Coconut Cake

Happy birthday to me! You guessed it, this is my birthday cake that I made for my birthday, which is today! I was born 20 years ago on this day. And if you’re one of the many people who are going to ask if I feel older, the answer is no. I feel a day older, sure, but not a year. I’ve always found it to be an odd question. Does anyone ever confidently answer yes to that?

Anyways, I made this three-layer coconut cake on Saturday for my birthday celebration that night. It was so delicious. It’s three layers of coconut cake with a coconut simple syrup brushed on top of each layer and frosted all around with a vanilla buttercream. It’s actually very simple, even though it has three components and looks intense. The hardest part for me was trying to get the frosting smooth, and still failing, so then using a paper towel to smooth it out instead.

I keep telling myself I’m going to watch some YouTube video or something to learn how to do that, but still never have. One day I’ll get one cake perfectly smoothed out. One day. Til then I’ll just distract people with lots of pretty flowers all around the sides instead so they don’t even look at the sides of the cake. People always ask me what my favorite thing to bake is. I’d have to say that I love making cakes the most because I love decorating them. I’m no pro decorator, but it’s fun and it inspires creativity.

My mom wants me to start working with fondant. I don’t like the idea of completely covering a cake in fondant because I don’t like the taste of it that much, but I think it would be cool to do some fondant designs. If I had to start somewhere, I’d probably do a safari theme or Mario theme. I don’t know why really. I guess because when I think of fondant cakes I think of bright colors, and those both use bright colors. Plus I’ve seen cakes that have a Mario theme going around the cake and it looks awesome. So look out for some awesome-looking fondant cakes, followed by all the failed fondant cakes first, of course. Gotta start somewhere.

Happy baking!

Coconut Cake

Prep Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours

Yield: 12-16 servings

Coconut Cake

A delicious three-layer coconut cake with coconut simple syrup brushed atop each layer and frosted with a vanilla buttercream frosting.


  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups coconut milk, stirred*
  • ½ cup dessicated coconut
    Simple Syrup:
  • ¼ cup coconut milk solids **
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 3+ Tbsp. milk
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • food coloring, optional


    Make the cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 8-inch cake pans and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth. Add in the sugar and continue to mix until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. With the mixer on low, add in the eggs, one at a time. Add in the vanilla extract. Stop the mixer and scrap down the bowl, then add in the baking soda, salt, and half the flour and mix until incorporated.
  4. Slowly stream in the coconut milk, then add the remaining flour and mix just until combined.
  5. Evenly divide the batter into the three prepared pans. Bake for about 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean (while they're baking, make the simple syrup) Cool on a wire rack for 10 to 20 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans. While the cakes are still warm, brush them with the coconut simple syrup.
    Make the simple syrup:
  1. While the cakes are in the oven, start your simple syrup. Place the coconut milk solids, water, and sugar in small saucepan. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat until everything melts and the syrup begins to simmer.
  2. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes, then remove from heat.
  3. Once the cakes have been removed from their pans, generously brush the warm syrup over the tops of the cakes. Allow the syrup to sink into the cakes (about 20 minutes) before being wrapped plastic and chilled. Slightly chill the cakes in the refrigerator for easier assembly or store overnight.
    Make the frosting:
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter on medium until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the half the powdered sugar, one cup at a time and on low speed. Increase the speed on beat for about a minute.
  2. Add 3 tablespoons of milk, then add the remaining powdered sugar and beat on high speed. Add the vanilla and mix well. If necessary, add more milk (but keep in mind you may want to add food coloring).
  3. Place one chilled cake on a cake stand or cake board. Frost with enough frosting to cover, then add another layer on top, then frost that layer, then top with the final layer. Frost the cake on top and all around, then dye the remaining frosting various colors to decorate, if you desire. Alternatively, use the leftover frosting to frost the cake more generously.
  4. Enjoy! Store the leftover cake in an airtight container (if possible) and in the refrigerator.


*Most coconut milk cans bought from the store have fat solidified in them with liquid dispersed. Save 1/4 cup of the fat solids for the syrup and stir the rest for the cake.

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Recipe adapted from The Cake Blog

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