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Old Fashioned Coconut Cake – High Altitude Recipe

Old-Fashioned Coconut Cake (Above 5,000 Feet Altitude)

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Newly-revised recipe – moister cake with less sugar!

I’ve finally found the best homemade coconut cake recipe.  It doesn’t use white cake mix (with it’s sickly-sweet taste and gummy texture).  It does use all-natural ingredients, with no artificial flavors or colors, so you can feel good about serving it to your family.  And I found it to be an easy coconut cake recipe, once I worked out the right proportions.

I’ve provided both the high-altitude and regular altitude recipes for this Old Fashioned Coconut Cake so that you can pick which one works for you.


  • 2 2/3 cups flour (1/2 all-purpose, 1/2 cake flour), + 2 TBL
  • 2 cups sugar, less 2 TBL
  • 2 1/2  tsp baking powder, less 1 1/4 tsp
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 lg egg whites
  • 1/2 cup milk + 2 TBL
  • 1 TBL natural coconut flavor (if you can’t find this in your local store, you can order it here.)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened but not melted
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk

Directions (High Altitude, 5000 ft.)

Increase oven temp to 375 F.

Grease and flour two 8 or 9-inch cake pans.  (Lining with parchment can make removing the cakes easier, but I never have a problem in this dry climate.  See how to create a cake pan liner here.)

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites, milk and coconut extract just until frothy.

In a mixer bowl, add the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Mix with a whisk.  Add the butter and coconut milk and mix on low with a paddle attachment just until moistened.

Add the egg white mixture in a few additions, mixing just until incorporated, then beat for two minutes.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans.  I use a small postal scale to weigh them out so that I divide it evenly.  Bake for 31 to 34 minutes, then test with a toothpick to see if it comes out clean.  Add two minutes more if it comes out wet.

Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely on a rack.

Toasting coconut
Sprinkle coconut in a thin layer

While the cakes are cooling, use the warm oven to toast your coconut.  Simply sprinkle the coconut on a cookie sheet in a thin layer and set it in the oven at 350 F for about two minutes.  Stir the flakes and watch them for another two minutes or so.  When they’ve toasted to golden, remove and cool.

Coconut Icing and Filling

Icing the entire cake in cream cheese frosting or buttercream would make for a really heavy cake.  Most coconut cake recipes call for dividing the cake into four layers, and using a simple whipped cream filling, while icing the outside with buttercream.  I’ve done a mix of both.


  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp natural coconut flavor


  • 1 cup of the icing from above
  • 1 cup of heavy whipping cream

Cream together the cream cheese and butter.  Add the coconut flavor.  Then add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time.  I cover my mixer with a very light tea towel to avoid sugar powder spreading all over the kitchen!  Once it’s smooth, add a tablespoon of the coconut milk or regular milk to achieve a spreadable consistency (I didn’t have to add any).

For the filling, simply whip 1 cup of heavy whipping cream until medium  peaks form, then gently blend in 1 cup of the cream cheese icing.

I divided my cake layers into four pieces, using a cake leveler.  I used the whipped cream between each layer, then iced the outside of the cake with the cream cheese frosting.  Lastly, I sprinkled the toasted coconut, using my palm to “bounce” the flakes onto the sides of the cake.

Please leave a comment!


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