Six times. I had to bake this cake six times to get it right and I’m super proud of how it’s FINALLY turned out 😄
This cake is everything anyone can dream of when thinking about a white or coconut cake. It’s SUPER soft, fluffy, moist, tender and rich and it’s just like biting into a deliciously flavoured coconut cloud. The cake is like a big, creamy pillow with a lovely scent of coconut and I’m just head over heels in love 😍
Since this is such a wonderful cake, I really want to give you guys as many tips and pointers to help guide you all to making the most amazing coconut cake on earth. I dont want to make this post too long either so let’s jump right in 🙂
First of all, let’s talk white cake. I’ve been dying to find/create the most epic white cake since forever! I wanted it to have just the right cream like texture and be as authentic to white cakes as can be meaning using only all egg whites which is exactly what this cake is.
Now white cakes are easy to make but they can be tricky at times so I’m going to talk about some of the things I did to create this cake as well as some issues that people can face when making white cakes.
- The base of this cake uses cake flour. This is not plain/self rising/all purpose flour rather it’s a flour that’s very finely milled and has less protein than other flours. This produces a very light cake. If you can’t find cake flour, there is a great flour/cornflour substitute which works very well in most cakes but I had trouble with it here. The cake is so light that when I added cornflour, I ended up tasting it in the cakes which actually gave it a ‘paste-y’ feel 😯 so instead I used another technique of making cake flour which is just removing some of the plain flour after measuring. More on that in the directions 😉
- As far as the butter and sugars go we’ll be using the reverse creaming method which just means adding the butter/eggs to the flour mix. This also goes for the dairy. Using this technique makes the cake super soft and moist which is definitely the way to go here.
- I’ve omitted the egg yolks completely here which is a source of fat and to make up for this, I’ve added sour cream. Please make sure to use full fat sour cream and coconut milk because the cake needs the fat to build it’s structure.
- My technique of making the cake so airy is to whip the egg whites seperately until stiff peaks before adding to the batter (plz check out step by step pics here).
Okay enough jibber jabber about that and let’s quickly go through the most popular issues that white cakes can cause:
- Dense or hard cake. This is one of the most common issues I’ve seen people complain about. This is caused when there is too much liquid in the cake that the flour can’t absorb it all causing the cake to be over saturated and heavy. I tried my best to make sure that doesn’t happen here so the batter is slightly thick and very fluffy.
- Cake sinking. This has a number of causes, a big one is opening the oven door too early. DO NOT open the oven door before 20 minutes of baking. Also make sure that your oven is well preheated before putting the cakes in. Under cooking the cakes can also result in sinking so make sure you cook it properly until a knife comes out with a few moist crumbs, no batter!, or clean.
- Flat tops. This is caused if your baking powder is old so make sure of the expiration dates. Another cause for this is if the egg whites haven’t been whipped properly to stiff peaks. See more about that here.
- Wet or dense bottom layer. This is a very annoying issue and one that many people have faced including myself. I know that this usually happens when A) there’s too much liquid in the batter or B) there’s not enough fat in the batter. I made sure that both of these wasn’t the cause. I realized that when I made the cake in a square cake dish it baked perfectly but when I made it in a round dish it had a thin wet layer at the bottom. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why and ended up thinking that this cake is just “shape-ist”. Then it dawned on me 😉 my square tin has higher sides so the amount of batter fit perfectly filling the tin just over half way. My round one has shorter sides and there was too much batter so the cake couldn’t cook properly. This cake makes 3 layered 9 inch cakes unless you have deep 9 inch cakes tins, at least 2 inches, only then you can make 2 layers. DO NOT over fill the cake tins, it should be half way full only because the cakes will rise.
And finally, keep in mind that this cake will ever so slightly shrink from the sides. This is what happens when baking an all egg white cake 🙂
Aight I’m done, at least for now 😂 I’ll talk more about all this in another post but for now, enjoy the most perfect coconut cake around.
The Great Coconut Cake
Makes a 3 layered 9 inch cake
- 3 cups cake flour*
- 2 tablespoons cornflour/cornstarch*
- 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups (350gms) sugar, divided
- 3/4 cup (150gms) butter, cut into pieces
- 1/4 cup (60mls) oil
- 1 cup (250mls) full fat canned coconut milk*
- 1/3 cup (80mls) full fat sour cream
- 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (optional: use 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract)
- 6 egg whites
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar (substitute with 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar) see notes***
Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
- 3/4 cup (150gms) butter
- 1 cup (8oz) cold cream cheese
- 2 – 3 cups (250 – 375gms) icing sugar
- 1 – 2 tablespoons coconut milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or coconut extract
Shredded coconut (1 – 1 1/2 cups) for topping and sides of the cake, sweetened or unsweetened (depending on preference)
- Preheat oven to 170C. Grease and flour 3 round 9 inch cake pans or if you want to make 2 layers, make sure your cake pans are at least 2 inches deep.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour, cornflour, baking powder and salt. Add in 1 cup (200gms) sugar and whisk until well combined.
- Add in the chopped butter and whisk until all the flour is moistened and mixture resembles coarse sand.
- Add in the coconut milk and whisk for 1 1/2 minutes on high speed to aerate the mixture and until it is smooth. Batter will be very thick.
- Add in the sour cream, oil and vanilla extract and whisk until combined and smooth, about 45 – 50 seconds. Set aside.
- In a seperate large clean and dry mixing bowl, add the egg whites and cream of tartar and whisk (make sure your whisk is clean and dry) until foamy, opaque in colour and starting to form soft peaks. Slowly add in the remaining 1/2 cup (100gms) sugar 1 tablespoon at a time and whisk until stiff peaks form, see here for pictures.
- Once your egg whites are ready, gently fold them to your prepared cake batter in 3 additions (see here for pictures on this step). Add the first portion of egg whites and fold in using a circular motion, folding from the outside towards the middle. Keep doing this until the egg whites are almost completely stirred in then add the rest of the egg whites in 2 addtions. Once the egg whites are all folded in, the batter will be slightly thick, creamy and smooth (and delicious 😉😂).
- Divide batter between cake pans filling each only about half way, no more than 2/3 full maximum. Bake for 20 – 22 minutes until baked through and a toothpick comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, don’t over bake. Cool cakes for 10 minutes in the cake pan then transfer onto wire racks to cool completely.
For the frosting
- Whip butter and cream cheese together until smooth and creamy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add in icing sugar in 1/2 cup increments whisking between each addition. Add in coconut milk and more icing sugar until desired consistency is reached.
- Add in vanilla or coconut to taste. Whisk in salt to taste to balance out the sweetness.
Frost the cakes with the frosting. Using your hands, pat the shredded coconut all around and on top of the cakes. Store in an airtight container.
*If you have cake flour then use the stated amount and omit the cornflour. If you don’t have or can’t find cake flour, measure 3 cups (375gms) all purpose/plain flour then remove 6 tablespoons of flour. Continue with the rest of the recipe as written above.
*Canned coconut milk is required for optimum taste and texture. You can however use homemade coconut milk. Make sure to shake the coconut milk well before using.
***Cream of tartar is used to stabilize the egg whites both when they’re being whipped to stiff peaks and as they’re baking in the oven. If you can’t find then use vinegar in it’s place or you can leave it out altogether although it is highly recommended.
Recipe by the dutch baker.