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slice of lemon coconut cake on a plate with a fork taking a bite out of it

Lemon Coconut Cake

This lemon coconut cake features deliciously soft coconut cake layers filled with creamy lemon filling and topped with coconut buttercream. It's delicious for Easter, Mother's Day, or any day!

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 24 minutes
Cooling time 3 hours
Total Time 1 hour 24 minutes
Servings 8
Author Kelsie

Ingredients

Cake layers

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup cream of coconut*
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 cup whole milk at room temperature

Lemon filling

  • 1/3 cup very cold heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup very cold lemon curd homemade or store-bought
  • finely grated zest of one lemon see note

Coconut frosting

  • 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons milk or heavy cream as needed for consistency
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

Cake layers

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray 3 8-inch round baking pans with cooking spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Spray the paper with cooking spray and set pans aside.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium mixing bowl. Set aside.
  3. Place the butter, sugar, and cream of coconut in a very large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer set to medium speed until fluffy.
  4. Beat in the eggs, vanilla, and coconut extract to combine. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and add the milk, then beat until well combined.
  5. Turn mixer to low and beat in the dry ingredients until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl again and stir with the spatula a few times to ensure all of the flour is mixed in.
  6. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 24 to 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.
  7. Cool cake layers in pans for 20 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the cake and carefully invert onto wire racks to cool completely before filling and frosting.

Lemon filling

  1. Chill a medium mixing bowl and the beaters for an electric mixer in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  2. Place the the heavy cream in the chilled bowl and beat until it holds soft peaks. Add the powdered sugar and beat until it holds stiff peaks Gently fold in the lemon curd and lemon zest (if using). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or up to 4 hours).

Coconut frosting

  1. Beat butter on medium speed until very smooth. Add 4 tablespoons of milk, the coconut extract, the vanilla extract, and the salt and beat 1 minute more.
  2. With mixer on low, gradually add 4 1/2 cups of powdered sugar; continue beating until combined.
  3. Turn mixer to medium speed and beat until very smooth. If frosting is too thick, add additional coconut milk. If it’s too thin add additional powdered sugar.

Assembly

  1. Transfer about 1 cup of frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe a circle of frosting around the edge of one cake layer. Spread half of the filling inside the circle and top with a second cake layer.
  2. Repeat this process with the remaining filling and cake layer.
  3. Frost the cake with the remaining frosting and decorate as desired. I recommend refrigerating the cake for an hour or two before slicing to let the filling set up a bit but that’s not totally necessary.
  4. Serve and enjoy.
  5. Uneaten cake can be stored in the fridge, covered, for up to 2 days or in the freezer, tightly wrapped, for up to 2 months.

Recipe Notes

  • *NOT coconut cream; they’re very different. I use the brand Coco Lopez, which you can find at most liquor stores or with the drink mixers at the grocery store.
    For a more pronounced lemon flavor, use the lemon zest.
  • For a more subtle lemon flavor, leave it out. You can also add lemon zest to the frosting if you like; add it when you add the coconut and vanilla extracts.
  • If the cake batter looks curdled after you mix in the milk, don’t worry—that’s totally fine! The batter will look normal after you mix in the dry ingredients.
  • Because there are quite a few steps in this recipe, I recommend reading the whole thing through a couple of times before starting to bake. See the body of this post for step-by-step photos to help you out!