Charleston Coconut Cake

If you’re a fan of this cake then you already know how amazing it is. If you’re just learning about Charleston coconut cake now, you’re in for one amazing treat! This cake is a bit of a process to make but you don’t need to be a seasoned baker to take on a cake like this one. Traditionally, a Charleston coconut cake has up to 12 layers of cake and frosting, making it a towering achievement in cake construction. We’ve simplified it a little bit here in this recipe with only three layers of dessert heaven.

For the Cake:
4 ½ cups flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ tablespoons baking powder
4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
6 large eggs
3 cups sugar
1 (13 oz) can unsweetened coconut milk
¾ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon coconut extract
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
Coconut Cream Filling:
1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 (13 oz) can unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup sugar
1 ¼ sticks unsalted butter
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 (14 oz) package sweetened coconut
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
Coconut Frosting:
6 cups powdered sugar
1 (14 oz) package shredded coconut
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
12 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons cream of coconut
½ tablespoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325°F. Generously coat 3 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray. Set aside.
Sift flour, salt, and baking powder together in a large bowl. Set aside.
Cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light in color and texture. Slowly add eggs and beat on low speed until well combined. Add half of flour mixture and beat on low until thoroughly blended. Pour 1 (13 oz) can coconut milk, sour cream, vanilla and coconut extract into mixing bowl and beat until combined.
Add remaining flour mixture, scraping sides of bowl to collect all ingredients. Pour batter evenly into prepared cake pans. Bake on middle rack for 45-55 minutes or until cake tester inserted into center comes out clean. Cool cakes directly in pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
For coconut filling, combine cornstarch, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of water, whisk until well blended. Set aside.
Heat heavy cream, 1 (13 oz) can coconut milk, butter, and sugar in a large saucepan set to medium-high. Bring mixture to a low boil, stirring frequently. Add cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil. Stir for 60 seconds then remove from heat. Add 1 package shredded coconut and stir to combine. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until fully chilled.
Prepare coconut frosting for cake assembly. Preheat oven to 350°F and spread 1/2 package shredded coconut evenly on a baking sheet. Bake until just golden brown, about 5 minutes or so. Set aside.
Beat butter, cream cheese, vanilla, cream of coconut, and salt with an electric mixer until well blended. Slowly add powdered sugar at low speed, 1 cup at a time.
To assemble, slice tops off of each cake with a serrated knife. Place one cake on a large plate or cake platter. Scoop ½ of coconut filling over cut side of cake and spread evenly to edges. Place second cake over top of coconut filling and repeat with remaining coconut filling. Place third cake over top, cut side down. Cover top and sides of cake with coconut frosting. Sprinkle with reserved shredded coconut and garnish with toasted coconut.
Refrigerate cake until chilled, about 3-4 hours. Cake is ready to serve.

Recipe adapted from Spiced.

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