Baked, Occasionally – Coconut Sheet Cake

coconut cake wee eats

It’s the first Monday of the month, and you know what that means! Time for another #BakedOccasionally, when my good friend Shannon from A Periodic Table and I team up to make something delicious from the latest book from New York’s Baked bakery – Baked Occasions.You may be thinking, “Hey, that doesn’t look like the ‘Utopia of Meat and Cheese’ that I was expecting!” And there’s a simple explanation. Shannon is crazy. She forgot that she was moving and painting a house and kindly and asked if we could pretty please make the Easter Coconut Sheet Cake instead. So, in place of a meat and cheese utopia, we have made for you a utopia of coconut instead.

You may also be wondering about my amazing photo up there. I spend all this time making you a delicious cake and then post one simple overhead shot? That’s all you get? Well, yes.

You see, I had to clear out my camera’s memory card the other day. I remembered to lovingly transfer all of my photos to my computer and then reformatted the SD card like a good girl. Then, when I went to retrieve the photos later, my computer errored out every time I tried to open a picture (good job, Natalie).

So, I scoured my cell phone and found one lonely picture of the cake. Well, 1/3 of the cake. I thought it was prettier on Easter as a long rectangle. Plus, it is a little bit intimidating to take a whole 9-by-13 cake to a meal that only has 5 people. A smaller 3-by-13 rectangle was much more approachable. And pretty darn adorable, too, I might add.

Now, onto the star of this show… the cake!

Baked’s coconut cake consists of a sweet, dense coconut-filled cake topped with a coconut-spiked swiss meringue buttercream. It was a bit of an adventure for me, not being a coconut eater, I was about to put coconut cream in my cake when it called for “cream of coconut”… not the same thing (apparently). Luckily, Shannon was able to correct me.

What I liked: The cake.

It is perfect as-is. I really expected the cake would be way too sweet, but it wasn’t at all. It is sweet without being coyingly so, and is dense while still having a tender crumb. If the cake were any more dense, it may cross the line into pound cake territory, but this one walks the line beautifully.

What I didn’t: T-rex hands.

When Shannon chose this cake, the first thing I said was “OK, but I’m not doing that frosting.” A thousand dollops of frosting on top of a cake is not my idea of a good time. The recipe wants you to use three colors of frosting and pipe alternating dollops along the cake. In a fit of motivation, I split the difference and piped one color of frosting across the cake. I still got hand cramps, but I was proud of myself for overcoming my natural tendency to be lazy. Even my best of friends was impressed that I actually put forth the effort to pipe the frosting. I feel like I should be offended, but I’m really not. I know my limits.

Room for improvement: Frosting – both the verb and the noun.

The verb: This is an easy fix. Feel free to just spread the frosting on the cake instead of piping it. No one will care, I promise. And, no hand cramps! Hooray!

The noun: Also a pretty easy fix. This cake uses a swiss meringue buttercream which can be a bit labor-intensive.  I never make this type of frosting because almost every time I try, it breaks. Luckily, I know how to fix it. In fact, fixing broken buttercream frosting is one of my all-time most popular posts! In my case, the frosting was too runny so I knew it was too warm. A quick trip to the fridge saved the day. You could easily skip out on the whole headache by taking your favorite vanilla buttercream frosting recipe and just swapping in coconut extract for the vanilla and adding the coconut cream. Or, in Shannon’s case, she just sprinkled some shredded coconut on top!

Coconut Sheet Cake


    For the sheet cake
  • 2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 tespoonkosher salt
  • 9 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cool but not cold
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocont oil
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure coconut extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup cream of coconut
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 cups lightly packed sweetened shredded coconut
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • For the frosting
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons cream of coconut
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coconut extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • food dye (optional)


    Make the sheet cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a 9-by-13 inch cake pan with parchment, spray the pan with baking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the milk and cream of coconut; set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the coconut oil and beat until incorporated, scrape down the sides. Add the whole egg, egg yolk, and coconut and vanilla extracts and beat to combine.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk mixture. (flour-milk-flour-milk-flour) Beat just to combine and then fold in the shredded coconut.
  6. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until bubbly. Sprinkle the cream of tartar into the egg whites and then beat until they reach stiff peaks.
  7. Gently fold 1/4 of the egg whites into the batter until almost incorporated. Add another 1/4 of the egg whites and gently fold to combine. Add remaining egg whites and gently fold into the batter until incorporated.
  8. Bake for about 45 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cake completely on a wire rack.
  9. Make the frosting
  10. In a large heatproof bowl (you can use the bowl of your stand mixer), whisk sugar and egg whites until combined.
  11. Set bowl over a pan of simmering water and cook while whisking until the sugar is comletely dissolved - You can test this by sticking your finger into the egg whites and rubbing your fingers together. It should feel completely smooth and not grainy.
  12. Once the sugar is completely dissolved, place the bowl onto the mixer and whisk on medium-high speed until smooth, fluffy, and mostly cooled. Add the butter, a few cubes at a time, and continue to beat on medium-high until incorporated. Continue adding the butter cubes until they're all incorporated.
  13. Add cream of coconut, coconut extract, and salt, and beat to combine. Add food coloring (if using).
  14. Frost the cake
  15. Once cake is completely cooled, pipe frosting onto cake using a medium tip

Get the book – Baked Occasions

See Shannon’s post here!

8 thoughts on “Baked, Occasionally – Coconut Sheet Cake

  1. Coconut cake is a family favorite! Not sure why I haven’t tried this recipe as I very much enjoy the entire Baked series. That said, I often find that restaurant/bakery cookbooks offer less than more when it comes to instructions… Still going to try this recipe tho, sounds wonderful!

    • I totally agree! I had to read their recipe like 10 times before I found where they put the cream of coconut into the frosting. And I find a lot of recipes where if you didn’t bake often, you would probably get lost trying to follow the recipe. I think maybe they forget that not everyone bakes all the time, since it’s their day-to-day life, ya know?
      But, you should totally try this recipe! It could be your new family favorite – maybe with your own favorite frosting, though 🙂

  2. I am crazy: that’s the truth. Thank you for letting me choose something other than the meat and cheese utopia this month!

    That being said, i think if there was a verdict or final decision on who did a better job with the cake, you’d win, just based on that frosting alone. Nice work fixing and piping! You clearly made the effort that i completely lacked…this month.

    but watch out b/c i’m FILLED with effort for next month.


    • *Hides under desk* I LOVE how your cake looked though. For real. You know, with your whole ‘chocolate ganache’ idea I got to thinking… I bet we could easily turn this into a samoa cookie cake (just sayin).

  3. Oh my gosh! The anxiety I felt when you said you wiped your memory card and then couldn’t access your pictures was palpable. I am such a spaz, and will leave full memory cards lying around until those photos have been imported, edited, and backed up multiple times JUST IN CASE. I thought I was crazy, but your story just justified my crazy behavior, so there’s no way I’m stopping now.

    Also, this cake! *swoon* I love dense, moist cakes that aren’t too heavy, and this one seems like exactly that. I feel lucky that I’ve only ever had swiss meringue buttercream break on me once (I actually covered my entire three-tier wedding cake in it), and it wasn’t a terribly difficult thing to fix. Annoying, yes, but it still holds as one of my favorite frostings. Some recipes are better than others, though, and less likely to break. Seems a little suspicious that it happened to both you and Shannon with this one.

    • Oh, totally! And I was already skeptical going into it because they say in the book like “if it curdles just keep beating it!” and I’m like, Ok, so even YOU curdle it in your own bakery? Maybe the recipe needs tweaked then? Also “just keep beating it” has never worked for me… maybe if it was too cold it would work, I guess… maybe…?

      I’m going to have to follow your lead, and also buy more memory cards. LOL! It was a silly thing for me to do to not even check to make sure they imported properly. I’m 100% to blame for that one…

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