As I mentioned in my earlier post, we’re in the States of about two months and had a great time being in the Land of the Free and the Brave on Memorial Day! We joined the crowd in  Barrington (R.I.) for the town parade and then for the ceremonies on the lawn of the Town Hall.  Made me proud to be an American. And what–you ask–is the connection between a patriotic holiday and coconut cake? This is!


This Fresh Coconut Cake is one of our family’s favorites–and, of course, it’s luscious any time of the year, even if you don’t dress it up for a holiday.


If you are thinking about possibly making this delicious cake for your guests this weekend, there are two important–and somewhat unusual things you should know. First, you must use fresh (or fresh frozen) coconut to make it–not the dried, shredded type commonly found in grocery stores. I used to bring a few packages back to Rhode Island with me from the South when we lived here, and would store them in my freezer. What a surprise to learn last week that Rhode Island Walmart now sells fresh, frozen coconut in their food section! It’s available near the frozen berries–I found it “hidden” on the very top shelf in the freezer section, a little hard to find. Here’s what it looks like, so you’ll know what you’re looking for:


The second important thing to know is that you need to make the cake 2-3 days ahead of serving to give all of that moisture time to soak into the cake. Absolutely yummy! Plus, it’s actually quite convenient to make this dessert several days ahead of time since usually you’re busy the day you have guests, right?

Here’s what you need to make it:


If you live outside of the U.S., you probably can’t get several of these ingredients so I’ve added some substitution ideas into the recipe below.


Coconut Cake

Yield: Serves 12-15 depending on slice size

Fresh Coconut Cake


  • 1 box butter-type cake mix (or Simple White Cake, see recipe below)
  • 1 1/2 C. (375 g) sugar
  • 1 1/2 C. (300 g) sour cream (or plain, whole-milk yogurt)
  • 12 oz. frozen coconut, thawed (or 1 1/2 C.–300 g–freshly grated coconut)
  • 1 1/2 C. Cool Whip or 200 g. heavy cream, sweetened and whipped



  1. Prepare the cake mix according to package directions. (Or use the Simple White Cake recipe below) Bake in 2 round layers.
  2. When cool, use a large serrated knife to cut each layer in half horizontally.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the cake filling: Combine the sugar, sour cream and coconut in a medium bowl. Blend well.
  4. Set aside 1 C. of the sour cream mixture and spread the remaining filling between the 3 layers of the cake–the top layer will be frosted.
  5. For the frosting, blend together the reserved sour cream mixture and the whipped topping. Spread on the top and sides of the cake.
  6. Refrigerate covered 2-3 DAYS.


I often garnish this cake with toasted coconut (the dry, shredded coconut I told you to avoid in the cake itself)…but this plain, white cake is almost a palette waiting for your creative expression for holidays. I used blueberries and strawberries to make it patriotic…would have liked to used raspberries but there weren’t any at the store that day. On Valentines Day you could either tint the frosting pink, bake the cake in heart shaped pans, or just use pink or red candies to form a heart on the top. At Christmas I’ve sometimes tinted dried coconut green and sprinkled it on the outside edge of the cake to look like a wreath. Even orange-tinted coconut and some chocolate or licorice candy could make a Jack-O-Lantern on Halloween, though I’ve never tried that yet. What ideas do you have?

So if you like coconut, you’re going to love this cake! Head down to your nearest Walmart for the fresh, frozen coconut, or maybe your local open-air market for a fresh one, if you live abroad. Here’s the recipe for a Simple White Cake if you don’t have a cake mix available where you live! Enjoy!


Simple White Cake

Yield: Makes 2 (9 inch/22 cm) layers

Simple White Cake


  • 4 eggs
  • 2 C. (500 g) sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 C. (250 g) flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 C. (250 ml) milk
  • 2 T. butter



  1. Beat the eggs for 3-4 minutes or until thick. Gradually add the sugar, beating constantly. Add the vanilla.
  2. Combine the flour, salt and baking powder; add to egg mixture. Mix well.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the milk and butter to the boiling point. Add all at once, beating well. The batter is very thin.
  4. Pour it into a greased 9-in./22 cm. round pan. Bake at 350° F (180° C) for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.



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