Coconut Southern Comfort Layer Cake

From the very first time of seeing this cake in the February edition of bon appetit magazine I have wanted to make it. It just looked beautiful! Plus I love coconut almost as much as I love chocolate, and this cake is all coconut. I had been holding off making it for a while because it has some fairly unusual ingredients in it (meaning they weren’t ingredients that I could go to the baking aisle and pick up). And it meant taking a trip to the liquor store to find Southern Comfort. But don’t let that detour you from making this cake, it was worth ever bit of effort! I am adding this cake to my repertoire.

I took it to work because it is too much cake for my roommate and I. If you just started reading this blog, I work in a cupcake shop. It is really easy to get my co-workers to try a bite but they rarely eat more than that. When you are surrounded by cake all day, the last thing you really want to eat is more cake. So I was really surprised when they started taking slices, and then asking to take slices home! I’d say that means it is pretty good.

Coconut Southern Comfort Layer Cake

9 in cake or an 8 inch if you don’t have 9 inch pans (I made it in 8 inch pans and  it turned out great)
Makes 16-20 servings

Cake Ingredients

nonstick vegetable oil spray (or butter) to coat pans

2 3/4 cups cake flour plus more for pans
2 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut (not flaked coconut)
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
2 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
5 large eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil, warmed to melt (i recommend using refined oil because it can be heated to 360 degrees)
1 cup buttermilk

Frosting and Assembly

4 cups unsweetened coconut chips
2 8oz packages cream cheese, room temp
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/2 tbsp plus 1/4 cup Southern Comfort1/2 tsp salt
5 cups sifted powdered sugar

So if you decide to make this cake note: that you may be able to find these ingredients at your local grocery store but you are better off going to a store like Whole Foods (which is a natural food store). I was able to find coconut oil and unsweetened shredded coconut at my local Fred Meyer. But I had to go Whole Foods to find unsweetened coconut chips.

Cake Directions

Arrange racks in top and bottom thirds of oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Coat cake pans with nonstick spray or butter, and coat with flour. Whisk 2 3/4 cups flour and next three ingredients in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat sugar and butter at medium speed, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, until smooth, 3-4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions. Beat until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.

Gradually beat in oil. Beat in dry ingredients at low speed in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Divide among four 9in cake pans* (about 2 generous cups batter per pan); smooth tops with a spatula.

Bake until a tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 22-27 minutes. Transfer pans to wire racks; let cool in pans for 5 minutes. Invert cakes onto racks, remove pans, and let cakes cool completely.

Frosting and Assembly

This step can be a do ahead : Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place coconut chips in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Toast until some of the chips are golden brown (some will remain white), 5-7 minutes;* let cool completely. If doing ahead of time store in an airtight container at room temp.

Using and electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter on high speed, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, until smooth and creamy, 2-3 minutes. Add 1 1/2 tbsp Southern Comfort and salt; beat to blend, about 1 minute longer. Add sifted powdered sugar; beat on low speed to blend. Increase to high; beat until fluffy, 5-6 minutes.

Using a long serrated knife, cut each cake in half horizontally.* Place 1 layer, cut side up, on a cake stand or plate. Lightly brush with about 1/2 tbsp of Southern Comfort. Spread 1/2 cup frosting over layer.** Repeat with remaining 7 layers, Southern Comfort, and frosting. Chill cake for 30 minutes.* Leave the remaining frosting at room temp.

Cover the sides of chilled cake with frosting. Cover cake loosely with foil and chill overnight- I didn’t do this, I was to inpatient to wait overnight; I just wanted to try the cake. I frosted my cake and then covered the sides right away with toasted coconut chips. I believe the reason the recipe says to, is because it gives the Southern Comfort time to soak into the cake. But I thought it tasted great without this step. – Keep chilled. Let cake stand at room temp for at least 30 minutes. Gently pat handfuls of toasted coconut chips over sides and top of cake and serve.*

Tips and Tricks

1. If you don’t have 4 cake pans, just fill the number that you have, and then fill and bake the rest later.

2. I prefer to turn the coconut chips half way during the toasting process. So that the chips are all a little golden brown

3. Cake decorators cut cakes on a turn-table because it is easier to get a smooth even cut. I don’t have a turn table, so I just clean up my lazy susan and use that. It does the exact same thing for less money.

4. When frosting or filling a cake it is usually best to keep a blob if icing a head of where you are trying to spread it. This helps prevent getting cake crumbs in the frosting.

5. Ooooppps! I bet this has all happened to us. You are frosting a cake and you get hole in your frosting, just like the pic below. This actually happens because of the way you are holding your knife or spatula. You are frosting with the spatula level to the cake.  Try frosting with the edges of it in a back and forth motion. Almost like you would if you were trying to scrape the frosting off. Just don’t press too hard or you will. If that doesn’t work, try frosting with the top inch of the spatula. This tip works especially well while frosting a very dense filling.

6. Chilling a cake after you fill it is a great idea to do with all cakes. It will make the cake more sturdy and less likely to slide around on you when are frosting the outside.

7. I recommend sifting the coconut to get out the tiny pieces before you press it into the cake.

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One response

  1. I too could not wait for the opportunity to collect ingredients and make this cake. I pretty much made the cake as instructed and it came out wonderful. In the cake itself I used sweetened coconut and cut back on the sugar by 1/4 cup. I did not slice the 9 inch round cakes horizontally and as a result the cake was 4 layers and not 8. The end product was beautiful, delicious, dense yet moist like a slice of carrot cake would be.. It is definitely worth making again.

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