Orange Coconut Cake

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As spring blossoms into summer, flavors turn from rich and hearty to bright, light, and tropical. When the yearning for a sweet island getaway strikes, you needn’t book a flight to indulge your cravings. Not when this magnificent Orange Coconut Cake can transport your tastebuds from your kitchen to a balmy tropical paradise in a single silky, citrusy bite.

We’re divulging all our secrets to crafting this vacation-inspired cake masterpiece at home, from the fluffy orange-infused layers kissing the coconut cream cheese frosting to the final crown of golden coconut flakes. Follow along, and soon you’ll be island-hopping through flavors of the tropics with every forkful of this sunshine-filled cake.

How Does One Convert Flour and Sugar into Tropical Bliss?

Creating this island-inspired baked good begins much like any from-scratch cake: creaming butter and sugar before whisking in eggs, sour cream, juice, and extracts. But here is where paradise emerges. Freshly grated orange zest plus concentrated orange juice impart vivid citrus essence into the batter. Each tender crumb brims with bright, lip-smacking orange intensity, reminiscent of ripe tropical fruit warmed by the sun.

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To take the cake from daydream-worthy to transporting, shredded coconut gets folded into the batter. As the cake bakes, the subtle sweetness of coconut permeates while coconut flakes turn delicately golden brown. The result after cooling? Three tender orange-packed layers studded with toasty coconut slivers.

How Does One Turn Cream Cheese Frosting into a Tropical Wonderland?

Though oranges command attention in the cake layers, coconut asserts its presence between layers and encasing the confection in a silken cloud of frosting. By creaming cool cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar into freshly whipped, chilled heavy cream, you get the breezy lightness of the cream with a pleasant tang and added stability from the cheese.

A couple teaspoons of coconut extract dial up the intensity of the coconut essence for utter tropical pleasure. Dollop it between cake layers and slather it outside for a flawlessly smooth coconut cloak. Not feeling the pressure of cake decorating? Simply press shredded coconut all over the exterior for a homespun yet splendid look with delicious crunch.

How Does One Assemble This Award-Worthy Tropical Cake Creation?

Once your gorgeous orange cake layers release their heavenly aroma from the oven, allow them to fully cool while you whip up the coconut cream cheese frosting. Find your most resplendent cake stand to display this soon-to-be showstopper.

First, bury the stand under coconut flakes for a sweet snowdrift effect (don’t worry, it won’t go to waste!). Plop a dab of frosting to anchor the initial cake layer. Add a third of the total frosting on top, spreading to just shy of the edges. Crown with the second cake layer and repeat.

Finally, nestle the last cake round atop its fluffy frosting throne. Crumb coat the exterior before chilling briefly to firm things up. Add the remaining frosting in swooping waves and peaks reminiscent of cresting ocean surf. Press more coconut flakes for glistening sand. For some Downtown Abbey-worthy opulence, decorate the top with orange twists, delicate orange blossoms if in season, or shards of crystallized ginger.

Slice into this vision to reveal the contrast of fluffy ivory frosting and rich amber-hued cake popping with jewel-toned orange flecks. Serve chilled with some tropical fruit sliced fresh and an optional drizzle of rum glaze if you really want to escape from reality!

When Should One Indulge in This Edible Island Vacation?

Partake in a mini staycation with this orange coconut cake on any temperate spring or summer day when you crave a taste of the tropics. Bring it along on picnics or to backyard barbecues to give everyone a sweet escape from reality, if only for as long as it takes to polish off a slice (or two!). Make it for brunch paired with mimosas or tea time with strong black coffee for an afternoon pick-me-up, island-style.

Or keep it all for yourself and savor leisurely snacks of it after sunset with a cup of pineapple mint tea, the sweet gardenia scent of the cake mingling with the herbal steam in the air. Let it transport you to a dreamy tropical mindset as you shake off the demands of the day. Wherever and whenever enjoyment takes place, this orange coconut cake is sure to whisk you away on the ultimate armchair island vacation. One delicious, coconut-laced bite at a time.

Orange Coconut Cake Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (400 g) sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature (can be warmed in water)
  • 1/3 cup (81g) whole milk
  • 2 sticks (226 g) unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 3/4 cup (59g) Shredded Sweetened Coconut (like Bakers Angel Flake)
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1 cup (242 g) full-fat sour cream
  • 3 cups (342 g) cake flour (see substitution note)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (6g) coconut extract
  • 3/4 cup (190g) thawed frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon (14g) Orange Extract (e.g., McCormick)
  • 3 teaspoons (12g) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (4g) salt
  • Optional: Orange Coloring Gel

For Whipped Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Two 8 oz (423g) packages full-fat cream cheese, slightly softened
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (6g) coconut extract
  • 2 cups (230g) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 3 cups (696g) heavy whipping cream

Decoration

  • Additional shredded coconut
  • Thin orange slice and zest for garnish

Cake Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour three 8 inch x 2 inch round cake pans; line with parchment.
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and orange zest in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, mix sour cream, milk, orange juice concentrate, coconut, and orange extracts.
  4. Beat softened butter in a mixer, gradually add sugar, and beat until fluffy (3-5 mins).
  5. Add eggs one at a time, blend until the yolk disappears.
  6. On low speed, alternately add flour mixture and sour cream mixture, starting and ending with flour (3 additions of dry, 2 of wet). Add coloring if using.
  7. Fold in shredded coconut and divide batter among pans.
  8. Bake for 28-30 minutes. Cool before removing from pans.

Frosting Instructions

  1. Chill mixing bowl and beaters. Beat cream to stiff peaks and refrigerate.
  2. Blend cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and coconut extracts until smooth.
  3. Gently fold cream cheese mix into whipped cream. Refrigerate if needed.

Assembly

  1. Layer cake with frosting, leaving 1/4-1/2 inch from edge. Optionally, add shredded coconut between layers.
  2. Crumb coat, chill if needed, then apply final frosting coat.
  3. Press shredded coconut around cake and decorate with orange zest and slice.

Note on Cake Flour Substitution

  • For 3 cups of cake flour, use 3 cups all-purpose flour minus 6 tablespoons, replaced with 6 tablespoons cornstarch. Whisk to blend.

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