Finished Old Fashioned Coconut Cake

Old Fashioned Coconut Cake - High Altitude Recipe

This is the high-altitude version of my Old Fashioned Coconut Cake recipe.  It adjusts the flour (increase), sugar (decrease), liquid (increase), baking powder (BIG decrease!), bake temperature (increase) and bake time (decrease).  It is adjusted to 5,280 feet, but if you are significantly higher, you'll need to change the proportions just a little more to achieve perfect results.  See my article on high-altitude adjustments here.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword All-Natural Coconut Cake
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 12 Servings
Author Don Herman


  • 2 2/3 cups PLUS 2 tbsp Flour 1/2 all-purpose, 1/2 cake flour
  • 2 cups LESS 2 tbsp Sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 5 lg Egg Whites
  • 1/2 cup PLUS 2 tbsp Milk
  • 1 tbsp Natural Coconut Flavor See below if your store doesn't carry this.
  • 1/2 cup Unsalted Butter Softened, but not melted
  • 3/4 cup Unsweetened Coconut Milk It should be about 15% fat content. It replaces some of the butter, so don’t use the type in a box you pour on cereal.

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting and Whipped Filling

  • 8 oz Cream Cheese room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Butter room temperature
  • 4 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1 tsp Natural Coconut Flavor
  • 10 oz Shredded Coconut sweetened or unsweetened

Filling Between Layers

  • 1 cup Frosting from above
  • 1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream


  • Preheat oven to 370 F (190 C).
  • 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 below.)
  • 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.
  • 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.
    Toasting coconut

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting and Whipped Filling

  • 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).
  • If the icing is too thick for spreading, add a teaspoon or two of coconut milk and blend to the desired consistency.
  • 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.
    Old Fashioned Coconut Cake