YUM. This coconut cake looks so moist and delicious.. I definitely can see myself making the recipe and trying out a few additions – rum and raisin?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      June 13, 2015 at 6:02 am

      My favorite! Go for it 🙂

  • Reply
    Cedar @Hospitality
    June 12, 2015 at 1:25 am

    Hey Shiran, Your coconut cake is great looking yummy and delicious…Thanks for sharing it with us.

  • Reply
    Beeta @ Mon Petit Four
    June 15, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    Just discovered your blog, Shiran, and it’s beautiful! This coconut cake looks so gorgeous. I love coconut, and this cake looks like a wonderful way to enjoy that flavor. The cake looks super moist, and I’m sure it’s a great contrast to the crunchy coconut topping. I also love your suggestions…I can imagine a citrusy element would be a lot of fun too in this cake! 🙂

    • Reply
      Shiran
      June 15, 2015 at 4:32 pm

      That’s so sweet of you Beeta, thank you so much! Your blog is beautiful as well! 🙂

  • Reply
    Hes
    June 17, 2015 at 10:47 pm

    Hi Shiran! This coconut cake looks amazing! Can’t wait to try it. But I would like to find out if I am able to replace the butter with coconut oil?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      June 18, 2015 at 12:39 pm

      Thank you! 🙂 With coconut oil both the taste and texture would be different. I think that it would taste lovely, but it would be more like a texture of a quick bread than a cake, since you won’t be using the creaming method to cream the butter and sugar. If you want to try it, use melted coconut oil and just mix it with the other ingredients (place dry ingredients in one bowl, wet ingredients in another, and mix the two together, mixing as little as possible). If you can use butter as the recipe suggests, I highly recommend it as it would bring you the best results. Let me know if you like it!

  • Reply
    Myrtice Stevens
    June 22, 2015 at 8:20 am

    We could be soul mate. I’m a coconut lover too. More coconut inspired recipe please! Can we put some pineapple into the cake? Do you think it would be queer?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      June 22, 2015 at 12:13 pm

      Hi soulmate! How can it be queer? It’s the perfect combination. More recipes coming soon! 🙂

  • Reply
    Laila
    August 15, 2015 at 12:27 am

    Hey hey, Shiran! I don’t know if this is ridiculous, but I was wondering if there was some way to amp up the coconut flavour (so it’s not subtle) and tone down the citrus (is it necessary to add the zest?) in this cake? I made this yesterday, and it’s quite lovely, the family adore it, I like it too… But my sister and I, we kinda just want morrrrrre coconuttyness.

    Ta 🙂

    • Reply
      Shiran
      August 16, 2015 at 8:51 am

      Hi Laila! The best way to add more coconut flavor is by using coconut extract, but this can usually be found only in specialty stores (craft stores usually sell imitation coconut extract, but personally, I don’t like to use those). You can also try adding more shredded coconut, but that would affect the texture. Also, next time omit the lemon zest, that way the coconut flavor would be more dominant. I hope you’ll enjoy it even more next time! 🙂

      • Reply
        Laila
        August 16, 2015 at 7:29 pm

        Thank you ♥

  • Reply
    Anny
    December 9, 2015 at 1:55 am

    Your coconut cake is great looking yummy and delicious…Thanks for sharing it with us.

  • Reply
    Alice
    October 2, 2017 at 2:17 am

    I don’t comment on recipes often, but this one was just so good! I’ve baked it twice and both times it was a hit. The second time I replaced half the coconut cream with pineapple juice in both the cake and glaze – yum! I used a round tin and it still took a full hour.

    • Reply
      Shiran
      October 3, 2017 at 2:18 pm

      Thank you so much Alice!

  • Reply
    Prithvi
    March 2, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    Hey Shiran,
    Can’t wait to try this recipe! Coconut + citrus : my fav combination. I just had a question, if I could replace the all purpose four with almond meal? Or may be a combination of almond meal and coconut flour? What would be the measurements in this case?

    PS: still drooling over the pictures of this cake!

    • Reply
      Shiran
      March 5, 2018 at 6:31 am

      Thank you, Prithvi! 🙂 I don’t recommend replacing all-purpose flour with almond meal, because it would change the entire flavor and texture of the cake. Almond cakes without any flour are usually crumbly and delicate.

  • Reply
    Ann
    June 2, 2018 at 8:43 pm

    Coconut cream seems to have more fat content, but all I have in my pantry is coconut milk. Will using the milk instead reduce the moistness of this cake?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      June 5, 2018 at 3:47 am

      It will slightly change the texture, but it’s ok to use coconut milk instead.

  • Reply
    Ayesha
    November 15, 2018 at 2:39 am

    I made this cake a couple of days ago to a family gathering and everyone absolutely loved it! I’m really glad how it turned out, I thought loaf cakes are so dry, but once I took the cake out of the oven; i was able to see the moisture from the cake. It is truly one of the best things I ever cooked, and I will definitely bake this again.. (However my glaze was too runny and i just eyeballed it, if i wanted to make it thicker should I just add more icing sugar?)

    • Reply
      Shiran
      November 17, 2018 at 1:51 pm

      Hi Ayesha! Yes, you need to use more powdered sugar to make the glaze thicker, or just add a little bit of liquid, until you like the consistency.

  • Reply
    Amalya
    March 16, 2019 at 2:15 pm

    I made this cake twice in the last week!! The first time I followed the recipe exactly and everyone found that there was a bit too much shredded coconut and it detracted from the beautiful texture of the crumb. The second time, doubled the recipe and made it in a large bundt pan (baking took 65 minutes rotating a quarter turn every 15 minutes) I subbed limoncello for the rum (in both the batter and the glaze) and skipped the shredded coconut, and added 1/2 tsp coconut extract to really heighten the coconut flavour. It was a huge hit, and I will definitely be making it again!! Delicious and beautiful cake!!

  • Reply
    Walker44
    July 3, 2019 at 7:12 am

    What size is a tablespoon? The same as a dessert spoon? I’m in the UK. Thanks.

    • Reply
      Shiran
      July 17, 2019 at 3:07 am

      1 tablespoon = 15 ml, 1 teaspoon = 5 ml.

  • Reply
    Amadee
    July 21, 2019 at 8:17 am

    I just made this but made a lemon and coconut buttercream for the icing.

    So good!

    Really moist, easy to make and impressed my family.

  • Reply
    Erin
    January 27, 2020 at 6:58 pm

    Hi Shiran,
    Can I use gluten free flour in place of the regular flour? Can I use cup for cup without changing the recipe?
    Thank you!
    Erin

    • Reply
      Shiran
      January 29, 2020 at 2:11 am

      Hi Erin, I don’t have any experience baking with gluten free flour, but if you decide to try it then yes, cup to cup should work.

  • Reply
    Linda S
    February 26, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    Delicious cake and easy to make

  • Reply
    Claire
    February 27, 2020 at 11:13 am

    Made this cake for a local village coffee morning I put coconut rum in the icing though instead of the coconut cream! It went down a treat and was delicious!

  • Reply
    Elza Varghese
    March 1, 2020 at 5:37 am

    Hi ! I’m having a hard time creaming the butter for this cake, just noticed that it’s much lesser than the amount of sugar than other cakes I’ve made where both sugar and butter are almost the same amount. Is there something I’m missing?

  • Reply
    Elza Varghese
    March 1, 2020 at 1:40 pm

    Hey Shiran,
    I posted my query about the butter to sugar ratio as I was attempting the recipe… so I went ahead and baked it nevertheless. Despite my apprehension, it turned out delicious!! My question now is, can this be made into cupcakes? Any pointers?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      March 3, 2020 at 5:45 am

      Hi Elza, you can use the batter for cupcakes and bake in a standard size cupcake pan for 15-20 minutes.

  • Reply
    Sharon
    April 7, 2020 at 5:17 am

    One of the best cakes I’ve ever made. We all loved it. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Anne Marie
    May 17, 2020 at 8:07 am

    This is a lovely base for a cake. This being the era of covid-19, I had to make some adjustments. I did not have coconut cream or coconut extract and didn’t want to use my last can of coconut milk so I went with milk and yogurt, and I used only two eggs, and replaced a third of the flour with coconut flour. I’m so pleased with the cake. It’s moist and delicious! I think I’ll cut it into snack sizes and store some in the freezer.

  • Reply
    RachH80
    May 26, 2020 at 3:47 pm

    Do I leave the cake in the tin to cool completely before glazing?

    • Reply
      Shiran
      June 3, 2020 at 5:36 am

      Both options are ok – in the pan or releasing it from the pan.

  • Reply
    Paul
    June 11, 2020 at 4:28 am

    This is moistest coconut cake I have ever made
    I adapted slightly by substituting soft brown sugar for the granulated and only 5 ounces as I don’t like my cakes to be overly sweet. I used a low fat spread in place of the butter as I’m trying to keep my saturated fat intake low, and orange zest instead of lemon and lime also adding a good handful of sultanas. Shredded coconut is hard to obtain here in the UK so I used desiccated. I also used low fat coconut milk. I will definitely make again.

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