Christmas Coconut Cake

coconut cake

We started a new tradition this year. One of the issues of the Friend had a family making a birthday cake for Jesus. Warren loved the idea and so did I. The cake was coconut, a flavor I’d never made before. I searched high and low for a recipe and I found one I think we’ll be using for years to come.

We dimmed the lights, placed a candle on top, and sang, “Away In a Manger.” Joy the the world, the Lord is come!

Coconut Layer Cake
Bon Appétit | December 1999
The Shubox Café, Cedar Grove, New Jersey
Makes 10 servings

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup canned sweetened cream of coconut (such as Coco Lopez)*
4 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

Pinch of salt

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 cups sweetened shredded coconut

*Canned sweetened cream of coconut is available in the liquor section of most supermarkets nationwide.


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar, butter and sweetened cream of coconut in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla extract. On low speed, beat in dry ingredients and then buttermilk, each just until blended.
  2. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites with pinch of salt in another large bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold beaten egg whites into batter.
  3. Divide cake batter between prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on rack 10 minutes. Run small sharp knife around pan sides to loosen cakes. Turn cakes out onto racks and cool completely.
  4. Place 1 cake layer on cake plate. Spread 1 cup Cream Cheese Frosting over cake layer. Sprinkle 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut over. Top with second cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle remaining coconut over cake, gently pressing into sides to adhere. (Coconut Layer Cake can be prepared up to 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours before serving.)

Cook’s Notes:

  • I added 1/4 teaspoon of coconut extract to the cake batter

One thought on “Christmas Coconut Cake”

  1. I love it! Jason’s family used to do that and they called it Happy Birthday Baby Jesus. They actually sing Happy Birthday and everything. We just started the tradition with Calder this year.

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