Coconut Cake

Happy Friday, loves! Before I jump into talking about cake and giveaways, I want to make a quick little mention.

bake-sale2 (1)

Tomorrow – that would be Saturday, May 11, 2013 – I am joining My Daily Find Chicago and some of Chicago’s best bloggers, writers, and foodies for the 4th Annual Chicago Pop-Up Bake Sale benefitting No Kid Hungry. We will be at 900 North Michigan Shops, Level 2, from noon-3 pm with a number of gorgeous, homemade treats to help eliminate childhood hunger in the United States.

If you are in the city tomorrow or would like to take a day to explore downtown, make sure to stop by and say hi! I’d love to meet you and sell you a cupcake or two.

And now, for our next order of business…


Since this week has been all about Mother’s Day desserts, let’s talk about moms for a minute, shall we?

Did you know that this year, Mother’s Day and World Fair Trade Day fall on the same weekend? To celebrate, Fair Trade USA is highlighting stories of moms around the world – just like Maria, pictured above – who, because of fair trade cooperatives, are better able to provide for their families and see their dreams realized.

“Fair trade” means just that: Products that bear the Fair Trade USA logo come from farmers and workers who are being justly compensated.

The impact goes beyond just the workers and their families, though: With the help of fair trade cooperatives, farmers in developing countries are able to build sustainable businesses that positively impact and influence their communities. Workers are taught how to use their skills and the free market to their advantage to make a positive change in their day-to-day lives.

This is especially important in communities where women might not otherwise be encouraged to contribute economically – allowing them to earn a place of respect and power in their families, and drastically reducing rates of domestic violence. Every time you purchase a product with the Fair Trade USA logo, you are helping someone like Maria see her dreams of starting a small grocery business at the Sunday market and sending her four children to college come true.

To read about more fair trade moms, check out the Fair Trade USA Mother’s Day feature.

While fair trade has its roots in the coffee industry, it has grown to include so many different products, and a lot of brands that you probably recognize and may already be buying! {This goes beyond just food, too – I am totally lusting after this scarf from prAna.}

I bet some of you have already tried Green Mountain Coffee, Numi Tea, LARABAR, or Alter Eco products – well, they are all fair trade! This means that supporting fair trade cooperatives and positively influencing communities around the world is as easy as brewing your morning coffee or afternoon cup of tea.

Fair Trade USA recently sent me some of their favorite products to check out, and I will tell you – these products are awesome! Believe me, making the switch to regularly purchasing these fair trade products would not be a sacrifice at all.


Because I believe so much in fair trade and want to encourage each of you to support fair trade cooperatives, Fair Trade USA has agreed to provide one lucky EYHO reader with the same box of goodies that they sent me! The lucky winner will receive:

  • 1 Numi Tea sampler box
  • 1 sampler of LARABARs, including 4 flavors
  • 1 package of Alter Eco Thai Sticky Purple Rice
  • 1 12-ounce package of Green Mountain Coffee
  • and 1 coupon for a FREE 16-ounce Iced Bhakti Chai

To enter, comment below and answer the following question: What makes your favorite woman (mom, grandma, aunt, sister, friend, etc) in your life special? Giveaway is closed!

For additional entries, do one or all of the following, and leave a separate comment for each telling me that you do (for a maximum of 5 entries):

Contest closes at 10 pm CST on Thursday, May 16. Winner will be notified via email and will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.

The winner was comment #5: Stephanie from Girl vs. Dough! Congrats, Stephanie!


And now…cake.

I recently made this coconut cake to celebrate my cousin’s senior art show. My family looooooves coconut, so I knew this cake would be a total hit – and I was right!

Here is what a coconut cake is NOT: a coconut cake is not a plain old white cake with some coconut stuck to the outside. Nonono.

To me, a coconut cake needs to have elements of coconut running throughout the cake, and that’s exactly what we have here. A perfectly moist cake flavored lightly with coconut milk, layered with a coconut filling, covered in buttercream made with a splash of coconut milk, and topped with toasted shredded coconut.

That, my friends, is a coconut cake, and one that your mom will love this Mother’s Day.

Coconut Cake

Fair Trade USA provided products for review. I was under no obligation to host a giveaway and, as always, all opinions are my own.

Coconut cake adapted from Shutterbean.

Coconut Cake

5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Servings: 12


For the cake:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For the filling:

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 7 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For the frosting:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons coconut milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • Toasted coconut for garnish


First, make the cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and lightly flour 3 round 9-inch cake pans, then line the bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition.
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt. Add to the butter and egg mixture in 4 parts, alternating with the coconut milk and vanilla, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
  • Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.
  • Allow cakes to cool for 20-30 minutes in the pans, then remove from pans and allow to finish cooling on a cake rack.

Make the filling:

  • In a medium saucepan, whisk together the milk, sugar, and flour until thoroughly combined. Turn heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and add the coconut and vanilla. Cover and allow to cool to room temperature.

Make the frosting:

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar and the salt, whisking on low speed until combined. Add the vanilla and the coconut milk, beating on high speed until light and fluffy and slightly increased in volume, about 2-3 minutes. Add more milk or powdered sugar as necessary to achieve your desired spreading consistency.

Assemble the cake:

  • Divide the filling in half, spreading over the tops of two of the cake layers. Stack the cakes, then frost the tops and sides of the cake with the frosting. Immediately gently press toasted coconut onto the tops and sides of the cake.
  • Cut and eat!


Makes 1 3-layer 9-inch cake



  1. First off beautiful cake! Second off, have fun at the bake sale, wish I could be there! Thirdly, of course I have to go with my Mom as my fave lady! She may not say what I want to hear all the time, but I still love her and depend on her for a lot!

  2. These days (my mother is gone) it’s all about my mother-in-law if the call goes out for some awesomeness. She’s al ways there for our family, cheerful, undaunted yet practical. What a wonder!

  3. My Mom is my favorite woman because she always listens to me. She will let me ramble on the phone about a problem for hours until I figure it out. She’s the best!

  4. My mother is one of the most awesome women I know. She always has allowed us to be who we are, which explains how all of the siblings are so different from one another. Her love for her family goes above and beyond.

  5. I love that you’re promoting fair trade products, lady…this is so important. What makes my mom (my favorite woman) special is her ability to sympathize with everyone. She always makes people feel welcome and never makes anyone feel small or unwanted. She’s the bommmmb! Coconut caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaake ugh your killing me! I love that you put coconut milk in the cake batter…this probably made it the moistest most delicious cake on the planet!

  6. I always knew that my mother was special but was overwhelmed listening to people some knew her whole life and some she had only met once during her calling hours. It was amazing to know that I had a chance to share my mother with so many other people and see how much she touched and inspired people.

  7. This is a beautiful cake! I love coconut!

    My Mom is by far my favorite lady in the world….I am a little biased but she’s the best Mom ever! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. If you’re interested in a box of fair trade products delivered to your door quarterly, check out Trade as One. It’s an easy way to make fair trade products part of your everyday life.

  9. Hi, I was just wondering how I would be able to convert this recipe into a cupcake recipe without completely mucking the whole thing up.
    I just need help with the conversions, I’m terrible at changing measurements! I’d like to make about a dozen cupcakes, and I’m not sure how the filling part is going to hold up in cupcakes.

    1. Hi! I actually made this same cake and frosting recipe into cupcakes, you can see that post here:

      That batch made just shy of 2 dozen cupcakes, so you will probably want to halve the recipe. For those cupcakes I used a mango preserve for the filling, but you could still use this coconut filling. I would follow the same filling method that I use for those cupcakes (use a paring knife to take out the middle, then fill that little hole with your filling). You’ll probably need no more than half of the filling, maybe even a little less.

      Hope it works for you!

      1. 5 stars
        Thank you so much for your prompt reply! My whole family hates coconuts, except my mum and I. So I can never make anything with it ๐Ÿ™
        But my boyfriend and HIS family don’t seem averse to it, and so I’m going to try and bake these for them and hopefully impress! ๐Ÿ˜€ Thanks again!

      2. Hey, that sounds like a keeper of a boyfriend! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I am sure that you will impress with the best of them, cupcakes or no cupcakes! Although, in my experience, baked goods are always appreciated. (I may or may not have baked my boyfriend’s family a pie the first time I met them and it pretty much sealed the deal.)

    1. Hi Pam- If you’re going to make it far ahead of time (a day or night before), it might be good to keep it in the fridge just to be safe. Pull it out a solid hour before you need to serve, though, to let it take the chill off.

  10. 5 stars
    Were you able to buy toasted coconut or did you make your own?
    I had another recipe that used it and ended up making my own because I couldn’t find it anywhere? This cake sounds delicious. Coconut cake is my favorite!

  11. Hi! I just wanted to thank you for posting this recipe, I love coconut cake but they never turn out moist enough! This was delicious – I made a lime buttercream filling as my husband has a weakness for lime ๐Ÿ™‚ and it went down a treat! Looking forward to trying out some of your other recipes too!

  12. We are not usually big cake people, but THIS looks amazing. I love how you are using coconut milk in the cake and that the flavor of the coconut is not just on the outside. My daughter is not a chocolate kid (ack!) and my son will eat any type of dessert – so this would be perfect for us!!! I am saving this because I think it has to be made. Stat.

  13. 5 stars
    I just made this coconut cake for the first time, and holy bananas it is amazing. Thanks for all of the time you take to create these amazing recipes, Stephie! They are worth it every. single. time.

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