Thomas Keller's Coconut Cake

fluffy three layer coconut cake
Thomas Keller's Coconut CakeMatt Taylor-Gross

Thick Italian meringue is sandwiched between moist layers of cake, which is topped off with sweetened shredded coconut in this recipe from chef Thomas Keller. It first appeared in the tablet edition of our Jan/Feb 2014 SAVEUR 100 along with the story 20 Years of SAVEUR: The Fountain of Youth.

What You Will Need

Thomas Keller's Coconut Cake
Thick Italian meringue is sandwiched between moist layers of cake, which is topped off with sweetened shredded coconut in this recipe from chef Thomas Keller.
Yield: serves 8-10

For the Cake

  • Unsalted butter, for greasing
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 12 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 14 cups mayonnaise
  • 34 cup coconut milk
  • 12 cup plus 1 tbsp. buttermilk
  • 2 tsp. coconut extract
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the Meringue

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 23 cups sugar
  • 3 cups sweetened shredded coconut

Instructions

  1. Make the cake: Heat oven to 325°. Grease three 9" cake pans with butter and line with parchment paper; set aside. Whisk flour, desiccated coconut, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; set aside. Place sugar and egg yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment; mix until fluffy. Add mayonnaise, coconut milk, buttermilk, coconut and vanilla extracts; mix until combined. With the motor running, slowly add dry ingredients until batter forms; transfer batter to a bowl and set aside. Clean stand mixer bowl and add egg whites; replace paddle with whisk attachment. Whip whites until soft peaks form; fold into cake batter. Divide batter between prepared pans, smoothing tops with a rubber spatula; drop pans lightly on a counter to expel large air bubbles. Bake until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cakes cool for 20 minutes in pans; invert onto wire racks and let cool.
  2. Make the meringue: Using an electric hand mixer, beat egg whites in a bowl until medium-stiff peaks form, 5–7 minutes; set aside. Bring sugar and ¼ cup water to a boil in a 2-qt. sauce pan fitted with a candy thermometer; cook, without stirring, until temperature reaches 250°, 4–5 minutes. With the mixer on low, slowly drizzle hot syrup into egg whites until combined. Increase speed to high; beat until meringue forms stiff peaks, about 3 minutes more.
  3. Assemble the cake: Place one cake layer on a cake stand and spread 3 cups meringue over cake; sprinkle with ¼ cup coconut. Repeat with second layer. Place remaining layer on top; cover top and sides with remaining meringue and cover outside of cake with remaining coconut, pressing lightly to adhere. Chill cake 30 minutes to firm meringue; serve chilled or at room temperature.