This recipe, coming to you just in time for Mother’s Day, is another one from our engagement party. Jason’s Oma gave us a recipe book that day that included this beauty. And while I had tasted the cake before when Oma baked it, I had never made it myself until now. That seems pretty bad considering I had the recipe in my possession for over 20 years! But, for whatever reason, it took deciding to give that special cookbook away for me to get serious about making everything that was in it. (Before you get up in arms about my giving the cookbook away read the side note in my last post which fills you in on why I did that.) To elaborate on that a bit, this cake has been the long time favorite of the recipient of the cookbook, Christie, who mailed me a copy of it when she finally located the recipe for her beloved coconut cake. Knowing how much Christie loved that recipe (and that I had it! why didn’t I know she was looking for it?) made me really want to pass along a copy of it in her grandmother’s own handwriting.
Since the cake begins with a cake mix it is really quick to throw together, and adding 4 eggs (not to mention Jello!) to a boxed cake that only asks for 2 makes it incredibly moist and delicious. My sister in law, who has had this cake many times over the years, said it was even more moist than Oma’s. At which point I had to admit I took it out of the oven 10 minutes ahead of the recipe instructions. I edited the recipe to a range for baking time to include when I took it out vs. how long Oma said it should bake, but anyone who likes to bake should know that baking times vary widely depending on your oven. Get a good thermometer so you will know if your oven is keeping temp accurately, and check whatever you’re baking regularly. For cakes, though, you should avoid opening the oven for any reason for at least 10 minutes (I prefer 15) or it could affect the rise. Generally I rotate the pans 180° at 15 minutes and start checking with a toothpick 5 minutes after that. The biggest mistake you can make is to over bake a cake!
I also differed slightly from Oma in how I toasted the coconut. She toasted hers in melted butter in a skillet, but coconut is already really oily and we’re using this on top of a cream cheese frosting, so I reverted to my old standby of toasting it in the oven. I would suggest toasting all the remaining coconut from you bag this way, it is so good and easy to use leftover. My mother in law rolls balls of vanilla ice cream in toasted coconut and tops with caramel sauce and it is a delicious (and easy!) dessert.
The frosting is crazy good! There is as much coconut in the frosting and topping as in the rest of the cake, so you really get this amazing coconut flavor. And if you aren’t already aware of my obsession with Nielsen Massey vanilla you should get a bottle and see why I love it so much.
Frosting this cake is a little trickier than some as the coconut in the frosting means things will not be perfectly smooth. But the toasted coconut topping will hide any imperfections, and my baking is always way more focused on taste than presentation.
Oma’s Coconut Rave Cake
- 2 9" round cake pans
- parchment paper
- 1 box yellow cake mix
- 1 3.4 oz box Jello brand vanilla pudding & pie filling
- 1 1/3 cups water
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil I use canola
- 2 cups angel flake coconut
- 1 cup pecans or walnuts chopped
- Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour sides of two 9" round cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper.
- Blend cake mix, pudding mix, water, eggs, and oil with electric mixer for 4 minutes.
- Stir in coconut and pecans (or walnuts). Pour batter into prepared pans and bake until pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 25-35 minutes depending on your oven.
- Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes, turn cakes out onto rack to cool completely before frosting.
Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 tsp milk
- 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar sifted
- 2 cups angel flake coconut
- Set aside 1/4 cup of the coconut to toast. The coconut can be toasted in a 400° oven for 5-10 minutes (stirring frequently), or in a small amount of melted butter in a cast iron skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly until golden brown.
- Cream butter and cream cheese with electric mixer. Add milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar in 3-4 additions, alternating wet ingredients with powdered sugar. Beat well.
- Stir in remaining 1 3/4 cups coconut.
- Frost top and sides of cake with frosting, sprinkling toasted coconut on top of cake.