Celebrate Easter Southern-Style with This Delicious Coconut Cake

The Easter holiday offers an opportunity for solemn reflection and quality time with family and friends — as well as for plenty of tasty desserts. For Ruby Lange Buchanan, a longtime south Louisiana cook and collector of Cajun recipes, when she was growing up the springtime holiday was a time for a slice of special cake.

“I can remember as a young girl going to my grandmother’s house for the holidays and looking forward to my aunt bringing a coconut cake,” says Buchanan, who is now retired and living in the historic district of Crowley, Louisiana.

Buchanan, a native Cajun French speaker who was born in Erath, Louisiana, in the heart of Cajun country, keeps that tradition alive today, making the classic layer cake featuring white frosting and covered in coconut flakes. It’s a classic dessert that has graced Southern tables for decades. Buchanan was generous enough to share her family's recipe for this impressively moist and not-too-sweet cake that’s sure to wow your Easter guests.

As Buchanan says: “Ceci est un bon gâteau (this is a good cake.) A classic!”

Also, if you’re looking to spice up the traditional dessert a little, she recommends separating the layers with an easy-to-make pineapple filling that complements the coconut flavor at the heart of this recipe’s frosting.

We second that suggestion and recommend pairing the cake with Community® 100% Colombia Altura coffee blend, which is carefully sourced from the Andes Mountains, where the high altitude is known for developing a rich, bright and winey flavor that plays well with the coconut. Other excellent pairings include Community® Breakfast Blend coffee, an aromatic medium roast, and Amber Sunrise™ Blend, our rich and vibrant seasonal blend for coffee drinkers who prefer a lighter roast with a smooth finish.

Coconut Cake

  • 1 cup butter (softened)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 8 egg whites, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract

Cream the butter and add the sugar gradually. Combine the flour and baking powder and add it to the mixture, alternating with the milk. Beat the egg whites until fluffy but not dry, then fold them into the creamed ingredients and add the flavorings.

Bake in three greased-and-floured 9-inch cake pans at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool.

Coconut Topping

  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • 3 egg whites, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 cup coconut flakes
Combine the sugar, water and vinegar in a saucepan and stir over a low heat until a fine thread drops from the end of a spoon when dipped into the mixture. Beat the egg whites with cream of tartar 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar mixture, beating constantly. Add the vanilla and lemon flavorings. Stir in the coconut and spread on cooled cake layers. Garnish with coconut flakes.