Coconut Lemon Cake from Scratch

I’ve always loved the light and refreshing flavor combination of lemon and coconut, and this ultra moist Coconut Lemon Cake from Scratch does not disappoint!

Our traditional Coconut Cake recipe from our Recipes Section uses homemade yellow cake layers with a coconut filling and frosting. Today’s recipe is different in that we are using coconut cake layers, which are flavored with coconut milk and coconut extract.

These flavorful coconut cake layers are much like the layers in our Piña Colada Cake, just without the rum and with a hint more coconut extract. We’ve used the Reverse Creaming Method for this coconut cake recipe which yields an extremely soft and moist cake.

We wanted to add lemon to the recipe in a way that would perfectly complement the coconut without being overpowering. As much as I LOVE lemon cakes, our goal was to have a nice balance of flavors.

We chose to experiment with a Lemon Whipped Cream Filling, and the result is just heavenly! After whipping up a quick batch of sweetened whipped cream, we gently folded in a half cup of lemon curd for a light and luscious lemon cream.

We also glazed our layers with lemon curd just before sandwiching the lemon cream filling between our coconut layers. We finished things off with a coating of coconut cream cheese frosting and covered the cake in fluffy flaked coconut.

This cake has become an instant favorite for springtime gatherings, and we’re looking forward to having it for our family Easter get-together! You could also create a similar version in cupcake form by making coconut cupcakes with the lemon cream filling and coconut cream cheese frosting!

We hope that you enjoy this recipe as much as we have. I’ve made it twice this week already!

Print Recipe

Coconut Lemon Cake

Ingredients

For the Coconut Cake Layers

  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 T) ( 170g) unsalted butter, softened slightly, still cool to the touch (do not soften in microwave) you can cut into 1/2 inch slices onto waxed paper to soften more quickly
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (227g.) coconut milk (We buy ours canned from the baking aisle)
  • 1/3 cup (70g) vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons (8g) coconut extract
  • 3 cups (342g) cake flour......*(see below if you do not have cake flour)
  • 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon (15g) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3g) salt

Lemon Curd (for glaze and lemon whipped cream filling)

  • 3/4 cup (150g) sugar
  • 1/4 cup (30g) cornstarch
  • 1 cup (236g) water
  • 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tablespoons (18g) butter
  • 1 Tablespooon grated lemon zest
  • 4 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Whipped Cream (for lemon whipped cream filling)

  • 1 cup (240g) heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup(29g) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon(4g) vanilla

For the Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) (226g) unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 2 (8oz.) (452g) cream cheese (use full fat cream cheese) straight from the refrigerator
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon (6g) coconut extract
  • 6 to 6 1/2 cups ( 747g) powdered sugar

For decoration and garnish

  • 1 bag (14oz) (396g) Sweetened Flaked Coconut

Directions

Instructions for the Coconut Cake Layers

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 8 inch cake pans
  • In a small bowl , combine eggs, coconut milk, oil, & coconut extract. Blend with a fork and set aside.
  • Put the dry ingredients, cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into the bowl of your mixer and whisk for at least 30 seconds to blend the ingredients.
  • With the mixer on low speed gradually increasing to medium speed gradually add the slices of butter to the dry ingredients a few pieces of butter at a time. Beat until the dry ingredients are crumbly and moistened. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, there should be no spots of dry flour in the bowl.
  • SLOWLY add approximately 1/2 of the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl then add the remaining egg mixture in 2
  • pourings, scraping the bowl and beating for 20 seconds after each addition.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 25 - 30 minutes
  • Makes about 6 1/2 cups batter

Instructions for Lemon Curd (for glaze & Lemon Whipped Cream filling)

  • Combine sugar, cornstarch and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly, until mixture thickens and comes to a boil (3-4 minutes). Boil, stirring, for 1 minute more.. Remove the pan from the heat.
  • Spoon about 1/2 cup of the hot mixture into a small bowl with egg yolks and stir quickly until combined. Continue stirring, while pouring the egg mixture back into the saucepan.
  • Return pan to medium heat and cook, stirring, until the curd is thickened and lemon colored (1-2 min). Remove from heat and stir in the butter, lemon juice, and lemon zest.-- Let the lemon curd cool, then press plastic wrap onto the surface, this will prevent a skin from forming on the top. Refrigerate.

Instructions for the Whipped Cream (for Lemon Whipped Cream Filling)

  • Chill the mixing bowl and beaters (for hand mixer) or whisk attachment (for stand mixer) in the freezer for 10 minutes. Pour the whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla into the chilled mixing bowl, begin beating on low speed gradually increasing to medium high speed.
  • Beat until the cream begins to thicken (after approx. 1 1/2 minutes) and soft peaks form….peaks that slightly bend over. Watch closely as this happens quickly. Do not over beat or it will turn into butter.

To prepare the Lemon Whipped Cream Filling

  • Gently fold 1/2 c. (134g) chilled lemon curd into the prepared whipped cream.
  • You will have leftover lemon curd which you can use to glaze your cake layers before spreading with lemon whipped cream filling.

Instructions for the Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Add the butter to the mixing bowl and beat until smooth.
  • Add the cream cheese that has been cut into small to medium size pieces, beating with the butter until well blended and smooth.
  • Add the coconut extract.
  • Slowly add the powdered sugar, beating until smooth. Don't beat too long or above medium speed. (The longer you beat, the softer this frosting becomes).
  • Use the frosting while it is still chilled. If it becomes too soft, refrigerate until it firms up a bit.

Assembly of the Cake

  • Pipe a dam of coconut cream cheese frosting on the bottom layer (about 1/4 inch within the edge of the cake) before glazing the layer with a thin layer of lemon curd.
  • Spread the layer with lemon whipped cream filling.
  • Add the next layer and repeat.
  • After the three layers are filled and stacked, frost the cake with coconut cream cheese frosting.
  • Press the flaked coconut into the frosting, completely covering it.
  • Garnish with lemon slices.

For more fantastic cake and frosting recipes, make sure to check out our full collection of favorites in our Cake Recipes Section!

If you’re looking for more Coconut deliciousness, check out our festive Piña Colada Cake! An amazing combination of coconut, crushed pineapple, and a hint of rum! Perfect for summertime entertaining.

Thanks for stopping by! We hope that you’ll give this Coconut Lemon Cake recipe a try! If you do, we’d love for you to share your thoughts or cake photos below!

For the Coconut Cake Layers (printable version is above)

1 1/2 sticks (12 T) ( 170g) unsalted butter, softened slightly, still cool to the touch (do not soften in microwave) you can cut into 1/2 inch slices onto waxed paper to soften more quickly

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup (227g.) coconut milk (We buy ours canned from the baking aisle)

1/3 cup (70g) vegetable oil

2 teaspoons coconut extract

3 cups (342g) cake flour……*(see below if you do not have cake flour)

2 cups (400g) granulated sugar

1 Tablespoon (15g) baking powder

1/2 teaspoon (3g) salt

For the Lemon Curd (for glaze & lemon whipped cream)

3/4 cup (150g) sugar

1/4 cup (30g) cornstarch

1 cup (236g) water

2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten

2 Tablespoons (18g) butter

1 Tablespooon grated lemon zest

4 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

For the Whipped Cream

1 cup (240g) heavy cream

1/4 cup(29g) powdered sugar

1 teaspoon(4g) vanilla

For the Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

2 sticks (1 cup) (226g) unsalted butter, slightly softened

2 (8oz.) (452g) cream cheese (use full fat cream cheese) straight from the refrigerator

1 1/2 teaspoons (6g) coconut extract

6 to 6 1/2 cups ( 747g) powdered sugar

Instructions for the Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 8 inch cake pans

In a small bowl , combine eggs, coconut milk, oil, & coconut extract. Blend with a fork and set aside.

Put the dry ingredients, cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into the bowl of your mixer and whisk for at least 30 seconds to blend the ingredients.

With the mixer on low speed gradually increasing to medium speed gradually add the slices of butter to the dry ingredients a few pieces of butter at a time. Beat until the dry ingredients are crumbly and moistened. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, there should be no spots of dry flour in the bowl.

SLOWLY add approximately 1/2 of the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl then add the remaining egg mixture in 2

pourings, scraping the bowl and beating for 20 seconds after each addition.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes

Makes about 6 1/2 cups batter

*CAKE FLOUR SUBSTITUTE — for each cup of all-purpose flour, measure out (lightly spoon and level) one cup of all purpose flour. Remove 2 Tablespoons flour from the cup and replace it with 2 Tablespoons cornstarch. Whisk to blend. For this recipe you would measure out 3 cups all purpose flour, remove 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons of the all purpose flour and replace it with 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons cornstarch and whisk to blend.

Instructions for Lemon Curd

Combine sugar, cornstarch and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly, until mixture thickens and comes to a boil (3-4 minutes). Boil, stirring, for 1 minute more.. Remove the pan from the heat. Spoon about 1/2 cup of the hot mixture into a small bowl with egg yolks and stir quickly until combined. Continue stirring, while pouring the egg mixture back into the saucepan. Return pan to medium heat and cook, stirring, until the curd is thickened and lemon colored (1-2 min). Remove from heat and stir in the butter, lemon juice, and lemon zest.– Let the lemon curd cool, then press plastic wrap onto the surface, this will prevent a skin from forming on the top. Refrigerate.

Makes 1 1/4 cups

Instructions for Whipped Cream

Chill the mixing bowl and beaters (for hand mixer) or whisk attachment (for stand mixer) in the freezer for 10 minutes. Pour the whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla into the chilled mixing bowl, begin beating on low speed gradually increasing to medium high speed. The cream begins to thicken (approx. 1 1/2 minutes) and soft peaks form….peaks that slightly bend over. Watch closely as this happens quickly. Do not over beat or it will turn into butter.

For Lemon Whipped Cream Filling

Gently fold 1/2 cup (134g) of the lemon curd into the prepared whipped cream. You will have leftover lemon curd. We applied a thin layer to the cake layers just before spreading with the Whipped Cream Filling. You will want to pipe a dam of coconut cream cheese frosting about 1/4 inch from the edge of the cake layers before adding the filling (to keep everything contained).

Instructions for the Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting:

Add the butter to the mixing bowl and beat until smooth.

Add the cream cheese that has been cut into small to medium size pieces, beating with the butter until well blended and smooth.

coconut extract

Slowly add the powdered sugar, beating until smooth. Don’t beat above medium speed or for too long. The longer you beat the frosting, the softer it becomes.

Use the frosting while it is still chilled. If it becomes too soft, refrigerate until it firms up a bit or put in the freezer for 5 minutes or so to return to a good piping consistency.

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Coconut Lemon Cake from Scratch Coconut Lemon Cake from Scratch Reviewed by Cake Lover on March 27, 2018 Rating: 5
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