Coconut layer cake, split and filled with lemon or lime curd and slathered with fluffy 7-minute frosting and a blizzard of shredded coconut, is a mainstay of the Southern kitchen. We’ve updated this classic with our moist buttermilk cake, homemade lime curd and coconut buttercream, topped with a flurry of colorful flowers and finely grated lime zest. The lime curd and coconut buttercream can both me made up to 3 days in advance.
Coconut and Lime Curd Layer Cake
For the lime curd:
- 8 egg yolks
- 1 1/2 cups (6 oz./180 g) sugar
- 2 Tbs. grated lime zest
- 3/4 cup (6 fl. oz./180 ml) fresh lime juice
- 3/4 cup (6 oz./180 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
For the coconut buttercream:
- 1 cup (8 oz./250 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) coconut milk
- 4 cups (1 lb./500 g) confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. coconut extract
- 1/8 tsp. tsp. salt
For the cake:
- 1 cup (8 oz./250 g) plus 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing
- 4 cups (1 1/4 lb./625 g) plus 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 3 3/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1 1/8 tsp. baking soda
- 1 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
- 4 egg whites plus 2 eggs
- 3 cups (1 1/2 lb./750 g) sugar
- 1 1/2 Tbs. vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups (18 fl. oz./560 ml) buttermilk
- Edible flowers for garnish (optional)
- Grated lime zest for garnish (optional)
1. To make the lime curd, in a saucepan over medium heat, combine the egg yolks, sugar, and lime zest and juice. Cook, whisking often, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Add the butter and cook, stirring often, until melted, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook, whisking constantly, until the curd starts to thicken, about 1 minute longer. Strain the lime curd through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days. Makes 1 cup (250 ml).
2. To make the coconut buttercream, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and coconut milk on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and coconut extracts, and salt, raise the speed to medium-high and beat until combined, about 1 minute, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
3. To make the cake, preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease three 8-inch (20-cm) round cake pans, line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper then grease the parchment. Dust with flour, then tap out any excess.
4. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
5. In the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together the egg whites and 1 cup (8 oz./250 g) of the sugar on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
6. In the clean bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and the remaining 2 cups (1 lb./500 g) sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and vanilla and beat until incorporated, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk and beginning and ending with the flour and beat until combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Raise the speed to high and beat for 20 seconds.
7. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the butter mixture until completely incorporated, taking care not to deflate the peaks.
8. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer the pans to wire racks and let cool for 10 minutes, then invert the cakes onto the racks and let cool completely.
9. Transfer one-fourth of the buttercream to a pastry bag and cut a 1/2-inch (12-mm) opening.
10. To assemble the cake, place 1 cake layer, top side up, on a cake stand or serving plate. Pipe a ring of buttercream around the edge of the cake, then fill the center with half of the lime curd. Top with a second cake layer, pipe a ring of buttercream and fill the center with the remaining lime curd. Top with the third cake layer and spread the remaining buttercream over the top. If desired, reserve a small amount of buttercream and spread a thin layer on the sides to create a “naked” cake effect.
11. Garnish the cake with edible flowers and lime zest and serve. Serves 18.
Discover a swoon-worthy collection of cakes in the stunning cookbook
Favorite Cakes, by the cooks of the Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen.