Coconut Column Cake

This delightful dessert's appeal is not only in its taste, but also in its presentation. Made from a basic coconut layer-cake recipe, the column cake is filled with coconut buttercream, garnished with freshly shredded coconut, and covered with a blanket of snowy meringue.

  • Servings: 16
  • Yield: Makes 3 (9-inch) layers

Source: Martha Stewart Living Television


  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups sifted cake flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups superfine sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 11 large eggs, separated
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 12 cups Coconut Meringue Buttercream
  • 2/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 1/2 cups freshly shredded coconut, about 2 coconuts
  • 2 eight-inch wooden skewers
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with cooling racks. Spread freshly shredded coconut evenly over racks. Place in oven, and bake, turning coconut occasionally, until dry, about 90 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool completely.

  2. Increase oven temperature to 325 degrees. Line 3 9-by-2-inch round cake pans with parchment paper, coat with oil and flour, and set aside.

  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, 1 3/4 cup superfine sugar, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup water, canola oil, egg yolks, vanilla extract, and vanilla-bean seeds. Add oil mixture to flour mixture and mix until smooth, about 2 minutes. Transfer to large mixing bowl and set aside.

  4. In the clean, dry bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until foamy, about 1 minute. Add cream of tartar and continue to whip on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup superfine sugar and whip until stiff peaks are formed, 1 to 2 minutes more.

  5. Fold 1/4 of the egg whites into cake batter to lighten. Carefully fold in remaining egg whites. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake until the cakes are golden brown and spring back in the middle when pressed, about 40 minutes. Immediately turn cake rounds onto a wire rack to cool. Remove parchment paper.

  6. Carefully level and trim each cake layer with a serrated knife. Place one layer on a 9-inch cake round. Spread with 2 2/3 cup coconut buttercream and 1/3 cup sweetened coconut. Top with second layer, 2 2/3 cup coconut buttercream, and remaining 1/3 cup sweetened coconut. Add the remaining layer. Insert two eight-inch wooden skewers through top of cake to secure layers. Trim with kitchen skewers until level with top of cake.

  7. Using an offset spatula, ice cake with 2 cups buttercream to give the cake a "crumb coat." This thin layer of buttercream will seal the cake. Spread the icing from the center outward, making sure to push the buttercream over the sides of the cake. Smooth the buttercream. More icing will cover the crumb coat later, so it doesn't have to be perfectly smooth at this point. Chill in the refrigerator to set the buttercream, about 30 minutes.

  8. Remove the cake from the refrigerator. Use the remaining buttercream to cover the top and sides of the cake. Carefully draw a small offset spatula up the sides of the cake to create the lines of the column. Garnish with fresh toasted coconut and a dusting of confectioners' sugar. Serve at room temperature.

Cook's Notes

Pick coconuts that are heavy for their size, and pierce the softest "eye" of each with an ice pick and a hammer. Drain the liquid into a cup through a fine sieve, and crack the coconut open, removing the meat in large pieces and peeling away the dark brown skin. Use a mandoline or the blade of a hand grater to slice the coconut meat in large flakes.


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