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Coconut Custard Cake

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This Coconut Custard Cake is a fluffy coconut cake layered with a decadent coconut custard and frosted with cream cheese frosting and toasted coconut. 

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

My Favorite Coconut Cake with Coconut Custard Filling

If you love coconut, this is the cake for you. First up, there’s the fluffy homemade coconut cake. Then there’s a decadent creamy coconut custard filling and to finish it off, a simple cream cheese frosting. Don’t worry about decorating because it’s covered with toasted coconut. 

You will love the texture of this cake. It’s moist, spongy and so fluffy. The ingredients tend to weigh it down a little, so don’t be surprised if it doesn’t rise very much. 

This cake is pretty massive, but it’s insanely good and worth the effort. There are a few steps involved, but to make it easy on yourself, you can prepare a couple of things ahead of time which I’ve explained below.

Recipe Updates

The original recipe I posted was from a cake at Croissant Bakery in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Heidi, the owner of Croissant Bakery also wrote a wonderful cookbook, and the cake was just so good.

However, after years of making this cake, several people reported having issues with the original cake recipe, which also called for a few special ingredients. So I’ve redone the recipe using my own homemade coconut cake. It’s moist and fluffy and super stable for stacking cakes. 

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

Ingredients you’ll need: 

  • Vegetable oil & Melted butter- the combination of these two ingredients gives moisture and flavor. 
  • Egg and egg white- adding the extra eggs whites helps gives this cake its fluffy texture
  • Coconut extract- coconut itself is not a super strong flavor, so I tend to add a little more than normal 
  • Pure vanilla extract– this helps complement the coconut extract 
  • Sour cream– Don’t skip this! It’s needed for moisture, especially since this cake is refrigerated. If you need to substitute this, I recommend plain yogurt or Greek yogurt
  • Dry Ingredients: Granulated sugar, All-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt
  • Coconut milk–  Coconut milk can be found in the Asian food section. Normally the fat is separated from liquid. Make sure it’s well stirred and smooth.
a glass jar with stirred coconut milk

Making the Coconut Cake

  1. Prep the pans: Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare three 8-inch round baking pans. I recommend lining the bottom with parchment paper and be sure to grease the sides. I also like to use bake-even stripes
  2. Combined the sugar and liquid ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, vegetable oil, butter, eggs, sour cream, and extracts. Beat on medium speed until well incorporated.
  3. Combine the dry ingredients: In a separate bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients. Alternate adding half the dry ingredients and half the coconut milk at a time and mix just until the flour starts to incorporate then mix by hand with a spatula until well combined.
  4. Fill the pans: Divide the batter evenly between the three pans, about 1 2/3 cups of batter per pan. Bake at 350°F for 20-24 minutes. I like to rotate my pans halfway through for evenly baked cakes.
a round metal baking pan with a coconut cake

All About the Coconut Custard Filling

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.

I actually like to make this ahead of time and refrigerated it overnight, just to help break up the step. However, it gets very thick in the fridge, so let it sit out for about an hour before using it.  If it still seems too thick to spread, pop it in the microwave for less than 30 seconds. The consistency should be spreadable but not melting. 

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Corn starch
  • Unsalted butter
  • Granulated sugar
  • Shredded coconut, sweetened
  • Pure vanilla extract

How to Make It:

  1. Make a slurry: In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream and cornstarch and whisk until thickened. 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. Add additional heavy cream if necessary to get a liquid consistency.
  2. Heat the ingredients: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and add the remaining heavy whipping cream, sugar, and shredded coconut. Heat the mixture, stirring occasionally just until the mixture is nearly boiling.
  3. Add the slurry: Lastly, add the cornstarch mixture and continue to heat over medium-high heat until the mixture is thickened, stirring constantly. Whisk in the vanilla extract last.
  4. Let it set: Allow it too cool completely.

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.

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

Easy Cream Cheese Frosting 

I opted to keep the original frosting recipe from the book. One thing to note is that it’s quite thin, and that’s because you won’t be doing any decorating with it. You just need to do a rough crumb coating all over the cake and then you’ll finish it off with toasted coconut. If you prefer a more traditional cream cheese recipe, then you’ll probably want to go with my recipe instead. 

Ingredients and How to Make It:

  • Unsalted butter- softened
  • Cream cheese- softened
  • Pure vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar
  1. 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.
  2. Gradually add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time. As the mixture thickens, add the vanilla extract.

Helpful Tips for Decorating This Cake

  • Prep ahead of time: 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’ll have some leftovers:  This was originally a 4-layer cake and I turned it into a 3-layer cake. Just be sure not to overfill your layers.
  • Properly prepare the cake layers: Start with flat, even cake layers before filling. This helps make a stable cake. 
  • How to properly fill the layers: Pipe a border of frosting around the outside edge of the cake before you fill the center with the coconut custard. This will prevent the filling from oozing out of the sides. 
A wide shot of a coconut cake on a marble cake stand draped with a vintage stripe napkin

How to Store It

Since this cake has a custard filling and cream cheese frosting, it should be kept in the refrigerator. Store in an airtight container (such as a cake carrier) or wrap the entire cake with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. Remove from the refrigerator approximately 20-30 minutes before serving.

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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

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

Description

This Coconut Custard Cake is a coconut 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:

  • 1 ½ cups (285g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (118 ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoon (28g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large egg
  • 2 large egg white
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) coconut extract
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (118 ml) sour cream
  • 2 ½ cups (350g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon (7.5g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (4.5g) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) salt
  • 1 1/3 cup (315ml) coconut milk, well stirred

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
  • 12 oz (339g) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (390g) powdered sugar
  • 2 cups (151g) shredded sweetened coconut, toasted

Instructions

For the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare three 8-inch round baking pans, line the bottom with parchment paper and grease the sides. Prepare your bake even stripes if desired.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, vegetable oil, butter, eggs sour cream and extracts. Beat on medium speed until well incorporated and the batter is lighter in color, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl as needed.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients. Alternate adding half the dry ingredients and half the coconut milk at a time and mix just until the flour starts to incorporate. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and stir the batter from the bottom to the top to ensure it’s well mixed.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the three pans, about 1 2/3 cups of batter per pan. Bake at 350°F for 20-24 minutes and rotate your pans in the oven halfway through.
  5. Test the cake for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. If the toothpick comes out clean, your cake is done. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  6. Toast the coconut in the preheat oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, spread the coconut evenly on the pan. Bake for 5-8 minutes, or until desired color is reach. Transfer to a bowl or plate to stop the cooking process. Cool completely.

For the filling:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Set the mixture aside and all it too cool completely.

For the frosting:

  1. 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.
  2. Gradually add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time. As the mixture thickens, add the vanilla extract.

To assemble the cake:

  1. 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.
  2. Fill the center with the coconut filling and gently spread evenly. Place the second layer of cake and repeat the above steps.
  3. 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.
  4. Use your hands to gently pat the shredded coconut into the frosting, covering the cake as thoroughly as possible.
  5. 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 adapted from Bonjour Y’all. If you are looking for the original recipe you can download it here.
  • 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
1061
83g
547mg
68g
109g
2g
9.7g
146mg
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Cake, Coconut Cake, Coconut Custard, Coconut Cream Cake

Leave a Comment

Recipe rating

143 Responses
  1. April

    Hi there! I am so excited to make this for my mom’s birthday. For the coconut milk—is it canned full-fat? Or something different? Thank you!:)

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi April, I use something like Thai Kithcen or a Taste of Thai. They don’t say “full-fat” on it, but yes they’re full fat. I see some brands have a “lite” version, but you can use the full-fat one.

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Yep! I have not tested is specifically with the ingredients, and you may need only half the cream cheese frosting but it should work just fine.

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi Sabrina- I am not sure what you mean will it work? The recipe as written will work, you need to make sure it’s cooked properly. Also if you read through the comments and number of people who have made and enjoyed this recipe, I would say it works 🙂

  2. Lesa

    I will be making this for my birthday this year which is April 15th can’t wait to try it! I’ll post a comment afterwards.

    Thanks,
    Lesa

  3. Caroline

    I’m going to make this cake for my mom’s birthday party. Since it’s a big group I would like to make it three nine inch layers. For a cake that size should I double the recipe or make one and a half recipes of cake batter?

    1. Julianne - Beyond Frosting
      Beyond Frosting

      Hi Caroline, the recipe as is can be made in 9-inch rounds, they will just be thinner. If you would like thicker cake layers, then 1.5x the recipe should be enough.

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