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Ultimate Coconut Cake

This delicious, multi-layered coconut cake is courtesy of Robert Carter from the Peninsula Grill, in Charleston, South Carolina.

  • Yield: Makes one 6-layer cake
Ultimate Coconut Cake

Source: The Martha Stewart Show, Episode 2112



  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread coconut flakes in an even layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake until golden, 5 to 7 minutes; set aside to cool.

  2. Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes to make level; discard trimmings. Cut each cake into 3 even layers. Place four strips of parchment paper around perimeter of a serving plate or lazy Susan.

  3. Place one layer on the cake plate. Brush with about one-fifth of the simple syrup. Spread over 2 cups of filling. Place a second layer on top. Repeat process with the next four layers and top with last remaining layer.

  4. Spread top and sides of cake with frosting, keeping in mind you may not need to use all of it. Press toasted coconut into sides of cake; remove parchment paper strips. Chill cake at least 5 hours and up to 5 days. Slice immediately; bring to room temperature before serving.

Reviews (71)

  • kristinacassidy 23 Apr, 2015

    BEST cake Ever!! I have made this cake several times for family and friends and everyone agrees that it is thee best coconut cake they have ever had. Sadly, I am unable to access the recipe online from marthas website. Im not sure if she took it down or what the problem is, is anyone else having this issue?
    Please Help, I need to make this cake soon!

  • customersupport 23 Apr, 2015

    Sorry, hyperlinks for recipe components are redirecting to the homepage. Recipes are posted:
    Coconut Cake:
    Simple Syrup:

  • kashbrow 23 Apr, 2015

    These links don't seem to work either.

  • customersupport 23 Apr, 2015

    URLs provided in response are not hyper (hot) links. Cut & paste each URL into your browser's address (location) bar; press "Enter" or "Return" on keyboard.

  • Patricia Linsenbigler 28 Mar, 2015

    I made the the coconut filling yesterday. Today I made the cake and frosting. All was going well until I began beating the filling to make it creamy. Since it said mix for 4 or 5 min, I walked away from it. I looked over at about 3 min. It had changed and was very smooth and creamy. But I thought, since it said 4 or 5, it must get better...right? But when I went to turn it off, it had turned to a mixture that looked like butter and coconut mashed together. I needed "caution, don't over mix!"

  • stixrood 25 Feb, 2015

    FIVE stars!!! I made this for my daughter's 25th birthday, which was on a Wed. Began the cake on Monday, starting with the filling and cake layers. On Tuesday, I made the simple syrup, and assembled the cake, then refrigerated it. Took it out of the fridge at 2pm in order to bring to room temp by dinner time. Did not toast the coconut that was on the outside as I like the look of white coconut. Outstanding...and very LARGE cake. Will make half the recipe next time!

  • brndb554b 11 May, 2014

    Made this cake today :) It turned out well...wish I could post a picture...made it for my mother-in-laws 87th birthday, coconut is her favorite cake :)

  • triana67 9 Mar, 2014

    I made this cake and loved it, except I had to add an egg more to the cake mixture because the first time the cake came out to dry and cracked in many places…..

  • ashley zeserman 23 Sep, 2013

    This recipe is really excellent. I've has the cake from the restaurant and it really is identical. The only issue I have with this recipe is that it is not written well. The first time I made it the filling was soupy bc it did not say to cook it very long so I had to re-cook it. I would recommend letting it simmer on low heat for a while after adding the corn starch. Also some of the steps for the cake seem out of order. As long as you read the recipe thoroughly beforehand it's excellent.

  • cakesthatrock 30 Mar, 2013

    Do not only beat the filling for 4 minutes. The best way to beat the filling is to treat it like normal whipping cream chill your metal stand mixing bowl and whisk in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes. Whip the filling on medium speed for 8 to 12 minutes depending on your mixer. The filling will become much lighter in color and texture. You could beat the filling on high for less amount of time. The filling is very good!

  • cakestuff 25 Mar, 2013

    This cake is outstanding! Only problem I had was with the filling. Made it the day before so it could chill. When I beat it with my flat beater (just before assembly) it went from luscious coconut cream dreaminess to coated bits of coconut that wouldn't spread. Used it anyway. End result was so delicious it was ridiculous. My mission in life is to eat light next time we go to Pen Grill so I can compare. I live in Chas and never have room for that cake. I just ogle other people's pieces.

  • Ehheath 22 Dec, 2012

    Both homemade and at Peninsula Grill, this cake is delicious - but very time consuming and expensive. It costs about $60 (excluding staples) with finer ingredients. Although it's ridiculously big! So to save $ and calories, I've cut the cake ingredients in half (made 3 - 9"rounds) and only made 1/4 the filling recipe (because it makes way too much as is, unless you like more filling than cake). The shorter cake only needs 1c toasted coconut for outside. I typically don't cut the icing - that would be just silly. Also suggest adding extra COLD water to dissolve the cornstarch slurry before adding it to filling mixture - otherwise will clump. Waiting overnight to chill filling and 2-3 days after assembly to serve is a must!

  • donnamaisch 12 Oct, 2012

    This cake was sinfully divine! One of the best cakes -- EVER! I added a 1/4 cup of high quality cognac to the simple syrup recipe, which added another element of complexity, not that it needed it! It was even better on days two and three. It did take three+ hours to make, but the directions were a piece of cake, and soooo worth the effort.

  • mariavarela sampa 14 Sep, 2012

    Maravilhosa estas receitas , aqui no Brasil nossa receitas de bolo são um poco diferentes e vocês estão de parabéns .

  • o2italian 27 Jul, 2012


  • skschic 9 Jul, 2012

    Super easy to make and simply delicious. I am in Portugal so the european butter is my normal butter :). I added 1 teaspoon of almond extract on my cake and it did add an extra layer of flavor. My husband loved it and he is a very though critic.
    Thank you for this amazing recipe.

  • sweetmamajennie 16 Nov, 2011

    As a former pastry chef at Peninsula Grill in Charleston, I have been making this cake for 10 years. It never fails to disappoint. This cake has alway been in my top 10 most used particular, the Cream Cheese Frosting. It is extremely versatile and wouldn't do without it. The Coconut Filling is amazing, especially because it is not too sweet. If this cake fails to impress, you've made it's one of the best out there!

  • ghassler 2 Mar, 2011

    This is truly the most excellent cake I have ever made! My husband likes coconut so I've been making it every year since it was on the show in 2007. The first time we found that it was quite high and rich making it was almost too much for one serving. So I now make it in smaller multiple cakes. I even do mini versions in cupcakes, bread loaf pans, and I especially like it in Martha's Le Weekend Cake loaf pans - these are especially good for sending into his office for sharing!

  • CBVan 23 Feb, 2011

    I made this cake with regular butter and no vanilla bean. I couldn't imagine all the filling would fit, and left out about 2 cups. Result was delicious...all 12 pounds worth. I toasted fresh coconut for the top. It's messy to make, but also a do-ahead cake. Cake was dense enough that cutting into 6 layers wasn't that difficult.

  • Tails93 16 Aug, 2010

    We only make this cake on special occasions because of the cost. Right now i am making it for my friends older brothers eagle ceremony. Other than that we make it on holidays or if some one asks for it. We try to find cheap ways around all the expenses like using regular butter, not european. Or stocking up on coconut when it is on sale. Buying a small coconut extract. or not using a vanilla bean. You should have confectioners sugar in your house all the time.Hope this helps!!

  • NBlake 4 May, 2010

    ...and it was delicious!!! I made it for a birthday, it was a big hit! I also made it a 4 layer cake instead of 6, next time I'll try 6! The only 2 things I did different after reading some of these comments were, add another Tlbs of water to the cornsarch sluree, and I only beat the filling mixture for 3 mins instead of 4-5. If you leave the filling out too long or beat it too long it will seperate. Good luck, if I can make it you can too! Follow the directions, pay attention to the video, read

  • NBlake 4 May, 2010

    For the shredded coconut, coconut extract, whipping cream, cream cheese, extra pwdr sugar and reg. unsalted butter it cost me about $20-25. If I were to have gotten the european butter, which I could only find at "Whole Foods" or "Good Earth" it would have cost closer to $75-80!? The european butter was about $25 a pound! And a pound of it was needed for the cake and the filling, if you watch the video.If anyone has found it cheaper, please post where! Needless to say I used reg. unsalted and it

  • JesseBe 22 Apr, 2010

    Will anyone who has made this cake give me an estimate on the cost. It seems too expensive to chance, due to some of the negative comments.

  • JesseBe 22 Apr, 2010

    I have always wanted to make this cake. I think it looks very impresisve. I am curious to know from anyone who has made the cake, an estimate of the cost, excluding staples.

  • paisley106 5 Apr, 2010

    This cake kicked my butt too. I made it with regular butter. The cakes wouldn't come out of the pans. Next time I'll line with parchment. I don't believe the regular butter was the cuprit though - the cake tasted delicious and had good texture. The filling may or may not have been dense enough to stand firm in a layer (I was dubious), but I never got that far since the cake fell apart anyway. To salvage, I layered cake pieces, filling and whipped cream in a trifle bowl. It was outstanding.

  • ddawe 4 Apr, 2010

    Has anyone successfully made this recipe using regular butter as opposed to Plugra butter? I haven't been able to find the higher fat butter where I live in Ontairo, Canada. Let me know if it worked for you! Thanks.

  • yanagirl37 27 Mar, 2010

    The cake filling fell apart and got really dry when I mixed it for the recommended 3-4 minutes. Overall this cake was a waste of money, time, and effort. Major bummer because I was so excited to make it.

  • yanagirl37 27 Mar, 2010

    The cake filling fell apart and got really dry when I mixed it for the recommended 3-4 minutes. Overall this cake was a waste of money, time, and effort. Major bummer because I was so excited to make it.

  • unstoppableart 12 Mar, 2010

    I have attempted this cake twice and both times it kicked my butt. The cakes turned out fine but the filling has been another story. The first time I made it, I was convinced I hadn't whipped the filling enough because the cake didn't hold up, it just morphed into a big pile of layers and filling. The second time, I whipped the filling the 4 minutes the recipe calls for and it was too much and it broke. I'm not afraid of a challenge and the things I bake usually turn out, but if you follow t

  • SALR 12 Mar, 2010

    We actually purchased this cake from The Peninsula Grill for Christmas Eve. HUGE letdown. We are food finatics and were willing to spend the $200(100 for cake 100 for shipping to Mass.!). BUT this cake was dense almost to the point of dry, tasteless and a huge disappointment. In no way is it too sweet, in fact it lacks sweetness. There wasn't enough filling,it was just plain boring. Don't waste a whole day trying to replicate this cake. I wish I lived closer, I would have actually returned it!

  • valhammack 30 Nov, 2009

    I've made this cake 2xs, this will be my last, what a waste of time/money. I thought the 1st time was me trying to rush the cake. The cake is too dense

  • valhammack 30 Nov, 2009

    I've made this cake 2x?

  • darcier1979 9 Feb, 2009

    i made it a four layer cake instead as i thought id screw up making it into six. It worked well, but then there was way too much filling, so you could just make a half recipe for the filling, but still need all the icing. It wasn't too hard to cut both rounds into two. One way to make cutting it easier is to put it in the fridge for a while

  • laurenjenae 7 Feb, 2009

    Has anyone tried to make this cake with two-layers instead of six? I don't have a lot of confidence in my ability to slice the two 10-inch rounds into 3 layers, so I'm wondering if I could simplify...any advice?

  • darcier1979 5 Feb, 2009

    does anyone know how well this cake would be if frozen? I want to make it for my wedding, but don't want to be stressing about it right before the wedding, any advice?

  • darcier1979 5 Feb, 2009

    does anyone know how well this cake would be if frozen? I want to make it for my wedding, but don't want to be stressing about it right before the wedding, any advice?

  • nycken 6 Jan, 2009

    I was lucky to have Chef Carters Ultimate Coconut Cake over this past New Years. It wasn't too sweet it was PERFECT! So much so that we went back 2 days later for a nightcap and another slice of coconut heaven. Chef Carter was kind enough to sign a menu for me as a memento of a special meal and sweet memories of his fair city; Charleston. Thanks to him and Martha for sharing this special recipe!

  • sillycakes 30 Dec, 2008

    I really wanted to bake this cake but all the reviews indicated that the cake was delicious but too sweet. As a result, I decided to use 9 cups of unsweetened coconut for the filling instead of the sweetened coconut as indicated in the recipe. Using the unsweetened coconut did not decrease the overall sweetness of the cake and it turned out fantastic. I would definitely make this cake again. I did find that i had to add more whipping cream to the filling though as it was too hard.

  • janiealtland 3 Nov, 2008

    How much baking powder is used for the cake-1 1/2 tablespoons or 1 1/2 teaspoons ? Please someone, answer this for me. Janie

  • Zakia6 2 Oct, 2008

    the link for this recipe is not working. if anyone has the recipe for this cake can you please email it me. my email address is i would love to make this for the holidays

  • Brittni 27 Sep, 2008

    Could someone please e-mail me the cake recipe due to the linking not working. Thanks

  • Sugah 25 Sep, 2008

    The cake recipe link doesn't seem to be working. Could the Web master please fix this problem? Or could someone send the recipe to Thanks!

  • scubadeere 25 Sep, 2008

    I'm looking for the cake recipe, too. PLEASE email if you have it!

  • craisen 22 Sep, 2008

    the cake recipe doesn"t come up...could someone fix that? or does someone have it and would be nice enough to send it to!!!!

  • loveat1stbite 12 Aug, 2008

    I really need a recipe for a creamy coconut filling that doesn't necessarily HAVE to be refrigerated...Can someone PLEASE help??? I don't think that this filling would work in a cake that will be covered in fondant, will it? If not, please help me find another recipe!!

  • ivery 11 Aug, 2008

    The vidio shows using 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, and the printed recipe shows 1 1/2 Tablespoons, which could it be?

  • antigonehg 11 Aug, 2008

    Is it just me or is this cake way too sweet? I made this cake yesterday for my family and followed the directions exactly. Everyone said they liked the cake but that it was too sweet. I felt sick after eating a couple of bites. I think the filling and the simple syrup are the worst offenders. Maybe using unsweetened coconut then sweetening it separately would be better. Also, Is the simple syrup really needed? I think it would be a better idea to make the cake more moist in the first place.

  • Ginny45 7 Aug, 2008

    Thanks for putting the cake video on the website.

  • Ginny45 7 Aug, 2008

    What is the Simple Syrup for?

  • njgtb 5 Aug, 2008

    I agree with Mollypw on 7/28. The recipe should be shown step-by-step from begginning to the end in one single reference. All those references for wach part of the cake is rather stupid.

  • chumphrey 3 Aug, 2008

    I have tried twice to make this cake, and have failed with both. My cakes never seem to bake completly . I have ended up baking much longer than what the recipe states. It is also very messy. The first time I made it, I had cake mix all over the inside of my oven. The cooked pieces taste very good, but I would really love to try the whole cake. Any suggestions as to why my cake does not bake completely?

  • leepers 3 Aug, 2008

    Instead of table salt, has anyone used sea salt fin the cake mixture?

  • leepers 3 Aug, 2008

    has anyone made this cake with white chocolate or cocoa butter? I baked a (now, die-hard, traditional bakers don't gasp...;]) fFROZEN coconut cream pie and decided to experiment by adding white chocolate chips (double boiler) to the completely baked pie. Upon my first bite, I was in gastronomic heaven! The white chocolate complemented the coconut to make it thee most amazing dessert that I had tasted in quite some time....I have tasted many a dessert in my lifetime, and this ranks in the top tier! Also, has anyone tried this recipe with a citrus-type liqueur; such as, triple-sec, cointreau, or grand marnier? Finally, is there a sugar-free or low-glycemic version of this cake using a sugar substitute which has no/little aftertaste; such as, agave?

  • lagunasharona 1 Aug, 2008

    you could use mangoes ( fresh for the filling and dried for the outside)

  • creeksidestudio 29 Jul, 2008

    To make things clearer for myself, I changed the reference of 2 Coconut Cakes, above, to 2 10-inch Coconut Cake LAYERS. Then titled the section for the cake to "2 10-inch Cake Layers. This works for me; perhaps it will help others. 9 cups of coconut does seem like a lot but once it is chopped fine, it will break down. I watched the video closely and he does add a large quanity of coconut when making the filling. Just trying to help.

  • dtesker 28 Jul, 2008

    I saw this cake recently on Throw Down with Bobby Flay. This cake didn't win the contest but only because it was soooo rich. I can't wait to try it.

  • Mollypw 28 Jul, 2008

    What a pain to have to open each attachment individually. Why couldn't the whole recipe be in one place, then I could have the recipe all on one page? Thanks

  • Shira 26 Jul, 2008

    OK. After I opened up all the attachments, I see that there is a recipe for Coconut cake from scratch

  • njgtb 26 Jul, 2008

    OMG. Thank you, deezblock , I didn't notice the directions which are below the links for the cake, syrup, etc. I had clicked on those links without reading those instructions. Needles to say my face is red but am laughing at the same time. I haven't tried this cake yet; however, isn't 9 cups of coconut a bit too much for the filling?

  • Shira 26 Jul, 2008

    How about a recipe for coconut cake that it NOT a mix. I live in Israel and we don't have access to those shortcuts like USA.

  • deezblock 25 Jul, 2008

    njgtb, the recipe does indicate. It's for the toasted cocout that is sprinkled on once the cake is assembled. read carefully.

  • njgtb 25 Jul, 2008

    What are the "2 cups sweetened shredded coconut flakes" used for? The recipe does not indicated its use.

  • deezblock 25 Jul, 2008

    Thanks for the video. The recipe implies that we should make two recipes of the coconut cake. But that's not the case.

  • rlpolo1010 24 Jul, 2008

    My husband works with Bob Carter in Charleston. I eat this cake every time I get the opportunity. When I need a special cake this is the one!

  • MiaMiller 6 Jul, 2008

    Fantastic! A huge hit @ my family reunion. Many were talking about it and one went from table to table to find out who made it so she could get the recipe. This is a huge compliment as we have MANY great cooks in our family. By the way, that wonderful lady was my former home economics teacher and more than an excellent cook herself. I cooked the cake over two days (filling,cake, and syrup on day 1 so they could be refrigerated), which made is seem less effort to prepare for me.

  • nwilbur1229 22 Jun, 2008

    This cake is a show stopper! Not only is it the best cake I ever made, but it's the best cake I've ever tasted!

  • luckystar300 14 Feb, 2008

    AWESOME cake! Well worth the long time it takes to make it.

  • CookieLady_1 26 Dec, 2007

    This cake was one of four desserts on the table for Christmas it was a big hit...My only mistake was not whipping up the filing enough before I filled the cake...I will make this again, but will give myself more time when it comes to assembly.

  • jessi93446 10 Dec, 2007

    This cake is great. It is definatley for special occasions howvere as it is a lengthy a complicated recipe. Watching the video is very helpful. I made it for a birthday and people who did not like coconut like this cake!

  • mmsrjs 25 Nov, 2007

    Delicious, but only make and serve it for company (a crowd) cut into smaller pieces than you would cut another cake. Coconut filling make the day before.
    Everyone liked it, but very rich. and the sugar made me sick, thats when I realized I need to go easy on sugar.

  • fetherheth 10 Nov, 2007

    This cake is delicious. I recommend making it when you know you wont have interruptions. As an amateur, It took me about 6 working hours to complete, over a 2 day period. Needless to say, I froze some to save for later.

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