April 10, 2013

coconut lemon vanilla cake

There's something really refreshing about lemon desserts. I'm definitely a chocolate peanut butter kind of girl but I also really LOVE the lemon stuff, when it's done right. And lemon especially at Easter and at an outdoor party? It just makes sense. This is the cake I made for Frederick's birthday. It was really easy and everyone was freaking out about it. I will definitely be making this again!
Disclaimer: if you don't use the Trader Joe's products that I suggest in the recipe, I can't vouch for how good it will taste. I'm sure it will turn out but it may not be exactly the same.

2 boxes Trader Joe's vanilla cake and baking mix (made with Madagascar Bourbon vanilla)
4 eggs
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup cream of coconut
1 cup milk
1 jar Trader Joe's lemon curd (you can also make it yourself - a good recipe here)
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray four round cake pans with cooking spray. Pour cake mix in a large bowl and set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, melted butter, cream of coconut and milk until well combined. Make a well in the cake mix and pour in the wet mixture. Whisk together until smooth. Divide batter evenly between the four pans and smooth the tops (this will be a four layer cake, if you didn't realize).

Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges and then invert onto cooling racks to cool completely.

To Assemble: Place a dollop of lemon buttercream frosting (recipe below) on the center of a cake platter. Place one of the cake layers on top. Spread on a layer of frosting and smooth out. Place the second cake layer on top. Spoon on a generous layer of lemon curd and smooth over cake. Add the third cake layer on top and spread on another layer of frosting + another layer of lemon curd and smooth over cake layer. Add the final cake layer on top and spread on a thin layer of frosting over the entire cake (this is called the "crumb coat"). Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. Remove cake from refrigerator and spread the remaining frosting over the crumb coated cake. Garnish with lemon slices, if desired.

*I also served this with some toasted shredded coconut on the side. I had originally intended to use it to create a little nest on top of the cake but decided not to since a few people in my family don't like coconut (crazy people!)

Lemon Buttercream Frosting:
1 cup butter
1 cup shortening
2 1/2 pounds powdered sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 teaspoons milk, as needed*

Beat butter and shortening together until smooth. Add 4 cups of powdered sugar, one at a time, beating to combine. Add lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla and combine. Add the remaining powdered sugar and beat to combine. *Add a little milk to get the consistency you want (start with just a tiny bit and add as necessary). If you add too much milk or if the frosting is too runny, you can add a little more powdered sugar.


  1. Epic. It looks EPIC! How on earth are there people who don't like coconut??? Do you get your cream of coconut from Tj's?

  2. OH MY GOODNESS GRACIOUS ME. This. I must learn to make this.

  3. What exactly is cream of coconut? :)

    1. Cream of coconut is different than coconut milk. I'm not sure what the difference is in how they make it but coconut milk is more like - well, milk. Cream of coconut also comes in a can but it's super thick and more creamy. I'm like Captain Obvious here and, I'm sure, very helpful. ;)

  4. This looks like something I could actually manage and I live for lemon!

  5. YUM! What kind/brand of shortening did you use? That stuff scares me!

    1. Shortening is bad any way you slice it, but so is butter and sugar... That said, I don't buy Crisco. I use an organic shortening so it's not partially hydrogenated. Not sure it really helps that much but it makes me feel better. :)

  6. This almost looks to good to eat!!!!! I will definitely be trying this!


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