Coconut Cake for a Holiday

  • Prep Time
    1 hour, not including bringing butter and cream cheese to room temperature
  • Cook Time
    30 minutes
  • Serving
  • View

My dad and his two brothers owned a grocery store in Anniston, Alabama, and my sister and I pretty much grew up in it. It goes without saying that our family life revolved around food.  Holidays with the Harris family were all about big dinners and long naps.  One of the highlights at Christmas and Easter was Mama Harris’ Coconut Cake.  Making it now reminds me of being with the Harris family.  And, since I couldn’t find any family pictures, or even a picture of FoodTown, I am posting this old FoodTown ad that ran in the Anniston Star probably in the early 1960s showing a “typical” house wife in a dress and high heels obviously preparing for Thanksgiving.  Notice in the ad that coconuts are advertised just under bananas.  It wouldn’t have been a Harris holiday without banana pudding and a Coconut Cake!  And, while we’re on the subject of childhood food memories… how the Hell did I get so OLD ???





    Prepare the cake pans. I like to use three 8 inch pans, or even smaller. It gives you a nice tall cake. Coat each pan with Crisco, then line the bottom with wax paper. Coat with Crisco again (lightly), then dust with flour and tap out over a sink.

    Step 1

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

    Step 2

    Beat butter (which you let come to room temperature) with your stand mixer and paddle attachment until creamed, about 1 minutes. Gradually, add sugar, beating until light and fluffy, 3 or 4 minutes. Add lemon zest, vanilla and coconut extract. Beat until combined about 30 seconds.

    Step 3

    Sift together dry ingredients: cake flour, baking power & salt.

    Step 4

    Add dry ingredients to butter mixture alternatingly with the milk. Always begin and end with the flour mixture. Beat on low speed until combined after each ingredient.

    Step 5

    Beat egg whites with an electric hand mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Fold about 1/3 third of the egg white mixture into the batter, then fold in the rest in two additions.

    Step 6

    Spoon batter into prepared pans and tap the bottoms of the pans on the counter top a few times so that the batter evens itself in the pans.

    Step 7

    Bake cakes on middle rack about 23 to 25 minutes. The cakes should be pulling away from the cake pans. When you stick a tooth pick in the cake, it should come out clean. Take the pans out of the oven and let them cool in the pans just a few minutes, then turn them out on wire racks and let them cool for at least an hour.

    Step 8

    Make the frosting: Beat the butter and cream cheese with electric mixer for about 2 minutes until creamy. Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat on low speed for about 1 minute. Then gradually add vanilla and coconut extract beating until smooth and fluffy.

    Step 9

    When the cake layers are cool, assemble the cake. Spread a dab of frosting on the bottom of a cardboard cake round and place your bottom layer on the round. Frost the top of that layer and continue with all layers, then, frost the sides.

    Step 10

    Spread some coconut on a cake pan and toast it in the oven at 350 degrees. Watch carefully because it will burn if you're not careful. Then, sprinkle the toasted coconut on the top of the cake.

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