Friday, November 9, 2012

Mama's Southern Coconut Cake!

 
  
Coconut cake is just sort of a tradition in the south at holiday dinners and special occasions.  My mother makes one of the best coconut cakes you will ever taste.   She has been making this cake for years.  I am not sure how many years, but for a long time.  She used to make these and sell them during the holiday season.  I can remember our dining room table being just full of finished coconut cakes waiting in their boxes to be picked up.   She still makes one for special friends now and then, but she is basically out of the baking and catering business and she says she wants to keep it that way...lol.  I don't blame her one bit, she has worked hard all of her life.
 
Coconut cake is a big favorite in my husband's family.  I joke that my husband is the connoisseur of coconut cakes.  You could line up 10 coconut cakes and blindfold him and give him a taste test and he could tell you which cake was made by my mother and what was not quite as good about all of the others.  Not too long ago, I went to a dinner that he didn't attend and I brought him a big piece of coconut cake home from it.  As soon as he took a bite  he said, "Your mother didn't make this, did she?"   Actually, it looked pretty much like her coconut cake so I was surprised.  I asked how he knew.  He said it was the difference in the icing and the cake itself was not as moist.   Then he went on to say, "It's good, just not as good as your mother's." 
 
People always ask for the recipe for this cake and they are always surprised it starts with a cake mix, because it tastes and looks like a from scratch cake. However, the cake mix is dressed up a bit with a few family secrets.   Here is what you will need for this cake:
 
1   15.25 butter cake mix (Be sure to get the full size cake mix and not the reduced size some companies are now marketing)
3 large eggs
1 cup Sprite or 7 Up
1 stick of butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
 
Icing
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white corn syrup
3 egg whites
1 tsp. baking powder
2 cups shredded coconut
 
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
 
Mix all of the cake ingredients together with a wire whisk until well blended. Don't use an electric mixer for this.  Mama says it makes a cake dry when you beat the batter up too long. Butter and flour 2 8 inch round cake pans.  You  can use 2  9 inch cake pans, but the cake won't be as high. Divide cake batter between pans. 
Place in oven and bake for 25 minutes.
While the cakes cool, make the icing.
 
Place the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a sauce pan on medium heat.  Using a candy thermometer cook to the soft ball stage or 240 degrees, stirring constantly.  The mixture should become almost clear.   You can also do this in the microwave to make this step easier.  Cook on high for 4 minutes, remove and stir well and then cook for about 3 more minutes on high.  This could vary by a minute or two depending on the power of your microwave. It still needs to reach the soft ball stage.
 
 
  With an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the baking powder until it reaches the soft peak stage. 
 
 Slowly pour in the syrup and keep mixing until the icing stands in peaks.  This takes some time to accomplish so don't give up on it. Just keep beating it and eventually the peaks will form.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Place one of the cake layers on a pretty cake plate.
Frost the top of the first layer and sprinkle with 1/2 cup coconut.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 Place the other layer on top of the first and frost the entire cake.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
Sprinkle the rest of the coconut over the top and sides of the cake.
 
 
 
Mama's Southern Coconut Cake!


93 comments:

  1. I can't wait to try this recipe. Cocoanut is my favorite cake!

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  2. It looks delicious! I can't wait to make it for my DH. Thank you so much for sharing your momma's recipe!! Anne

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  3. Wud luv to hv some soon. Thanks/

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  4. I love your recipes.

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  5. Ummmm. Looks delicious. Will try it this weekend and let you know how mine turns out. Many thanks for recipe.

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  6. Loved my Mother's coconut cake...will definitely make this for my kids and grandkids!

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    1. This is an excellent cake. I made +
      it for Chris
      tmas



































































      I love this cake. Made it for Christmas
      and just made another one for hubby to take to work



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  7. This looks absolutely delicious......can't wait to make it for Thanksgiving....Thanks !!!

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  8. This looks soooo good. I have purchased some coconut to have a good cake , and now I have the recipe. My mom used to make this years ago for every special occasion, and girrrrl let me tell you that it was so doggone good every time.

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  9. My Mama made a delicious coconut cake every Thanksgiving and Christmas, but hers was made from scratch. The thing that made it so good eas she used fresh grated coconut and whipped cream for the frosting! YUM! YUM!

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    1. I have coconut trees in my yard and would love to use fresh coconut - how did she prepare the coconut?

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    2. First, poke holes in the "eyes" of the coconut and let the coconut milk drain out. You can use some of this milk in your batter and icing. You will then need to crack the coconut and get the inside out. Make sure you have gotten all the hull off the coconut. Then, grate the coconut by hand, using a hand grater. This makes the best coconut cake ever! I watched my parents do this as a child and now I do it. Hard work, but well worth it.

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    3. Fresh coconut cake at Christmas has been a tradition in my family for as long as I can remember. I watched my parents do this for years, as well, and then tried to do it... A lot of work!! They always poked holes in each cake layer with a toothpick, and filled them with the coconut milk. Made for a very moist, delicious cake! No one likes it in my family except my hubby & me, so regretfully,the cake making has ceased.

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  10. LOVE THIS CAKE !

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  11. oh....my....gawd......i am so making this yummy thing....my mouth iss watering just looking at it..i LOVE coconut cake too!!!!!...i can't wait to get this baked ,cooled, and iced...thank you,thank, you, thank you....maggiein logan, ohio<3.:-)

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  12. I am going to make this cake tonight one question, Can the syrup be hot or do u cool it first?

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  13. Martha, you don't cool the syrup. You just slowly pour it into the egg whites and keep beating the whole time. That's what makes it eventually get stiff enough to form peaks.

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    Replies
    1. My mother used to make me a cake with brown sugar that was made almost the same way. It was called burnt sugar sea-foam icing. have you ever tried that? That was one thing i did not learn how to do. But i am going to try this recipe. thank you.

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  14. Only one thing would make this more perfect. Lemon curd between the layers. - Linda B.

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  15. I love this kind of cake but I seldom get a piece, mostly because no one else in the family likes it and so much would go to waste. But, I have a work holiday dinner coming up that this would be perfect for and I'm going to do it! Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. Freeze it. Stays just as fresh and you can have one piece at a time.

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  16. Ok, now here is probably a stupid question but what is 15.25 butter cake mix? Can you use any other butter cake mix?

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  17. Cathy, some cake mixes have been reduced to just a little more than 10 ounces. This is not enough to fill the pans and make this cake. Just be sure to check the box and notice that it is a full 15.25 ounces. I know that Pillsbury still is.

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    1. My Mom made the frosting and called it 7 minute frosting. You can use it on other cakes and skip the coconut. It is fabulous either way. Thank you for the easy cake recipe! Soft boil stage to her was if you dropped a drop of the sugar in a cup of cold water and it was soft it was ready! No thermometer in her kitchen.

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    2. There was never a thermometer in my moms kitchen either and she made the best coconut cakes, divinity that everybody in town wanted and all kinds of other wonderful deserts.

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  18. Thank You !!! I have been looking for years for the recipe for this icing !!! They do things a little differently here in Michigan than they do where I'm from in Tennessee.. Sorry to say , but the food just isn't the same up here !

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    1. you are right, I lived in MI for 27 years? because of GM but my family was from KY and they are different and do things different!

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  19. Wondering if I can make this with a gluten-free cake mix? I love coconut cake and have never seen a recipe quite like this one. Thank you!

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  20. Thank you for the recipe, Kathy. I will definitely make it for Thanksgiving (or maybe cupcakes)...

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  21. This is just a little different than 7 minute frosting which is all combined in the pan over a hot water bath and beat continuously.

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  22. I am not sure about gluten free cake mixes, because I haven't used one, but I would think it should work. The texture of the cake might be different slightly

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  23. My mom use to freeze hers so that none of it would go bad before my dad could eat it!! Lol!!!

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  24. beautiful I am completely drooling here!

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  25. I am making this for Thanksgiving also....Coconut is my favorite....
    my stepmother makes 7-up home-ade biscuits, and they are to die for.....:-)

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  26. This is the same as my Mom use to make only Dad would grate fresh coconut. She made 2 for Christmas one year and put 1/2 of one in the freezer for later. Little did we know that it would be the last time our Dad would grate coconut for those cakes as he died in March of the next year. The afternoon of his funeral Mom brings out that cake and we all sit around eating the last of his grated coconut cake looking out over the field of potatoes that he had planted. Memories!!!

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    1. What a sweet (but bittersweet) story! I'm sure your dad would've loved knowing you all enjoyed the cake together.

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  27. My mom makes homemade biscuits out of 7-up and they are so good....

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  28. So you don't use an electric mixer to mix the cake mix and other ingredients.....

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  29. Is there something I can use instead of corn syrup? I am deathly allergic!
    Thanks
    Nancy
    http://wildoakdesigns.blogspot.com

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  30. The corn syrup is an invert sugar that doesn't crystalize so it's needed in this icing, but you could do a 7 minute icing that you cook the whole time over a water bath instead. The sweetener in it can be just sugar. It's a little harder to make than this is, but it gives you the same effect.

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  31. Kathy

    Does this yummy cake require refridgeration after making? Want to surprise hubby on Thanksgiving with it!!
    Thanks!

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  32. qUESTION...Do we not use a Mixer??

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  33. On the cake itself mix with a wire whisk, no mixer. It dries it out. On the icing, you will need an electric mixer.

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  34. Looks incredible...can't wait to try it!

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  35. Kathy,
    First let me say I adore you and your fantastic recipes. I want to make this cake for my mother, and have never used coconut before. Is there a certain kind/brand that's best? I remember as a child my grandmother using coconut from a can she kept in the freezer.

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  36. Love your recipes and photos Kathy! Want to make my first coconut cake for my mothers visit here this Christmas and need to know what kind of coconut you like to use. I remember as a child my grandmother used canned coconut she got from the freezer and wouldn't let us snack on it.

    April in S.C.

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  37. On the question of what kind of coconut to use, I think the coconut in the can is a tad fresher, but that in the bag is ok also. Mama says not to try and use freshly grated coconut that you grate yourself, because it has too much moisture in it and will compromise this frosting and it's texture.

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    1. I have used freshly grated coconut for over 50 years on my coconut cake and think it is definitely THE BEST! I use the 7 minute frosting, even spoon coconut milk on the layers prior to frosting, after poking holes with a toothpick and the fresh coconut has never compromised the frosting. Fresh coconut makes a much, much better cake then canned or bagged. It is so moist and good!

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  38. This is technically not 7 minute frosting and I do know that on some coconut cakes that aren't stacked the fresh coconut is used by some. It won't hold up as well as the coconut that is not fresh though. We have used both. If you prefer the fresh coconut and think it's best, use it. This post is for those who want to make this coconut cake recipe and don't have a recipe of their own to use.

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  39. Super ... Thanks for showing here. <3

    Greetings by
    Erica

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  40. How long does this icing hold up? Would it last several days? Also, some said they froze it and I have not done that, does it work with this icing? Thanks, love coconut.

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  41. Making this soon. Excellent recipe. Thank you.

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  42. GrandDottie the icing holds up for as long as the cake is fresh enough to eat...up to a week or so. I would not freeze this cake once it is frosted.

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  43. Thanks, Kathy. Wonderful, since some icings don't hold up that long. Although I've made many coconut cakes in the past your Mama's recipe looks so yummy. I say that same thing you do about some of my mama's recipes - mine just don't taste like when she made them.

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  44. store bought cake how about scratch?

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  45. I love coconut!!!! I am always looking for a better coconut cake recipe but now it has to be Gluten Free (GF). Maybe when I get moved in I can try this one , thanks !

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  46. Made this today & it does look yummy!

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  47. A friend sent me the link to this after I asked for a recipe for coconut cake. I have a couple of questions: 1) I do not have a candy thermometer - can you explain more what the soft ball stage looks like? 2) Do you use sweetened or unsweetened coconut?
    Thank you!

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  48. My Mother and Grandmother use to grate the coconut too, and they made the same icing. This makes my mouth water to see your pictures, guess I am a little chicken to try the icing but might give it a whirl... love me some coconut cake!! Thanks

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  49. Could you use a 9X13 pan? Or a bundt or angel food type pan?

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  50. I use fresh coconuts. Drain the juice and heat. Poke holes in the cake with a toothpick or wooden skewer and drizzle the coconut milk slowly so it soaks through the holes. I grate the fresh coconut and sprinkle over the top and sides after frosting.

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  51. Very good cake will worth the time to make! Yummy

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  52. This is a scrumptious cake! Just for something different, I also make it with a lemon curd filling between layers. The contrast of flavors if wonderful! Try it for something a little different every so often..

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  53. Anyone know what I could substitute the butter cake mix for, in the UK? Thanks! :)

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  54. Anyone know what I could substitute the butter cake mix for, in the UK? Thanks! :)

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  55. I see she use a form of White Mountain Creme as the Frosting and that is my absolute favorite frosting for a Coconut Cake. I also like it with Lemon Curd between the layers. Found a quick method for the Lemon Curd that I love, because it is so much quicker and basically fail proof. But I will eat coconut Cake any way one makes it, also like it with sour cream, whipping cream allowed to sour.

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  56. Actually my grandmothers recipe from the South (Tenn) we had to crack and shred the coconut. Each layer of the made from scratch cake she would pour a little of the coconut milk over it and she would also use that 7 minute frosting that you do. Talk about moist and delicious......Top of the line

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    1. That's exactly the same as my Moms!

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  57. This looks extremely delicious but how do you "Sprinkle the rest of the coconut over the [...] sides of the cake."?

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  58. I used a mixer on the icing (non-stop) for a good 18 minutes before peaks started to form. Like the recipe says, keep mixing ... and mixing... and mixing.

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  59. The icing does take what seems like a long time to form peaks sometimes. Just keep going.

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  60. If you do not have access to a butter cake mix or want to make a butter cake from scratch, use the cake recipe that is used for the Southern Caramel Cake here on the site.

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  61. Can you tell me why my cake layers break into. I CAN NEVER MAKE A LAYER CAKE BECAUSE IT BREAKS AND SLIDES OFF. THIS CAKE LOOKS SO GOOD BUT AM AFRAID TO MAKE IT BECAUSE I KNOW IT WILL BREAK INTO. HELP

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    1. As to why your cake layers crack . . . before you start stacking and frosting, do you make sure the layers are flat? This could be a solution. Use either a serrated knife or a string and slice off the dome that usually is on top of the cake after baking. That should help your layers to not crack when stacked. Hopefully this will help you.

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    2. If you bake at 325 you will get a more level cake and have less of a crown to trim off. I've made wedding cakes for 40 years and always bake at 325 so I don't have to trim and throw away the crowns.

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  62. Thanks for sharing your recipe! I think I'll try it for Easter!

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  63. what can I use if I am out of eggs?

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  64. Looks just like my Mom's! She used coconut milk in it also.

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  65. BURNT SUGAR FROSTING
    Pour 3/4 cup sugar into large heavy skillet. Cook and stir constantly over low heat until sugar melts and begins to turn a dark golden color; gradually stir in 3/4 cup boiling water. Cook and stir over low heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil; boil and stir 2 minutes. Cool completely. Cream 3/4 cup butter in large mixer bowl. Add 2 egg yolks; blend well. Add 6 cups confectioners' sugar and sugar syrup, reserving 2 tablespoons syrup; beat to spreading consistency. Frost cake; drizzle with reserved syrup.

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  66. A dear man in our church makes the best coconut cake ever and he never does reveal his recipe. I think I just found it! It looks and sounds just like what I've been looking for! Thanks so much! I'm going to try this for Easter Sunday dinner!

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  67. I made this cake today. I have not tasted it yet but it looks ok, not as pretty as the one pictured here that you made Kathy. I failed on the icing as it never did thicken, but I added powdered sugar and then some melted marshmallows to the bowl and mixed. This thickened the mixture enough that at least I had icing to put on the cake. I may use the cake recipe itself again, but not this icing recipe since I obviously am not experienced at this task. I've never made any type of candy before so I had no comparison as to what a softball form was. I think I did not "cook" the syrup base long enough. Not sure.

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  68. I made this cake for today's Easter dinner. Turned out very well..thank you for the recipe :)

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  69. I made this cake for Easter. For some reason the cake stuck to the pans. I literally had to scoop the layers out of the pans with a spatula and hold the crumbled pieces together with icing and coconut. So sad :( Any ideas why it stuck to the pan? I greased/floured the pans like always.... and used the same pans I always use when baking layer cakes.

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  70. Hi Kathy...when you beat the egg whites,does the syrup mixture need to be completely cooled,before you add to egg whites?? I sure do love coconut cakes,thank you so much for sharing this recipe with us...God Bless You...

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  71. No, you do not cool the syrup before you add it to the egg whites. Just stream it in and beat the whole time. You have to beat this for what seems like a long time to get the right consistency. If you have a stand mixer, it's a blessing for this.

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    1. Do you us the butter in the cake mix or just to butter the 2 pans?

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  72. Do you use the melted butter in the cake mix or to butter the 2 pan it said to butter and flour the pans but that is a lot of butter for 2 pans.

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  73. I make my mothers coconut from scratch, It is so moist..Make it day before eat it....Longer it sets more moist it gets.....I don't beat it long, but do use mixer on it just enough to mix up well...I also use whit frosting I make...I mix sugar and karo in boiler let it just come to boil, take off start pouring into three egg whites that have been slightly beathen..Let it run until it stand from beaters..alone when raise beaters from bowl.....Been making this a long time and never have had it fail..(icing)...Now my Mom made old seven minute icing on stove....But this taste just good....And lot easier to make....

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  74. Has anyone every used pineapple in this recipe? Sounds like it would be really good with pineapple. If any does or has let me know how it turns out.

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