Paul Shetler Fast

Coconut & Buttermilk Layer Cake with Strawberry Filling

Paul Shetler Fast
Coconut & Buttermilk Layer Cake with Strawberry Filling

For us, the end of January is a birthday time of year, with family celebrations today for loved ones and Madeline's 1st birthday coming up this week. We think birthdays calls for cake (even if Madeline is too young to enjoy it), and were craving the flavor of coconut and strawberry when we first started to experiment with this remarkably light and fluffy cake before Christmas. This is a remarkably easy cake (as layer cakes go), and the base recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour.

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Yield: 1 layer cake


   Buttermilk Cake

  • 2 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 4 egg whites and 1 whole egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

   Coconut Buttermilk Frosting & Topping

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded coconut (unsweetened preferred)
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • pinch (less than 1/16 teaspoon) kosher salt


  • 1/3 cup strawberry jam


  1. To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare two 9" cake pans by greasing (with butter, shortening, or cooking spray) and flouring.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together all dry cake ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt). Cut in the butter (with forks, a pastry cutter, or with a mixer) until the butter is broken down into very small pieces and the mixture resembles damp sand.
  3. Beat in the egg whites and the whole egg, one at a time, until the mixture is thoroughly combined. Add the buttermilk and beat for an addition 5 minutes (frequently scraping down the sides of the bowl), until the mixture is light and frothy. 
  4. Pour half of the batter into each of the two prepared pans. and bake for 25 minutes at 350. If a knife or toothpick does not come out clean, put back in the oven for an additional 5 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven, allow the cakes to rest and cool for 5-10 minutes. Carefully remove the cakes from the pans to cool.  Ensure they are fully cool before assembling the cake and frosting.
  5. To make the frosting and topping: Spread the shredded coconut evenly across a baking sheet and bake at 200 for 30 minutes. You are looking to dry and roast the coconut without browning it. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  6. Combine the remaining frosting ingredients (powdered sugar, butter, buttermilk, coconut extract, and salt) together in a large mixing bowl. Beat on high for 4-5 minutes until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. If the mixture is too stiff, you can add an additional tablespoon of buttermilk. If it is too loose, you can add more powdered sugar. Set aside
  7. To assemble: Your cakes must be completely cool. Place one cake, top side down on a cake holder or large plate. Evenly spread the strawberry jam over the top of the first cake. Keep a small clean buffer around the outer edge of the cake top so that when you frost the sides of the assembled cake you don't get jam mixed in with your frosting.
  8. Place the second cake on the jam layer, top side down. Carefully spread the frosting over the top and sides of the whole cake. Note that this is a very tender cake, so it will crumble easily when you are frosting it. To keep crumbling to a minimum, don't try to be stingy with the frosty (a thin layer is harder to lay than a thick layer). Decorate with your toasted coconut and serve.