This Single Layer Coconut Cake combines light and fluffy coconut-flavored cake with lightly toasted sweetened coconut flakes. And when paired with this creamy coconut buttercream frosting, you end up with a heavenly spring or any-time-of-the-year treat!
Coconut Cake - About the Recipe
Say hello to the newest single layer cake to the Beyond the Butter recipe box—Single Layer Coconut Cake!
It's adapted from my coconut sheet cake recipe and is wonderful for the spring, summer, or any time of the year!
The stars of this coconut cake recipe, which give it that light and fluffy texture, are the coconut oil, the egg (which gets divided), and the unsweetened coconut milk! Added to the cake for even more flavor are toasted sweetened coconut flakes and a little coconut extract and vanilla extract.
The cake is paired nicely with a creamy coconut buttercream frosting which includes sweetened coconut flakes that can be added while making the frosting or after.
And if you're not crazy about coconut buttercream frosting, I mention some easy small batch frosting alternatives below!
You will need the typical ingredients to make my single-layer cakes: baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, unsalted butter, coconut oil, and vanilla extract. Below are the key ingredients to make it into the best coconut cake!
- Cake Flour. If you don't have cake flour on hand, I have included an easy homemade substitute below!
- Leavening Agents. Baking soda and baking powder appear in this coconut cake recipe.
- Salt. Just a pinch!
- Granulated Sugar. Or you can use organic pure cane sugar.
- Unsalted Butter. Room temperature butter is best!
- Coconut Oil. You can also use vegetable oil as a substitute.
- An Egg. You just need one, but it does need to be separated. The egg yolk is added first, while the egg white, along with some cream of tartar, is whipped into stiff peaks, then added to the batter. For the fluffiest texture, do not skip this step!
- Extracts. You'll need coconut extract and vanilla extract
- Sweetened Coconut Flakes. You will need ⅓ cup toasted for the cake and ½ cup for the coconut buttercream frosting. You can choose to toast the frosting coconut flakes if you'd like or leave them as-is.
- Canned Unsweetened Coconut Milk. I found this in the grocery aisle where the sweetened condensed milk is kept. Make sure the can says unsweetened. You may also stir the milk once opened because it will separate.
- Cream of Tartar. This is only added to the egg white to make it into nice stiff peaks! Do not add this directly to the batter!
Homemade Cake Flour
If you don't keep cake flour on hand, fear not—you can make it at home! You only need all-purpose flour, cornstarch, and a sifter!
To make your homemade cake flour:
- Add one tablespoon of cornstarch to a ½ cup measuring cup.
- Fill the remaining measuring cup with all-purpose flour.
- Run the mixture through a sifter. Once is good, but twice is better.
If you want to have a little more on hand, I recommend doubling this homemade cake flour recipe.
Essential Single Layer Cake Baking Tools
Here are a few baking tools I recommend when making this homemade single-layer coconut cake! Scroll through the carousel below for more!
- 6-inch Cake Pan. I used a 6-inch by 3-inch tall cake pan from Fat Daddios for this recipe. It's been my go-to pan for my most recent single-layer cakes. If you only have a 6-inch by 2-inch tall pan, this will work fine, but know the cake may come up to the edge of the pan.
- Mixing Bowls. Works well for dry ingredients and wet.
- Whisks and Spatulas. Always good to have a few of these on hand while you bake this coconut cake! I swear by GIR whisks and spatulas. They also make spoonulas, a combination of a spatula and a spoon. I love them when using cake batters!
Here's How to Make a 6-inch Single Layer Coconut Cake
- Toast the coconut flakes. You only need to toast the coconut flakes used in the cake batter. If you wish to toast the coconut flakes used for the frosting, you can do this now.
- Whisk the dry ingredients. This includes the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Divide the egg. Separate the egg yolk from the egg whites.
- Beat the egg whites. Whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form (about 2-3 minutes). Set to the side.
- Mix the wet ingredients together. You can use a hand mixer or stand mixer for this part. Ingredients included for this step are unsalted butter, coconut oil, granulated sugar, egg yolk (just the yolk!), extracts, and unsweetened coconut milk.
- Add in the dry mixture. Blend until just combined.
- Fold in the beaten egg whites and then the toasted coconut.
- Bake the cake. 350ºF for 30-35 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.
Alternatives to Coconut Buttercream Frosting
Here are 3 small batch frosting alternatives to making my small batch coconut frosting recipe.
- Small Batch Cream Cheese Frosting - you can add some coconut to this if you'd like.
- Small Batch Vanilla Ermine Frosting
- Small Batch Milk Chocolate Frosting
This coconut cake bakes 2 inches tall, so I recommend using the 6" x 3". If using a 6" x 2", note that the cake may come right up to the top of the pan.
To get a nice fluffy cake texture, yes! Adding in the whole egg will give you a denser cake texture. It's an extra step, but it's worth it.
I do recommend toasting them for the cake batter because it brings out more of the coconut flavor in the cake. It's unnecessary for the frosting unless you're going for the toasted flakes look on the outside.
Yes! To learn the best way to freeze single layer cakes and slices, check out my single layer chocolate cake recipe.
Single Layer Coconut CakeAuthor:
- ⅓ cup Shredded Sweetened Coconut Flakes (toasted)
- 1 cup Cake Flour
- ½ teaspoon Baking Powder
- ½ teaspoon Baking Soda
- ⅛ teaspoon Salt
- ¼ cup Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
- 2 tablespoon Coconut Oil
- ⅓ cup Granulated Sugar
- 1 Large Egg Yolk (room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon Coconut Extract
- ½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- ⅓ cup from a 13.5 ounce Canned Unsweetened Coconut Milk (room temperature)
- 1 Large Egg White (room temperature)
- ⅛ teaspoon Cream of Tartar
coconut buttercream frosting
- ½ cup Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
- 2 ⅓ cups Sifted Powdered Sugar
- ½ teaspoon Coconut Extract
- 2 tablespoon Canned Unsweetened Coconut Milk
- ½ cup Shredded Sweetened Coconut Flakes
coconut sheet cake
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF and generously spray a 6-inch round cake pan with a flour-based baking spray. Set aside.
- Using a small skillet, toast the sweetened coconut flakes over medium heat, continuously stirring until they start to toast and turn a light golden brown color. Monitor this step very carefully because if left on too long you can burn the coconut. Set aside and allow to cool.⅓ cup Shredded Sweetened Coconut Flakes
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set dry mixture aside.1 cup Cake Flour, ½ teaspoon Baking Powder, ½ teaspoon Baking Soda, ⅛ teaspoon Salt
- Using your hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment beat the egg white and cream of tartar at high speed until stiff peaks form (about 2-3 minutes).1 Large Egg White, ⅛ teaspoon Cream of Tartar
- In a separate bowl, using your hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the unsalted butter, vegetable oil, and granulated sugar on medium speed until well blended.¼ cup Unsalted Butter, ⅓ cup Granulated Sugar, 2 tablespoon Coconut Oil
- Add in the egg yolk, coconut extract, vanilla extract, and unsweetened coconut milk.1 Large Egg Yolk, 1 teaspoon Coconut Extract, ½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract, ⅓ cup from a 13.5 ounce Canned Unsweetened Coconut Milk
- Add in the whisked dry mixture then mix until just combined. Fold the beaten egg white into the coconut cake batter, then fold in the toasted coconut.
- Pour the cake batter into the prepared 6-inch round cake pan and bake for 30-35 minutes at 350ºF or until an inserted toothpick in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Remove and allow to cool completely on a wire cooling rack before frosting.
coconut buttercream frosting
- Using your hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the unsalted butter on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy.½ cup Unsalted Butter
- Switch the mixer speed to low and add in the sifted powdered sugar.2 ⅓ cups Sifted Powdered Sugar
- Add in the coconut extract and the unsweetened coconut milk and continue to mix until smooth and well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in or stir in the shredded coconut flakes.½ teaspoon Coconut Extract, 2 tablespoon Canned Unsweetened Coconut Milk, ½ cup Shredded Sweetened Coconut Flakes
Nutritonal information provided above is an estimate only and will vary based on specific ingredients used.
This cake was so good! If you’re a coconut fan, it’s perfect!
Thank you for making it, Beth! And for sharing a photo of it on Instagram!❤️
Made this for my daughter’s birthday. We all loved it. Super easy to make and had great coconut flavor. Perfect size for our small family.
Thank you so much for making this cake! So glad you all enjoyed it!