This small coconut cake recipe is a 6 inch mini cake that is so festive for the holidays or a small birthday celebration. This cake is made with coconut milk, coconut oil, and coconut flakes for the maximum amount of coconut flavor!
Coconut cake is really common around the holidays in the South. I'm not sure if it's just because not much else is in season, and a bag of sweetened coconut flakes lasts for a long time in the pantry. Regardless, my Christmas dessert table always had plenty of coconut flakes on it. My grandmother bought frozen shredded coconut that had quite a bit of moisture to it, but that item isn't popular anymore; the blue bag of sweetened dried flakes in the baking aisle is much more common.
This really is the best coconut cake ever because it contains coconut milk, coconut flakes, and coconut oil. It also contains coconut extract, but it's just as delicious without if you can't find it. I also understand not wanting to buy a bottle of extract for just one cake. You can add coconut extract to my coconut cupcakes with cream cheese frosting or, for a breakfast treat, my coconut muffins.
How to Make a Small Coconut Cake Recipe:
My small coconut cake recipe is baked in this 6 inch cake pan. It's the pan I use for all of my mini cakes, like my mini vanilla cake and mini chocolate cake for two.This pan is aluminum and has 2" high sides. Sometimes, if you buy the 6 inch cake pan with 3 inch high sides, the cake can sink in the middle when cooling. I really recommend the the 6 inch cake pan with 2 inch sides. This is the most common size mini cake pan you'll find at a kitchen shop, because it's commonly used for the top layer of a wedding cake. Speaking of weddings, don't miss my wedding cake cupcakes.
- Butter. Unsalted butter that has been resting at room temperature for about 30 minutes is perfect here.
- Coconut Oil. I bake with unrefined, virgin coconut oil, because it has the best aroma and flavor of coconut. Sometimes, coconut oil is refined to remove the delicious coconut scent, but we want that in our cake, so buy virgin.
- Granulated Sugar.
- Coconut Extract. I always feel like extracts are optional in cakes like this. We have plenty of coconut flavor; this is just an extra boost. You can use it in the coconut frosting, also.
- All-Purpose Flour.
- Baking Soda.
- Coconut Flakes. Buy the sweetened shredded coconut flakes for the cake. If you want to decorate with the unsweetened (larger) coconut flakes, you can.
- Coconut Milk. Canned full-fat coconut milk is what I use here. Give it a very good shake to distribute the coconut cream before opening the can.
- Cream Cheese. This is for the coconut cream cheese frosting; soften it before using.
- Powdered Sugar.
- Gather the ingredients for the cake; have the coconut frosting ingredients on the side. Preheat the oven to 350, and line the bottom of the cake pan with a round piece of parchment paper. Spray the sides of the pan lightly with cooking spray.
- Combine the room temperature butter, coconut oil, and sugar in a medium bowl. Use an electric hand mixer to beat it together until it's very fluffy, about 1 minute.
- Once the mixture is fluffy, add the coconut extract (if using) and the whole egg.
- Beat the egg until just combined, don't over-mix and add too much air to the batter. Next, add the flour, salt, baking soda, and coconut flakes evenly over the top.
- Use the mixer just briefly to combine the wet and dry ingredients, and then pour in the coconut milk while mixing.
- When everything is thoroughly mixed (but do try not to over-mix so your cake stays tender and fluffy), spread into the prepared pan.
- Bake the cake for 36-38 minutes, or until it starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean with only moist crumbs. See photo.
- Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack, and when it's cool enough to touch, gently invert it onto the wire rack. The cake will be upside down so you can peel off the parchment paper. Then, flip it back over and let it cool completely. Do not frost a warm cake, it will melt!
- Gather the ingredients for the frosting: room temperature butter, coconut oil, cream cheese, powdered sugar and coconut extract. It's entirely optional to stir in more coconut flakes into the frosting. I love a bumpy frosting studded with coconut flakes, but if you prefer a smooth frosting, leave it out! You can also save it just for decorating lightly before serving. You can also toast the coconut before using in the frosting for a lovely golden brown appearance and crunch.
- Beat together all frosting ingredients, saving the coconut flakes for the very end.
- Spread on the cake, and serve. You can cut 4 large pieces, or 8 small slices from this small coconut cake recipe.
Equipment for This Small Coconut Cake Recipe
- You definitely need a 6 inch small cake pan for this recipe.
- I love this hand mixer for small recipes so you can be sure every drop of batter is mixed. Sometimes, with stand mixers, the beaters don't incorporate everything, which is a big deal when your recipe is tiny!
- I'm sure you have a mixing bowl, but if you're searching for nesting bowls that don't take up too much space, these are what I use and love.
- 4 tablespoons (57 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons (27 grams) unrefined coconut oil
- ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon coconut extract
- 1 large egg
- ¾ cup (96 grams) all-purpose flour
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup (48 grams) sweetened coconut flakes
- ¼ cup (59 mL) canned light coconut milk (well shaken)
For the frosting:
- 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 tablespoons (14 grams) unrefined coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon (14 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon coconut extract
- 2 cups (260 grams) of powdered sugar
- Roughly ⅓ cup (30 grams) sweetened coconut flakes (more or less, to taste)
- Preheat the oven to 350, and line a 6” round cake pan with 2” sides with parchment paper on the bottom. Give everything a spritz with a coconut oil cooking spray, just to be safe. Have ingredients for cake ready to go, and reserve the ingredients for the frosting on the side.
- In a large bowl, beat together the butter, coconut oil and sugar until creamy, 1 minute.
- Add the coconut extract and egg and beat until combined.
- Sprinkle the flour, salt, baking soda, and coconut flakes evenly over the top.
- Start to beat everything together while streaming in the coconut milk.
- Beat until fully combined (but be careful not to over-mix).
- Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan, place the pan on a small baking sheet, and bake for 36-38 minutes.
- Use a toothpick to ensure it’s done. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack, and when it’s cool enough to touch, dump it out and peel off the parchment paper. .
- To make the frosting: beat together the butter, coconut oil and cream cheese.
- Start adding the powdered sugar while beating slowly.
- Toast the coconut: place it in a dry skillet and stir frequently over low heat until it’s nicely browned. I like it almost crispy, because it will soak in the frosting and soften again. Beat the toasted coconut into the frosting. You can also use untoasted coconut, if you prefer. Frost the cake and serve.
Coconut Oil: Unrefined, virgin coconut oil has the best aroma and flavor of coconut.
Coconut Extract: Optional.
Coconut Flakes: Sweetened shredded coconut flakes You can to decorate with the larger unsweetened coconut flakes.
Coconut Milk: Canned full-fat coconut milk very well-shaken to distribute the coconut cream before measuring.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 728Total Fat: 40gSaturated Fat: 29gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 99mgSodium: 451mgCarbohydrates: 89gFiber: 2gSugar: 67gProtein: 6g