Old Fashioned Coconut Cake

You'll LOVE this super soft and moist coconut cake! Made with a simple vanilla cake and covered in an old-fashioned frosting recipe handed down from my grandmother!
Be sure to check out the how-to VIDEO below the recipe!
Course Cake, Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword coconut cake, coconut cake with flour icing, old fashioned coconut cake
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 12 slices
Calories 889kcal
Author Sam Merritt



  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter softened to room temperature
  • 2/3 cup canola oil or vegetable oil 80ml
  • 2 cup granulated sugar 400g
  • 1 cup sour cream 240g
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp coconut extract optional, if not using then use 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 344g
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large egg whites room temperature (½ cup or 122g), make sure there is not so much as a teeny tiny bit of yolk in with the egg whites or they will not whip properly.


  • 3/4 cup salted butter softened (170g)
  • 9 Tablespoons shortening I use Crisco
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar 300g
  • 4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour because of recent risk of flour contamination, I recommend heat-treating your flour before using (make sure to let it cool completely before using
  • 1 cup coconut milk or you can use regular whole milk which is what my grandmother uses (235ml)
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 18 oz frozen fresh shredded coconut thawed I’ve not had a lot of luck finding frozen coconut recently. You can substitute dried sweetened coconut, found in the baking section, instead. I usually only need about 3-4 cups and sometimes I will briefly pulse the shreds in the food processor to make them a little less stringy, though this is not required.


  • Preheat oven to 350F (175C) and grease and flour the sides of two 8” cake pans (or spray with baking spray) and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl (or in stand mixer), use an electric mixer to beat together butter, oil, and sugar. Beat until ingredients are creamy and well-combined.
  • Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and then stir in sour cream, vanilla extract, and coconut extract.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together your flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • Using a spatula and stirring by hand (I don’t recommend using an electric mixer here as you can accidentally over-mix your ingredients, resulting in a dense, dry cake), stir the dry ingredients into the wet (butter/sugar mixture) until completely combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure that all of your ingredients are well-combined. Set aside.
  • In a separate clean, dry, and completely grease-free bowl, place your egg whites in a completely clean, dry, and grease-free bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat on high-speed until stiff peaks form.
  • Using a spatula, gently fold your egg whites into your batter. While you do not want to over-mix this batter, it is important that the egg whites are completely combined. Use a gentle hand and stir until you can’t see any streaks of egg whites in the batter.
  • Divide batter evenly into prepared cake pans.
  • Bake on 350F (175C) for 27-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean or with a few moist crumbs (no wet batter).
  • Allow cakes to cool completely before frosting.


  • Combine butter, shortening, and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium-speed until creamy and well-combined.
  • Add flour, one Tablespoon at a time, beating on medium speed for 15 seconds after each addition. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl and beat again for 20 seconds.
  • Add coconut milk and vanilla extract and stir to combine
  • Turn mixer speed up to medium-high and beat for 6 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat again at least another 6 minutes.
  • Test the frosting by tasting or rubbing between your fingers, it should not be gritty or grainy at all. If it still is, carefully scrape the sides and bottom of your mixing bowl again and stir again on high speed until no longer grainy.
  • Once your cakes are cool, ice them by placing one layer on your serving dish and applying an even layer of frosting to the top. Sprinkle liberally with shredded coconut.
  • Place your second layer on top of the first and apply an even layer of frosting around the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle coconut over the top of the cake, and then use your hands to press coconut all around the sides.



A Note on the Frosting:

For me, coconut cake just wouldn't be coconut cake without this old-fashioned frosting. However, I know it's not for everyone. This cake could also be covered with any of these frostings below, just make sure to cover with coconut shavings!

What To Do With Those Leftover Egg Yolks?

Here are some great recipes that use a lot of egg yolks!


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 889kcal | Carbohydrates: 89g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 58g | Saturated Fat: 31g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 46mg | Sodium: 431mg | Potassium: 231mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 63g | Vitamin A: 12IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 6mg