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Coconut-White Chocolate Birthday Cake - CopyMarch always means two things to me: daffodils and birthdays. Both my mum and brother have birthdays this month, only eight days apart, which means lots of celebration cake baking in a very short period of time.

Coconut-White Chocolate Layer CakeBut I like that! A layer cake is one of the most fun recipes to create. For my brother’s birthday this past weekend, I decided to make a coconut-white chocolate cake, as he is very fond of the white chocolate-coconut truffles that I frequently sell at my stall at our local markets.

Coconut and white chocolate--a favourite combinationI needed an eggless cake though, because of my mother’s allergy. So I tinkered around with a recipe for a silver-white cake that I had used successfully in the past, working in coconut milk and toasted coconut.

Eggless coconut cakeI wanted a cake that truly tasted of coconut on its own: I wasn’t going to just coat a vanilla cake with shredded coconut and call it “coconut cake.” Well, this one does have a good, strong coconut flavour, and is so lovely and moist.

White Chocolate-Coconut GanacheI made a white chocolate-coconut ganache to use as the filling, and I substituted coconut milk for the more usual cream in the ganache as well, in order to get in as much coconut as possible.

Split each cake into two layersFor the frosting, I made a recipe I have long been wanting to try: boiled milk buttercream. I can’t ever use meringue buttercream for family birthday cakes, obviously; but that was the icing we always used at pastry school, and I have missed its delicate, silky texture. I am delighted to find that boiled milk buttercream has an almost identical flavour and mouthfeel! I don’t think I will be using any other buttercream for birthday cakes from now on.

Spread the white chocolate-coconut ganache between layersAnd then I actually did coat the assembled cake in toasted coconut—but that was only for looks, this cake didn’t need any help in the flavour department.

Coat with toasted coconutIt was a tremendous hit with everybody, and I absolutely loved developing the recipe and executing it. So happiness all around.

A Slice of Coconut-White Chocolate Layer CakeYou may not have any birthdays this month, but somehow I don’t think that should keep you from joining in. And if you need a more substantial reason to bake a layer cake than “I want to,” Easter is just around the corner . . .

ca865-we_should_cocoa_v3This cake is my submission to Choclette’s We Should Cocoa challenge, which is being hosted this month by Maison Cupcake. The theme is layer cakes.

Bake-of-the-weekI am also linking up with Casa Costello’s Bake of the Week.

Four-Layer Coconut White Chocolate Layer CakeCoconut-White Chocolate Layer Cake


For the white chocolate filling:

1 ½ oz. dessicated coconut

6 oz. white chocolate, finely chopped

3 ½ oz. coconut milk

For the coconut cake:

1 cup (85 g.) dessicated coconut

1 ¼ cups + 2 tablespoons (210 g.) white spelt flour, sifted

¾ cup (150 g.) golden caster sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 ¾ teaspoons baking powder

½ cup (120 ml) cold water

½ cup (120 ml) coconut milk

1 tablespoon white vinegar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

¼ cup (60 g.) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

For the boiled-milk buttercream:

½ cup (120 ml) whole milk

2 tablespoons (20 g.) all-purpose flour

4 oz. (115 g.) unsalted butter, at room temperature

½ cup (100 g.) caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Toasted sweetened coconut, for garnishing


  1. Make the filling the night before. Preheat the oven to 175°C/350°F and spread the coconut out in an even layer on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and toast until gold and fragrant, 5 to 10 minutes, rotating the pan and stirring the coconut halfway through so that it colours evenly. Let cool.
  2. Place the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl, and pour the coconut milk into a small saucepan.
  3. Bring the coconut milk to a simmer over medium heat and then pour it over the white chocolate. Let stand for 30 seconds before gently whisking the chocolate and coconut milk together to form a smooth ganache. Stir in the cooled toasted coconut, cover, and allow to set over night.
  4. To make the cake, line two 6-inch round pans with parchment paper and butter the sides of the pans. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F.
  5. Spread the dessicated coconut over a baking sheet and toast it in the oven, stirring frequently, until the coconut is fragrant and beginning to take on a little colour. It doesn’t need to be golden, this is just about releasing flavour.
  6. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, golden caster sugar, baking powder, and baking soda.
  7. In a liquid measure or pitcher, combine the water, coconut milk, vinegar, vanilla extract, and melted butter.
  8. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir to combine. Mix in the toasted coconut.
  9. Divide the cake batter evenly between the two pans and place in the oven.
  10. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
  11. Cool the layers in the pans for 10 minutes, and then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.
  12. While the cakes are cooling, make the buttercream. In a small saucepan, whisk together 2 tablespoons of the milk and the flour, making sure to press out any lumps with a rubber spatula.
  13. Place over low heat and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly.
  14. Simmer for 30 seconds; then pour the boiled milk mixture into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the milk, in order to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool.
  15. Once the milk is cool, place the butter and caster sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and cream on medium-high speed for 5 minutes.
  16. Beat in the vanilla extract and the cooled milk mixture, and continue to mix on medium-high spead for another five minutes. The frosting should be very light and silky smooth.
  17. Now everything is ready to put together! Using a long serrated knife, slice each cake into two even layers. Place one on a serving plate and spread one-third of the white chocolate-coconut ganache over it. Repeat the layering with two more of the layers, and then finish by placing the last cake layer on top. Press down lightly to secure.
  18. Brush any loose crumbs away from the top and sides of the cake and ice with the boiled-milk buttercream. Coat the sides of the cake with toasted sweetened coconut, cut into slices, and serve.

Yield: 1 6-inch cake; 6 servings