Easy Homemade Lemon Coconut Cake recipe has moist coconut cake layers with fresh lemon curd filling, all covered in a fluffy lemon cream cheese frosting. Learn how to make an old fashioned coconut cake made from scratch or a simplified version using a cake mix.
Place all ingredients in a double boiler. (If you don't have a double boiler, use a metal bowl or smaller saucepan placed over a pot of water). Fill water in lower pot only a couple inches, so it isn't touching upper pot. Bring water to a gentle simmer. Heat ingredients while whisking constantly and vigorously.
Continue heating and whisking until mixture thickens, coats the back of a spoon, and reaches a temperature of 170°F. The volume will build slightly and become paler.TIP:To measure the temperature accurately, remove the mixture from the simmering water before testing temp. Otherwise, it could read a falsely high temperature, which would mean the eggs haven't cooked or the filling won't thicken upon cooling.
Pour the lemon curd into a heat proof bowl and press plastic wrap to the surface of the curd. This will help avoid a film developing. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour. If making ahead, transfer lemon curd to airtight container and refrigerate for 1-2 weeks.
Coconut Layer Cake
Preheat oven to 325ºF. Spray THREE 9 inch cake pans with cooking spray. Line each bottom with a cut-to-size parchment or wax paper circle. Spray again and set aside.
In a large bowl place sugar, softened butter, and vegetable oil. Beat until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add room temperature egg yolks, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Mix in coconut extract, lemon extract, and lemon zest.
In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add about 1/3 flour mixture to creamed butter mixture. Mix well. Then add 1/3 coconut milk and mix well. Continue alternating between flour and coconut milk, beating well between each addition. After all the flour and coconut milk has been added, stir in shredded coconut. Set batter aside.
In a separate bowl, with a clean, dry beaters, beat together egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/4 of beaten egg whites into cake batter. Then gently fold in the remaining whites until no streaks remain.
Divide and spread batter between three prepared cake pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes and then turn onto wire racks to cool completely.
Fluffy Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
In a large mixing bowl beat together cream cheese, powdered sugar, heavy cream, lemon zest, and lemon extract until smooth and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes.
Gently fold in whipped topping until well mixed and no streaks remain.
Place first cooled cake layer on platter. Tuck strips of waxed paper underneath edges to catch drips and keep serving platter clean.
Spread half lemon filling evenly on top of first cake layer. Place second cake layer on top and spread on remaining lemon curd. Top with third cake layer.
Spread on frosting, starting at top and working evenly around the sides using an offset spatula. Decorate cake with additional coconut and fresh lemon slices, if desired.
If making the cake ahead of time, store in the refrigerator, loosely covered. Set out 2 hours before serving to come to room temperature. Securely wrap and refrigerate any leftovers.
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Coconut Cake With a Cake Mix
Make lemon coconut cake recipe even easier by using a yellow cake mix! To save more time substitute store bought lemon curd for the homemade lemon cake filling.Please note a cake mix will only make a two layer cake so you will need half the amount of lemon filling. Extra lemon curd may be used in yogurt, on biscuits, ice cream, cheesecake, crepes, or pancakes.
Beat together yellow cake mix with 1/2 cup softened butter, 3/4 cup canned coconut milk, 1/2 cup water, and 3 whole eggs.
Mix first on low to combine ingredients and then increase speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes.
Divide between TWO layer cake pans, lined with parchment paper on the bottom and sprayed with cooking spray.
Bake 350ºF for 33-36 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in cake pans. Turn onto wire racks and cool completely.
Make lemon cake filling (using only half for cake) or substitute store bought lemon curd.
Prepare fluffy lemon cream cheese frosting and assemble layer cake.
How to Fix Lemon Curd that didn't thicken
Measuring the temperature is key for making thick and silky lemon curd. I use my favorite kitchen gadget, an instant read thermometer, to check the temp in seconds. For best results, remove the double boiler when checking to see if temperature has reached 170ºF. This avoids getting a falsely high temperature reading.
Try reheating it. Place it back in the double boiler and whisk vigorously while heating again. Chances are the mixture did not reach a temperature of 170ºF the first time.
If that doesn't work, use cornstarch as a thickener. Mix a little of the lemon filling with 1 teaspoon cornstarch and whisk back into the double boiler. Heat through and whisk until thickened. You may have to add up to 1 tablespoon cornstarch, depending on how thin it is.
Cool Whip Topping Substitution
If you prefer to not use store bought whipped topping, increase the amount of powdered sugar by 3 tablespoons. Next, beat 1 1/2 cups heavy cream until stiff, and fold that into the cream cheese mixture.