Old Fashioned Coconut Cake with Buttercream Frosting from Scratch

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Old Fashioned Coconut Cake with Butter Cream Frosting

We all love coconut cake with buttercream frosting around here, topped with lots and lots of coconut.

This beautiful cake was made for a special birthday along with an old fashioned southern dinner of fried chicken and mashed potatoes.

Coconut Cake with Buttercream Frosting from Spinach TIger

This same cake was made for Easter and it’s so beautiful as a naked coconut cake.

You Can Also Make a Naked Coconut Cake with a Buttercream Frosting

There are a few ways you can make the cake a “naked” cake. You can use three 6 inch x 3 inch cake pans and make a tiny cake, which still yields lots of cake, or you can increase the recipe by 1 to 1.5 (add in half measure of each ingredient) to make three big layers. You could also make two layers and cut them across in half. I made three layers here because it was a special occasion, but typically, I would do the three 6 inch layers.

Easter Coconut Cake with Buttercream Frosting from Spinach Tiger

I made the original coconut cake for a friend’s birthday. 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.

Naked Coconut cake with Buttercream Frosting from Spinach Tiger

The cake itself is yellow, but very light because the egg whites are whipped to stiff peaks and folded in, but it has a nice body to it.  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.

Coconut Cake with Buttercream Frosting from Spinach TIger

You can Make this coconut cake with Buttercream Frosting from scratch gluten free. 

If you are needing a gluten free recipe, I have a delicious  gluten free yellow cake recipe here. Just make the cake according to those directions, add in one cup of coconut to the batter and continue here with the buttercream frosting.

Tell me, what’s your favorite cake?  When I don’t want chocolate I know I want coconut. I recently made these amazing low carb, sugar-free, gluten-free.  keto friendly coconut cupcakes. 

More Cake Recipes from Spinach Tiger

Scarlett O’Hara Raspberry Pie

Blackberry Cobbler

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Vanilla Pear Buttermilk Pie

Coconut Cake with Lemon Curd

Red Velvet Cake

Gluten free Yellow Cake

Gluten free Red Velvet Cake

Grain Free Coconut Cupcakes

Raspberry Grain Free Coconut Cupcakes

Print Recipe
5 from 3 votes

Coconut Layer Cake

Old Fashioned coconut layered cake, inspired from the Joy of Baking.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time55 minutes
Course: Cake
Cuisine: American
Servings: 10
Author: Angela Roberts


  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups 325 grams all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups 350 grams granulated white sugar, divided to 1 1/2 cups to cream with butter and 1/4 to add to egg whites.
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups 420 ml buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup coconut
  • Yellow Gluten Free Cake Option here
  • Add in 1 cup coconut to batter
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter
  • 5 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-2 cups coconut to garnish


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two - 9 inch x 1 1/2 inch cake pans, and then line the bottoms with parchment paper (or spray with Bakers Joy).
  • Separate eggs while still cold, and bring to room temperature.
  • Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt together. Set aside.
  • Cream butter for two minutes until fluffy.
  • Cream butter with sugar for 2-minutes.
  • Add egg yolks one at a time. Beat each for 45 seconds, medium speed.
  • Add vanilla, mix. Add coconut.
  • Turning mixer to low speed, add flour mixture and buttermilk, alternating, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
  • In separate clean bowl whip egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar until soft peaks are formed. Beat until stiff peaks are formed.
  • Gently fold in to cake batter with a spatula.
  • Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.
  • 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.
  • Adjust baking time accordingly.
  • Allow cakes to rest on a rack for ten minutes before removing.
  • Invert cakes and allow to completely cool before frosting. I usually freeze cakes for ten minutes before frosting.
  • Cream butter until it's fluffy.
  • Add confectioner's sugar one cup at a time. Between each cup add a little cream. Add vanilla at the end.
  • 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.
  • Serve at room temperature.
  • 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.

Please follow me on instagram. If you make this recipe,  please tag me #spinachtiger.

If you love this recipe, please give it five stars. It means a lot. xoxo

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  1. Can anyone explain the frosting instructions (step #18 where it says to add ,”a little cream” in between adding the sugar? What kind of cream? And #19 where she says to add a “dry crumb spread on the first layer? What is she talking about? TIA

    1. Cream means heavy cream. It’s used in buttercream frostings to thin it if it’s too thick to spread. Dry crumb layer: put a light spread of frosting which catches all the dry crumbs. Let that set up before adding layer of frosting. This prevents frosting from having crumbs.

  2. Pingback: And the winner of the All white theme is.... Andree Oulmann!! - Junglefrog Cooking
  3. 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

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

  5. 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.

  6. 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. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

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