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Coconut layer cake

Posted on Sep 3, 2017 by in Recipes | 6 comments

If you spend a lot of time perusing cakes on Instagram, as I do, you might be aware that buttercream flowers and succulents are kind of a thing right now. What you might not be aware of is that buttercream art of this kind is certainly nothing new to the world of cake decorating.

I recently had the very great pleasure of borrowing a very early edition Betty Crocker cookbook from a friend. The cookbook was published in the early 1980s and contains all matter of kitsch and now firmly outdated cake decorating ideas. But among the pages of gaudy maraschino cherry adorned cakes and mock cream filled bundts was a real treasure. In the back most pages, in a section about fancy buttercream, were some beautifully executed buttercream flowers sitting atop fluffy vanilla cupcakes.

Seeing a cake decorating technique from the past reimagined in the present is really humbling. It’s nice to think that the styles of today may be influenced by what has come before and will be instrumental in shaping what is to come. And so, on that rather poetic note, I present my most recent contribution to the long and rich history of cake decorating.

Coconut cake

425 grams of plain flour

5 teaspoon of baking powder

1 teaspoon of salt

100 grams of unsalted butter (softened)

100 grams of coconut oil (softened but not melted)

500 grams of caster sugar

2 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste

5 large eggs

2 teaspoons of coconut extract

425 millilitres of coconut milk


Coconut swiss meringue buttercream

525 grams of caster sugar

300 grams of egg whites

750 grams of unsalted butter (softened)

2 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste

2 teaspoons of coconut extract

Crushed store bought biscuits

Various green, brown or purple gel food colourings


Make the coconut cake

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C.
  2. Grease and line three eight-inch cake pans with baking paper.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and coconut oil until smooth.
  5. Add the caster sugar to the butter mixture and cream for 3 to 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.
  6. Slowly add the vanilla bean paste and eggs to the butter and sugar mixture. Mix until combined. Add the coconut extract.
  7. Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the coconut milk.
  8. Evenly divide the cake batter between the prepared tins.
  9. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out of the centre of the cupcakes clean. Set aside to cool.

Make the coconut swiss meringue buttercream

  1. Combine the sugar and egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Place the stand mixer bowl over a saucepan of water to create a double boiler. Ensure that the water does not touch the bottom of the stand mixer bowl.
  3. Heat the sugar and egg whites to 70C, stirring occasionally with a whisk.
  4. Once at temperature, transfer the stand mixture bowl to the stand mixer. With a whisk attachments, beat the eggs and sugar on a high speed until stiff peaks are formed.
  5. Change the whisk attachment to a paddle attachment. Add the butter slowly on a low speed.
  6. Add the vanilla bean paste and coconut extract. Combine.

Assemble the coconut layer cake

  1. Once the cakes are completely cooled, level them to ensure that the tops of the cakes are flat.
  2. Using a small amount of buttercream, affix one cake to a cake board or plate.
  3. Spread a small amount of coconut buttercream on the first cake. Repeat with the second and third layer of the cake.
  4. Use the buttercream, frost the top and sides of the cake, smoothing with a scraper to create a ‘semi-naked’ effect.
  5. Divide the remaining buttercream into a series of bowls and tint a range of colours to create the succulents.
  6. To make each of the succulents, affix a small square of baking paper to a flower nail and pipe on different shapes. I used Wilton tips numbers 1, 80, 101 and 104.
  7. Scatter some of the biscuit crumbs on the top of the cake and transfer the succulents to the cake.


  1. This looks so cool! I’ve never seen anything like this before 😀

    • Thanks Beck!

  2. My daughter showed me some you tube videos of succulent cakes – they’re pretty cool. This one is almost too pretty to eat!

    • Thanks Elissa! I guarantee it was devoured!

    • Thank you!

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