This classic coconut cake is a family favorite with it’s fresh coconut and moist texture. It’s the perfect dessert for Easter Sunday or any spring gathering!
What is it about fresh coconut that makes me think of Easter and cute little bunnies? Anytime I have my grandma’s coconut cake I instantly jump to Easter Sundays. Although my grandma has been gone for many years now, her recipes lives on. She was a wonderful cook and baker. Her cakes have always been some of my favorite recipes of hers, one being her classic coconut cake. I’m not typically a big fan of coconut cakes or cakes in general, but this one is an exception. Maybe it’s the freshly grated coconut or the moist sponge of this cake that make it so delicious, either way it’s worth the extra effort that is required in making it. It’s snow white appearance and light flavor make it a perfect dessert for any spring gathering!
As I said before, it does take a little extra effort. This cake uses on freshly grated coconut. I know it’s a pain but friends it’s worth it! I typically crack and grate the coconut the night before and store it in the fridge to break up the work.
This cake would also look quite beautiful as a “naked” cake. Personally I love the sweetness of the icing and coconut along the outside. It’s delish no matter what method you choose.
Grandma's Classic Coconut Cake
- 1 cup butter (softened)
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs (beaten)
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 cups self-rising flour
- 1 cup milk
- 3 whole coconuts (grated)
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk
- 4 cups confectioners sugar (sifted)
Using a drill, drill a hole into the top of your coconuts. Drain the juice of each coconut into their own glasses. Set aside for late. (In case a coconut has gone bad your juices are in separate glasses for easy tossing.)
Grate the coconut on a small grate. Set aside. (Once you get down to pieces too small to grate, use a food processor to shred them.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 3 - 9 inch pans or use 2 - 9" pans and use remaining batter for a few cupcakes. You can also use parchment paper in the bottom of the pans to prevent sticking. This is what I do most of the time.
Beat together the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs and mix until combined.
Add half the flour and then the milk. Mix in the last bit of flour just until combined.
Fill each pan half full and place in the oven. Bake for 32-35 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean. Rest in the pans for a couple of minutes and then turn out onto a cooling rack.
Prepare the icing by mixing the evaporated milk and powdered sugar in a bowl. Stir until smooth.
Starting with the first layer sprinkle a small amount of reserved coconut juice onto the cake. Add a generous amount of icing to the top and then cover in grated coconut. Add the second cake layer and repeat.
Lastly, spread the icing around the sides of the cake and cover in grated coconut.
Our family makes this cake at Christmas as well but for Easter I thought it would be quite cute to add a couple of bunny ears. It looks like a bunny with all of the coconut after all. For the ears I simply used white card stock and free handed the shape of a bunny ear and used it to trace the second ear so that they were identical.
This cake is typically a 9″ three layer cake. This time I made only two layers and reserved the rest of the batter for a few cupcakes. Cupcakes are always fun for kids, so that’s always an option with this recipe.
The nature of this cake is to be messy. The perfectionist in me always cringes while making it. I want it to be just so so. If that sounds like you too you might find it to be a challenge getting the icing and coconut on the cake just right. I always have to let that go when baking this cake. It;s messy and imperfect but oh so good! I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does and have a wonderful spring season. Happy baking!