Vanilla Cake with Toasted Coconut Frosting

Recently I was hunting down some old vacation pictures and ran across these cake photos, from July 13, 2011, my husband’s, Randy, birthday. He’s always been a big coconut cake fan. This Vanilla Cake with Toasted Coconut Frosting was my quick, simplified version of a coconut cake. But as I remember, he liked it just the same.

Randy has never cared very much for overly sweet desserts (crazy, I know), so frosting only the tops of the layers gives the perfect amount of frosting for his liking. It was his birthday after all. The addition of toasted coconut not only spruces up an otherwise boring rustic attempt at cake decorating, but adds another layer of texture and the nutty perfection of toasted coconut.

In my rustic ways, I’ve started decorating most cakes this way: slathering the tops of layers with decadent frosting, sprinkled with toasted nuts, or something with a bit of a crunch. So very easy. So very satisfying. Try it with any cake flavor combinations next time you’re in need of a special cake.

I’ll be making another cake tonight for my honey to celebrate all of his wonderfulness on his birthday tomorrow.

You can bet it will involve coconut, and a stress-free approach.

Vanilla Cake with Toasted Coconut Frosting

Happy baking!

A few Vanilla Cake with Toasted Coconut Frosting notes: 

  • The cake recipe below creates a more dense textured cake, similar to pound cake, which helps to create a sturdy base if you choose to do the optional drizzling of coconut milk for each layer mentioned in the recipe. If you prefer a lighter cake, substitute your favorite recipe. 
  • The process for cake recipe below is a little different than most other cakes I bake, but it works. 
  • I’ve substituted almond extract for the this cake before for a nice nutty change. Like many pound cakes, this cake lends itself well to trying different flavorings. Lemon would be nice too!

Vanilla Cake with Toasted Coconut Frosting Recipe

Vanilla Cake with Toasted Coconut Frosting

Vanilla Cake with Toasted Coconut Frosting

Yield: 12

A simplified version of coconut cake.


For cake:

  • 2¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter, room temperature (I used salted)
  • 1 cup coconut milk, divided (regular milk may be substituted)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For frosting:

  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces cream cheese (I used ⅓ less fat.)
  • 4 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 4½ cups powdered sugar (more may be needed for correct consistency)
  • ¾-1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
  • Optional:* additional 4 tablespoons coconut milk


For cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Prepare two 9-inch round baking pans by greasing/buttering and flouring.
  2. In a mixing bowl, lightly whisk together first 4 ingredients; flour, sugar, baking powder, salt.
  3. Add butter and ¾ cup coconut milk to the mixture, and beat together until just combined. Stop to scrape sides down a couple of times. Do not over beat.
  4. In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs, remaining coconut milk and vanilla extract together. Gradually add to the flour/sugar/butter mixture, and mix until just combined. Again, do not over beat.
  5. Divide batter evenly between prepared 9-inch baking rounds.
  6. Bake at 350-degrees F for 30-35 minutes, or until cake tester or toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Let cakes cool completely before frosting.

For frosting:

  1. Mix butter, vanilla, cream cheese and coconut milk together until combined.
  2. Add powdered sugar a little at a time until desired consistency is reached. Add more coconut milk or powdered sugar, as needed, to reach desired consistency. Beat until combined well. Refrigerate until ready to frost.
  3. Frost cooled cake, topping each layer with toasted coconut.


*Optional: Before frosting cakes, using a skewer, fork or knife, gently poke a few holes in each layer and drizzle a tad of coconut milk (about 2 tablespoons for each layer) over top letting it soak in, then frost. Add top layer and repeat.

Did you make this recipe?

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