A week of warm weather and we’ve gone all tropical all of a sudden! I’ve had this idea for a decadent coconut cake for a while and when I started researching recipes I decided to make it extra special by making a simple but moist coconut cake, sandwich a rich coconut buttercream in the middle and drizzle the whole thing with a cheeky rum syrup! I can’t lie, I had to get a few ingredients in so this cake cost me £10 to put together and that was with already having a bottle of rum at home too, so it’s not the cheapest thing to make but if you’re baking for a special occasion or you feel like splashing out on a little treat for yourself then it’s definitely worth it. I’m sure you noticed the big “fail” in the title, well, I had planned to make an impressive cake that would be the envy of my dear readers…but the baking gods had other plans and to cut a long story short, the top layer of cake fell apart and it looks a total mess. Speaking with my best friend I almost didn't post this out because it looks so bad but then I remembered, this isn’t some professional baking blog that people look to for their next big bake, this is a fun, trial-and-error blog where if things go great then we celebrate it and if things go wrong, then we learn from it, so today we’re learning from our mistakes!

I’ve made a video of the process and written up the ingredients and a recipe for you to try yourself, I also included as nice a picture as I could of a slice of the cake so you can at least get an idea of what I was going for! 

Serves 6 

100g Butter, softened 
300g Granulated Sugar 
3 Egg Whites 
260g Self-Raising Flour 
1 tbsp Baking Powder 
Pinch of Salt
240ml Canned Coconut Milk 
2 tsp Vanilla Extract 
80g Desiccated Coconut 

Rum Syrup-
240ml Boiling Water 
100g Granulated Sugar
2 tbsp White Rum
2 tbsp Pineapple Juice 

Coconut Buttercream-
200g Butter, softened
200g Cream Cheese
500-600g Icing Sugar 
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract 
Pinch of Salt
30ml Canned Coconut Milk 
160g Desiccated Coconut 


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160 Fan/ Gas Mark 4 and grease one 7-9 inch sandwich tin. You may have to use two tins.  
  2. We’ll make the cake first, in a large bowl whisk together the butter, sugar, and egg whites for a couple of minutes until you have a creamy mix. 
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt until fully combined. 
  4. Pour the dry mixture in small amounts into the wet and mix at a slow speed. Keep adding the flour mixture until it’s gone and you have a thick and smooth batter. 
  5. Now, add the coconut milk and vanilla extract to the batter and mix this together for a couple of minutes until the coconut milk has infused and your batter becomes creamy. 
  6. Finally, add in the desiccated coconut and mix at a slow speed or with a wooden spoon until the coconut is fully combined into the batter. 
  7. Pour your batter into the prepared cake tin, smooth it over with a knife so the batter is as flat as possible, and bake for 35-45 mins, until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  
  8. Once baked, leave the cake to cool in the tin for 30 mins before removing it from the tin and leaving the cake to cool completely on a wire rack. When the cake is cool, slice it horizontally through the middle so you end up with 2 layers of cake. 
  9. Now onto the rum syrup! I wanted to make this to brush onto the sponge to add a little extra tropical flavour, you don’t have to make the syrup at all if you don't want to but it's very simple and it tastes great! Start by heating up your water in a small saucepan and adding the sugar in, whisk it every minute or so until the sugar has fully dissolved. 
  10. Now, add the rum and pineapple juice and whisk the syrup for another 3-4 mins. At this point, I took a taste and you should taste the sweetness from the sugar, a slight tartness from the rum, and then that sweet pineapple juice. 
  11. Once the syrup has warmed through, you can take it off the heat and using a pastry brush, brush the syrup all over your bottom sponge, I repeated this about 3 times to make sure the syrup was firmly in the sponge and then brushed the top sponge 3 times over too…I did make a mistake here by brushing the top sponge now, as it was too heavy to lift without breaking, so it's best to assemble the cake and then brush your syrup over the top sponge once you’re done. 
  12. And finally onto the coconut buttercream filling. Start by whisking your butter and cream cheese together until it’s thick and creamy. 
  13. This next bit I may also have messed up a bit too. You begin by adding 100g at a time of your icing sugar and whisking it into the butter and cream cheese, as I whisked all 600g of it in, the mix became VERY thick and almost doughy, which meant I added far too much coconut milk to try and reverse the thickness and ended up with a gloopy mess. So I would add around 500g worth, then add your coconut milk and whisk it all together, the consistency must be thick enough to paste over the cake so if you think it's too thin from the coconut milk then you can add the rest of your icing sugar. 
  14. Once you have the desired consistency, paste a quarter of the buttercream onto the bottom layer of your cake, sandwich the other cake layer on top, and brush over your rum syrup. 
  15. Now onto the bit, I wasn’t able to do so I hope you’re able to do this bit and make it look super pretty! Using a pallet knife or a normal knife, spread the rest of your buttercream over the top and sides of the cake, smoothing around the edges and top until you have a layer of buttercream all over the cake. 
  16. Take your desiccated coconut and press these into the buttercream all over the top and around the cake so that it ends up with a “snowy” look. 
  17. Serve right away to hungry mouths or chill for 20 mins to make this easier to slice! 

I know all that might look a bit daunting but please trust the process. Although mine definitely isn’t the prettiest cake I've ever made, it was definitely one of the tastiest! I’ve been trying to come up with new recipes that go just a bit beyond a simple cake, maybe that's where I’m going wrong but I have always made things difficult for myself so what’s new?! The taste of this cake is perfect for a hot summer day or special get-together, the moist sponge blends perfectly with that cheeky rum syrup, and there's no worry of this cake being dry with that gorgeous, thick coconut buttercream! To me, this is a little like a Pina colada in cake form…and what could be tastier than that?! 
If you do decide to make this for yourself, I hope you learn from my mistakes and you end up with a beautiful creamy cake that I’ll certainly be jealous of! 

H x