Coconut Custard Layer Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Six delicious layers of yummy coconut cake are thoroughly infused with coconut flavor. I’ve used a combination of cream of coconut, both sweetened and unsweetened coconut, along with a bit of coconut extract to achieve this lovely cake; the unsweetened coconut is ground with some of the sugar to boost up the coconut flavor. An easy to make coconut custard provides a luscious filling between two layers, and a silky Swiss Meringue Coconut Buttercream fills the remaining layers and covers the outside. And of course any coconut layer cake should be covered with a deep drift of sweet coconut. I’ve lightly toasted the coconut to use as a garnish on this cake, but if you prefer you can cover the cake with untoasted unsweetened coconut.

This is a lovely cake to serve to guests or for special occasions and can easily be made ahead of time. The coconut custard can be made the day before, along with toasting the coconut, if desired, to use as a garnish to cover the outside of the cake. The cake itself can also be baked the day before. Then all that’s left to do before serving is to make the Buttercream and assemble the cake.
Recipe type: Dessert | Butter Layer Cake
Serves: 10 to 12
Coconut Batter:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sweetened cream of coconut such as Coco Lopez, (not coconut milk) stirred well before using
  • ¼ cup milk (preferably whole milk)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 4 large egg whites
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
Coconut Custard:
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk (preferably whole milk)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup shredded or flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Swiss Meringue Coconut Buttercream:
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/16 teaspoon (pinch) salt
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup sweetened cream of coconut such as Coco Lopez, (not coconut milk) stirred well before using
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • About 2 cups shredded or flaked sweetened coconut, lightly toasted if desired
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare three 8 inch round layer cake pans; lightly grease the pans with shortening and dust with flour. Tip: to make baked cake easier to remove from pan, lightly grease the pan, line with parchment paper, and then lightly grease the top of the parchment paper and dust the pan with flour.
Tip: Use cake strips around the pans to help ensure the cake rises evenly. Make a cake strip with a length of aluminum foil long enough to encircle the pan with a little overlap. Fold the strip lengthwise until it is 2 to 3 inches wide. Wrap the strip around the outside of the pan and secure it with a metal paper clip or tape.
Coconut Batter:
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; sift or whisk together to mix. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, stir the cream of coconut, milk, coconut extract, and vanilla extract together. Set aside.
  3. In a food processor or small food grinder, process the unsweetened coconut and ¼ cup sugar until the coconut is finely ground. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, remaining ¾ cup sugar, and sugar-coconut mixture until light and fluffy. Tip: To cream, start by placing the butter in the bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed begin by beating the butter about 1 minute until it is smooth and light in color. With the mixer still on medium speed, slowly add the ¾ cup sugar to the butter, either one tablespoon at a time, or in a very slow steady stream, then add the sugar-coconut mixture, taking from 4 to 8 minutes to add all of the sugars, and beating until the butter and sugars are fully incorporated and the mixture is a light, or pale yellow color, with a fluffy texture. While adding the sugars, stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly.
  5. Add the 2 egg yolks, beating until thoroughly mixed.
  6. With the mixer on low speed, add about one third of the flour mixture, mix just until the flour is almost completely blended. Scrape the bowl down, and add about one half of the milk mixture, blending just until mixed. Scrape the bowl down again and continue alternating with the flour mixture and milk mixture, ending with the last portion of the flour, and stirring just until blended. Remove bowl from mixer and Set aside.
  7. In another large mixing bowl and using clean beaters, beat the 6 egg whites with an electric mixer until foamy, add the cream of tartar, and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Using a balloon type whisk or large rubber spatula, gently fold about ¼ of the beaten egg whites into the batter to lighten the batter, and then fold in the remaining egg whites.
  8. Bake: Spoon the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a small offset spatula or the back of a large spoon. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a long toothpick, wooden skewer, or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Place pans on a wire cooling rack to cool for 10 to 15 minutes then remove cake from the pans and place the cake on the wire cooling rack to finish cooling.
Coconut Custard:
  1. In a medium size heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, flour, milk, and eggs. Cook, whisking constantly with a wire whisk until mixture is bubbly and thick, about 15 minutes. Remove pan from heat; stir in coconut and vanilla. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Tip: Coconut custard can be made the day before and refrigerated until ready to use.
Swiss Meringue Coconut Buttercream:
  1. In a small bowl, stir the cream of coconut, coconut extract, and vanilla extract together. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl of an electric stand mixer combine egg whites, sugar, and salt; place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Using a wire whisk, whisk constantly by hand until the mixture is hot, about 3 to 5 minutes. Tip: the mixture should reach about 130 degrees, using a candy or instant read thermometer to gauge the temperature, or feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips. Remove from heat.
  3. Attach the bowl to the electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium high speed for 5 to 7 minutes or until the mixture forms a thick fluffy meringue and is cool. Tip: Touch the meringue and make sure it has cooled to room temperature. Also the outside of the bowl should feel cool to the touch.
  4. Stop the mixer, remove the whisk and attach the paddle. With the mixer on medium speed add the butter, about 2 tablespoons at a time and mixing 20 to 30 seconds after each addition. While adding the butter, stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly. Slowly drizzle in the cream of coconut mixture and continue beating until the Buttercream is thick and smooth, about another 2 to 3 minutes.Coconut-Custard-Cake-slice
  5. Buttercream should be used immediately, or refrigerate until needed.
  1. Using a long serrated kitchen knife, split each cake into 2 horizontal layers.
  2. Tip: Cut one of the cake layers so that the bottom half is thicker than the top half, and use the thicker bottom half as the 1st layer to provide a good base to support the upper layers.
  3. Place the thicker bottom half of the layers on a cake plate. Using an offset spatula spread about ¾ cup Coconut Buttercream over the layer. Place another cake layer on top and spread about ½ of the Coconut Custard over the layer. Place another cake layer on top and spread about ¾ cup Coconut Buttercream over the layer then place another cake layer and spread with remaining Coconut Custard. Place the fifth cake layer on top and spread with about ¾ cup Coconut Buttercream. Place the last cake layer on top. Cover the sides and top of the cake with the remaining frosting. Spread the frosting as smooth as possible over the top and sides.Coconut-Custard-Cake
  1. To toast coconut: spread coconut on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven. Stir every 2 to 3 minutes for about 10 minutes or until the coconut is lightly browned. Remove from oven. Let cool before using. Tip: Coconut can be toasted the day before and covered until ready to use.
  2. Gently press coconut around the sides and over top of the cake.
  3. Refrigerate the cake at least 30 minutes before serving to firm the frosting before serving. Refrigerate leftovers.
Recipe Notes
Pan: Three 8" Round Layers Pan Prep: Greased, and Floured Oven Temp: 350° Storage: Cover and Refrigerate

Help: Cake Hints and Tips, Buttercream Tips

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