New This Month

Coconut Layer Cake


For the coconut lover, a teetering creation of tender sour-cream cake, coconut filling, and piles of seven-minute frosting. This recipe yields a six-layer cake. However, if you prefer the look of five layers, the extra cake layer makes a delicious snack.

  • Yield: Makes three 6-inch layers

Source: Martha Stewart Living, May 1997


  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups sifted cake flour, not self-rising, plus more for pans
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Coconut Cream Filling
  • 11 ounces (about 3 3/4 cups) sweetened angel-flake coconut
  • Seven-Minute Frosting for Coconut Layer Cake


  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Arrange two racks in the center of the oven. Line the bottom of three 6-by-2-inch buttered round cake pans with parchment paper. Dust the bottom and the sides of the cake pans with flour, and tap out any excess. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set the bowl aside.

  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-low speed until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar, and keep beating until the mixture is fluffy and light in color, about 3 minutes. Gradually drizzle in egg yolks, beating on medium-low speed between each addition until the batter is no longer slick. Beat until the mixture is fluffy again, about another 3 minutes.

  3. Alternate adding flour mixture and sour cream to the batter, a little of each at a time, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Beat in vanilla. Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes, rotating the pans in the oven, if needed, for even browning. Transfer cake pans to wire racks to cool, about 15 minutes. Remove cakes from pans, and let cool completely on racks, tops up.

  4. To assemble, remove parchment paper from the bottoms of cakes. Split each layer in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Set aside the prettiest dome; it will be used for the final layer. Place another domed layer, dome side down, on the serving platter. Sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons of flaked coconut over the cake. Spread a generous 1/2 cup coconut-cream filling over coconut flakes. Repeat sprinkling and spreading process on the remaining layers until all but the reserved domed layer are used. Top cake with the reserved domed layer. Transfer cake to the refrigerator to firm for 1 hour. Remove from the refrigerator, and frost the outside of cake with seven-minute frosting. Sprinkle remaining coconut flakes all over cake while frosting is soft; do not refrigerate. Cake can be left out at room temperature for several days.

Cook's Notes

Sweetened angel-flake coconut is available in grocery stores. You can bake the batter in two 8-by-2-inch cake pans, but the layers will be slightly thinner (place a baking sheet on the bottom rack in the oven to catch any spills).

Reviews Add a comment

  • dstylesnatl
    6 JUL, 2017
    I made this cake before. I had to double the recipe.
    3 FEB, 2017
    Something went wrong - I made this cake and the batter was sticky. I could hardly get it out of the bowl and into the pans. The cake didn't rise at all - in fact, it still had the same swirl marks after it was done baking as when I first put it in the oven. I've gone over the recipe again and I don't see where I messed up, but I missed something. Will try it again someday.
  • MS11911247
    15 JAN, 2017
    Made this cake when it first appeared. It is requested every Christmas and is our Christmas Eve cake. It is remarkable, delicate and delicious beyond compare. Toast the coconut for the outside. A little less sophisticated in look perhaps, but a little crunch against the delicate crumb is so worth it.
  • hannahetsebeth
    24 NOV, 2015
    I made this twice and could not get it to work. However, it worked 2 years ago when I made it. I'm so confused. I used 8" pans so I split it in half, but the layers were so thin, I couldn't cut it in half without it being awkwardly thin. Any ideas why mine are so much thinner than others? I followed the recipe to the T.
  • elainekyu
    2 JAN, 2014
    I made this cake for a new years day dinner party and it was a huge hit! It took almost 4 hours but was definitely worth it. I used one 8" round cake pan (that's all I have), and was only able to make 2 cake layers out of it. Had way too much cream filling left over. The cake was crumbly and almost fell apart when I cut it in half horizontally- however the icing held everything together. You don't need to be a pro to make this cake look pretty. The coconut flakes will do all the work for you!
  • lbrauer
    1 JAN, 2014
    Just made this cake. Cake is very tender to work with, the cream was watery but delicious and the frosting was very good. It didn't look picture perfect but was delicious!
  • Amber Jarnagin
    29 OCT, 2013
    .....also its very important to follow the frosting and cream instructions. If storing cream overnight, place the plastic wrap on top and cover tightly. I didn't cover tightly and only left the plastic and it got watered down. Don't leave frosting ingredients in fridge overnight without mixing.
  • Amber Jarnagin
    29 OCT, 2013
    Well I have to say that this recipe took awhile for me to complete. Lots of problems, all because I misplaced my cream of tartar! I had to put the frosting mixture in the fridge overnight without mixing it over the boiling water and then it wouldn't fluff so I had to remake it. Then my cream went watery because I didn't store it right overnight. My layers were fragile because they were too thin. I might try to leave some of the flour mixture out next time, it was too thick. I used 2 8inch pans.
  • elfhaven13
    31 JUL, 2013
    For Justin B , you must make the layers thin in the pan or it is to much, I have found spreading it out into more pans than is called for to get beautiful layers and they are still thick not real skinny. Maybe check your oven temp or go down about 25 degrees? If using a convection oven I find the time takes longer?
  • elfhaven13
    31 JUL, 2013
    I like the 6 inch cake pans and to measure sour cream I always use a dry measuring cup. I like the round or square cake pans. This is a great cake. I don't make the 7 minute frosting though. I like either the stabilized whipped cream or a light butter cream! I only use 2 cups of powdered sugar or I do the Italian Buttercream!!