Coconut Custard Cake

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This Coconut Custard Cake is a vanilla cake flavored with coconut and layered with a decadent creamy coconut custard and frosted with cream cheese frosting. Cover this cake with shredded coconut for the ultimate coconut cake.

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A closeup of a layered coconut cake on a white rimmed plate, the cake stand is blurred out in the background

This recipe was originally posted in 2016 and has been updated in 2019.

I first got to try this cake at Croissant Bakery in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina during a retreat I attended in 2016. Heidi, the owner of Croissant Bakery also wrote a wonderful cookbook, and I just couldn’t wait to share this recipe with you. It’s a coconut lover’s dream.

This Coconut Custard Cake is a vanilla cake flavored with coconut rum and coconut cream. It’s layered with a decadent creamy coconut custard and frosted with cream cheese frosting. To finish it off, this cake is covered toasted coconut for the ultimate coconut cake. There’s no shortage of calories here.

It’s been years since I made this cake and I wanted photograph it again and add some helpful tips for making this cake because it’s such a popular recipe. Needless to say, I treated myself to more than one slice.

A close up shot of a coconut cake on a marble cake stand draped with a vintage stripe napkin

The texture of the cake is so light and delicate because it uses cake flour. Normally I don’t make with cakes using cake flour, but it really makes for such a great texture.

The filling is a simple coconut custard, which I could just eat it with a spoon. It’s made with heavy whipping cream, butter and sugar and of course, shredded coconut.

You will mix some of the heavy cream with the corn starch in a small dish. Make sure it’s a liquid consistency because it will better incorporate into the custard and prevent any clumps of corn starch in the filling.

When I pulled it off the stove, it was thick but still a liquid consistency. As it cooled it thicken to the point where I could spread it with a knife.

I actually made it ahead of time and refrigerated it over night before I used it. In order to spread it easily, I let it sit out for about 30 minutes before using it, but if it still is too thick to spread, pop it in the microwave for less than 30 seconds. It shouldn’t be too warm.

A slice of coconut cake laying on a white plate with a few bites missing, a gold fork laying on the plate has a bite of cake on it

The original cake is 4 layers. It was two 9-inch cakes split in half. I decided to use three 8-inch pans instead. So, I had a little bit of leftover filling and frosting.

When it comes time to frost the cake, you’ll be making a traditional cream cheese frosting, but you will not need a lot of powdered sugar. Once you have the cake coated in frosting, use your hands to pat the coconut onto the sides and top of the cake.

This cake is pretty massive, but it’s insanely good and worth the effort.

A tall slice of coconut layer cake on a white plate

Helpful tips for making this Coconut Custard Cake

    • Measure your dry ingredients. This is really important when you’re baking from scratch because improper measurements can really throw off a recipe. This is my favorite scale, I use it all the time.
    • For the cake flour, go to the brand’s website, look up the weight in grams for 1 cup of cake flour to determine the final weight you need for the flour. In my research, there isn’t a straight forward weight for cake flour and it differs by brand. The brand I used was Swan’s Down and 1 cup is equal to 100 grams.
    • Start with softened butter, at least 30 minutes at room temperature. Cut you butter into cubes about 1 tablespoon each to help the butter soften faster.
    • The recipe calls for the butter and sugar to be beaten for 4-5 minutes, don’t skip this step
  • If you don’t have coconut rum, you can substitute with spiced rum

A wooden and marble cake stand with a 3 layer coconut cake sitting on it

Helpful tips for baking this Coconut Custard Cake

  • Do not use bake even stripes when baking this cake, it doesn’t work with this recipe and causes the center of the cake to bake very weird.
  • In order to bake even cakes, measure your batter. I used about 2 ¼ cup of batter per pan. There’s a lot of batter in the bowl, so remix frequently and you’re measuring out the batter
  • This cake will shrink, I made it 4 times and each one shrank, as this is not my original recipe, I am not sure how to adjust it to prevent the shrinking.
  • I rotate my pans in the oven halfway through baking because the bake of my oven is a hot spot, that the cakes bake more evenly. Not all layers will bake for the same amount of time, if one of your layers is done before the others, pull it out of the oven to prevent over baking.

A closeup of a layered coconut cake on a white rimmed plate, the cake stand is blurred out in the background

Helpful tip for decorating this cake

  • Both the frosting and the filling can be prepared ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator. The cream cheese frosting was still very much spreadable even after sitting the fridge overnight.
  • If you find your cream cheese is still too thick, just let it sit out with filling for 30 minutes before using.
  • Use your hands to shave off any hard edges or crusts on the outside edge of your cake
  • You will have a little bit of leftover frosting and filling since this was originally a 4-layer cake and I turned it into a 3-layer cake. Don’t overfill your layers.
  • If you prepared the coconut filling ahead of time and refrigerated it, it might be a little too firm to spread. So, pop it in the microwave for 15-25 seconds until it’s a spreadable consistency. It should not be warm when you spread it.
  • Pipe a boarder of frosting around the outside edge of the cake before you fill the center with the coconut custard.
  • This is frosted with a rustic, thin layer of cream cheese frosting. That’s okay because we’re covering it in coconut.
  • Toasting the coconut is optional, but I love the texture it provided.

A wide shot of a coconut cake on a marble cake stand draped with a vintage stripe napkin

Do I need to use cake flour?

Yes, you do have to use cake flour for this recipe. Cake flour and all-purpose flour are not the same. Cake flour has a lower protein content, but bakes up very light and tender cakes.

If you do not have cake flour, you can make a homemade cake flour substitute.

Where do I buy coconut cream?

Coconut milk and coconut cream are not the same thing. Coconut milk is much thinner and a more liquid consistency. Coconut cream is thicker. Both are usually found in the Asian food section at the grocery store. My preferred brand is Thai Kitchen, as it’s the most readily available.

I have baked this recipe with coconut milk when I have not been able to find coconut cream.

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A wide shot of a coconut cake on a marble cake stand draped with a vintage stripe napkin

Coconut Custard Cake and Blog N Bake Retreat

  • Author: Julianne Bayer
  • Prep Time: 60 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 12 slices

Description

This Coconut Custard Cake is a vanilla cake flavored with coconut and layered with a decadent creamy coconut custard and frosted with cream cheese frosting. Cover this cake with shredded coconut for the ultimate coconut cake.

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 11 tablespoons (158g) unsalted butter
  • 2 ½ cups (475g) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups (355ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup coconut cream
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) coconut (or spiced) rum
  • 2 ½ cups (250g) cake flour (I used Swans Down)
  • 4 teaspoons (15g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) salt

For the filling:

  • 1 ¼ cup (296ml) heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 4 teaspoons  (13g) corn starch
  • 1/2 cup (114g) unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup (142g) granulated sugar
  • 2 ¼ cups (170g) shredded coconut, sweetened
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

For the icing:

  • 1/2 cup (114g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 16 oz (452g) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (390g) powdered sugar
  • 2 cups (151g) shredded sweetened coconut, toasted

Instructions

  1. For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare three 8-inch cake pans by generously greasing the bottom and the edges, and dusting with a coating of flour. If you prefer, you can line the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, fitting with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar and cream together for 4 to 5 minutes until the mixture is lightened in color.
  3. Slowly add eggs, one at a time and beating until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl as needed.
  4. In a large measuring cup, combine the heavy whipping cream, vanilla extract, coconut cream and rum.
  5. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt and whisk until combined.
  6. Alternate adding the dry and wet ingredients, starting with the dry ingredients and ending with the wet ingredients. Continuing beating the batter for 2 to 3 minutes until well combined.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between the 3 cake pans- about 2 1/4 cups per pan. Continue to stir the batter in the bowl to ensure the batter is well mixed all the way through.
  8. Bake at 350° F for 25 to 30 minutes until the cake are done, rotating in the oven halfway through baking. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done. Allow the cake to cool completely. Remove from the pan after 30 minutes or so.
  9. For the filling: In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream and corn starch and whisk until thickened. Add additional heavy cream if necessary to get a liquid consistency.
  10. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and add remaining heavy whipping cream, sugar and shredded coconut. Heat the mixture, stirring occasionally just until the mixture is nearly boiling.
  11. Lastly, add the corn starch mixture and continuing to heat over medium high heat until the mixture is thickened, stirring constantly. Whisk in the vanilla extract last.
  12. Set the mixture aside and all it too cool completely.
  13. For the frosting: Once the cake and filling has cooled, prepare the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter and cream cheese and beat on medium-high speed using the paddle attachment. Beat until smooth and creamy.
  14. Gradually add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time. As the mixture thickens, add the vanilla extract.
  15. To assemble the cake: divide the coconut filling in half. Place the bottom layer of cake on an 8 or 10-inch cake board. Pipe a dam of frosting around the outside edge of the cake using a large round piping tip.
  16. Fill the center with the coconut filling and gently spread evenly. Place the second layer of cake and repeat the above steps.
  17. Place the final layer of cake on top. Ice the top and sides of the cake with the cream cheese icing, you don’t need a very thick layer.
  18. Use your hands to gently pat the shredded coconut into the frosting, covering the cake as thoroughly as possible.
  19. Refrigerate the cake for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Keep covered in an airtight container to prevent the cake from drying out.

Notes

  • Recipe from Bonjour Y’all. The original recipe was a 4 layer cake, that I adjusted to 3 layers.
  • Be sure to read through all the tips and tricks shared in this blog post
  • For the cake flour, go to the brand’s website, look up the weight in grams for 1 cup of cake flour to determine the final weight you need for the flour. In my research, there isn’t a straight forward weight for cake flour and it differs by brand. The brand I used was Swan’s Down and 1 cup is equal to 100 grams.
  • Do not use bake even stripes when baking this cake, it doesn’t work with this recipe and causes the center of the cake to bake very weird.
  • This cake will shrink, I made it 4 times and each one shrank, as this is not my original recipe, I am not sure how to adjust it to prevent the shrinking.
  • I rotate my pans in the oven halfway through baking because the bake of my oven is a hot spot, that the cakes bake more evenly. Not all layers will bake for the same amount of time, if one of your layers is done before the others, pull it out of the oven to prevent over baking
  • Both the frosting and the filling can be prepared ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator. The cream cheese frosting was still very much spreadable even after sitting the fridge overnight.
  • If you find your cream cheese is still too thick, just let it sit out with filling for 30 minutes before using.
  • You will have a little bit of leftover frosting and filling since this was originally a 4-layer cake and I turned it into a 3-layer cake. Don’t overfill your layers.
  • If you prepared the coconut filling ahead of time and refrigerated it, it might be a little too firm to spread. So, pop it in the microwave for 15-25 seconds until it’s a spreadable consistency. It should not be warm when you spread it.
Nutrition Information:
1 slice
1152
103.7g
603.6mg
67.8g
44.8g
130.3g
2g
9.2g
213.9mg
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Cake, Coconut Cake, Coconut Custard,

Recipe Card powered byTasty Recipes

A tall slice of coconut cake on a white and gold polka dot plate

More Coconut Cake you might like:

Lemon Coconut Cake

A gorgeous layer cake frosted with toasted coconut buttercream, with toasted coconut pressed into the bottom edge. It's sitting on a white ruffled cake plate, and there's a yellow napkin and sliced lemon sitting next to it.

 

 

82 Responses
    1. Beyond Frosting

      I have not tested the recipe with either substitution, but any variation from the original recipe will not yield the same results. If anything you can try buttermilk but I don’t recommend adding sour cream.

  1. Zoe H

    I have been looking for a coconut cream cake for forever!! There is this restaurant in downtown chicago that has such a good coconut cream cake and it’s $80!! So when i found this recipe i was so excited. I made it for mother’s day today and my entire family were drooling over it!

  2. Sonia Bugarin

    My daughter made this for me for Mother’s Day. It was so yummy and moist. I shared with a friend of mine who is also crazy for coconut and she said she couldn’t stop thinking about it. LOL

  3. Megan

    Hi! I fell in love with this cake at first sight. I have some questions after reading the tips though. You said there will be leftover batter? Do you know how much (like enough to make a single cupcake)? I hate being wasteful, if I added all the batter to all three pans would it sink? For the filling is it possible to sub the heavy cream with full fat milk? I’ve made custard a couple times but always with milk, if not no problem I can try making it with heavy whipping cream. Anyways the cake looks super delicious! Amazing job (:

    1. Beyond Frosting

      You might have leftover frosting or filling- but shouldn’t have leftover cake batter! For the filling, I have not made any subs to the recipe itself but whole milk should work, you may just need to cook it a little longer

      1. Megan

        Thanks for replying! I have one more question (sorry I worry a lot), I’m unsure if I can find coconut cream, but I know there’s always coconut milk in my pantry, may I use that as a substitute? Lastly the flour aisle of all the grocery stores near me have been wiped clean everywhere, may I use all purpose instead? (I also read up online that you can add cornstarch to all purpose and sift them together to make a substitute for cake flour). I’m super excited to make the cake for my friend’s birthday!

        1. Beyond Frosting

          Coconut milk can be used instead of coconut cream. I am sorry to hear about the flour shortages, I certainly understand. Unfortunately All-purpose flour and cake flour are very different and cannot be used interchangeably. Even if you make homemade cake flour, the results are not going to be the same. I can’t say how it will work with that substitution unfortunately.

  4. Ada

    Hi
    I was preparing myself to make this recipe and I stumbled into another doubt. When you say shredded coconut is it dry or fresh? I cannot get fresh coconut where I live. If it is fresh can I change for dried and how, please?
    Thanks

      1. Ada

        OK. Perfect, then tomorrow is coconut day!!!
        Will let you know how it turned out, although I am thinking about making half recipe because my family is not such a coconut lover and I will have to eat most of it… or not!!!!!
        Thanks a lot.

  5. Ada

    Hi
    Love your recipes.
    Where I live I cannot find coconut cream… any suggestions?
    I thought maybe coconut youghurt, but not sure…
    Thanks
    Ada

  6. Shae

    What is the altitude where you are? I’m at a fairly high altitude and generally need to make adjustments to cake recipes. I’m dying to try out this cake and knowing how much I need to adjust for altitude would definitely help!

      1. Beyond Frosting

        It should be thick enough where it sticks to the spoon but it won’t be super thick like a baked custard. Placing it in the fridge will also help to thicken it up

  7. Rose

    I made this for Thanksgiving. This was my very first cake that I made from scratch and I’m so proud! I read through the instructions and tips a few times before getting started. Excellent tips and thorough instructions! Only suggestion I would give is make sure you buy 2 bags of the sweetened coconut flakes. Everyone loved it!

  8. Holly

    I spent the afternoon baking this cake. Started with the custard. It turned out rather loose. It is thick but is thin enough to drip down the sides if not careful.
    Can’t figure out how to send a photo here. But I’m pretty sure the cake is a total failure. All three layers look like I put a bowl on top of the batter. All three completely sunk! Last disaster is the frosting. I ended up putting about 5 cups of powdered sugar and still is pretty thin. I gave up on that and put in the fridge also.
    Now, can shed some light on my crazy disaster?

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hey Holly- first of all, I’m sorry- I know how frustrating that can be. For the custard, sounds like you didn’t cook it for long enough. Did you toss it in the fridge to cool it off at all? That should also help it to harden. The cakes, could be a number of things. I have to ask- did you sub an ingredients? Sinking cakes can also be attributes to over mixing the batter, expired leavening ingredients, or taking the cake out of the oven too early. I will say my cake layers baked fairly even, there wasn’t a lot of rise- but they didn’t sink.
      For the frosting- you definitely didn’t need to add an additional 2 cups of powdered sugar. The frosting itself it thin, you’re just using it as a coating for the cake. Even after you put it in the fridge, it will still be spreadable. That is just how the recipe is written, and I still ended up with extra frosting.
      You can also shoot me an email julianne at beyondfrosting dot com

  9. Kathy B

    I will be making this soon as coconut cake is my husband’s favorite. Do I need to substitute something for the rum if I don’t use it?

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Lo Siento, no tengo ahora pero Planeo actualizar esto en un par de semanas, Acabo de hacer esta receta el fin de semana pasado

  10. Susan Carley

    I made this cake for my husbands birthday and all 14 guests loved it! I will definitely make it again. However a few corrections/suggestions to the recipe.
    1. The prep time took longer than the 20 minute minutes stated (and I’m an accomplished cook.) It took about 20 minutes for each of the four stages…cake, filling, frosting, assembling.
    2. In step number 10, you need to add a little more of the heavy cream to the 4 teaspoons of cornstarch to get it to mix smoothly. I used about 3 tablespoons instead of the 1 tablespoon that was suggested to get it to combine better.
    3. I didn’t have coconut rum so I used spiced rum but only one tablespoon instead of two and added an extra tablespoon of coconut cream.

    It was truly delicious!! I made one mistake by opening the oven to peak (never open the oven!) and the cakes fell in the middle but it was still delicious just not as thick. Can’t wait til the next celebration to make it again!

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Susan! Thank you so much for sharing these tips, it’s been so long since I made this but I am actually making it again this weekend, so I will definitely be referring back to this.

  11. Kristin P

    I made this as cupcakes (without the custard filling) for a party. I was told *repeatedly* that they were the best cupcakes people had ever eaten. They were light and fluffy and moist without being weird. Wonderful texture and taste! (I didn’t have coconut rum so I substituted an orange flavoring I had on hand. Delicious! I am excited to try this recipe again with the rum!)

  12. Angie

    Going to make this beautiful cake…but thinking about making my Cream Cheese Swiss Meringue Frosting instead…since it’s not as sweet…think it would be ok ??

  13. Kimm

    I know I’m gonna love this cake but I just took the cakes out of the oven and they fell. Any thoughts on why? I followed the recipe as written. I used canned coconut milk like you did. Would that be a reason? I’ll post a pic on IG when it’s finished but thought you might be able to problem solve with me! Thx.

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Kimm, it’s hard for my to say, but a couple of reasons could be oven temperature was off, leveling agent was not fresh, eggs were over beaten, or simply, the cake wasn’t quite done in the middle before it set.

      1. Tiffany

        You probably used regular flour instead of cake flour. That’s what I did! ?‍♀️ Guess I’ll just have to try again…darn! ?

  14. Teresa

    I’ve been looking for the perfect coconut cake, and this is it! It is so tender that I had trouble keeping it together when taking the layers from the pans! I did use about 3-4 T of heavy whipping cream in the frosting and whipped it well, to soft peak stage.

    Next time I will double the recipe and make it in 2 oblong pans – this one is going to go fast!

  15. Cyndi

    Can’t wait to make this cake this weekend! Does it have to be kept in the fridge or can I keep it out in my Tupperware Cakekeeper?

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Cyndi, I do recommend refrigerating this cake but allow it to sit on the counter for 20-30 minutes before serving.

  16. Laura McCoin

    Made this cake yesterday. Omitted the rum, and used a 13 x 9 sheet pan. Used the leftover batter in a small loaf pan to make a cake for myself. (One for them, and one for me!) Hands down best coconut cake I’ve ever tasted! More trouble that I usually take, but so worth it. Love coconut.

  17. Cheryl Milauskas

    I don’t know if you ever mention how to rent this house. Cake is on my bucket list and so is renting this house…

  18. Betty Barnett

    I too am confused about the cream when it says divided and then didn’t tell you how much to divide and when to use it. I want to make this cake but want it to be perfect as all the ingredients it has I don’t want to waste them because of my ignorance !!!

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Betty, in the instructions under “For the filling” step 10 says to use 1 tablespoon of the heavy whipping cream with the corn starch. Then step 11 said to use the remaining heavy cream. So everything except the 1 tablespoon you added with the corn starch. Enjoy!

      1. Susan

        Since one tablespoon is equal to three teaspoons, it’s hard to get 4 teaspoons of corn starch to incorporate into one tablespoon of cream. So I added a few more tablespoons of the divided Cream to the cornstarch but since it’s all going to the same pot it didn’t affect the recipe did made it easier to incorporate the corn starch.

  19. Carol Shultz

    This cake recipe looks fabulous and I am making it today. One question – is it really 2–16 ounce packages of cream cheese? Sounds like a lot of cream cheese for 3 cups of powdered sugar; and then there is also 8 tablespoons of butter. Just want to make sure before I start on the icing. Thank you for such a wonderful cake recipe!

  20. Annette

    Haven’t tried this but I would like to. I am from Australia and wanted to know what Dixie Crystal granulated sugar is and if I could use normal sugar instead. Thanks.

  21. Jacqui

    Hello. I’m gonna make this cake for thanksgiving in a few days. But I’m a little confused as to what cream was used in step 3? Because the heavy whipping cream and coconut cream is used in step 5. Please reply. I really want this cake to come out right lol.

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Jacqui, step 3 in the “for the cake” section is only saying that you mix together (cream together) the butter and sugar until smooth. Does this help? Feel free to shoot me an email if you have questions and I can be quicker to respond. julianne@beyondfrosting.com

  22. Laura Dembowski

    I love my dentist too but it’s never fun to have a cavity. Your trip looks amazing! Love that sunset pic. And this cake. .. OMG! Love coconut cake.

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Thank you Laura! This cake is OMG!! I am sure my dentist would understand my recent cavity if he saw this cake LOL

  23. Janice Williams

    The coconut cake looks YUM! I have a follower I met on Instagram who also has a cake stand obsession. She assembles the cake stands using various plates, upside down wine glasses, bowls and candle sticks. Check her out.- #100cakesin365days

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Oh awesome Janice, thanks for sharing! I have seen homemade cake stands like that but I am not crazy enough to do it myself, LOL.

  24. Vicki

    This cake! Now on my list to make. The retreat – super jealous, but so glad for you – looks like you had a great time. Your blog is fantastic; always enjoyable for me – keep up the great work! Hope your problems are all in the past now. Cheers!

  25. Connie

    Quick question….Is coconut cream the same thing as cream of coconut used in pina coladas? The cake looks wonderful, but I could really go for the kitchen shown in your pictures!

    1. Beyond Frosting

      Hi Connie, no I believe it’s different. Coconut cream is thicker.. I did use a coconut milk that you might find in the Thai food section of the grocery store.

  26. Roxana

    I wish you lived closer so I can help you with the cake (that’s what friends are for, right?)
    Thank you so much for helping me with the retreat! I’m so glad I got to spend time with you and get to know you better! And that you never complained when i asked you to do the dishes LOL
    Can’t wait to do it again soon!

    1. Beyond Frosting

      It was seriously the BEST time!! You did an amazing job organizing it! I was so glad to try so many different cakes LOL

  27. D Dell

    fun yum in such a beautiful place. What an awesome experience with, it sure looks like, an awesome group of like minded women! This cake? amazing.

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