Snow White Coconut Layer Cake

This gorgeous Coconut Cake starts with layers of velvety white cake. The layers are doused with coconut rum syrup and filled with a special coconut-rum frosting. (The rum is optional.) It’s so pretty and so tasty.

a coconut cake on a glass cake stand.

How this Coconut Cake is different from all the others

A typical Coconut Cake recipe has shredded coconut in the cake batter and the cake is layered with cream cheese frosting. Do a quick Google search and you’ll see how similar they all are.

But my Snow White Coconut Cake has two key differences that I think improves on the basic Coconut Cake.

The base for this cake is my Velvety White Cake. The best thing about that cake, as you can guess from the name, is the velvety texture. I didn’t want shards of coconut interfering with that wonderful crumb.

How to add coconut flavor into the cake? Brush it with lots of coconut/rum syrup (rum is optional). The syrup infuses the cake with a delicious coconut/rum flavor.

Now for the frosting… While I am a huge fan of cream cheese frosting it does have a very distinct, tangy flavor. I didn’t want the coconut flavor to complete with tangy cream cheese flavor. My cake is filled and frosted with luscious Coconut Ermine Frosting.

Ermine frosting is a milk based frosting thickened with a little flour. The frosting has a fairly neutral flavor which really lets the coconut flavor shine. There’s a full 1 1/2 cups of coconut milk in the frosting.

With the white cake, layers of white frosting and a coating of white coconut flakes, a slice of this snow white cake is very striking to see.


ingredients for making coconut cake on a white surface.

Ingredient Notes

  • White Cake – Velvety white cake is the perfect base for this cake. When you slice the cake the pure white layers, frosting and coconut are very striking.
  • Coconut milk – Use unsweetened canned coconut milk, not the type sold in a milk carton. Canned coconut milk has less water and more coconut flavor.
  • Rum – Remember, alcohol enhances other flavors. That being said, the rum is optional.
  • Shredded Coconut – You can use toasted coconut to finish the cake if you prefer the look and flavor.

The Process for making Coconut Layer Cake

See the recipe card for detailed measurements and instructions.

A mixing bowl filled with butter and frosting.
  • Combine the flour, sugar, salt and coconut milk in a small saucepan.
  • Cook until it thickens to a pudding-like consistency. Remove from the heat and add the rum and vanilla. Set the pudding aside to cool.
  • Cream the butter, then add the cooled pudding.
  • Whip the frosting until it’s light and fluffy.
brush syrup and spreading frosting on a white cake layer.
  • Trim the browned edges from the two cakes and split each cake into 2 layers. Place the first layer onto a cake plate (flat side down) and brush it generously with the coconut-rum syrup.
  • Spread a layer of coconut frosting on the layer.
  • Place the next layer on the cake and continue adding the other layers. End with the top layer flat side up.
A stacked cake before and after frosting. A hand spreading coconut on a cake.
  • Ice the cake with a crumb coating of frosting. Refrigerate until the icing is firm.
  • Ice the cake with the rest of the frosting.
  • Coat the entire top and sides of the cake with shredded coconut.

Recipe Tips

  • To work ahead the cake layers can be baked and held at room temperature for 1-2 days or frozen for up to a month.
  • The frosting can be made ahead and refrigerated for 1-2 days. Bring it back to room temperature and rewhip it before assembling the cake.
  • I don’t put shredded coconut between the layers because I don’t want that the texture inside the cake. If you want more shredded coconut you can sprinkle some on each layer as you build the cake. Make sure to mix it into the frosting a bit or the layers may separate.

Storage & Serving

The cake should be served at room temperature. Because the frosting is cooked, the cake can be kept at room temperature for 5-6 hours. After 5-6 hours refrigerate the cake. Bring it back to room temperature before serving. Leftover slices of cake can be wrapped and frozen for up to a month.

a slice of coconut cake on a glass plate.

More Coconut Recipes

Now that you’ve made this recipe what should you do with the extra yolks? Check out this collection of recipes that use extra yolks for some great ideas.

If you love this recipe

a slice of coconut cake and a fork on a glass plate.
Print Recipe
4.63 from 24 reviews

Snow White Coconut Cake

Velvety white cake is flavored with plenty of coconut rum syrup and is filled and iced with creamy coconut-rum frosting. This cake is as delicious as it is pretty.
Prep Time1 hour
Bake Time35 minutes
Total Time1 hour 35 minutes
16 servings
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  • 7 oz sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 recipe Velvety White Cake (baked in two 8" pans and cooled to room temperature.)

Coconut Rum Syrup

  • 3 oz granulated sugar ( cup)
  • 4 oz water (½ cup)
  • 1 oz rum (2 tablespoons (optional))
  • 4 oz unsweetened canned coconut milk (¼ cup)

Coconut Rum Frosting

  • 2 ½ oz all purpose flour (½ cup)
  • 12 oz sugar (1 ½ cups)
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • 12 oz unsweetened canned coconut milk (1 ½ cups)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 oz rum (2 tablespoons (optional))
  • 12 oz unsalted butter (room temperature)



  • Combine 3 oz granulated sugar and 4 oz water in a small saucepan and heat over medium high heat until all the sugar is dissolved. Remove the syrup from the heat. Add 1 oz rum and 4 oz unsweetened canned coconut milk and cool to room temperature. The syrup can be made several days ahead and refrigerated

Make the frosting

  • Combine 2 ½ oz all purpose flour, 12 oz sugar and ¼ teaspoon table salt in a small saucepan, whisk to combine. Slowly whisk in 12 oz unsweetened canned coconut milk until smooth. Heat the mixture over medium low, whisking constantly, until it begins to boil.
  • Continue to cook and stir for 2-3 minutes until it thickens to a pudding-like texture. Immediately remove from the heat. Transfer to a small bowl, stir in 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and 1 oz rum, cool to room temperature.
  • Cream 12 oz unsalted butter until light and fluffy. Add the pudding, a tablespoon at a time, until completely incorporated. Switch to the whisk attachment and whip the buttercream until it’s light and fluffy.


  • Trim the browned edges and slice off the domed top of each cake layer. Split each cake in half horizontally so you have 4 layers.
  • Set aside one half of the frosting for icing the cake, use the rest of the frosting for filling the cake.
  • Place the first cake layer on the serving platter and brush generously with the coconut-rum syrup. Scoop ⅓ of the filling onto the layer and spread evenly. Repeat with the syrup and filling for the next 2 layers. Place the last layer on the cake and brush with syrup.
  • Use the reserved frosting to ice the cake with a thin "crumb coat", then refrigerate until firm. Use the remaining icing to frost the top and sides of the cake. Coat the entire top and sides of the cake with the coconut flakes.
  • Serve at room temperature. Leftovers should be refrigerated.

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The cake can be held at room temperature for 5-6 hours. Any longer the cake should be stored in the refrigerator. Take it out 1-2 hours before serving so it can come to room temperature.


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 523kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 46mg | Sodium: 303mg | Potassium: 151mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 46g | Vitamin A: 531IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 83mg | Iron: 2mg
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @eileen.bakingsense or tag #bakingsense!

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I have just finished making your cake, nearly exactly as written (I replaced rum flavoring with coconut), and all I can say is WOW!! This is definitely in the top 3 of the best, most decadent, most delicious cakes I have ever had the pleasure of making. And eating. 🙂

    I cannot thank you enough for sharing this treasure!!

  2. 4 stars
    The cake and frosting taste great. I had a problem with the frosting not getting fluffy and staying runny. I had to add powdered sugar to what was left after I put the runny frosting in the middle. The cake layers kept sliding. So I chilled it while dumping powdered sugar into what was left. Then I frosted but it was sliding. I don’t know what went wrong. If anyone has suggestions I would appreciate it.

    1. Most likely your “pudding” or butter (or both) were too warm. The pudding should be completely cooled, not even slightly warm. Room temperature butter is slightly soft and pliable, but not at all melty or greasy. If your frosting seems runny I suggest you refrigerate it briefly to chill it slightly. Then whip it again before assembling the cake. Counter intuitively, adding powdered sugar may just make the frosting even more runny. The powdered sugar absorbs moisture from the pudding and butter and the sugar melts.

  3. 5 stars
    I want to leave out the rum altogether. Does that mean I should substitute a Coconut flavoring in place of the rum or should I just ignore the reference to rum altogether and not add anything as a substitution? Thank you!

    1. Either would work. You can just leave the rum out. If you have a good coconut extract you can use that to up the coconut flavor.

  4. 5 stars
    I love making this cake because it makes everyone so happy when they taste it. I have made a number of times, is always a winner. I am still working on my baking skills, so a few times my cake seems to sink in the middle. Overmixing? Also, I use less than half of the syrup. Should I be using all of it? I am concerned my cake will be soggy. (It might be related to my improper baking is the white cake). Thanks for all of your recipes!

    1. I use all of the syrup but use whatever seems right for your taste. The cake sinking could be that it’s slightly underbaked.

  5. This was so beautiful and delicious for a baby shower that I hosted. So happy too that it came out so well too. Thanks so much for the recipe and great directions!

    1. Hi Heidi, Step 3 of the recipe “Place the first cake layer on the serving platter and brush generously with the coconut-rum syrup.”

  6. OH MY GOODNESS!!!! This is AWESOME!!!!!!! cake. Made it for Easter and just thinking about it makes me taste it in my mouth making me want to eat the rest of it. Took it to family and they said hands down it is a keeper. Love the fact that I could slip in my other baking while the syrup and frosting starter cooled. I used rum in the syrup and coconut rum in the frosting. Instead of coloring the coconut, I left it white, putting it up the sides of the cake and just along the top rim about an inch wide. I then accented it with pastel sprinkles. I even mixed them in on the sides of the cake and it looked so Eastery. Everyone needs to try this recipe! Thank you, Eileen!

    1. Wow, that sounds really pretty. I love this cake too. I’ll admit that I gave away the entire cake but kept one slice for myself because I like it so much. I’m so glad you liked it.

  7. Beautiful and it’s really making me hungry! Love the frosting idea also. How would I make a double layer 12×18 sheet cake using this recipe? I have an event coming up and would love to try this. Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Kay. A 12×18 is a half sheet size pan. One batch the of the white cake should fill a half sheet pan. I would suggest you double both the cake and icing recipes to make a 2 layer 1/2 sheet cake.

  8. Hi Eileen, can you color the coconut for this cake? And how do you do that? It’s a week away from Easter and I thought it might look nice with some color. Thank you.

    1. Hi Lauri, I don’t see any reason you can’t tint the coconut. I would put the coconut in a bowl and squirt a drop of gel food color onto the coconut. Start with less than you think you need since you can always add more. Use your fingers to toss the coconut and distribute the color. Use your fingertips to rub the color in. Depending on the effect you’re going for, you could also tint the icing. I tinted some crystal sugar green for St. Patrick’s day using this exact technique. Gel color would work best since liquid color might make the coconut too sticky. If you make the cake I’d love to see a photo!

      1. Thank you, Eileen. Going to see if I have time. Looks like a busy week. May plan one for Mother’s Day.
        Happy Easter!

        1. Happy Easter to you too. Also, this cake freezes really well. So if you want to work ahead you can bake the layers, double wrap in plastic and freeze. Defrost then finish putting the cake together. The cake in the photos was in the freezer for several weeks before I put the cake together.