This Lemon Coconut Cake is an absolute dream! A combination of shredded coconut, lemon zest, and lemon juice give this cake tons of flavor. It’s tender with a moist crumb and is topped with cream cheese frosting, shredded coconut, and a sprinkling of lemon zest.
There is something about the combination of lemon and coconut that immediately makes me think of spring. This cake is bright and fresh, yet rich and indulgent. The loaf size makes it ideal for breakfast, brunch, dessert, or snacking. You’ll love it!
- Cake: This butter-based cake is flavored with lemon zest, lemon juice, and sweetened shredded coconut. A bit of almond extract complements the flavors of lemon and coconut wonderfully. Buttermilk helps to keep the cake moist and works well with the tang of fresh lemon. The cake is prepared using a stand or hand mixer and it is baked in a 9×5 loaf pan.
- Lemon syrup: After baking, the cake gets brushed with a syrup made from lemon juice, water, and sugar. This lemon syrup is absorbed into the cake, adding another layer of lemon flavor.
- Frosting: This small batch cream cheese frosting recipe is just enough to cover the top of the loaf cake. It is sweet and tangy and it tastes fantastic with the sweet coconut and bright lemon.
- Garnish: Sprinkle the top of the cake with shredded coconut and a sprinkling of lemon zest to make it extra pretty (and tasty).
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Flavor: Fresh lemon, coconut, a touch of almond extract, and sweet and tangy cream cheese frosting.
- Texture: The cake is slightly dense (like a pound cake) with a moist crumb.
- Ease: No fancy techniques or ingredients. This cake batter comes together in about 15 minutes.
- Size: This loaf cake serves 6-10, which makes it perfect for small gatherings or enjoying as a snack cake.
You can use one of these buttermilk substitutes. I have the best luck with the kefir, yogurt, or sour cream options.
I recommend at least 2 large lemons.
I have not tried freezing this specific cake recipe, but I would assume that you could freeze slices for up to 1 month. I think this cake (like most cakes) is best when freshly baked, but if you have a couple slices leftover feel free to put them in the freezer for another day.
Sure! If you omit the coconut from the cake and the topping you will have a delicious lemon cake.
Serving and storage
Serving: Serve this cake at room temperature. The crumb is more tender and moist when the cake is at room temp.
Storage: This cake can be stored tightly covered at cool room temperature for up to 2 days or refrigerated for up to 4 days.
Lemon Coconut Cake
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup sweetened shredded coconut
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (about 1 large lemon)
- 2 large eggs
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons water
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon almond extract
- 1-2 tablespoons milk or half and half, as needed
- Shredded coconut and lemon zest, garnish
- Preheat oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle of the oven. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and shredded coconut.
- In a separate bowl, using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (preferred) or a hand mixer beat butter, sugar, and lemon zest on medium speed for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition and scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl and beater as necessary. After both eggs have been added beat in the almond extract.
- In a liquid measuring cup combine the buttermilk and lemon juice.
- Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk into the butter mixture. Add one third dry ingredients, beat until almost combined. Add half buttermilk, beat until almost fully combined. Follow with half of the remaining dry ingredients, the remaining buttermilk, then the remaining dry ingredients. Beat between each addition until just combined and scrape the bowl and beater as needed. Once everything has been added, beat the whole mixture on medium-high speed for about 15 seconds.
- Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (be careful not to overbake). Rotate the pan halfway through bake time to ensure even browning. The edges and corners might get a bit dark (that's OK, it will taste fine). Place the pan on a rack to cool for 15 minutes. Proceed with the syrup.
- In a glass measuring cup or bowl, heat lemon juice, water, and sugar until the sugar dissolves, about 30 seconds. Stir well.
- After the cake has cooled for 15 minutes, carefully remove it from the pan and place it on the wire rack. Place a paper towel or wax paper under the wire rack. Brush/drizzle the lemon syrup on the top and sides of the warm cake, allowing it to soak in. Cool completely.
- Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until combined. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add 1 tablespoon milk, and extract, beat until combined. Adjust the consistency by adding more milk to thin or powdered sugar to thicken. Spread the frosting on the cooled cake and top with shredded coconut and lemon zest.
Recipe updated April 2021.