Coconut Cake with 7-Minute Frosting

Total Time:
1 hr 40 min
1 hr
40 min

1 cake

  • 1 coconut, see Cook's Note
  • For the cake:
  • Vegetable oil, for cake pan
  • 14 1/4 ounces cake flour, plus extra for pans, approximately 3 cups
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh coconut cream
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 16 ounces sugar, approximately 2 1/4 cups
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup coconut water
  • For the 7-Minute Frosting:
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 12 ounces sugar, approximately 1 3/4 cups
  • 1/3 cup coconut water
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Grated coconut from 1 coconut, approximately 8 to 10 ounces
For the 7-Minute Frosting:

Cook's Note: To open a coconut: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the coconut onto a folded towel set down in a large bowl. Find the 3 eyes on 1 end of the coconut and using a nail or screwdriver and hammer or meat mallet, hammer holes into 2 of the eyes. Turn the coconut upside down over a container and drain the water from the coconut. Store the water in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Place the coconut onto a 1/2 sheet pan and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven. The coconut should have cracked in several places. Using an oyster knife or other dull blade, separate the hard shell from the brown husk. Using a serrated vegetable peeler, peel the brown husk from the coconut meat. Rinse the coconut meat under cool water and pat dry. Break the meat into 2 to 3-inch pieces. With the grater disk attached to a food processor, grate the coconut.

For the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil 2 (9-inch) cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper. Oil the parchment paper and then flour the pan. Set aside.

Place the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.

Combine the coconut milk and coconut cream in small bowl and set aside.

Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer and using the paddle attachment, cream on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Decrease the speed to low and gradually add the sugar slowly over 1 to 2 minutes. Once all of the sugar has been added, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides. Turn the mixer back on to medium speed and continue creaming until the mixture noticeably lightens in texture and increases slightly in volume, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the coconut extract.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the milk mixture to the butter and sugar in 3 batches, ending with the milk mixture. Do not over mix.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the batter, just until combined. Divide the batter evenly between the pans and bang the pans on the counter top several times to remove any air and to distribute the batter evenly in the pan. Place in the oven on the middle rack. Bake for 40 minutes or until the cake is light golden in color and reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees F.

Cool the cake in the pans for 10 minutes then remove and transfer to a cooling rack. Once the cakes have cooled completely cut across the equator of each to form 4 layers. Place the 1/3 cup coconut water into a small spritz bottle and spray evenly onto the cut side of the 4 layers. If you do not have a spritz bottle you may brush the coconut water on with a silicone pastry brush. Allow to sit while preparing the frosting.


Bring 1 quart of water to a boil in a 4-quart saucepan over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium to maintain a steady simmer. In the meantime, place the egg whites, sugar, coconut water, cream of tartar and salt into a medium size-mixing bowl. Place the bowl over the simmering water and immediately begin beating with an electric hand mixer set to low speed. Beat for 1 minute and then increase the speed to high and continue to beat for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and beat in the coconut and vanilla extracts for 1 minute. Allow the frosting to sit for 5 minutes before using.

Place approximately 3/4 cup of the frosting on the first layer of cake, sprinkle with 1/2 cup coconut and top with the next layer. Repeat until you reach the top layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake and sprinkle with the remaining coconut. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

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    Truly is one of the best, but I get stumped because these measurements are shady. 14 1/4 oz is approximately 3 cups? (So they say!?) 14 1/4 is not even 2 cups.
    Dry measure is different than wet measure. One cup of liquid is eight liquid ounces. In this recipe, 14.5 oz will fill almost three dry cups. Experiment foe yourself with different ingredients such as flour, nuts, dried fruit, peanut butter. First fill the measuring cup with the product, then weigh it. White sugar will weigh less than brown sugar. Every kitchen should have a scale ready to use.
    I have made this cake several times in the last five years and it has only failed me once - when I had a bad coconut and didn't realize it. This cake is amazing and SO delicous. It is a labor of love, especially the first time you make it, but worth every minute. It has become our family's special occasion cake and was even our main cake at our rehearsal dinner when we got married. AMAZING!!!
    The best coconut cake I have EVER made!! My favorite cake and this recipe is my go to Coconut cake recipe!
    This was a great recipe..First time making all of this from scratch and it was excellent. The frosting (a first time for me) was very good and smooth, did taste like a marshmallow but I like that. All said and done 5 stars and I'll be making this again for sure.
    I was looking for a seven-minute frosting recipe, and this one has been foolproof. Works every time, has a great marshmallow-like flavor, and holds up without weeping.
    This has to be the best cake I've ever had! I did not change ANYTHING and it came out perfect. I will say for those who failed at making this cake, don't blame Alton Brown. If something is missing from the recipe on this website, it is not his fault. I would recommend in the future you just watch his episodes of "Good Eats". He tells you how to make all his recipes step-by-step. None of his recipes have failed me... I'll miss you Alton!
    On the whole I liked it. I had to bake the cake longer than called for to have it set properly (oven calibration?, I think I let it go an extra 4 minutes, my issue is that I felt the icing was too sweet, it overpowered the rest of the flavors. I may try it again with another type of frosting. It did make quite the impression though. 
    Delicious! When I first saw this episode, I laughed and said who would go through all of these homemade steps? Well, then we decided to take the challenge and the results are amazing. This cake is a whole lot of work, but you can spread the tasks out and then pat yourself on the back afterwards. Coconutty goodness! 
    I made this to take to my girlfriend as her mothers day present.her favorite cake is coconut.spent all afternoon in the kitchen.followed this recipe to the letter.was totally embarrassed when she served the cake after our barbeque.she could hardly get a knife through was so very dry.DO NOT MAKE THIS CAKE.there are five stars for rating this does not deserve even 1.
    I LOVE this recipe. This cake is yummy, and like many other people have said, it's just like what Grandma used to make. I found it helpful to watch the episode for this recipe. Sure, it takes a full day to make it, but when I want to show my friends and family how much I love and appreciate them this is the cake I make. This cake also freezes well.
    My mom is originally from the South & has been on a quest to find a coconut cake that tastes just like her grandma's. Most recipes/bakeries only use coconut in the frosting or coconut extract in the cake & weren't quite right. This recipe was spot-on. My mom LOVED the cake & is now requesting it for all future birthdays. Here's the thing: I definitely cheated when making this. No way I was going to bake a coconut & make homemade coconut cream. I would have been in the kitchen for days! I used store bought coconut milk (whole fat, coconut cream (trader joes makes a great one, & coconut water (100% coconut water. I also used a blend of unsweetened & sweetened coconut flakes. It still took a while but I think that's because I am not a baker by nature & was nervous about messing up. If you take the shortcuts I did, I think it would be easy after a couple times. The frosting is amazing. The cake is super-rich so a small piece is all you need!
    i have tried many coconut cake recipes and NONE compare to this. yes, it is time consuming, but i would not call it hard. i am not a baker, and it turned out perfect. i've dealt with coconuts before, in my quest for the perfect cake, so i know a good one from a bad one, that is helpful! i've cooked with bad ones, and dense, odd texture, etc... is what you get.
     made this for about 3 Christmases, and everyone can't wait for it, a big hit!!
     now, the icing. well it didn't turn out well, and didn't hold up over time, i think that is probably me and not the recipe. i have tried for 3 years, and stuggle every year. i need one that will hold on for about 4 days at least, we cannot finish this cake in one sitting. i am thinking of trying another receipe. does anyone have any ideas? i want the one to be similar in that it uses the coconut flavors IN the icing, not just on top!
    i love this recipe , the flavor its just awesome , and the cake is sooo moist i really recomend this cake its a lil hard to make but its worth all of it
    I made this cake for my dad who is the ultimate coconut fanatic. He made the comment that he missed his grandmother's coconut cake. I found this recipe, made it, and he swears it tastes identical to hers. Now, it's demanded I make it at every family get together. Thanks Alton for this recipe! Everyone in our family, especially my dad, loves it!
    The most awesomest cake ever~! Thanks Alton. After reading the reviews I cut out 25% of the sugar from the cake and frosting and it was still plenty sweet. Light, fluffy and now .... gone.
    I have made this Great Cake for special occasions, always a hit. I'm known for making the best Coconut Cake! Every time I make it, it gets better and better. 
    It does take extra time to make it, but so worth it..Your instructions are excellent!  
    Thanks for the recipe
    I love sweets and Alton Brown, but this cake and frosting are too sweet! Do yourself a favor and think about using 1/2 the sugar listed, particularly in the frosting.
     Also, if you cant find any cream of tartar, you can skip it. However you will have to whip the egg whites seperatly (not over heat while melting the suggar in the coconut water (use less coconut water accordingly if you are using less suggar. Then beat the melted suggar into the beaten egg whites, else you will end up with a goop less solid than Fluffernutter.
    It's tough to get this cake to cook all the way through without falling in the middle. The icing is really sweet, but makes a beautiful finish. A solid cake.
    Thank you Alton! I made this for my Mom's 60th Birthday because she loves coconut cake. This was my second time making a cake from "scratch". This cake was very good. It does take some time to make, so make sure you have it planned out! Moist, delicious, and sweet! Just like a cake should be!
    I've wanted to make this for a long time - ever since I watched that episode. It is daunting and not for the weak to attempt this recipe, but the result is so worth it. I will make this again.
    WOW! Loved it, definitely helped to watch the show while I was doing it. Took it to work for a birthday party & everyone raved
    I used coconut sugar (palm sugar it's dry and less sweet, I think next time I try this recipe I will do half palm sugar and half raw honey and see how that turns out. For the commentors who said this recipe was too sweet, I definitly recommend giving this a try : Since I didn't follow the recipe I don't want to rate it but i guess I have to...
    I have made is recipe many times. This is one of my hubby's all time favorites. It is very sweet, but very good. It is very time consuming, but if you break it up into a few days, it makes it much easier and more enjoyable to make. If you are new to baking, this may not be the cake to start out with. If you are a seasoned baker, this cake is no sweat and very well worth the work!
    After reading numerous reviews on the cake not rising enough, I added one egg white. I took care with each step of the recipe. I did not overwork the gluten in the batter, and gingerly folded in the egg whites (in two batches. 
    The cakes were perfect in every way EXCEPT (even with the extra egg white they did not rise as high as the MANY cakes I have baked from scratch. The frosting, extract, coconut milk/cream, were good, but reviewers are not kidding when they say the frosting is cloyingly sweet. It performed as promised but is like a very sweet marshmallow fluff.  
    Since I am not from the South, perhaps I cannot truly appreciate this cake so I will chalk this up to my expectations being out of whack. I expected a lighter cake and got a dense moist cake. I will use the great tips on working with fresh coconut to tweak my recipes to create a coconut cake that is more in line with what I had hoped for. I will not be making this specific cake again. But I still love Alton.
    Love Alton, but this cake is not my favorite! It is extremely extremely sweet and absolutely not easy to bake.
    This cake tastes amazing! It is well worth the effort! I will say it does take some skill to make it!
    After reading everyone's reviews, I was quite disappointed with this cake. I had to make a different icing because when I attempted the 7-minute frosting, it never got thick enough to put on the cake. It was very runny. The layers were OK but I have had much better. Very disappointed with result.
    Best coconut cake ever! I took this cake to the office and everyone raved about it. There wasn't a crumb left. I did not use fresh coconut but instead used canned coconut milk, coconut water, coconut cream, and coconut extract. And instead of spritzing the cake with coconut water, I used coconut milk. The cake was very moist although it did have a very dense texture as other reviewers noted. I cooked my cake exactly 40 minutes, which was just right. The outside of the cake formed a hard crust that was wonderfully crunchy. The icing was superb, too. It was glossy, shiny, just the right density and was the perfect complement to the cake. This is going to be my go-to cake recipe for special occasions.
    I've made this recipe a couple of times and I have the same results each time~~total happiness all around. I takes a while if you are doing this from scratch but it is unbelievably worth it!
    This was just wonderful. I bought coconuts (for the first time made the coconut cream and the coconut milk and used the 7 minute frosting. All I can say is WOW. the cake did take me two days to make but it was well worth the effort. I did not beat the egg white to soft peaks I just dumped the in (I forgot and my 10 year old was helping at the time.She like to seperate eggs. It still turned out great.
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