Coconut cake with toasted coconut frosting

It’s my very best friend’s birthday today. We’ve known each other for so long, we’ve pretty much gifted each other everything we possibly could, so I’m running out of things to get her. But then I was like, oh wait, Chelle loves food (which is a big reason why we get along so well), and she loves coconut, so coconut cake happened.

I’ve actually been eyeing this recipe from Ina Garten (who else?) and was so excited I had a reason to try it.

Some tips on making a cake from scratch: you must make sure you leave your butter out to soften. This isn’t like a cookie recipe, where you can cheat and melt the butter halfway.  Also, I never realized how much sugar goes into frosting. Spoiler alert: it’s a shit ton.

You will need:

For the cake: 

  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

For the frosting: 

  • 1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 pound (3 3/4 cups) powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare a 9 inch cake pan by greasing and lightly dusting with flour.

Get all your stuff ready! Crack your eggs into one bowl. Place your butter and sugar in one mixing bowl, and sift the flour, salt, and baking powder into a larger bowl. Sifting is key here! You don’t want lumps in your cake batter. Have your milk ready to go, as well as your coconut.

Cream your butter and sugar together. Again, if you’re doing this by hand (like me), this will be a process. I find it’s easiest to use a fork first to break everything down, and then use a whisk to beat the mixture together.  

Once your mixture is nice and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time. Then add your vanilla and almond extract.

 The mixture will look like it’s curdled, but it’s not. It’s fine, don’t worry.

Take turns adding the dry mixture and milk to the butter mixture. Start with your dry, mix it in, and then add the milk. Do this in about three sessions.

Make sure you’re not overbeating your mixture! The key to fluffy cake is not overworking the batter, so mix until it’s just incorporated.

Then fold in your coconut with a spatula. Again, you don’t want to overwork the batter, so do not whisk it in! 

The original recipe makes a double layer cake, but I wanted to leave some for my roomie.. alright, also, I only have one 9 inch cake pan. So I poured the mixture into my one pan, about 3/4 of the way full, and made cupcakes out of the remaining mixture.

Cooking time will differ. If you’re doing the original recipe and making two cakes, you’ll need them in there for about 45-55 minutes. If you made one larger cake, like I did, it will take about 1 hour and 10 minutes. I turned the heat down to 320 degrees after 50 minutes, because I didn’t want the outside to brown too much.

I also poured some coconut onto a flat baking sheet and threw it in the oven for a few minutes to toast. You’ll use this for your frosting.

Once your cake’s cooked, let it cool. In the meantime, make your frosting.

Whip your cream cheese and butter together with the almond and vanilla extract. Then add an insane amount of powdered sugar to the bowl and mix until smooth. Do not whip this!

Once your cake has cooled, frost that bad boy, and sprinkle the toasted coconut on top and on the sides.

 And you’re done! Now go feed people. Or eat the whole thing yourself.


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