For the Triple Coconut Cake
- 2 1/ 4 cups cake flour, or 2 cups all-purpose flour plus 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 1/ 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/ 2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/ 2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2/ 3 cup buttermilk, shaken well before measuring
- 1/ 3 cup coconut milk, shaken well before measuring
- 3/ 4 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/ 4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/ 2 cups granulated sugar
- 5 large eggs, separated, at room termperature
- 1 teaspoon coconut extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- 1 1/ 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut, plus more for decorating
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
- 18 ounces cream cheese
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1/ 4 teaspoon coconut extract
- 1/ 2 lemon, zested
- a pinch of salt
For the Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 3 egg whites
- 1/ 2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- a pinch of salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cubed
For Decorating and Assembling the Cake
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- Raspberry jam
To Make the Coconut Cake
Preheat the oven to 325ºF and adjust the oven racks to the middle position. Grease three 6x3-inch round cake pans. Prepare the ingredients.
In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt. Stir to combine and evenly disperse all the ingredients. Set aside.
Shake the buttermilk and coconut milk well before measuring. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk and coconut milk. Set aside.
Separate the egg yolks and egg whites. Whip the egg whites on medium speed until they’ve reached a stiff peak consistency using either a hand mixer or an electric stand mixer with the whisk attachment. If using the same stand mixer, transfer the whipped egg whites to a bowl, set aside and clean the bowl to make the cake batter.
In the bowl of the electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed for 5-7 minutes until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and reduce the speed to low.
Add the vegetable oil and mix until combined on low.
Add the egg yolks one at a time on low speed making sure each yolk is incorporated before adding the next. Add the coconut extract and vanilla extract. Scape down the bowl and paddle.
Next, we will follow the muffin method alternating between: dry, wet, dry, wet, dry. On low speed, add ⅓ of the flour mixture and mix until about 90% incorporated. Add ½ of the buttermilk/coconut milk mixture and mix until combined. Scrape down the bowl. Add another ⅓ of the flour mixture and mix until 90% incorporated. Add the last ½ of the buttermilk/coconut milk mixture and mix until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl. Add the final ⅓ addition of the flour mixture until 90% incorporated. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and we’ll finish mixing by hand. Add the sweetened shredded coconut and gently fold into the batter using a rubber spatula. Mix until fully combined.
Add the whipped egg whites and gently fold them into the cake batter using a rubber spatula until fully combined.
Portion and divide the cake batter into the three greased 6” x 3” cake pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out cleanly. Cool for 10 minutes in the pans on top of a wire cooling rack and then flip upside down to continue cooling completely. In the meantime, make the cream cheese frosting.
To Make the Cream Cheese Frosting
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the softened cream cheese and butter. Mix on medium-high speed until fully combined. Scrape down the bowl and reduce speed to low.
Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar and mix on low until incorporated so you don’t get confectioners’ sugar everywhere. Then increase the speed to medium-high until light and fluffy.
Add the lemon zest, coconut extract, and a pinch of salt until combined. If you’re using the same-day, then let it sit at room temperature until ready to use. If you’re making ahead, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. When ready to use, bring the cream cheese frosting to room temperature and mix with the paddle attachment to get a smooth texture if needed.
To Make the Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Fill a pot with 2” of water and heat on high until simmering. (Note: Make sure you use a pot that will fit the bowl of your electric stand mixer without touching the bottom of the pot to the simmering water. You want to create a double boiler using steam to gently cook the egg white mixture.)
Combine the sugar, egg whites and salt in the bowl of your electric stand mixer. (TIP: Make sure the bowl is clean with no fat residue and there isn’t a trace of egg yolk in the egg whites otherwise it will not whip up properly.)
Once the water comes to a simmer, reduce the temperature to low and place the bowl on top of the pot. Whisk regularly for about 2-3 minutes until the sugar is fully dissolved. The egg whites should reach 140ºF. Check by rubbing the egg white mixture in between your two index fingers to see if the sugar is dissolved.
Transfer the bowl back to the electric stand mixer and whip on high speed until the bowl is cool to the touch and the meringue is also cool; about 5-7 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and reduce the speed to medium-low. Gradually add the cubes of softened butter, one at a time making sure the softened butter is fully incorporated after each addition. Once you’ve added the butter and it is incorporated, add the vanilla extract, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and switch to the paddle attachment. Mix on low to remove any air bubbles. Otherwise the air bubbles will show when you’re piping or frosting.
Transfer and portion out into small bowls so you can mix your desired colors, add to piping bags fitted with your desired pastry tip, and pipe away! I used Wilton tip #104 for the roses and a Wilton #81 for the chrysanthemums/dahlias. If making ahead, transfer the swiss meringue buttercream to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When ready to use, bring the buttercream to room temperature and whip with the paddle attachment to get the silky smooth texture.
Note: Omit the swiss meringue buttercream if you're not using to pipe. The cream cheese frosting will be enough!
On the layer base cake, pipe the cream cheese frosting on the rim of the edge. Take about 2 tablespoons worth of jam and spread on the cake center (the cream cheese frosting should be creating a rim for the jam stopping it from spilling over). Layer the second cake on top lightly pushing down on the base cake securing the layers. Repeat the rim piping of the cream cheese frosting and jam.
Once all three layers are assembled, cover the cake with the remaining cream cheese frosting generously enough so the coconut flakes can stick to the frosting.
Add your swiss meringue buttercream flowers and serve.