There are few things that scream Easter to me more than a sweet, fluffy coconut cake. I shared my favorite recipe for a traditional version years ago (six to be exact y’all – T & T gettin’ old af!), and it’s amazing. But, add an additional eight layers to the party? And you really have something that’s a showstopping level of spectacular going on.

I’d tackled the world of Smith Island Cake a couple of years back, and had alot of fun making it. I went with the traditional route then, yellow cake with chocolate icing. But, Smith Island cakes come in a rainbow of flavors these days, one of which is coconut. When I saw this cake gracing the cover of an issue of Edible Delmarva last year, I knew I had to make it.

The cake is the same base recipe that I used the last go-round (word to Francis Kitching, y’all), but instead of chocolate frosting, has a delectable cooked coconut frosting in between each layer. That add up to ten layers of coconutty perfection.

I did take a trick from my traditional coconut cake and added a bit of cream of coconut and coconut extract to the batter and frosting, just to kick the coconut factor up a notch. It was impressive and delicious. I also found the frosting to be alot sturdier and less temperamental than the chocolate fudge-type frosting I’d made in the past. The perfect addition to your spring time table this Easter!

Coconut Smith Island Cake

For the cake:
8 oz (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature (plus additional for greasing pans)
3 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 large eggs
1 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coconut extract
1/2 cup cream of coconut

For the frosting:
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 sticks butter
2 cans (12 oz.) evaporated milk
1/4 cup cream of coconut
1 pound flaked coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coconut extract

Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Use butter to lightly grease ten 9-inch cake pans, or use 2 or 3 cake pans at a time and re-grease them as needed.

Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl, whisk to combine and set aside. Combine the evaporated milk, vanilla and coconut extract, and cream of coconut in a large measuring cup, whisk to combine and set aside.

Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat on medium speed until light and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time; beat until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer.

Place a hefty 1/2 cup of batter into each baking pan, spreading evenly. Bake 2 or 3 layers at a time on the middle oven rack for 8 to 9 minutes. (A layer is done when you hold it near your ear and do not hear it sizzle.) We’re aiming for 10 layers, but 8 or 9 is okay!

While the cakes are baking, make the icing: Cook sugar, butter, evaporated milk, and cream of coconut in a medium pan over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, until mixture begins to thicken (do not boil). Remove from heat. Add 3/4 of the package of coconut, and the extracts, stir off heat until stiffens.

As the cake layers are done, run a spatula around the edge of the pan and ease out the layers. Let them cool. Place the bottom layer on a cake plate; spread 2 or 3 spoonfuls of icing on each layer. (Don’t worry if a layer tears; no one will notice when the cake is finished.) Cover the top and sides of the cake with the remaining icing; push any icing that runs onto the plate back onto the cake. Press remaining coconut onto the top and sides of the cake.

Source: adapted from Mrs. Kitching’s Smith Island Cookbook, via Edible Delmarva


  1. Posted March 30, 2018 at 1:45 PM | Permalink

    Love this so much. You have given me courage to try to make it. Coconut cake is my favorite. This looks amazing.

    Mouth. Already. Watering.

  2. Posted April 3, 2018 at 4:14 PM | Permalink

    Brings me back to my vacation about three years ago when I was having my final dinner at The Village and Coconut Smith Island Cake was the dessert special of the evening. My husband and I attacked that sucker like no one’s business. I think that night he finally got my obsession with Smith Island Cake. Those layers make the frosting:cake ratio so perfect and balanced.

  3. Posted April 5, 2018 at 9:48 AM | Permalink

    Going to the store right away for coconut extract! I am making this cake right away
    .Your pictures are making drool!
    Thaks for the recipe, love from Nepal! xoxo

  4. Jennifer
    Posted May 27, 2018 at 9:00 PM | Permalink

    Are there any ingredients missing from the frosting recipe? I made this exactly and stated and the icing is so watery it would just pour right off the cake. It’s like soup! I’m so bummed because the cake layers turned out great. It was my first time making a Smith Island Cake

    • Posted May 28, 2018 at 8:30 PM | Permalink

      When you cooked it on the stove, it should have become visibly thicker. Then thickened more as it cooled. Humidity tends to effect frosting too. When all else fails, thicken runny frostings with confectioner sugar to get the consistency you like.

  5. Roger
    Posted September 16, 2018 at 4:15 PM | Permalink

    I had the same result as Jennifer it is very runny!

    • Posted October 10, 2018 at 11:41 AM | Permalink

      Sorry to hear this, Roger. Any time you’ve got a runnier than you’d like frosting on your hands, add some confectioner’s sugar and mix well. Works like a charm.

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