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Great-Grandma Emogene’s Coconut Cake

As you saw in the pictures for Judy’s Apricot Tart, there was a delicious looking, fluffy white cake with fluffy frosting, and coconut all over. That happens to be the cake my mom made for the barbecue on my birthday. This wasn’t just any cake, though. My mom made me a coconut cake using my great grandmother’s recipe. Or so we think.


See, my great grandma Emogene was especially secretive with her recipes. There are stories of her simply refusing to share a recipe. Others talk about how it was very likely she would only give you *most* of the recipe, but leave out an ingredient or two, because it never quite tasted the same as when she made it. Miss Emogene (as we all called her) was a southern lady, and tended to use her experience in the kitchen, rather than units of measure. So many of the recipes we did get from her aren’t exactly concrete (i.e. a dash of this, a handful of that, etc.). This is one of those recipes.

My mom had called my Auntie Leigh in search of this recipe after I’d requested it for my birthday cake. A couple of different variations were discussed. Included in the variations were: making a white cake from scratch, a homemade whipped cream frosting, using a fresh coconut and shredding the meat by hand, using unsweetened shredded coconut and soaking it in coconut milk overnight, and any combination of the aforementioned. All variations turn out equally delicious, but the way my mom made it is the most convenient use of ones time. My mom did take to the internet to answer a couple of questions she had on preparing the coconut cake. The following is how she made this tasty cake:


  • 1 white cake mix (and the ingredients needed to make it, as listed on the box)
  • 1 1/2 cans unsweetened coconut milk, divided
  • 1 bag sweetened flaked coconut, divided
  • 1 container Cool Whip
  1. Bake cake according to directions on box for two 9″ rounds.
  2. Poke holes into each round using a toothpick or skewer while cakes are still warm.
  3. Pour half of the coconut milk over each of the cakes. Soak for approximately 8 hours.
  4. While cakes are soaking, mix half of the coconut with the remaining coconut milk. Set aside.
  5. Once the cakes have absorbed all of the coconut milk, turn one layer out onto a plate.
  6. Mix soaked coconut with container of Cool Whip.
  7. Spread Cool Whip mixture over the layer, using more in the center.
  8. Place the second layer on top.
  9. Frost the rest of the cake and use remaining coconut to garnish the cake.
Note: You can also make the cake ahead of time, freeze them, and thaw, before frosting and serving.



Even with my mom’s timesaving version, this cake is a bit time-consuming. However, it is so worth it! This cake is so light and fluffy; it’s perfect for a hot summer treat or to take to a barbecue. I can see it becoming a birthday tradition!

About In Natalie's Shoes

I’m a twenty-something food fanatic. By day, I’m working for a non-profit, by night I’m dreaming of becoming a domestic goddess, creating adorable crafts to gift and engineering delicious home cooked meals for the fabulous dinner parties I’ll one day throw. I love to travel, locally, regionally… heck, even internationally, I don’t discriminate too much when it comes to a new destination. I am a little obsessed with taking photos of the food I eat, whether I make it or pay to eat it. It is my firm belief that a girl can never have enough purses or too many shoes. I plan to fill this lovely little blog with my adventures in food, travel, and craftiness. I hope you enjoy!

2 responses »

  1. Pingback: Two Years of Adventuring | In Natalie's Shoes

  2. Pingback: Another Year, Another Birthday | In Natalie's Shoes

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