Ultimate Coconut Cake

OMG. This cake.

If you like coconut, you will freak over this cake.  Heck, if you like any cake you won’t want to miss this.

This puppy weighs 12 pounds and uses 2.5 pounds of butter and 3 pounds of coconut.  It takes time to make (at least a day because the filling needs to set overnight), but it’s perfect for when you really need a wow factor.

My dad brought this cake to my attention over a year ago when he saw it on TV and asked if I could make make it (of course), then after seeing the time and capital requirement I would brush the question of “When are you making me that coconut cake?” under the rug.

Enter Father’s Day: the perfect chance to let your Dad know you love him by shoving a 12 pound cake towards him.

So I did it, and I’m going to walk you through it below.  This is a wonderfully decadent, coconuty, creamy cake. Enjoy!


  • 11 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 2.5lbs (10 sticks) butter
  • 6 3/4 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tbsp plus 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
  • 1/4 cup corn starch (or 3 tbsp arrowroot powder, see note below)
  • 8oz cream cheese
  • 5 cups icing sugar

Cake Steps

Preheat oven to 325F and butter and flour 2 10 inch cake pans.

In a large bowl, beat together 4 sticks of butter and 3 cups sugar until light and fluffy.  Add 6 eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well between each addition.  In a large bowl, sift together all the flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together 1.5 cups cream, 1.5 tbsp vanilla and 1 tsp coconut extract.

Add half the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated, add wet ingredients and mix fully, then add the rest of the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated, scraping sides with spatula as needed.

Post flour #1
Post cream mixture
Post final flour addition

Scrape into prepared pans


Bake at 325F for ~45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Allow to cool for 15 minutes in pan and then invert onto rack to cool.


Filling Steps

Place 9 cups of coconut in a blender or food processor and blend until fine.  Set aside.

Bring remaining 5 cups heavy cream, 3 cups sugar and 1 pound (4 sticks) of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat to a boil, until sugar is dissolved.

Add 1 tsp vanilla and 3 tbsp arrowroot powder and simmer until thickened, 1-2 minutes (the original recipe called for 1/4 cup corn starch mixed with vanilla and 1 tbsp water, but it seized up into a hard ball in the filling.  To avoid this and still use cornstarch, mix with 3 tbsp water and add slowly.  If it still seizes, strain into a large bowl and add in arrowroot powder).

Remove from heat and stir in coconut until combined.  Place in a large bowl or baking dish, cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight. (if your filling looks too “wet” don’t worry, when you mix it the next day it blends into a beautiful thick filling).

My filling looked like this right after boiling

When ready to assemble, blend with an electric mixer for 4-5 minutes, until thick and creamy with a butter like texture.

Post refrigeration and mix texture – very different!

Icing Steps

Mix 2 sticks (1 cup) butter and 8oz of cream cheese with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Steadily add 1 tsp vanilla and icing sugar and mix until light and creamy.



Boil 3/4 cup sugar and 3/4 cup water until sugar is dissolved to make simple syrup and allow to cool. (This makes cake extra moist)

Preheat oven to 375F and spread remaining 2 cups coconut on parchment lined baking sheet, baking until golden (~6 minutes, keep a close eye on it as they go from golden to burnt quickly!). Set aside.

Trim top of cake to make level and cut each cake into 3 layers with a serrated knife (I’ve also heard floss is good for this).  Line your plate with 4 strips of parchment into a diamond outline.


Place 1 layer of cake on the plate, brush with ~3tbsp of simple syrup and spread on 2 cups coconut filling.  Top with next layer and repeat with the rest of layers (leave the top bare).


Spread icing on top and along sides of cake and press toasted coconut onto sides until covered.  Chill at least 5 hours.


Recipe adapted from the Peninsula Grill in South Carolina/Martha Stewart


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