• Yield: Makes one 9-inch 3-layer round cake

  • Time: 45 minutes prep, 1 hour cooking, 1 hour 45 minutes total


Here is an incredibly moist - almost soggy - Southern coconut cake. I was trying to make a cake like the wonderful coconut cakes of my youth - my favorite at dinner-on-the-grounds events. I have tried and tried to make the cake that I remembered so well, but not until I tasted Betty McCool's coconut cake did I find it. Betty is a musician and a wonderful home cook who makes incredible desserts. Her Coconut Soaking Solution and Icing are fabulous! This was the Dinner-on-the-Grounds Coconut Cake that I remembered. I used my Magnificent Moist Golden Cake layers and Betty's Soaking Solution and Icing.

What This Recipe Shows: Cut cake layer surfaces are turned up for the bottom and middle layers to encourage the soaking of icing into the layers.


  • 1 recipe Magnificent Moist Golden Cake (recipe follows), baked, cooled, and sliced into 3 layers

  • Betty McCool's Ole Time Coconut Soaking Solution (recipe follows), warm

  • 1 package (6 oz/170g) frozen grated coconut

  • Betty McCool's Coconut Icing (recipe follows)

Magnificent Moist Golden Cake:

  • Nonstick cooking spray with flour

  • 5 tablespoons (2.5 oz, 71 gm) unsalted butter, cut in 2 tablespoon (1 oz, 28 gm) pieces

  • 1-1/2 cups (10.5 oz, 297 gm) sugar

  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract

  • 1/3 cup (79 ml) (2.46 oz, 70 gm) canola oil

  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract

  • 3 large egg yolks (1.95 oz, 55 gm)

  • 2 large eggs (3.5 oz, 99 gm)

  • 1/3 cup (79 ml) buttermilk

  • 1-3/4 cups about (7.1 oz, 198 gm) spooned and leveled, cake flour (NO SUBSTITUTE--the cake will be sunken in the center and simply will not work correctly if other flours are used)

  • 1 3/4 teaspoons (8 gm) baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 gm) salt

  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) heavy cream

Betty McCool's Ole Time Coconut Soaking Solution:

  • 1 cup (237 ml) whole milk

  • 1 cup (7 oz/198 g) sugar

  • 1 package (6 oz/170 g) frozen grated coconut

Betty McCool's Coconut Icing:

  • 1 cup (7 oz/198 g) sugar

  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) water

  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 g) cream of tartar

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (7.5 ml) pure vanilla extract

  • 1/3 cup (79 ml) light corn syrup

  • 3 large egg whites (3 oz/85 g)


Magnificent Moist Golden Cake
(Makes one 9 x 2-inch (23 x 5-cm) round layer)

This is a wonderfully moist, sweet cake that I developed because I can't stand dry cakes. This makes a single thick layer that can be sliced horizontally into 3 layers and used for many different cakes. Having moist, sweet layers can dramatically improve any cake creation. This is a level, perfectly shaped cake. The top does brown but, since you invert the cake, this is not a problem.

What This Recipe Shows: A balanced recipe (balanced weights of tenderizing and toughening ingredients) creates a successful cake. The creaming method of mixing incorporates a maximum amount of fine air bubbles into the batter for a light cake. The correct butter, sugar, egg, bowl, and room temperature, as well as creaming time, contribute to lightness in the texture of the cake. Adding the flavorings to the fat, which is an excellent flavor carrier, distributes the flavors well. Whipped cream adds moisture, great flavor, and gives the cake a soft, velvet texture.

1. Arrange a shelf in the lower third of the oven, place a baking stone on it, and preheat the oven to 350 F/177 C.

2. Spray a 9 x 2-inch (23 x 5-cm) round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray and line with a parchment circle. (I very lightly spray the top of the parchment, too.)

3. In a mixer on medium speed, beat the butter to soften. Beat until it is light in color, about 3 minutes. Add sugar and continue to beat (cream) until very light, scraping down the sides and across the bottom of the bowl at least once. While creaming, feel the bowl; if it does not feel cool, place in the freezer for 5 minutes, then continue creaming.

4. Beat in the vanilla. On medium speed, blend in the oil.

5. On the lowest mixer speed, blend in the yolks, one at a time, mixing just to blend. Blend in the whole eggs, one at a time, mixing just to blend.

6. In a medium mixing bowl, beat flour, baking powder, and salt for 30 full seconds at medium speed with a hand mixer or with a fork or whisk by hand.

7. On the slowest mixer speed, blend over 1/2 of the flour mixture into the batter. Continue on slowest speed and blend in 1/2 of the buttermilk. Continue adding the remainder of the flour until all is incorporated. Blend in the remaining buttermilk.

8. In a cold bowl with cold beaters, whip cream until soft peaks form when the beater is lifted. Stir about 1/4 of the whipped cream into the batter to lighten. Then, fold the rest of the whipped cream into the batter.

9. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Drop the pan onto the counter from a height of about 4 inches (10 cm) to knock out bubbles. Place the cake in the oven on the stone and bake until the center springs back when touched, or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean but moist, about 40 minutes. Ideally, the cake should not pull away from the sides until it has just come out of the oven. The center temperature should be about 209 F/98 C if you check by inserting an instant read thermometer.

10. Place in the pan on a rack to cool, about 10 minutes, then shake the pan to loosen the cake all around. Spray a cooling rack with nonstick cooking spray and invert the cake onto the rack to finish cooling. Peel off the parchment. Cool completely before slicing into layers, storing or icing.

Betty McCool's Ole Time Coconut Soaking Solution

1. In a medium saucepan, stir the milk, sugar, and coconut together.

2. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Let cool slightly. Can be used hot or warm.

Betty McCool's Coconut Icing

1. Place all the ingredients in the top of a double boiler over simmering water.

2. Beat with a hand beater until icing thickens, about 8 minutes. Allow to cool 5 minutes before pouring on the cake.

Assembling the Cake

1. Place a cake layer cut side up on a serving platter, serving dish, or cardboard cake circle. Spoon one-third of the Coconut Soaking Solution over the bottom layer, then place next layer on and spoon on another third. Place top layer on cut side down and spoon all remaining soaking solution on the cake.

2. Sprinkle the coconut over top layer that you have already poured soaking solution on. Now pour on the icing, allowing it to drip down the sides of the cake.

3. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. Best if refrigerated overnight, covered with a plastic or glass cake dome. Serve cold.

Reprinted from BakeWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking with Over 200 Magnificent Recipes by Shirley O. Corriher (Scribner, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2008). Copyright 2008 by Confident Cooking, Inc.

Shirley O. Corriher is a writer, author, biochemist, teacher and lecturer. She writes a column for The Los Angeles Times' "Great Chefs" series as well as articles in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Her book Cookwise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Cooking is received a James Beard award.