Classic Coconut Cake

“Cake or pie?” He asked.

It was the first interview question I was asked when I interviewed at Uchi two years ago. It was a complete break from the usual generic interview questions:

  • So, tell me a little bit about yourself?
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

Blah blah blah. When you think about it none of that stuff matters. What did matter is if you were a pie person or a cake connoisseur. It was my kind of place.


Truth be told I’m a pie person. I love just about any dessert with fruit in it, and I can’t get enough of a well made buttery, flaky pie crust. When my birthday rolls around, I abandon my pie loving post, and indulge in a different kind of cake every year.

This year, fresh off of a trip to Charleston and stuffing my face with the most delicious coconut cupcake ever from Sugar Bakeshop, I made myself the famed Coconut Cake from Hominy Grill to celebrate.

Bon Appetit’s site explicitly stated that room temperature ingredients made all of the difference in this cake, so plan ahead. I made one slight addition. I added some toasted coconut simple syrup I made to brush in between the layers, because nothing is sadder on a birthday than a dry ass cake, and I wasn’t about to take a chance on an unknown recipe.

If you ever get a craving for coconut cake, this is your recipe. And it doesn’t even need the simple syrup I added. So coconut laden, and that frosting! I would eat a shoe if you frosted it with this stuff. It’s so good.


Hominy Grill’s Classic Coconut Cake

adapted from Bon Appetit


  • Cake:
    • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
    • 2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1 1/3 cups (loosely packed) sweetened flaked coconut
    • 1 cup buttermilk
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 5 large egg yolks
    • 4 large egg whites, room temperature
  • Frosting:
    • 3 1/3 cups powdered sugar
    • 1 8-ounce package philadelphia-brand cream cheese, room temperature
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1 cup (about) sweetened flaked coconut


  • For cake:
    • Preheat oven to 350°F.
    • Coat two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides with nonstick cooking spray; line bottom of pans with parchment paper rounds.
    • Mix flour and coconut in a medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk and baking soda in small bowl. Using a stand mixer, beat sugar and butter with a paddle on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
    • Add egg yolks and mix to combine.
    • Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk mixture in 2 additions, mixing on low just to blend after each addition.
    • Beat egg whites and 1/4 teaspoon salt with a whisk in a large clean bowl until stiff peaks form. Add 1/3 of egg white mixture to the cake batter; fold into batter until just combined. Fold in remaining egg white mixture in 2 additions. Divide batter evenly between both prepared cake pans.
    • Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks for about 10 minutes. Run a small sharp knife around the sides of cake pans. Invert cakes onto the racks. Carefully peel off parchment paper and cool cakes completely.
  • For frosting:
    • Using electric mixer, beat powdered sugar, cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract in large bowl until well blended. Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on cake plate. Spread with 1 cup frosting. Place second layer, flat side up, atop frosting. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle some of coconut over top of cake; pat more coconut on sides of cake.

Can be made one day ahead. Just allow to sit at room temperature a few hours before serving.

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