Old Fashioned Coconut Cake with Buttercream Frosting

A birthday dinner of southern fried chicken, mashed potatoes, home style southern green beans, with sparkling Rosé should be followed up with a good old fashioned coconut layer cake. It’s the mother of elegant comfort food desserts, as it’s rich and lady like.

Around here September is big birthday month. Nearly all the important people in my life were born in September, including me.  My friend was born on September 11. That’s a tough break if you live in America, and that means, it has to be extra sweet and extra special.

We both share our love for coconut cake and it matches our style. We are both girly girls and coconut cake is girly. It was the cake served at my wedding, and it was one thing I absolutely would not change in a wedding redo even if David Tutera planned it.

It’s pretty. It almost always looks good, even at the hand of cake-baking non-professionals and it’s white, my favorite color.  This batter is extra special and a little harder to make than some other cakes, but she and I would agree, high maintenance in some areas is worth it.

The cake itself is yellow, but very light because the egg whites are whipped to stiff peaks and folded in. It was too dark to take a photo of the inside of the cake, but you can see what it looks like when I made it here with a lemon curd, which is another option.

On a Food Photography Note

My friend, Simone, of Junglefrog Cooking is an excellent photographer. She challenged us food bloggers to submit an all white photograph and I chose this photo.  I used the second photo for facebook as a birthday card, which is why I used a drop shadow. September 30th is deadline for submissions. 

Old fashioned coconut cake by Angela Roberts

Tell me, what’s your favorite cake for your birthday? This year I’m having pie! Maybe next year, on Jennifer’s birthday, we’ll once again have old fashioned Southern coconut cake!


Coconut Layer Cake
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
Old Fashioned coconut layered cake, inspired from the Joy of Baking.
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2½ cups (325 grams) all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1¾ cups (350 grams) granulated white sugar, divided to 1½ cups to cream with butter and ¼ to add to egg whites.
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1¾ cups (420 ml) buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter
  • 5 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-2 cups coconut to garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two - 9 inch x 1½ inch cake pans, and then line the bottoms with parchment paper (or spray with Bakers Joy).
  2. Separate eggs while still cold, and bring to room temperature.
  3. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt together. Set aside.
  4. Cream butter for two minutes until fluffy.
  5. Cream butter with sugar for 2-minutes.
  6. Add egg yolks one at a time. Beat each for 45 seconds, medium speed.
  7. Add vanilla, mix. Add coconut.
  8. Turning mixer to low speed, add flour mixture and buttermilk, alternating, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
  9. In separate clean bowl whip egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar until soft peaks are formed. Beat until stiff peaks are formed.
  10. Gently fold in to cake batter with a spatula.
  11. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.
  12. You can do a two layer cake or a four layer cake, by cutting the layers in half. Or use three cake pans for a triple layer, dividing the cake evenly.
  13. Adjust baking time accordingly.
  14. Allow cakes to rest on a rack for ten minutes before removing.
  15. Invert cakes and allow to completely cool before frosting. I usually freeze cakes for ten minutes before frosting.
  17. Cream butter until it's fluffy.
  18. Add confectioner's sugar one cup at a time. Between each cup add a little cream. Add vanilla at the end.
  19. To frost cakes, freeze cakes for ten minutes. Remove and beginning with each layer, lightly spread a dry crumb layer. Let that set up and then frost each layer. Add coconut to frosting between each layer. Completely frost cake, and add coconut to cover cake entirely.
  20. Serve at room temperature.
  21. If you need to refrigerate, take out at least one hour in advance.
I used the "cake" recipe from a coconut cake recipe I have made once before, inspired by the Joy of Baking, but used an old fashioned butter cream frosting. Regarding buttermilk, you can mix half buttermilk and half coconut milk for added coconut flavor.

Other Southern Desserts at Spinach Tiger

Scarlett O’Hara Raspberry Pie

Blackberry Cobbler

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Vanilla Pear Buttermilk Pie

Coconut Cake with Lemon Curd

Red Velvet Cake





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31 Responses to Old Fashioned Coconut Cake with Buttercream Frosting

  1. Simone says:

    O boy that is one stunning cake you have there Angela! I love it!! And really well done on the white too! You managed to make a fairly difficult situation (back lighting with a white cake can be tricky!!) into something very beautiful. Gorgeous…. now I just want to have a slice of that cake!

  2. Rosa says:

    A dreamlike cake! Incredibly irresistible.



  3. Lora says:

    I love this old fashioned coconut cake. Want a piece now! My favorite birthday cake is white cake but there was awhile in my 20’s when I was on a cannoli cake kick from Veniero’s in NYC.

  4. What a beautiful cake – and photos. I must make this for my husband’s birthday.

  5. Ruthy says:

    Such a gorgeous photo! I love coconut cake- I agree, it’s such a girlie treat :) Your frosting is especially gorgeous and way to go on an all-white photo, that can’t have been a simple task!

  6. bellini says:

    My daughters birthday is in September so it always holds a dear place in my heart. There are a few things when it comes to sweets that I cannot resist the first being lemon and the second coconut. I can live without chocolate but sometimes it is irresistible too.

  7. What a fantastic birthday cake. Love the picture too.

  8. Angela, you know of my love of Southern food and this is no exception! I had a coconut cream pie too at a pie shop and it was heaven. Next stop, this cake! :D

  9. What a beautiful, gorgeous and tasty looking cake…good luck with “white”. I will keep my fingers crossed for you. Not to mention I could use a piece of that cake right now. Looks so much like the ones my Grandmother used to make for special occasions.

  10. I absolutely love coconut cake – it’s one of my all-time favorites! And this looks great – what a perfect choice for a birthday cake!

  11. Sherry Parfait says:

    Coconut cake is my favorite! Will attempt your recipe this weekend. I may try coconut extract in the frosting out of curiosity.

  12. Asmita says:

    What a gorgeous cake! I love coconut in anything. This is my dream cake.

  13. What a gorgeous cake! The cake is the one thing I woulent change about my wedding too :) haha!

  14. Shannon says:

    this looks stunning! and i adore coconut, so I’d love a slice :)

  15. Norma-Platanos, Mangoes and Me! says:

    What a glorious cake and the photograph is incredible.

  16. Lucky friend! I would have to say that old fashioned vanilla cake with chocolate frosting is my go-to choice when it comes to birthday cakes, not very exciting I know but it’s one of those nostalgic things.

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  18. Wow ¡¡ I have just seeing your photos in Junglefrog blog. It’s a beautiful cake and its reall y very very tempting.

  19. What a great cake and what a great photo!! When seeing it at Simone’s blog I was immediately fascinated by the stylish retro look of this picture. I just love it!

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  23. Carole says:

    Angela, thanks for being such a great supporter of Food on Friday. I am now moving you to the group that gets the first heads up each week. This is a lovely cake. Cheers

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