“The truth is, I love coconut cake because I think it’s the prettiest of all the cakes. I like that it is somewhat old-fashioned in its decoration. More and more cakes are intricately decorated, covered with fondant, royal icing, gum paste flowers, and a shimmer of luster dust, which all look impressive but not much like food. This coconut cake doesn’t fuss with any of that, but rather gets slathered in delicious cream cheese and lavender frosting and then topped with sweet coconut. You don’t even need to be skilled at cake assembly and decorating. A rustic job signifies a homemade cake, and everyone knows that nothing beats a homemade cake at Sunday supper.”
— Damaris Phillips
This recipe is courtesy of Southern Girl Meets Vegetarian Boy. You can buy the book here.
Southern Girl Meets Vegetarian Boy © 2017 Damaris Phillips from Abrams
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray three 8-inch (20-centimeter) cake pans with cooking spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
Put the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides after each egg to make sure everything is getting incorporated.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until just combined. Add half of the coconut milk and mix. Continue this way until the flour and coconut milk are all added and combined. Stir in the vanilla and coconut extracts. Divide the mixture among the three cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, and the top is golden, 45 to 55 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then invert onto wire racks to remove from the pans. Let cool completely before frosting. Seriously, don’t rush this part. If you are pressed for time throw the cakes in the freezer for 20 minutes, because if they are at all warm the frosting is gonna melt right off.
In the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream together the cream cheese and butter. Add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup (125 grams) at a time. Mix in the lavender buds.
To frost and decorate the cake, level the layers if the centers are domed. Add a large dollop of frosting to one layer of cake and spread it evenly all the way to the edges. Add the second layer and frost. Add the third layer. Frost the top and then the sides of the entire cake. Press the coconut into the sides and top. Now you are ready to enjoy a huge slice with a cup of coffee or tea.