White Coconut Cake

Total Time:
4 hr 15 min
40 min
3 hr
35 min

1 (4-layer) cake

  • Rum syrup:
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup light rum
  • Splash coconut extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 cups cake flour, plus more for pans
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups baker's or superfine sugar
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • Splash coconut extract
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Coconut Buttercream, recipe follows
  • 1 cup sweetened flake coconut (long, lacy flakes)
  • Coconut Buttercream:
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 pounds (about 8 cups) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon coconut extract
  • 1 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • Pinch kosher salt
Rum syrup:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Make the rum syrup. In a small saucepan heat the water, rum, coconut extract and sugar until the sugar dissolves completely. Simmer for 5 minutes then remove from heat.

Sift together dry ingredients: cake flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. Line and grease 2 (9-inch) cake pans with butter then dust lightly with flour.

In a bench-top mixer (with the paddle attachment), cream butter and sugar until pale in color and light and fluffy - about 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula then with the mixer on low add eggs 1 at a time. Mix for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the milk, coconut and vanilla extract and mix on low until combined. Gradually add the flour mixture, scraping down the sides, if necessary. Once flour is fully incorporated stop the mixer.

Divide batter evenly amongst the 2 cake pans and bake in the center of the oven for 40 to 50 minutes until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. When done, transfer cakes to wire racks and allow to cool completely.

Remove paper lining then carefully cut each cake in half horizontally using a bread knife. Remove the domed top off 1 of the halves so you have 3 flat disks and 1 domed disk (this will be the top layer).

Assemble the cake directly on your platter by layering 1 of the disks on the plate as a base. Using a pastry brush, wet the layer evenly with the rum syrup then spread with a 1/2-inch of coconut cream. Repeat this process of wetting and spreading until you reach the 4th top layer which will be the domed disk. Place on top and lightly wet the entire cake with remaining rum mixture. Cover the rest of the cake with the frosting and sprinkle all over with coconut flakes.

Set in the refrigerator for 1 hour before serving.

Coconut Buttercream:

In a stand mixer fitted with whip attachment, whip the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar, 1 cup at a time, until fully incorporated. Add the coconut and vanilla extracts and pinch salt and blend just until incorporated. Refrigerate until needed, but no longer than 20 minutes.

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    This cake was ok. I've made better coconut cakes that were light and fluffy. A little too sweet for my taste.
    This is a cake that I have made 2 in 1 week. A real hit with all who has had some. Easy for me to make, a keeper in my box!
    Most Amazing Cake Ever!! Made this for turkey day and EVERYONE raved over this cake. My mom even wants me to make it again for Christmas. The only thing I changed was the frosting. Used the basic cream cheese frosting recipe instead. The one with this sounded way to SWEET. Also my cakes only took about 32 minutes to cook - so I would definitely cake test yours after 30 minutes just to see how it is coming along. PS This cake was awesome for breakfast the next day too =]
    i would like to see the episode DXo103 that aird on 11/13/10 8.00 am
    too perfect! it was delious!!! when my family and i made it we brought it over to my sisters house and the LOVED it !! i would TOTALLY make it again :D
    Follow the recipe in every detail and you will get yourself a great dessert.
    I have yet to prepare a recipe by Tyler that isn't a complete success.
    I made this cake during the Christmas holidays to serve at at party. I followed the recipe EXACTLY and it turned out perfectly! Everyone loved it!
    I actually made this cake TWICE. I baked the cake exactly per the instructions. The cake fell. So I immediately baked the cake again. Followed the instructions exactly as listed. The cake fell AGAIN. My bakeware is excellent (from Williams Sonoma) and I have a Viking wall oven. I think that the recipe is greatly flawed. I used cake flour as directed but there is something missing from the recipe which is needed to make the cake rise instead of turning out like a lead brick
    This cake was AMAZING! I made it for Thanksgiving 2009 and everyone LOVED it and RAVED over it! I followed the recipe almost to a "T" (I couldn't fine superfine sugar, so used regular granulated instead and ran it through my sifter). It was a beautiful, elegant cake to present after dinner! I told all my friends about it and it was highly requested for Christmas 2009! I can't wait to make it again!
    Also, I couldn't find the shaved coconut like in the recipe and picture, so I used grated instead and toasted it a little in the oven. PERFECTION! :)
    I made this cake a week after Thanksgiving. I did not alter the recipe and it was a hit! I only spinkled coconut flakes on the the top of the cake. Refrigirating the cake a day before serving is important. This allows the rum syrup to moisten the cake and the frosting to settle. It was not too sweet as other reviews indicated. My wife is not a fan of coconut cakes, but she loved this one. My friends and I really enjoyed as well. I will make this one for Christmas! Thanks Tyller for another great recipe!
    This is a really easy cake to make. The ONLY adjustment I made was making it a 2 layer cake instead of 4. It was so yummy! Everyone who tasted it loved it. It tastes great and is beautiful to look at. Make this cake! You will be so happy you did! I will make this for my mom's birthday this year. Since her birthday is in December, I will give it a wintery look by adding some blue food coloring to the buttercream frosting so the cake looks like snow and ice.
    This cake was pretty easy to make and delicious. I made it on Thanksgiving and am still hearing about it!
    I am by no means a professional or skilled baker, but, I love to bake. I followed this recipe to the letter and it came out perfect, It wasn't dry as some said it is. I don't see how when you pour the remaining liquid rum sauce over the cake. Now the butter cream frosting is a bit sweet when you first put it on but after a day it's not as sweet. I think if you have the proper tools in the kitchen such as a kitchen aid mixer. These recipes are not as difficult to attempt and understand the cooking terms. Thanks Tyler for a great recipe my family enjoyed it.
    After following the directions and ingredients exactly (except using rum extract with the proper adjustments), the cake came out really well except for one small issue... the icing was way too sweet! I was unable to finish my first piece, but I tried it again with black coffee which worked out perfectly! You definitely want to serve this cake with black coffee, or you could try putting less powdered sugar in the butter cream unless you want a really sweet icing. It was super easy to put together, especially if you have someone helping you with it. Good recipe, but be careful with the icing!
    I followed the recipe to a "T". It came out beautiful but next time I will reduce the sugar in the butter cream. I needed coffee to offset the sweetness of the cake while eating it. I'll also drench the cake with the rum sauce. It tasted dry.
    Dear Tyler Florence,
    Watched you make the White Coconut Cake on Ina's Food Thanksgiving.
    Just had to try it. Had great success, so thank you! It is superb! Thank
    you for the tip not to refrigerate over 20 minutes. Had no rum, so made
    the syrup with only the vanilla and no coconut extract. For the Butter
    Cream, I used two cups less confectioner's sugar, and added 1/4th of
    an 8 oz. regular cream cheese. It opened to rave reviews this Thanksgiving Day, and I return them to you! Thanks Tyler.
    I made this cake for Thanksgiving and it was a huge hit! Next time I would use half unsweetened cocunut. This is the most tender cake I have ever made. The buttercream is out of this world. Definitely worth the extra work!
    Tried recipe to the letter, and bricks came out of the oven. New cake flour. Known good baking powder. Sorry I tried it. Entertaining but nothing close :(
    I saw Tyler making this cake on the Thanksgiving episode and thought I must make that cake! On today I did "STEP BY STEP" and it came out just perfect! Just as it did on the show. Taste even better! Thanks Tyler for this wonderful recipe.
    For those of you who think you can give out one STAR when you don't follow the recipe exactly must be whacked out on something. Don't rate it unless you do it step by step with the ingredients listed. You know it could just be your substitutions that made it AWFUL!!!!
    I think that the person who continually gives one star to everybody's recipes is someone who doesn't know how to follow a recipe or is out to smear these cooks!!
    I saw the Thanksgiving show (looked great!) and read Susan's comment about it being rich. I am eager to try it out as a cupcake recipe. That way, people get individual portions that aren't overwhelmingly large.
    I made this cake yesterday. It is totally AWESOME! IT was pretty easy to make, there aren't alot of hard to find ingredients and the taste and texture are wonderful. There is only one drawback that I can see. It is very rich so you can only eat a small slice. I think this cake would feed at least 15 people, perhaps more. It came out so beautiful that it could be made and sold in the finest bakery. GREAT recipe Tyler and I will DEFINITELY try more of your recipes
    I watched Tyler make this on the thanksgiving dessert show and it looks so good. I just read the recipe and it would take a good cook to follow it as it is poorly written. Because I watched the show, I know where the rum syrup part ends, but it took two reads to sort it out.\

    Where was the editor on this one?
    I can't believe this only has 2 stars!! I made this today as a trial run for Thanksgiving and my family loved it! In fact, they loved it so much, there isn't any left. This is going into my "go to" pile of recipes. It wasn't hard to make (not sure why it's marked as difficult) and heavenly.
    How can you possibly rate a cake you haven't made yet? Better yet, how can you rate it if you used a completely different recipe? Come on people!

    Tyler is one of my favorite chefs on here, and I've never had anything of his not turn out fantastic. Thanks for another great recipe!
    This cake came out so dry it actually would not go down without a glass of milk,
    My cousin had to actually sop it up with milk. I realize now that every cupboard in New Orleans should have this recipe, imagine if everyone had baked this prior to Katrina the National Gaurd could have used it instead of sand bags to hold up the levies. Should be sold at Home Depot as a staple next to the cement or better yet the Coast Gaurd shoud make it manditory for all vesels to carry along with life preservers I am sure that it has quite a long shelf life.
    How can anyone who hasn't made this cake rate it at all??? And if you've changed up the recipe with your own tweaks or substituted a whole other recipe, how can you complain about this particular recipe?! This doesn't make sense at all people!!!!! I made it and it came out wonderfully!!!! Geesh!!!!!!!!!
    I too was very upset when the initial posted recipe did not match the thanksgiving special, but it is now correct and boy am I glad! This cake was way more work than I usually put into a cake but I made it for my MIL's bday and she almost cried because it was so pretty and then she tasted it and loves me even more!! It is worth the effort and I will be making this again and again exactly as printed!! YUM!
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    Thanksgiving Desserts: Pies and Beyond