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Classic Coconut Layer Cake

I have to make a cake to take to a Mardi Gras dinner tomorrow. This should be a classic traditional Southern cake so it's going to be Coconut Layer Cake. Lots of Southerners at this party so it has to be right.

The Washington Post this week had a recipe from a new book: Soul Food Desserts & Memories by Patti Pinner that has a recipe that sounds absolutely perfect. The author described the recipes as ones she collected from the "Queens of Soul Food."
The cake of my dreams? Like the ones my relatives made? That I ate at Church picnics?
There's a quickie version using a boxed mix and Cool Whip but I ain't goin' there. Can't use buttercream or cream cheese - not traditional.

I haven't made a boiled frosting in forever. Has anybody made this? Any tips? Does this sound as good to you as it does to me? No time to mess up here...

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  1. This recipe sounds like the real deal to me. And don't be scared of boiled frosting... it's actually easier than you think. It's all about temperature. So if you don't have a candy thermometer, go out and get one. It's essential.

    I would also like to appauld your decision on going traditional. Cool Whip is vile. Please report back and let us know how it went. Good luck!

    1. I've been terrified of that whole boiled sugar/meringue deal for decades since I used to get pressed into service to help my husband's grandmother with the obligatory Southern Christmas Divinity Fudge. We had to wait until the exact day that she deemed the humidity to be proper, no small deal in Louisiana, then run to the store to get the fresh eggs, etc. She was getting way up in years so all that boiling sugar was truly frightening. I haven't attempted it since she died, God love her.
      Maybe this will get me over the phobia.

      Don't you love those old Southern cakes? If I can do this, I'm on to Lady Baltimore! And a real Caramel Cake!

      6 Replies
      1. re: MakingSense

        Let me know when you're ready for the caramel cake. I've got my Texas grandmas recipe. Once made an old southern lady cry with nostalgia when she ate a piece. No shit.

        1. re: bryan

          Could you post that now, please? I would love to try it!

          1. re: bryan

            Were you able to find your Texas Grandma's caramel cake recipe? My Texas Grandma made a caramel cake that we would fight over. Unfortunately, my copy of her recipe was lost when Hurricane Ike went thru Houston. I haven't been able to find anything yet that comes close to the caramel icing she used on her wonderful 3 layer "Caramel Cake". I think losing my Grandma's recipes was the biggest loss of all for my my family.

            She also passed down to us a recipe for sugar cookies that she refrigerated in a big bowl, and then rolled out to cut and bake. I haven't been able to replicate that one either. Here's hoping that you found the recipe and wouldn't mind reposting and sharing it.

            1. re: mtgmom

              mtgmom, sorry to say, but "bryan" hasn't posted in exactly three years to this very day.

              i'll hunt around for a caramel cake recipe, but if i were you, i'd do a search on chowhound for it. If you are unsuccessful in finding the recipe, you can post a new thread to seek your desired recipe. just a thought.

              1. re: mtgmom

                Check out this thread:

                Here is an Old-Fashioned Caramel Cake. The recipe is from Dallas, circa 1947.

                And here's Gigi's Fabulous Caramel Cake from "Southern Cakes" by Nancie McDermott.

          2. Decided to make the cake tonight and the icing tomorrow.
            Got to thinking as I had the stuff laid out on the island. From those identical staples + the bag of coconut that you could get at a country store, it is possible to make that fancy cake I'm attempting as well as coconut cream pie, coconut macaroon, coconut cookies, the coconut pies my aunts make (like turnovers), and probably things I haven't even thought of.
            Run out of coconut and just keep going to custard of all sorts and caramel cakes, plain cookies and goodness only knows where you would stop.
            If you had a pecan tree in the yard, you were really set.
            The simple desserts and creativity of our grandmothers were amazing. Of course they required the greatest luxury of all which is time. And the skill they acquired from practice.

            You'll have to start a great thread on that Caramel Cake. Lots of CHs will want that one.

            1. The recipe is a definite Keeper!!! Goes into my permanent file of the ones I go to when I want THE best version of a classic.
              Any deficiency in the finished product was due to my failings as a baker. I'm not that good and am trying to polish my skills while still fitting into my wardrobe.

              The cake was beautiful. More than fit for any church supper or Southern table. Heck, I'd take it anywhere! About 6 inches high and pure white. The flavor was wonderful, not too sweet despite the boiled sugar icing. I think I overbeat the egg whites for both the cake (which was more the texture of a genoise) and the icing which was a little stickier than I like. But there were no complaints and the guests at the party I took it to loved it.
              I've got a little left which I will spread around to some elderly neighbors tomorrow so that I don't eat it all.

              Thanks for encouraging me, Bryan. You were right. The boiled frosting wasn't nearly as intimidating as I had feared.
              Now about that Caramel Cake of your Grandma's?

              7 Replies
              1. re: MakingSense

                So happy to see your cake was a success. Am chasing down the carmel cake recipe... it's hiding from me wherever I stashed it for safety. D'oh. With luck I'll find it this week.

                Once again, glad that it worked out so well for you.

                1. re: MakingSense

                  I'm sorry I didn't see this until today. So glad your cake turned out well. I note that the cake is a basic 1-2-3-4 cake, which is what I use to make coconut cake. I was also happy to see no canned coconut cream crap in the recipe. There have been a lot of foul coconut cake recipes floating around w/ that stuff and cream cheese frosting, if not cool whip...gag me.

                  Anyhow, You might want to try to find a boiled frosting recipe that you make in a double boiler w/ a hand mixer. Once I discovered that method, I have never done the pour-hot-syrup-in-the-mixer version again. The double boiler method is much more fool proof, at least to me.

                  Finally, next time you make it, you might consider trying frozen unsweetened coconut. It mimics fresh reasonably well and keeps the frosting from being too sweet. Should you ever get the urge to grate a fresh coconut, save the water from the coconut, strain it, and then sprinkle over each cake layer for extra moisture and flavor.

                  1. re: danna

                    Thanks for the input. The recipe is a keeper. I'm sick to death of all those recent cream cheese frostings. I'm ready to write a letter to Southern Living and tell them to cease and desist! With all the worries about no-fat/low-fat, why load it on, when you can use beautiful boiled frostings? I probably will try that the next time because it is quicker than the sugar syrup.
                    I was surprised that the cake turned out less sweet than I expected, even using the sweetened flaked coconut. I used the entire 14 oz. bag (minus what I snacked on) and it was fine.
                    I love coconut. This recipe has good coconut flavor and I'm happy to skip that coconut cream crap too. It always tastes artificial to me.

                    1. re: danna

                      And don't take the task of grating fresh coconut lightly - it can bring on tears. Remember those coconuts survive ocean journeys. Packaged is easier if you can get something that approximates the fresh taste.

                      1. re: Cinnamon

                        Yep! At my house the opening/grating of the coconut was a task assigned to my Dad. I think my Mom classified it as more of a "basement workshop" job rather than a kitchen job whenever there were hammers and nails invovled.

                        1. re: danna

                          Mine, too! I remember my Dad would take hammer & nail and crack it open and sometimes even got bloody fingers while grating. ouch! Then my husband and I got the task and eventually we cheated using packaged coconut.However, then you didn't have the coconut "milk" to put in the toothpick holes in each layer making it extra moist.
                          Coconut cake and a dessert called Charlotte (anyone heard of it?) were our family special Christmas tradition. Now, we just do the Charlotte as our kids and their kids don't eat the cake.

                          1. re: valrieM

                            Don't eat cake? I couldn't be more shocked if you told me they don't wear clothes: please don't let me have grandchildren that don't eat cake...what is a Charlotte?

                  2. Looks like it's worth a try. Has anyone tried what we call at home the "Edna Lewis Cake?" It's a coconut cake layered with lemon curd. The cake part is a bit touchy, but the combination of flavors is out of this world. I think I got it out of the NY Times many years ago and probably still have a copy somewhere at home. I think I need to go make that one again soon.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: rockycat

                      Wouldn't that be a Lane Cake? It has burbon in it as well, I've been wanting to make that for a while now.

                      1. re: Ida Red

                        No, very different. This is just a coconut layer cake filled with lemon curd. I don't remember if it has a boiled icing or what but the outside is covered in coconut. No nuts, raisins, alcohol or anything else that would suggest Lane Cake.

                        1. re: Ida Red

                          Lane Cake has a filling using coconut, raisins, and pecans. Also generally bourbon, unless you were taking it to church. A boiled frosting, garnished with coconut.
                          There's a Lane Cake recipe from Candy, always a good source for this type of traditional food, at http://www.chowhound.com/topics/344733

                        2. re: rockycat

                          There's a beautiful cake, worthy of a wedding, from the Heritage Southern Cookbook called White Trillium Cake, that has a pineapple filling. Divine!
                          Lots of combinations and permutations.
                          These incredible cakes were the prides of Southern bakers. There were variations using lemon, coconut, pineapple, and pecans which were the easily available items at hand or in local stores. Bourbon, except at church. Boiled frostings since it was too hot for buttercreams. Too hot for chocolate which was an expensive import anyway. Less elegant but delicious nonetheless were sweetpotato cakes and such which open up another entire genre.

                        3. I think I know what rockycat and IdaRed are talking about. A few years back, I clipped from the NY Times a recipe titled Lemon Cake with Coconut Icing. It's a three-layer cake with lemon curd between the layers; the icing is a boiled icing with coconut. I've never made it, in part because I pale at the thought of all those eggs and butter besides the coconut, but I may be faint of heart. I prefer a two-layer cake of Nick Malgieri's, which uses coconut milk and shredded coconut in the batter.

                          Which brings me to a question. I'd like to do a twist on this cake, adding fresh, cooked pineapple to the batter. Do I need to reduce the liquid? (My choice would be throttling back on the coconut milk.) Allow for extra acid? (How?)

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: improvcook

                            For the life of me, I can't find my copy of the recipe. Is your's from Edna Lewis? If it is, could you post or e-mail the recipe? I would really appreciate it.

                            1. re: rockycat

                              Rockycat, I have the recipe. It is in Edna Lewis' In Pursuit of Flavor. E-mail me if you don't have access to the book. cgrover@kiva.net

                              1. re: Candy

                                could ya'll post it?
                                sounds wickedly good.

                                1. re: lollya

                                  You will need to e-mail me for it. cgrover@kiva.net. The style in which it is written makes it next to impossiible to paraphrase.

                                  1. re: Candy

                                    Four pages! pp.289 ~ 292. Has any one made this? I am very intrigued... Coconut Layer Cake with Lemon Filling for Easter Brunch ?

                          2. I did not see this until today. Most coconut cakes i am familiar with use fresh whole coconuts. It is basically a plain 3 layer 9" round cake. What you need to do is pierce the coconut and pour the juice into a saucepan and add to it about 3 Tbs. sugar. Cook to a syrup and be sure the syrup has dissolved. Make your cakes and cool. Grate your fresh coconut into fine flakes. When your cake layers have cooled place the first layer on a cake plate and spoon 1/4 C. of the coconut syrup over it and then spread a thin layer of the frosting on top and sprinkle on coconut. Add the next layer and repeat. Treat the top the same and then frost sides and and sprinkle the entire cake with coconut and drizzle the cake with any remaining coconut juice slowly so it has a chance to sink in. Cover the cake with a dome that will not touch the cake and let it stand 24 hours before cutting

                            17 Replies
                            1. re: Candy

                              How difficult is this to do, in terms of breaking open the coconut to then grate the coconut? I'm imagining my husband out on the side walk ....

                                1. re: alkapal

                                  Well, as a proud Dominican, there was to be no baking of the coconut in order to faciliate opening it. I have printed out those tips though in case I have to do it by myself sometime.

                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                    no baking needed in this household either. we've got the super grater for fresh coconut -- a gift from my sri lankan mother-in-law when she came to d.c. for our wedding. http://www.wildernessfamilynaturals.c...
                                    yes ma'am, that's my baby! ;-).

                                    1. re: alkapal

                                      That's neat. I'm a little disappointed as I grated the coconut in the FP, and then buzzing it around a bit some more, and the pieces are heavier than I'd like, rather than flakey. I did hold back one piece, and would like to find out how to make pretty curls with it but am not sure how. I've made three layers (7"), the coconut syrup, and am about to make the icing from the recipe in the WP article. I made the cake from a recipe in Charleston Receipts.

                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                        A propos of grating in the FP: there's a recipe for "Fresh Coconut Cake" in Jean Anderson's "Grass Roots Cookbook" attributed to then (1974) octogenarian Virginian Annie Pool. One of Pool's secrets? Grinding the coconut in a meat grinder fitted with the fine blade. She also sprinkles each cake layer with reserved coconut water to keep them moist. The cake itself has no coconut (it's a yellow cake w/some pure lemon extract), but the icing calls for 11 (!) cups of ground coconut from 2-3 specimens, 8 cups of which is beaten with a sugar syrup heated to 232F (the icing is described as "fairly crumbly because of the quantity of fresh coconut used") and the rest of which is sprinkled over each frosted layer.

                                        1. re: JP_nyc

                                          I did sprinkle on coconut water syrup, per Candy's post above. I had the darndest time icing the damn thing though - I practically had to use my fingers, the frosting was so sticky. Not to mention "pressing on" the coconut on the side of the cake. It's setting up in the fridge now and I hope that the layers don't swish about!

                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                            I made a coconut cake with lemon curd filling a couple of weeks ago for DH birthday. After filling/stacking the layers, it was really wanting to slide around. So, before finishing the frosting, I put the cake and the frosting in the fridge for 30 minutes. That made a wonderful improvement! I was able to finish frosting and press the the coconut on the sides with no problem.

                                            1. re: onrushpam

                                              also, you can insert skewers vertically -- the little satay wooden types -- to keep things "together" while it sets up.

                                              and....jp, nyc: 11 cups?!?! wow! thatsa some coco-nutty!

                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                if it weren't for skewers, about 25% of the cakes I've ever made would have slid onto the counter. I get in a hurry and don't let things cool properly.

                                                MMRuth, the cake is gorgeous! I can't think of any reason to refrigerate it, though.

                                                1. re: danna

                                                  You know - that is a good point, I'm not sure why I refrigerated it - maybe I was nervous about the Italian meringue melting a bit? And, I guess that I thought that refrigerating it would help "set" the cake so that the layers wouldn't move around! I'm going to go ahead and post my entire "recipe" below in a bit, along with some questions for expert cake bakers!

                                              2. re: onrushpam

                                                I refrigerated both the layers and the frosting, but ended up using my fingers, believe it or not, to apply most of the frosting. I should have put in some skewers, per alkapal's advice below. I'll post a photo in the am. I did wish that I had removed the cake from the fridge earlier as the cake itself tasted a bit tough at non-room temp.

                                          2. re: MMRuth

                                            If your coconut is really fresh, you can make the curls with a cheese plane.

                                            I usually purchase shredded, unsweetened coconut for my cakes and pies. I don't like all the additives and unkjay in the commercial processed stuff, and since I don't have a lot of experience with fresh coconuts, getting them ready to use takes me an awful lot of time.

                                            We do a coconut cake with lemon curd filling, too. ;) -- in addition to the Coconut Pound Cake.

                                        2. re: MMRuth

                                          Here are photos of the final product. I don't make a lot of layer cakes and did have some difficulties - might post some queries on a new thread. I used 7" pans, so it was smaller than a cake might regularly be.

                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                            gorgeous, mmruth!!! boy howdy that looks delicious.

                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                              Brava, MM! The cake looks AbFab. Seeing the photos of your husband cracking the coconut reminded me of my father who used to do the same outside on the front walk. He was the one who introduced coconuts to us...he loved them.

                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                Nice. One tip I learned the hard way. The cake batter is heavy on butter, which is solid when chilled. I recently made a great coconut cake, but put it in the Fridge. When I served it, it tasted dried out. Left out on the counter, two hours later it was moist and delicious. Just needed to let the butter warm up.

                                      2. This isn't Bryan's grandma's cake (well, I don't think, unless she's Ethelwyn Langston of Birmingham, AL, who submitted the recipe to Southern Living!) But it looks close to the cake I baked a couple weeks ago that was met with rave reviews. My son's friend even said that's the cake he wants me to bake him for his birthday.


                                        I got my recipe out of a Southern Living cookbook. When I find it, I'll compare and let you know which ingredients are different, etc. The icing, though, looks to me to be exactly the same as what I made. It was scrumptious.

                                        1. The out of print Paul Prudhomme Family Cookbook, which is a collection of recipes from his relatives, has a coconut cake recipe that requires a great deal of preparation, but I've heard it is worth the effort. Find yourself a coconut and so on...

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: NoVaDog

                                            I have the first of PP's cookbooks'but have never been a fan. Of either the recipes or the restaurant. I swear he could complicate a glass of water and probably find a way to add fat to it. Daddy was Cajun and PP was a business client of his; we ate at the restaurant pretty often but it always sort of perplexed us.
                                            No sense in going through a lot of rigamarole for a simple coconut cake. Too many Southern cooks turn out great ones for there to be anything more to it than a classic recipe and some practice.

                                            1. re: MakingSense

                                              Sorry that I am responding to an old thread but I cannot resist responding to it. I could not disagree more emphatically. The fresh cracked coconut cake at K-Paul's is an incredible cake. It's from the Prudhomme Family Cookbook although I believe that Marty, who worked for him for decades, created it. I've made it a number of times and it is simply incredible. I'd go so far as to say that it is the single best cake I have ever tasted in my life. If anyone reading this makes it, serve it on Chantilly whipped cream which is heavy whipped cream laced with a bit of sour cream and Courvoisier and Grand Marnier. Also, it is available at the restaurant but only by requesting it in advance.

                                              As for Chef Paul, in 1981 I met him and was honored that he spent a bit of time with me. I had lost over 100 pounds on a diet and was travelling around the U. S. unconsciously trying my best to gain it all back on one trip! We spent three days in Houston and had dinner every night at NInfa's on Navigation Blvd. where we spent as long standing in line to get in as we did to eat. A good friend worked at K-Paul's and introduced me to Chef Paul when we got to New Orleans. He took an interest in me because of the weight loss and also because the week before he had been in Houston and went to Ninfa's two nights in a row because he liked it so much. Anyway, that night there were seven or eight of us and he took me into his kitchen and gave me a taste of most of what was being prepared. Then he came out and sat down with us. To this day it is one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

                                              He served his coconut cake for dessert.

                                              1. re: Joe H

                                                hi joe, this is a little o.t., but did you see the thread a while back with background and recipe from ninfa's? http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5474...

                                                also: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4705...

                                                both those threads you might find interesting in their entirety.

                                                1. re: alkapal

                                                  Really interesting. Thanks, alkapal. Ninfa's on Navigation was different from her other restaurants at least outside of Houston. I stopped in Arlington, TX twice and St. Petersburg, FL (yes!) once and all three experiences had nothing in common with the three successive nights on Navigation when she was still there. I also have her menu (s) from back then. Awesome food! Probably still the best Tex Mex I've ever had, certainly as good as any I've ever had!

                                                  1. re: Joe H

                                                    joe h, i just wish there were something around HERE!

                                          2. Sounds like you might not be interested, but here is the Paul's recipe.


                                            It could have been a bit more complicated, he could have required homegrown coconuts...

                                            His first cookbook is the first one I ever owned, I photocopied it from the public library in Slidell.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: NoVaDog

                                              Interesting recipe. I actually have started filling my coconut cake with coconut custard rather than more 7-minute frosting. I like it both ways. I find that people rave about the cake more when I make the custard filling. It sort of blends into the layers and makes them incredibly moist.

                                              1. re: NoVaDog

                                                I can bet you a sack of crawfish that PP's recipe ain't no old Cajun family heirloom. At least not the icing. Cream cheese just wasn't available, even in the city of New Orleans (except for Creole Cream Cheese which is completely different), until fairly recently. Even heavy cream was used infrequently in cooking in the country. Evaporated milk or buttermilk, maybe. And not butter. That was saved as a table spread.
                                                Cajuns were and still are the most delightfully simple, wonderful people, able to coax the most magnificent flavors from next to nothing. I can't imagine any of my relatives going to that much trouble to bake a cake - after they stopped laughing at the recipe, that is. I don't think any of them owns 6 cake pans.
                                                Some of them are still shaking their heads at burning redfish and ruining cast iron skillets.

                                                1. re: NoVaDog

                                                  I made this cake last week, but since I wanted something more old school, used a 7-minute frosting (out of the Joy of Cooking) instead of the cream cheese frosting. I thought the whole thing was delicious as did everyone else who tried it, although the filling is definitely not the traditional for coconut cake. More like the filling for a german chocolate cake, but sans nuts. The coconut sryup-brushed cake layers were very, very good. Next time I will try using PP's cake and syrup recipe, thhe 7-minute icing, and the filling recipe provided in the "Top of the Hill Fresh Coconut Cake" recipe (see www.gritsandmagnolias.com) which sounds more like the traditional coconut filling. I'm not a fan of icing fillings.

                                                2. Cocoanut cake - love it but my wife has never made one, as she doesn't like them. Maybe its time for me to make one for HER.

                                                  1. I suggest replacing the dairy milk with coconut milk

                                                    1. Hello MS,
                                                      Do you have the recipe for the White Trillium Cake? I would love to try it. Sound yummy.


                                                      1. sounds like your cake was beautiful . . . .
                                                        for any future reference, i have made the coconut cake many times from the cooks illustrated baking book and it is perfect, and very easy. the cake is incredibly moist and flavorful, and not fiddly. it has cream of coconut in it.

                                                        the frosting in the book is one of those merengue buttercreams - so not traditional for a southern cake, but tasty if that is not the goal.

                                                        1. This is an old thread, but thanks for posting the link to the recipe in the Wash. Post. I made the cake last night, and while the frosting took some doing at first ... the cake looks just beautiful. Serving it later, but I think everyone will be very happy. :)

                                                          3 Replies
                                                            1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                              chocolatechipkt, please save some of that beautiful cake for me! ;-). and those german chocolate chip cookies of yours also fit the bill.

                                                              ps, i love your blog photo with the canoes. the scene is just so tranquil. it looks like one could float the canoe into the sky.

                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                LOL, thanks! You're going to have to rush if you want the last piece of cake ... but I do have a lot of cookies still! :b

                                                                I love that picture too -- I go up to Maine every summer, and I daydream with that pic in the off-season ... esp. when there's all this snow around.

                                                            2. Based on this thread, I made a coconut cake for the first time yesterday. I read the WP recipe, and consulted a couple of books, to come up with my own version of sorts. Because there were just three of us for dinner, and usually when I bake it's just two of us, I bought three 7" pans, rather than the typical 9" ones. So, this is how I proceeded, and I've dispersed my questions about some of problems in each section.


                                                              I used a recipe from Charleston Receipts, as it called for only 2 9" layers, rather than the three in the WP recipes. Using The Cake Bible, I ascertained that the volume was quite close for 3 7" vs. 2 9", though I thought I might have a bit of extra batter (which I did not, and the pans were half full). That recipes calls for:

                                                              3/4 cup butter
                                                              2 C sugar
                                                              4 eggs (separated)
                                                              3/5 C milk
                                                              3 C flour, sifted
                                                              3 tsp baking powder

                                                              I wanted to use cake flour, and after consulting the Cake Bible again, did some math and used a bit more than 3 cups of cake flour. I put those magic strips around two of the three cakes. I baked them for the prescribed time (30 minutes), because I forgot to adjust for the smaller cakes. Two of my cakes were a bit sunken in the middle. The one w/o the magic strip was a bit darker.

                                                              So, I'm wondering, what caused the sunkeness (I read that it could be too much baking powder, among other things)?

                                                              Coconut Syrup:

                                                              I used Candy's tip, above, and made a syrup with the fresh coconut water and a little sugar, then poked the layers with a toothpick, and applied it with a spoon.


                                                              I used a fresh one - see photos above of dispatching it on the sidewalk. I grated the meat using the FP grating tool, and then whizzing it around a bit more, as I thought the pieces were a bit big. I wished they were more flakey, and wondered if I might have achieved that using the baking method referred to above. I sprinkled on a layer of the grated coconut on each layer, then applied the frosting, which basically picked up the coconut so when I spread the frosting around, the coconut got mixed into the frosting.


                                                              I used the recipe in the WP article - pretty much an Italian Meringue as far as I could tell. It was really really sticky, and the spatula was useless in terms of applying it. A large spoon was a bit better, but, in the end, my fingers finished off the task of applying the frosting on top of each layer. A table knife seemed to be fine for the sides. I did refrigerate the cakes a bit before frosting them (per Cake Bible - helps with the crumbs), and chilled the frosting to room temp in the fridge (realized after that Cake Bible says to keep mixing to cool it down). I sprinkled on a layer of the grated coconut on each layer, then applied the frosting, which basically picked up the coconut so when I spread the frosting around, the coconut got mixed into the frosting. Also, though the frosting was for 3 9" layers, I used it all up, and don't think I could have used less of it.

                                                              I then applied the coconut to the sides, which was a bit messy but seemed to work. For some reason, I felt the need to refrigerate the cake, as the layers seemed to be sliding around slightly, and I wanted it to set. I did use a vegetable peeler to "curl" some coconut that I'd put aside, and put that in the middle of the top of the cake.

                                                              Verdict - though the cake was very tender when I tasted the bit I sliced off the top of one layer (which I then put in the middle of the cake), it was a bit tougher when we ate it. Could that be because of the refrigeration? I think, at the very least, I should have brought it to room temp before serving. Also, I thought it was a bit sweet, and next time I might either omit the syrup, or add less sugar to the frosting. Photos of finished cake above.

                                                              Thanks for any advice you might have.

                                                              17 Replies
                                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                                I'm so excited about your first coconut cake. I great coconut cake is a true masterwork.

                                                                A couple of things: I agree about not putting syrup on the cake. We just drizzle the layers with the reserved coconut water with no added sugar.

                                                                I think the overbaking is possibly what made the cake sink, but i'm not sure.

                                                                I think refrigerating the frosting to cool it has alot to do with why it was too sticky to work with. By the time you get through beating it, it should be cool enough. (don't beat longer than your recipe says, though, this can cause the icing to get grainy) Meringue frosting doesn't need to be cold, just not hot.

                                                                Frost each layer, THEN sprinkle the coconut. You might consider filling and stacking the cake, then chilling for 30 minutes or so just to make sure it sets up, then finish frosting the cake. Leave at room temp. Chilling meringue frosting may actually cause it to "weep" (exude liquid) and deflate in volume.

                                                                Another thought, if the cake was too sweet for your taste...after making coconut cake exactly this way for years, I have switched to a milk-based coconut custard for the filling, and then frost it with the meringue.

                                                                Hand grating the coconut will yield a little bit lighter flake than using the FP, but it is time and knuckle consuming.

                                                                Again, yea for you! I know your cake was perfect, the ideas above are just trivia ;-)

                                                                1. re: danna

                                                                  Thanks so much for the tips. I did see some recipes that used a custard filling, and will try that next time.

                                                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                                                    Inspired by the photo of your lovely cake, I attempted it today (for my daughter's birthday tomorrow). I didn't go so far as a fresh coconut (don't have anyone handy to delegate that to). I thought my icing was squishing downward (like loose stockings sagging on an old lady's ankles) so it's now handing out in fridge.

                                                                    Next time I'd like to try the double boiler method for icing. Do you have a recipe for the custard filling? That might be nice.

                                                                    I only had 2 nine inch pans and 1 ten inch and did not have time to run to the store to buy another nine inch. So, I used what I had and trimmed the ten inch one and it all seems to have worked out fine. I tasted the scraps and it's good, not too sweet.

                                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                                      I just looked at the recipe again and realized I had not read the recipe closely enough; I used sweetened coconut for both the cake AND the icing and now I notice the icing called for "unsweetened." Odd that it uses 2 different kinds of coconut.

                                                                      I also had trouble with the stickiness of the icing.

                                                                      1. re: walker

                                                                        I'm guessing that the icing calls for unsweetened so that the cake won't be too sweet overall. I'll dig around for a custard filling recipe, or maybe danna has one. Congratulations - it really is quite a bit of work!

                                                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                                                          Rereading this thread yesterday, I found one of Martha Stewart's that called for custard filling so I printed that one out; it also explained how to make the icing in a double boiler. All I need now is a hand mixer; I only have the regular Kitchen Aid mixer.

                                                                          I have a (new) microplane box grater (about $35) four sided, that's great. Might be better to grate the coconut than FP.

                                                                          1. re: walker

                                                                            Oh good - let us know how it turns out. And that grater sounds fabulous - I'll have to try to find one.

                                                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                                                              Wm-Sonoma has it; if you use it and don't like it, they'll gladly take it back. BUT, I think you'll like it a lot.

                                                                            2. re: walker

                                                                              I'm willing to go out on a limb and say you will LOVE that Martha STewart custard filling. Caution, do not decide to use frozen coconut in the filling. You can use it on the outside of the cake if you like a less sweet coconut, but if you put it in the filling, you risk making it break (from personnal experience.)

                                                                              The custard makes the whole cake experience SO moist. I'm always a little suspicious of cakes said to be moist. I like a nice velvety textured butter cake...not that box-mix kind of moist. But this strikes a nice balance, and guests who DO love a gooey-moist cake are going to be thrilled. It get's better the 2nd day as the filling melds w/ the cake. Umm.

                                                                              1. re: danna

                                                                                Yes, custard filling will take it to another level. It takes so much time to make a cake like this -- with women working it's a wonder there's ever a moment to attempt these things.

                                                                                Also, with so many American foods like this so fattening, it's a wonder ALL of us don't weigh at least 300 lbs.

                                                                                1. re: walker

                                                                                  yes to both points. I'm sure I'd weigh 300 without all the exercise.

                                                                                  and yes, that coconut cake is very time consuming w/ 3 parts. My husband's bday is tomorrow, and I'm just not sure I'm going to get one made between working and riding that bike(calorie disposal machine)

                                                                                  I will say, however, that if you make the filling w/ skim milk (which I do) then this cake is actually a lot lower in fat than most grand cakes because of the fat -free frosting. Granted, plenty of fat in the coconut, but at least it's veggie fat, and you can skimp on it a bit if you need to.

                                                                                  1. re: danna

                                                                                    i made the martha recipe for coconut cake tonight. the cake really isn't that good. i'm hoping that the custard is. i am going to remake the cake tomorrow morning (a different recipe, of course) and try the custard. fingers crossed...

                                                                                    1. re: raygunclan

                                                                                      Prudhomme Family Cookbook. This is the single best slice of cake I have ever had in my life. Serve it on top of a puddle of Chantilly whipped cream which is fresh whipped cream laced with Courvoisier.

                                                                                      K-Paul's Coconut Cake
                                                                                      From the Prudhomme Family Cookbook

                                                                                      Coconut filling:
                                                                                      About 3 3/4 pounds fresh coconuts, or enough to yield 4 cups plus
                                                                                      2 tablespoons minced coconut meat, in all [be sure to reserve
                                                                                      coconut milk to make the glaze]
                                                                                      2 1/2 cups heavy cream
                                                                                      1 1/2 cups sugar
                                                                                      1/2 pound [2 sticks] unsalted butter
                                                                                      1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
                                                                                      1 teaspoon vanilla extract

                                                                                      3 cups all-purpose flour
                                                                                      1 tablespoon baking powder
                                                                                      1/2 teaspoon salt
                                                                                      2 cups sugar
                                                                                      4 large eggs
                                                                                      1/2 pound [2 sticks] plus 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and
                                                                                      cut into chunks
                                                                                      1 cup evaporated milk
                                                                                      1 tablespoon vanilla extract

                                                                                      Coconut-milk glaze:
                                                                                      1 1/2 cups reserved strained coconut milk [or a mixture of coconut
                                                                                      milk and water]
                                                                                      1/3 cup sugar
                                                                                      1 teaspoon vanilla extract

                                                                                      2 [3-ounce] packages cream cheese, softened
                                                                                      1/4 pound [1 stick] unsalted butter, very soft
                                                                                      1 tablespoon vanilla extract
                                                                                      1/4 teaspoon salt2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon evaporated milk
                                                                                      1 [1-pound] box powdered sugar, [in all four cups]

                                                                                      For the filling:
                                                                                      Drain the milk from the coconuts by carefully making a hole in each
                                                                                      of the three eyes of the coconuts with a clean, new, and large nail,
                                                                                      an icepick, or a sharp, very sturdy knife point. Strain the milk
                                                                                      through cheesecloth or through a fine mesh strainer lined with a
                                                                                      paper towel and measure out 1 1/2 cups; if necessary make up the
                                                                                      balance with water. Refrigerate until ready to use.

                                                                                      Break coconuts into small pieces with a hammer. Peel the pieces and
                                                                                      remove the brown inner skin attached to the white coconut meat. Rinse
                                                                                      and drain coconut meat well, then process it in batches in a food
                                                                                      processor until minced. You will need 4 cups minced coconut for the
                                                                                      filling, plus 2 tablespoons to garnish the top of the cake. Set aside.
                                                                                      [use leftover coconut as a snack or in another recipe.]

                                                                                      In a heavy 5 1/2 quart saucepan or large Dutch oven, heat together the
                                                                                      cream, sugar, and butter over medium-high heat until mixture reaches a
                                                                                      boil, stirring frequently. Add the four cups of minced coconut, stirring
                                                                                      well. Cook until mixture reduces to 5 cups, about 15 minutes, stirring
                                                                                      almost constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the cornstarch. Place
                                                                                      pan over high heat, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add the
                                                                                      vanilla and cook and stir about 1 minute. Remove from heat and continue
                                                                                      stirring a few seconds more. Cool slightly, then refrigerate until well
                                                                                      chilled. Note: filling will decrease in volume as it cools. Once it is
                                                                                      chilled, measure yield and divide by 5 to determine amount to use between
                                                                                      cake layers. Keep refrigerated until just before ready to use.

                                                                                      For the cake:
                                                                                      In a medium-size bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt;
                                                                                      set aside. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar and
                                                                                      eggs; beat on low speed until smooth, about 1 minute, pushing sides down
                                                                                      with a rubber spatula. Add the butter; beat on low until mixture is
                                                                                      creamy and light colored, about 3 minutes. Beat in the milk and vanilla.
                                                                                      Gradually add the flour mixture, about 1 cup at a time, beating after
                                                                                      each addition just until smooth and pushing sides down as needed. Then
                                                                                      beat on high speed for about 1 minute more, pushing sides down.

                                                                                      Spoon equal portions of the batter [a slightly mounded 1 cup] into six
                                                                                      8-inch round cake pans that have been greased and lightly floured.
                                                                                      Spread batter out evenly in the pans. Bake at 350 degrees F. on the
                                                                                      middle rack of the oven, 3 layers at a time, until centers spring back
                                                                                      when lightly pressed, about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let
                                                                                      pans sit about 5 minutes, then loosen sides of cakes with a knife and
                                                                                      remove layers from pans to a wire rack. Bake the 3 remaining layers.
                                                                                      If re-using the same pans, first wash, re-grease, and lightly flour
                                                                                      them. Meanwhile make the glaze and frosting.

                                                                                      After the cake layers have cooled about 15 minutes, glaze one layer
                                                                                      by brushing glaze over the surface and on the sides with a pastry
                                                                                      brush, a little at a time and using one sixth of the glaze [about
                                                                                      2 1/2 tablespoons]. Make holes in the cake with a paring knife so
                                                                                      glaze can sink in. Immediately [before glazing another layer], spread
                                                                                      one fifth of the filling on top of the glazed layer, extending it to
                                                                                      about 1/2 inch from the edge. Then place another layer on top and
                                                                                      repeat procedure of glazing and spreading on filling until all the
                                                                                      layers are glazed and all but the top layer have filling spread on

                                                                                      Let cake cool thoroughly, then frost top and sides. Sprinkle the
                                                                                      remaining two tablespoons minced coconut on top. Let sit 1 hour
                                                                                      before slicing.

                                                                                      Coconut-milk glaze:
                                                                                      Combine the coconut milk and the sugar in a 2-quart saucepan and
                                                                                      bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Continue
                                                                                      boiling until glaze reduces to 1 cup, about 5 minutes, stirring
                                                                                      frequently. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour into
                                                                                      a glass measuring cup and use glaze as directed in the recipe.
                                                                                      Makes 1 cup.

                                                                                      Combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and salt in a medium-size
                                                                                      bowl of an electric mixer; beat on high speed until creamy, about
                                                                                      1 minute. Turn speed to medium and beat in the milk and 1 cup of
                                                                                      the sugar, pushing sides down with a rubber spatula. Beat in the
                                                                                      remaining 3 cups sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing until smooth before
                                                                                      adding more. If the frosting becomes too thick for the mixer, do the
                                                                                      last bit of mixing with a spoon.


                                                                                      1. re: Joe H

                                                                                        joe, my friend, i will tell my hubby to get his coconut crackin' tools out! we're gonna try this recipe this weekend!

                                                                    2. re: MMRuth

                                                                      That looks beautiful! I've made quite a few coconut cakes, and I have never used a syrup. I think that if you use a curd filling -- I usually use lime curd -- it can also help to tone down the sweetness. Last time I made a coconut cake in February, I toasted coconut and added it to the batter. It added a lot of coconut flavor without making it overly sweet, plus it gave the cake an intersting texture. I adapted it from a cookbook I have called Southern Cakes, which has an entire chapter devoted to coconut cake!

                                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                                        Your cake was beautiful! That's so much effort with the fresh coconut. Danna has given you some good advice. On the cake sinking, it could be due to several reasons. Since the ones that were larger were the ones that sank, could you have underbaked them? It could also be from overbeating the egg whites. It's also possible that you didn't use enough cake flour. For every cup of flour, you need 1 cup plus 2 tbsps of cake flour, so for 3 cups, 6 tablespoons which is quite a bit (over 1/4 cup). Too high proportion of liquids can make it fall, too. On it being tougher out of the refrigerator, butter cakes can do that. I like the denser texture.

                                                                        I'm not sure why your frosting was so sticky but sometimes I use a tall glass of hot water to keep the spatula in and then frost so nothing sticks (and frosting goes on smooth). I'd also consider using a pastry bag to pipe it on. It looks like a great effort and if it tasted anywhere near as nice as it looked, I'll bet it was delicious.

                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                          I agree MMRuth, your cake is beautiful! The frosting in the WP recipe was also very sticky--but since I then covered it in coconut, it didn't bother me for too long. :b

                                                                      2. I don't know if this is a heresy, but I came late to Coconut Cakes (not so common in Newfoundland!)...the first one I ever tasted was when I went on a road trip in university and we visited a brunch buffet in upstate New York. They served a CC with a layer of raspberry jam. As it was my first, I thought that was the way it SHOULD be done.

                                                                        So my question is: how wrong is that? or is it just a regional variation that hasn't been mentioned yet? to me it remains the "authentic" taste, because that was how I experienced it and I tend to make mine that way today where it has become a family favourite. (BTW, I do the boiled frosting in the top of the double-boiler and I do use fresh coconut-needless to say I don't live in Newfoundland anymore!)

                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                        1. re: LJS

                                                                          I do my boiled frosting in a double boiler, too. It's WAY easier than the pouring-sugar-syrup in a mixer method, and closer to foolproof. More stable too, if you ask me. My Mom' s "white mountain" frosting or "7 minute" frosting always had a tendency to dissolve into the cake over a few days as I recall from childhood. Mine doesn't do that, now that I use the double boiler method. (sugar, water, tsp of corn syrup, salt, cream of tarter, egg whties)

                                                                          Was the raspberry jam the only thing between layers? Sounds fine to me. The only things that start me screaming "HERETIC" are Coco Lopez, sour cream, cream cheese, cool whip.

                                                                          BTW, one of my favorite cakes ever from a bakery was banana cake layers, raspberry jam for filling, and chocolate ganache frosting. I've made myself hungry thinking about it.

                                                                          1. re: danna

                                                                            LOL, oh no--I love Italian cream cake with the cream cheese frosting. It might not be authentically southern but it's a delicious cake. If it helps, I'll just call it a pecan coconut cake and pretend it hasn't been attributed to the south.

                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                              well...sure...it's Italian Cream cake. I didn't mean no southern cakes could have those things...just not a Coconut Cake. ;-)

                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                Please hold that thought, chowser!
                                                                                Cream cheese disqualifies a cake from the category of classic "Southern." Just wasn't in the vernacular until Kraft started pushing that Philly stuff on TV and the Yankees began moving South from the Rust Belt.
                                                                                I recently let my Southern Living subscription expire because they have started mainlining the damned stuff. Once they were such a reliable source of good, traditional Southern flavors, but not any more. Even Paula Dean, the Butter Queen, is slathering it on.
                                                                                What a pity!
                                                                                The Song of the South should not be a funeral dirge for the variations on boiled frostings that made Southern cakes the classics that they are.

                                                                                1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                  I spent too much time today trying to find the history of Italian cream cake and why it is attributed to the south, despite having a cream cheese frosting. The oldest I can find is back to the 1960's about the Kraft Philly time frame as you said. Actually, I've seen it brought far more as an Italian cake than a southern cake and it's not Italian either. Come to think of it, the first time I had it was from a friend who is not only from the south but whose parents and grandparents and more are from the south.

                                                                                  I'll just call it cake if I make it (I do like it, though it's been years, come to think of it, since I made it) and not refer to its supposed origin(s)--and be thankful it's not baked in a bain marie.;-)

                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                    Cream cheese icings are a fairly recent innovation. A pretty good clue that a recipe ain't that old or that it's been changed.
                                                                                    The 1946 printing of Joy of Cooking has one - ONE - recipe for a cream cheese icing and it uses a 3 ounce package of cream cheese. That wouldn't make much, would it? Hardly enough to frost a cake. It was used on things like date nut cakes, etc.

                                                                                    Kraft went wild with the concept in the 1960s (I think) on commercials for Kraft Television Theater to sell more product and Americans started using it because it was so easy and dang near foolproof.
                                                                                    It really took off during the early 70s when it become the common frosting for carrot cake which became the "healthy" rage at hippy coffee houses and health food stores. Like carrot cake is healthy because it has vegetables in it?

                                                                                    I think that Italian Cream Cake would be immeasurably improved with an Italian meringue icing, light as a feather and ever so white.
                                                                                    It does have a similarity to Lane Cake I think, which may be why people think it's Southern.

                                                                                    1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                      >>>Like carrot cake is healthy because it has vegetables in it?<<<<

                                                                                      why, yes indeedy!

                                                                                      that's my story and i'm stickin' to it.

                                                                              2. re: danna

                                                                                There was thin layer of the frosting (pre-coconut) and then the jam...I have always used a good seedless raspberry jam

                                                                                BTW, your banana cake with jam has given me another idea for 'kid friendly' cakes: PB &J as a cake? white-cake/pb frosting and jelly as the layer? I am going to give that a try next time I bring something to a BBQ I know will have kids...

                                                                                1. re: LJS

                                                                                  You could try the Elvis cake--banana cake w/ chocolate chips and a pb frosting. It's always a hit, with kids and adults. I use some cream cheese for the butter for a softer frosting.


                                                                                  I've also made this peanut butter cake and added jam to the buttercream frosting. I'll bet you could use a pb frosting and add a layer of jam in between, too. That sounds good.


                                                                            2. if you love coconut, and if you love sweet potatoes, you absolutely must try this "sweet potato surprise cake." it is my favorite cake in the world!


                                                                              here is my commentary from another thread:
                                                                              """the cake is addictive! my sister had one while i was housesitting for a weekend, and i ate sliver by sliver until it was practically gone (and it had started out as half of a large 3-layer cake). i made her a brownie pie that is to this day (some 30 years later) known as "apology pie." ;-)."""

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                                have you posted your "apology pie" recipe for the brownie pie? please?

                                                                                1. re: Cynsa

                                                                                  i'll ask my sister. i don't think i've had it for ages....

                                                                              2. I attempted to make this cake and sort of blew it. It's been on my mind to do for ages and I was very excited, but just made too many mistakes. First, I think the butter was too warm to cream properly. When I took the cakes out of the oven they reminded me of cookies that have that look they get when the butter was melted, not room temp. It's pretty hot here so I shouldn't have left it out on the counter for so long. Does that make sense, or maybe not?
                                                                                Next, I think I beat the frosting too long, it got a bit grainy and too firm/dry.
                                                                                Finally, I remembered later on that I had forgotten to put the vanilla in the frosting!

                                                                                Disappointing, but I did it all myself, not the recipe's fault. I did wish, though, that the the author would have given me some idea of how long it would take to get the frosting syrup cooked to hard ball stage, and approx how long to beat the frosting. For many of you those are basics, not for me. The lack of this info isn't what caused my mistakes, I'm just mentioning it.

                                                                                I'm hanging up my beaters for a while and will try again later on. The worst part is that this was for an event. I sent it anyway but ugh, I really wanted to send them a soft, pillowy, moist, coconutty delight.

                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                1. re: fern

                                                                                  I'm sure everyone loved it. Even a slightly substandard coconut cake is better than a great version of most other cakes! ;-)

                                                                                  Yes, overbeating the frosting can cause it to be grainy and too stiff. Unfortunately, the best way to avoid that is just to KNOW by looking at it when it's at the right consistence. And of course it takes some experience to know that.

                                                                                  The recipe you're using is a bit difficult, IMO. I use the double boiler method and my 7 minute frosting (see my post above) I don't have it handy, but search the web for a double boiler 7 minute. The recipe should give you specific times for beating.

                                                                                  And...what seemed to be wrong w/ your layer that you think might have been related to butter being too warm?

                                                                                  1. re: danna

                                                                                    Hi danna, and thanks. You're right, some cake is better than no cake! I will try the frosting again sometime, now knowing better what to do. I had no idea, 2 minutes? 5 minutes? Will also try your 7 minute sometime.

                                                                                    Re the butter, do you know how a cookie made with melted butter will flatten out and get golden, crispy edges? My layers did a minor version of that. The edges didn't pull in toward the cake, but spread out to the pan edge and clung there. Does that make sense?
                                                                                    When I saw them I thought of butter although I'm not sure if that is really the problem. Although I've been doing quite a bit of it recently, I'm not really a baker and don't know the science.

                                                                                    Thanks for your help!

                                                                                    1. re: fern

                                                                                      If you mean it spread toward (and maybe a little bit over?) the top edge of the pan and then kind-of stuck, where you had to get a serated knife out to release the layers...then I've done that too and it was an issue of too much leavening. Did your butter actually MELT, or was it just soft?

                                                                                      Yay! I found the recipe I use, see link below:


                                                                                      If you just go to Martha's current site, you'll find a recipe similar to the one you used, but this double boiler method was in a mag years ago. I don't make the cake part, prefering my Mom's recipe, but the frosting is great, and you'll see that she gives you fairly specific timing instructions. In my clipping, she adds that you should beat an extra 1 minute at each stage if the weather is humid. Beware, super-humid weather raises your risk of failure somewhat.

                                                                                      1. re: danna

                                                                                        It was pretty hot in the house and the butter was very, very soft but not melted. Yes, it spread toward the top edge, but not over. Perhaps it was the leavening then, as you said.

                                                                                        Thank you for the link and the advice! Maybe I'll give it another go one of these days. Fall will be here before we know it and I'll want to bake. I will never lose these 15 lbs.

                                                                                2. I tried the recipe above but was not really happy with the icing so would like to try the Martha Stewart recipe listed somewhere on this thread.

                                                                                  It calls for 3 6 inch pans and I'd rather use 3 9 inch. Can anyone help me on this or should I just look for another recipe?


                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: walker

                                                                                    I would look for another recipe were I you.

                                                                                    1. re: walker

                                                                                      yeah, that's crazy, why make a 6 inch cake? if you do that math, doubling the recipe comes out about right to make 9 inch layers, that's what I would do (actully, I often make this cake w/ 8 in pans) The baking time might vary a little.

                                                                                      I use martha's filling and frosting that I linked to above, but I use my family's tranditional coconut cake recipe, which is really just a basic 1234 cake. Martha's is a little richer w/ the addition of sour cream...I'm not seeing the need for more richness here, but I made it her way once and it was fine.

                                                                                      1. re: danna

                                                                                        That's a good point - double the recipe - didn't think of that.

                                                                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                          Thanks all, I knew I could count on you.

                                                                                    2. Hello!
                                                                                      I am making a coconut layer cake for my father's birthday and I cannot decide between these two recipes from Martha Stewart.
                                                                                      One comes from Chef Robert Carter from the Peninsula Grill, in Charleston, South Carolina:
                                                                                      The other is Martha's own recipe:
                                                                                      Of the two, which one would you recommend? How are they similar/different from a traditional southern coconut layer cake?
                                                                                      Chef Carter's recipe seems like his cake layers produce a texture akin to a pound cake. I do want something tender and moist but not overtly dense. Will Martha's own recipe achieve this balance?
                                                                                      Thank you in advance!

                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: sugarcube

                                                                                        I have eaten the coconut cake at Peninsula Grill. It's a HUGE cake, and decadent, and decent, but I didn't really like it. It was very sweet and very heavy. I particularly dislike having cream cheese icing on a coconut cake. In general though, my opinion is a minority one. Many people rave about the Peninsula Grill cake.

                                                                                        On the other hand, Martha's recipe is divine. Pay attention to the size of pan and convert as you see fit. 6 inches is silly, IMO.

                                                                                        1. re: danna

                                                                                          Your opinion may be in the minority, but you are not alone. The idea of putting cream cheese on a coconut cake just sounds plain unappetizing to me. IMHO, cream cheese belongs on bagels and in cheesecakes and that's about it.

                                                                                          1. re: rockycat

                                                                                            I'll add carrot cake to your list, but I draw the line there. (PS: I hate chocolate cheesecake - for some reason, the combo is just too heavy and gloppy).

                                                                                            Seven-minute boiled icing is the way to go.