Magnolia Bakery Cookbook Coconut Layer Cake

A few months ago I bought The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook: Recipes from the World-Famous Bakery and Allysa Torey’s Home Kitchen.

There were so many good recipes, it took me weeks just to settle on something. That someting turned out to be the coconut cake, which is one of Todd’s favorite desserts. 

Like a lot of cakes in the book, this one is made with two kinds of flour – self-rising and all purpose. I’m not exactly sure why they use the flour-combo, butI think self-rising flour is made with a softer wheat, so it might be their way of approximating the type of flour they use in their bakery.  I normally don’t keep both types around, but I found some self-rising in the bottom of the deep freeze and was good to go.

The cake was very moist, tight crumbed and flavorful. The coconut filling was tasty, but not too rich. The frosting was an Italian meringue style frosting which is the kind that’s made with whipped egg whites and a hot sugar syrup.  If you’ve never made it, it can be a little intimidating, but Magnolia cookbook’s directions were so well-written that I had no problems and think I’d use their icing again on other things. 

The complete coconut layer cake recipe is on David Leite’s site and a few other spots on the web, but since I halved the recipe and baked it in two 8 inch round pans rather than three 9 inch round pans, I’ve gone ahead typed up my adapted version. Halving the cake and filling worked perfectly.  As for the frosting, I made the full batch and had some left over. 

Magnolia Bakery Coconut Cake

1/2 cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cups self-rising flour
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 ounces milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 of a seven-ounce package sweetened, shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

Sweetened, shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Spray 2 8-inch round cake pans with flour-added cooking spray. If you have some parchment paper, line bottoms with 8 inch rounds. I did this and it helped prevent the cake from sticking. It might not be necessary, though.

In a large bowl, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the flours and add in four parts, alternating with the milk and the vanilla extract, beating well after each addition. Divide the batter among the cake pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Let cakes cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.

In a medium-size saucepan (I used a heavy duty All-Clad pan), whisk the milk with the sugar and the flour until thoroughly combined. Turn heat to medium-high and cook and whisk constantly over medium-high heat (about 5 minutes) until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat and add the coconut. Stir in the vanilla extract. Cover and cool to room temperature.

Spread filling between the two layers of cake. Prepare frosting.

In a stand mixer bowl, combine the egg whites and the vanilla extract and set aside. In a medium-size saucepan over high heat, combine the water with the sugar and the cream of tartar. As mixture begins to bubble at edges, stir once to make sure the sugar is dissolved completely, then let come to a rolling boll (about 2 to 3 minutes) and remove immediately from heat.
In a medium-size bowl, on the medium-high speed of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and the vanilla extract with the whisk attachment until foamy, about 1 minute.

Without turning off mixer, pour the sugar syrup into the beaten egg whites in a thin, steady stream. Continue beating constantly, on medium-high speed, for about 5 minutes or until stiff peaks form but frosting is still creamy. Frost top and sides of cake immediately. Generously sprinkle top with shredded coconut.

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  1. Louise says

    Coconut cake is probably my favorite too. I’ll have to try this recipe and I have the Magnolia books. I’ve been hooked on Ina Garten’s coconut cake, but I replace some butter and milk with coconut milk. I also love Italian meringue style frosting so the Magnolia cake is very appealing. Please send a piece of cake and I’ll write about it’s shelf life. 🙂

  2. says

    Louise, good thing you mentioned shelf life. One note in the book says “Tastes best the day it’s made” or something like that. We liked it the first day, but it was also good on Day 2. I think today will be its last day.

  3. says

    Mmm, so far the boys aren’t big on coconut, but I love it. We’re posting coconut tea cake for TWD tomorrow. I made little mini bundts. They were good.
    The picture of your whole cake with two berries on top look like eyes! 😉

  4. says

    That looks SO delicious, I love coconut!

  5. Suzy says

    I asked my mom to make me a Paula Deen coconut cake for my birthday, and instead she got distracted when researching self-rising flour and found a different recipe. So she made me this dense, lemon curd, 7-minute frosting thing with coconut added as an afterthought that no one in the family would eat more than one piece of. It was just not good. Obviously I will be making my own cake from now on, and this may be it! Looks like just what I wanted!

  6. says

    Mmm… I wish I wasn’t the only coconut lover in my family! That looks delicious. I love the merignue type frosting. mmm….

  7. says

    That’s a 7 minute frosting!!
    OK. You sold me! Anything with that frosting (hardly anyone makes it anymore) is tops with me. And coconut?? Oh yeah!

  8. Jennie says

    Hello Anna!
    So funny that you posted a coconut cake today! Yesterday at lunch a friend was raving about one she had while on vacation in FL. It made me hungry for coconut!! The coconut M&M’s didn’t settle the craving!
    I may need to make this tomorrow.
    THANKS!! 🙂

  9. Amanda says

    ooooooo yummy! I bet that was fabulous! I’m the only one here who appreciates coconut :-/ Maybe I could scale this down or just share with the neighbors ;0)

  10. says

    Gorgeous Anna, simply sinful. I absolutely adore Coconut Layer Cake.

    Thank you so much for sharing. It sure would make a wonderful cake for Easter.

  11. says

    I looked at the book the other day at the bookstore, but I was searching for Magnolia’s sugar cookie. This is the one I love…and the recipe is not in the book! Damned!

  12. Marie says

    I made coconut cake last Sunday for my mom’s birthday. I used this recipe: My dental hygenist had given it to me more than a year ago. I’ve been wanting to try it for a long time. I made it in 3 layer pans. It was outstanding! My lemon curd could have been just a little thicker; but the cake was wonderful and moist. it was a lot of work; but worth it.

  13. says

    Your cake looks fabulous; very delicious, I’m sure! I love coconut and am always on the lookout for a great coconut cake recipe ~ and I have found one! That cookbook is a must also! Thanks for the recipe!

  14. says

    This looks like a delicious recipe. I have tried to make coconut cake before but it failed to have full flavor. I would like to try this recipe out to get the full coconut experience.

  15. SHAZ says

    OMG…The cake is moist and old fashion…like your gran would make, the frosting is perfect….
    one slice at the bakery feeds 4….

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