Teatime Coconut Layer Cake

This majestic cake -- with layer upon layer of subtle coconut flavor -- is worthy of the guest of honor at a Mother's Day luncheon; she deserves a little effort and a lot of deliciousness. Three two-inch layers of moist cake are dressed up with thick waves of coconut meringue buttercream. The coconut is left untoasted to keep the flavor from becoming overpowering, and the buttercream is applied using a basket-weave tip. A mix of flaked and shaved coconut drifts on top.

  • Servings: 12

Source: Martha Stewart Living, January 2006


  • Vegetable-oil cooking spray
  • 3 1/3 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 2 1/4 cups superfine sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Salt
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 11 large eggs, separated, plus 3 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cream of coconut
  • Coconut Meringue Buttercream
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened coconut shavings, for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Coat three 9-by-2-inch round cake pans with cooking spray; line with parchment paper. Set aside.

  2. Sift flour, 1 3/4 cups superfine sugar, the baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Whisk together 3/4 cup water, the vegetable oil, egg yolks, and vanilla in another bowl. Add yolk mixture to flour mixture; mix on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl; set aside.

  3. Put egg whites and a pinch of salt into the clean bowl of the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; beat on medium speed until foamy. Raise speed to medium-high; beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup superfine sugar; beat until stiff, glossy peaks form.

  4. Fold one-quarter of egg-white mixture into batter with a rubber spatula. Fold in remaining egg-white mixture in 2 batches. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans. Bake until cakes are golden brown and spring back when pressed, 30 to 35 minutes. Invert cakes onto wire racks to cool; remove parchment.

  5. Bring 1 cup water, the granulated sugar, a pinch of salt, and the cream of coconut to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring occasionally. Boil 1 minute; let stand.

  6. Trim cakes level. Place 1 cake on a serving plate, and brush with 1/3 cup coconut syrup. Spread with 1 cup buttercream, and sprinkle with 1/3 cup sweetened coconut. Top with another cake. Brush with 1/3 cup syrup; spread with 1 cup buttercream, and sprinkle with 1/3 cup sweetened coconut. Top with final cake; brush with remaining 1/3 cup syrup. Refrigerate until firm.

  7. Spread 1 1/4 cups buttercream over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate until buttercream is firm, about 30 minutes.

  8. Spread 1 1/2 cups buttercream over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate until buttercream is very firm, at least 1 hour. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1-inch basketweave tip (such as Ateco #898) with buttercream. Holding bag perpendicular to cake, pipe sides in a back-and-forth motion, starting at bottom. Refill bag as needed. Sprinkle top with remaining 1/3 cup sweetened coconut and the unsweetened coconut shavings. Cake can be refrigerated up to 2 days; let stand at room temperature 20 minutes before serving.


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