If you love coconut, you will love this cake. Its strong flavor and unique appearance makes it a perfect dessert. After searching for a cake to prepare for my girlfriends birthday, I found this one in the Barefoot Contessa At Home cookbook. One requirement for the birthday cake was that I have either have coconut or ginger in it (these are her favorites) so I have modified it by adding much more fresh coconut wherever possible. I hope you love coconut! Otherwise you wouldn’t even be reading this post I guess, right?!

Makes 1 large cake, serves 10 to 12


1 ½ cups         Unsalted butter at room temperature

2 cups              Sugar

5                         Large eggs at room temperature

1 ½ tsp            Pure vanilla extract

1 ½ tsp            Pure almond extract

3 cups              All purpose flour, plus a bit extra for dusting the pans

1 tsp                  Baking powder

½ tsp                Baking soda

½ tsp                Kosher salt

1 cup                 Milk

4 ounces          Sweetened shredded coconut


1 pound           Cream Cheese at room temperature (I use Philly cream cheese)

(2 x 250g packages)

1 cup                 Unsalted butter at room temperature

¾ tsp                Pure vanilla extract

¼ tsp                Pure almond extract

2 cups              Confectioners’ sugar

8 ounces         Sweetened shredded coconut, make sure it is fresh



  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Then line them with parchment paper and grease them again. Dust lightly with flour.
  • In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3-5 minutes or until light yellow and fluffy.
  • Crack the eggs in the butter mixture one at a time and mixing until each egg is incorporated.
  • Add the vanilla and almond extract and mix for 10-15 seconds. Do not be concerned if the mixture looks a bit curdled.
  • In another large bowl, whisk together the flour baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the butter mixture in three parts. First add half the dry ingredients, then all the milk, and finish with the rest of the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
  • Fold in half of the coconut with a spatula.
  • Pour the batter evenly into the 2 prepared pans and smooth the top with a spatula or knife. Bake in the center of the oven for 45-55 minutes or until the cakes are lightly golden and a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool on baking rack for 30 minutes then turn the cakes out onto the rack to finish cooling. Make sure cake is fully cooled before icing.


  • In a large bowl, mix together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and almond extract on a low speed. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until just smooth. Should not take longer than 20 seconds.


  • Place one layer on a flat serving plate, top side down, and spread with a quarter inch of frosting. Sprinkle some coconut in the middle, if desired, right now.
  • Place the second layer on top, top side up, and frost the top and sides.
  • For decoration, sprinkle the cake heavily with the remaining coconut and make sure to press the sides with coconut as well.

Take pleasure in baking this for a friend’s birthday. Best enjoyed fresh!