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Lemon-Filled Coconut Cake

One of my coworkers brought this cake to a luncheon almost 40 years ago. It was so delicious that I asked for the recipe. I have baked it ever since, and it's always a hit! —Jackie Bergenheier, Wichita Falls, Texas
  • Total Time
    Prep: 35 min. Bake: 25 min. + cooling
  • Makes
    16 servings


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups 2% milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups sweetened shredded coconut


  • In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition.
  • Transfer to three greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  • For filling, in a small saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch and water until smooth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 2 minutes longer or until thickened and bubbly. Remove from the heat.
  • Stir a small amount of hot mixture into egg yolks; return all to the pan, stirring constantly. Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat; gently stir in lemon juice and butter. Cool to room temperature without stirring.
  • Place one cake on serving plate; spread with half of the filling. Repeat layers. Top with remaining cake.
  • For frosting, in a large heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, egg whites, water and cream of tartar. With a portable mixer, beat on low speed for 1 minute. Continue beating on low over low heat until frosting reaches 160°, about 10 minutes.
  • Transfer to a large bowl; add vanilla. Beat on high until stiff peaks form, about 7 minutes. Frost top and sides of cake. Sprinkle with coconut. Store in the refrigerator.

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  • apple50
    Mar 1, 2015

    I made the icing differently because I had my own recipe. It is similar but works every time. Beat 2 large room temp egg whites until slightly stiff. In saucepan, combine 1 cup sugar, 1/3 cup water, and 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar. Heat on med until reaches soft ball stage on candy thermometer. Remove from heat and throw in 8 quartered marshmallows. Pour in slow stream into egg whites with mixer going. Turn mixer up and mix till icing stiffens, 3-5 min. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla. Ice cooled cake right away and press in coconut to sides and top.

  • yvonneacutern
    Sep 19, 2014

    I love this recipe. My family raved and demanded that I make a second when the first was finished off. The cake itself was moist and in a word...perfect. I had no problems with the lemon curd filling. Maybe because I LOVE lemon curd, so I enjoy taking my time with it. The frosting was a little tricky The first time I made it, I had no problems. The second time I tried, it didn't turn out as nicely my initial attempt. (Beginner's luck? - who knows?.. In any event, I'll take any advantage I can get). Next time, I may change the frosting to something I'm good at like a simple buttercream with coconut topping.

  • Ilikey
    Apr 8, 2014

    This recipe seemed to have left out an ingredient that I would have added for the frosting and that ingredient is White Corn Syrup, I use Karo if it's available in your market area. The amount of syrup used is usually 1/2 cup less than the sugar. The recipe can be found in recipe books or on-line as "7 or Seven Minute Frosting. It is made by beating the egg whites at room temperature until soft not stiff peaks form, then if your mixing bowl allows transfer to a double boiler do so. If your mixer does not I like using heat resistant glass bowls. Transfer your beaten egg mixture, and slowly mix/blend in the White Corn Syrup. Your Vanilla Extract or flavoring, sugar, Cream of Tartar, pinch of salt should have been already added to the beaten egg whites. Please allow the frosting to cool, along with the cake. The lemon curd is also something you want to cool before topping the cake. Let it cool in the refrigerator until it is firm, like pudding, that is what it is. Then top your cooled cake with the pudding/curd mixture. And the flour doesn't have to be King Arthur it is not available in all markets either, but use a good quality flour. Pillsbury is well knowned. Take your time, follow measurements, and bake time, and happy baking, and results. It took time for me, I was always in a hurry, and my grandmother corrected my impulsiveness, as well as unfavorable results.

  • lynn2795
    Sep 6, 2013

    This cake is delicious. I noticed a lot of people seem to have problems with it though. First, the lemon filling really needs to be refrigerated to be properly thick so it doesn't run. Second, this frosting is divine, but cannot be made when it's humid. It also doesn't do well with pasteurized eggs. It should be light and fluffy. The cake is a delicious pound cake texture which holds up well with the filling.

  • sueagonz
    May 20, 2012

    Made this yesterday with my fourteen year old granddaughter. It was incredible. We had no problems with any part of the recipe and it was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

  • Tiff7781
    Apr 14, 2012

    "I used 3 egg whites" sorry for the typo...

  • Tiff7781
    Apr 14, 2012

    This cake is delicious and beautiful! I had made it a couple times before and had a horrible time with the frosting. after researching and reading these reviews I figured it out!instead of placing all the ingredients together, place seperately the egg whites (I used) and beat until foamy add the cream of tarter and continue to beat until soft peaks form. meanwhile, add the vanilla, sugar and water to the saucepan, heat to the specified temp, while stirring. then very slowly dribble (must be slowly added!) the sugar mixture to the egg whites, while beating and increase speed as you go. the frosting turned out beautiful and glossy. enjoy!!

  • life50
    Apr 8, 2012

    cake was great but the lemon fill run all over, didn't bother making the frosting. Yes I followed the recipe to the nail.

  • chefsandra
    Apr 8, 2010

    I would like the printed recipe of the coconut cake made in the spring form pan with coconut milk in it. Thanks Sandra

  • nmphifer13
    Mar 28, 2010