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Lemon-Coconut Cake...Oh, Baby!

When it comes to mother-in-laws, I consider myself incredibly lucky.  Brad's mom, Carol, is a pretty fantastic woman.  She is the sweetest, most caring person, and I feel so lucky to have her in my life.  In fact, we don't like the term "in-law" around here...She's Mom 2.  :-)

Every year on her birthday, she gives me a "birthday cake challenge."  See, she comes up with an interesting  flavor combination, and lets me run with the idea.  This year, she wanted a layer cake with both coconut and lemon flavors.  I immediately pictured a scrumptious coconut cake with homemade lemon curd between the layers. 

With that idea in mind, I got to work trying to find the perfect recipe and found just what I was looking for over at  This is a spectacular recipe, which incorporates buttermilk in the cake batter.  This lends a perfect crumb and texture to the cake, which turns out moist and delicious.

The lemon curd comes together fairly quickly with the help of a double boiler, and adds a fresh, citrusy note to the cake.

Here are Mom 2's Past Birthday Cake Challenges:

Last year, she requested a cake flavored with fresh orange, coconut and pecan, so I came up with THIS CREATION, which was delish!

In 2010, she challenged me with a chocolate cake that had a coconut-cream cheese icing.  This Dreamy Coconut-Chocolate Cake with Coconuty Cream Cheese Icing was the fabulous result.

In 2009, the challenge was a cake inspired by a Mounds bar...something with chocolate and coconut.  My creation?  An incredibly decadent coconut cake, with actual melted Mounds bars as the filling between the cake layers.  This Mounds Bar Cake, my friends, is probably one of my personal favorites!

You may remember this Chocolate Kahlua Cake from back in 2008.  It was delicious, too!!

I wish that I had more photos of this year's Lemon-Coconut Cake.  However, it was so delicious, that the tiny little piece in these photos was the only piece left for me to shoot.  I guess that's a good thing?

I wonder what next year's challenge will be.  Stay tuned!

Bon Appetit, my friends!
Lemon-Coconut Cake
Makes one - 9 inch (23 cm) layer cake.

Lemon Curd:
3 large eggs
1/3 cup (80 ml) fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons) (do not use the bottled lemon juice)
1 tablespoon (4 grams) finely shredded lemon zest (outer yellow skin of lemon)
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar
4 tablespoons (56 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into small pieces

Coconut Cake Recipe:
6 large eggs
2 1/2 cups (325 grams) all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup (170 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups (350 grams) granulated white sugar, divided
1 tsp coconut extract
1 3/4 cups (420 ml) buttermilk
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

2 large (60 grams) egg whites
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated white sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) cold water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups (150 grams) sweetened shredded or flaked coconut (can use unsweetened dried coconut)

Lemon Curd:
In a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until blended. Cook, stirring constantly (to prevent it from curdling), until the mixture becomes thick (like sour cream or a hollandaise sauce) (160 degrees F or 71 degrees C). This will take approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. 

Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the mixture until the butter has melted. Add the lemon zest and let cool. The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Cover immediately (so a skin doesn't form) and refrigerate until cold. The lemon curd can be made several days (up to a week) in advance.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). Butter and flour two - 9 inch x 1 1/2 inch (23 x 3.75 cm) cake pans, and then line the bottoms with parchment paper (or spray with Bakers Joy).

Coconut Cake:
While the eggs are still cold separate the eggs, placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another bowl. Cover the two bowls with plastic wrap and allow the eggs to come to room temperature before using (about 30 minutes).

In a mixing bowl sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In bowl of electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Gradually add 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) of the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.

With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.  

In a clean bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, (or with a hand mixer) beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup (50 grams) of sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. With a rubber spatula gently fold a little of the whites into the batter to lighten it, and then fold in the remaining whites until combined. Do not over mix the batter or it will deflate.

Divide the batter and pour into the prepared pans, smoothing the surface with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in center.  
Place the cakes on a wire rack to cool, in their pans, for about 10 minutes. Then invert the cakes onto a greased rack. To prevent splitting, reinvert cakes so that tops are right side up. Cool completely before filling and frosting.

In a stainless steel bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, place the egg whites, sugar, water, and corn syrup. With a handheld electric mixer beat the mixture for 3 to 4 minutes on low speed. Increase the speed to high and continue to beat for another 3 to 4 minutes or until the icing is shiny and satiny with soft peaks.

Remove from heat, add the vanilla extract, and continue to beat on high speed for another 1 to 2 minutes or until the frosting is thick. Use immediately.

To Assemble: 
With a serrated knife, cut each cake layer in half, horizontally. Place one cake layer on your serving plate and spread with about 1/3 of the lemon curd and sprinkle with about 2 tablespoons of coconut. Continue with the next layers, stacking and filling with the lemon curd and coconut. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the 7-Minute Frosting and then sprinkle with about 1 cup of coconut. Cover and refrigerate the cake until serving time.

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I love this cake!! The tart lemon cuts the sweetness of the icing and that would be so pleasing.
Oh Yum! It is my husband's birthday on Wednesday and I was looking for an awesome cake recipe. It think I have just found it. :-)
Autism United said…
A cake made for summer entertaining. Great job, thanks for sharing.
Celeste said…
Thank ya'll so much for your comments and for stopping by! :)
Carol Zimmerman said…
Well, without a doubt, next year's challenge will definitely be a coconut cake!! Perhaps a coconut, banana, rum cake? Just a suggestion!
Anonymous said…
YUM! I did make one small change to the recipe, though. I toasted the coconut flakes in the oven first so they were crispy and a little brown. It came out fabulous!
Kari Lindsay said…
This cake looks amazing, I just adore the lemon filling and coconut makes me swoon.
Anonymous said…
I am making this cake right now...But realized I forgot cream of Tartar!! can I omit or sub something in for it?

Thnx Robin
Anonymous said…
My local grocery store only had imitation coconut flavor, not extract. I bought coconut oil instead because I didn't want to use anything fake. Do you know how much I oil I should use that might be similar to the extract?
Anonymous said…
I found this recipe via Pinterest while I was searching for a lemon cake recipe. I made this last night to take to work for a co-worker's birthday and it was a huge hit!! Turned out absolutely delicious and a perfect cake for summer! I'll me making this again, thanks for the great recipe! -Kristin in California
Celeste said…
Kristin - Thanks for the great feedback...SO happy you liked it! :)
Anonymous said…
This cake came out perfectly! The directions were so clear, and easy to follow (except where it says to add vanilla flavoring, where it is supposed to be coconut flavoring). The cake doesn't fall apart, so it is very easy to assemble. Thank you for posting! Definitely the best cake I have ever made from scratch.
Anonymous said…
So far I have baked this cake and assembled it with the curd…super easy to follow except that I did not divide the sugar(missed that one little detail) but cake still is awesome. I am about to make the icing…This cake will be celebrating my mother and her twin sisters 70 th Birthday! I was too excited to wait to save my comment until I was finished… It is so refreshing to follow a recipe for a cake from some one who actually cares how it comes out:)
Anonymous said…
I made this cake today and I found it to be really time consuming so I don't think I would make it again. I did not find it moist and crumbly, I found it to be quite dry. I also felt that there was not enough Lemon Curd and therefor the cake was really, really sweet - cloyingly so.

The frosting was very sweet as well

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