Birthdays are a big deal in my house. They always have been. From the time I was a little girl, I started planning my birthday before Christmas (my birthday is in January).

Now, I’ve somewhat transferred that to planning my son’s birthday and my husband, bless his heart, falls somewhere in there, too.


And this year, I wasn’t big on planning for my husband’s day. I’m not sure why I wasn’t. I just didn’t do much at all. As a matter of fact, you could say I didn’t do enough at all.

And you’d be right.

You could even say I was a pitiful wife for not doing more for him.

And you’d be right again.

So I decided to pull out all the stops and surprise him with a gorgeous birthday cake. He has three favorite cakes — strawberry, caramel, and coconut.

I decided on coconut for this year. It just sounded like a good surprise cake.

Here’s how I made it.

I started with my favorite Butter Cake recipe and then dolled it up with an over the top delicious Southern Coconut Frosting.

Can you say to die for?

Oh my word!!!


Southern Coconut Cake

5 from 7 votes
A simple recipe for coconut frosting that will take your cake over the top!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 12


Butter Cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Southern Coconut Frosting

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 8 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon coconut extract , or coconut rum
  • 1 (14-ounce) bag unsweetened coconut flake


Butter Cake

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Prepare 3 9-inch cake pans with shortening and flour.
  • Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with a whisk in a large bowl. Set aside.
  • Cream butter until fluffy and then add sugar. Cream together for about 8 more minutes.
  • Add eggs, 1 at a time, and cream together after each.
  • Add flour mixture and buttermilk, alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Combine each addition of flour and then turn mixer on high to add air into the batter.
  • Add vanilla and beat well. Turn mixer on high once vanilla has been incorporated for about 10 seconds to lighten batter.
  • Divide among pans and bake for 25-30 minutes until set. You can follow my tips for how to tell when your cake is done.
  • Turn out of pans onto cooling racks and allow to cool completely.

Southern Coconut Frosting

  • Whip butter until it reaches light and fluffy stage.
  • Slowly add sugar, beating well after each addition.
  • When all sugar has been incorporated, the butter and sugar will look like crumbles.
  • With mixer set on low speed, add in milk.
  • Then, beat on high speed for few minutes.
  • Add vanilla and coconut flavorings and beat on high speed until the frosting reaches a spreading consistency.
  • If it is too dry, add milk a few drops at a time.
  • If it is too wet, add powdered sugar a few sprinkles at a time until it reaches the correct consistency.
  • Frost cake and then sprinkle with coconut flakes.


Calories: 881kcal | Carbohydrates: 140g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 148mg | Sodium: 390mg | Potassium: 197mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 114g | Vitamin A: 1101IU | Vitamin C: 0.001mg | Calcium: 101mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

I’m hoping he didn’t notice all of the other stuff I didn’t do for his birthday.

And… I sure hope he remembers mine!

Robyn xo

Welcome to Add A Pinch

About Robyn

Robyn Stone is a wife, mom, blogger, recipe developer, and cookbook author. Welcome to Add a Pinch where I share thousands of delicious, tested and perfected easy recipes that the whole family will love.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Review


    1. Hi Latoier,
      I know you can use vanilla and coconut extracts for this cake with great flavor. Those are the only ones I have used.

    1. I haven’t made this coconut cake with unsweetened coconut milk but for this recipe, you will need to make an unsweetened coconut buttermilk. Just follow my Homemade Buttermilk Substitute Recipe. You will just use the same amount of unsweetened coconut milk as the whole milk in the recipe.

  1. This was definitely a hit oh, I use unsweetened coconut milk and use two teaspoons of coconut extract. Do you mind if I share this with my customers? I am a baker. Only if I can post a picture of the results. 😁

  2. Does it really require 8 CUPS of powdered sugar?? Just checking before I commit… sounds a little nuts, so pls weigh in!

    1. I do use 8 cups of powdered sugar in this frosting, Suz. It makes enough frosting to generously frost this 3 layer cake. Hope you enjoy!

    1. Diane, you can sprinkle the coconut on the tops of the layers and then hold the coconut in your hand and press against the sides of the cake gently.

  3. Yummy! First time trying and everyone loved it. The recipe makes more frosting than necessary. Also, I wasn’t sure if the recipe was instructing me to mix some flakes with the frosting or not. So, I only added flakes to the frosting when covering the sides, and then I covered the whole cake with organic flakes, including the sides.
    Making another tomorrow.

    1. I’m happy you loved the cake, Lisa. I don’t add coconut to the frosting; I just sprinkle on the top and press into sides of cake.

  4. 5 stars
    I made this cake and took it to the office Friday for cake day. It was devoured, I was receiving compliments all day. My only variation was I toasted a handful of the coconut and put it on top for a little contrast.

    The icing recipe will be my new go to, its so creamy and delicious. The icing is easy to work with and just make the whole bake a pleasure.

    I love this cake!
    Sorry I can’t include a picture, It saved in my favorite photos on my phone though.

    1. That’s great. So glad everyone loved the cake. I love how easy and delicious this frosting recipe is, too.

    1. Marie, you will not need to refrigerate the cake. You can store it at room temperature under a glass cake dome. Hope this helps.