Recipe: Lemon-Coconut Milk Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Updated: Dec 24, 2020
This is the lemon cake for people who don’t typically like lemon cakes. I know, because I’m one of them.
My friend Sarah recently celebrated her 30th birthday, and I wracked my brain for at least a month beforehand to come up with the perfect birthday cake for her. She’s an accomplished baker in her own right, so I didn’t want to make something she’d typically make herself. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks: LEMON!
Sarah’s husband isn’t the biggest fan of lemon desserts, so I knew this was going to be special. And even HE liked this cake! It’s sweet and tart, light and buttery. Perfect for summer (and a July birthday.)
I didn’t want to overpower the lemon this go around, but you could easily add coconut extract or coconut flakes to the frosting to amplify the tropical flavoring. (And mascarpone would work as elegantly as cream cheese.)
2 cups cake flour
1 TB baking powder
1/2 TSP salt
1 1/4 cups coconut milk
1 TSP white vinegar
4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
Zest of one lemon
1 stick of good quality butter, room temperature and sliced into 8 pieces
Juice of a half lemon
1 TSP clear vanilla extract
Frosting + decoration:
1 cup cheese cheese, room temperature
1 stick of butter, room temperature and sliced into 8 pieces
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1 TB clear vanilla extract
1 TB coconut milk
3 thin lemon slices, cut along the radius
1 package of blackberries
A few blueberries
A few mint leaves
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour two 8-inch round pans, then line with parchment paper and butter the parchment.
Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk and egg whites.
Add the sugar and lemon zest to the bowl of your standing mixer, then use the paddle attachment to fold them together. Cream the butter into the sugar until fluffy (about 3 minutes on medium.) Add the lemon juice and vanilla extract, and blend them in thoroughly.
Take turns adding in the wet and dry ingredients, while continuing to beat on medium. (Try pouring in a third of each at a time.) Beat for an additional 2 minutes until the mixture is smooth. Divide the batter evenly between your cake pans and bake for about 15-20 minutes. (Start checking it at 15.) They should be a very light golden color when you remove the pans, and any toothpick you insert into the centers should come out clean.
Place the cakes on a cooling rack. After 10 minutes, remove them from the pans and invert onto the rack. They should be completely cool when you decorate.
While the cakes are cooling, start the frosting. In the bowl of your standing mix, add the cream cheese and butter slices. Cream on the highest speed until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar a half a cup at a time, beating on the highest speed at each interval. (This will ensure the mixture is airy and creamy.) When you’ve completed adding the sugar, pour in the vanilla extract and coconut milk. Continue to beat on high until completely combined. It will be a beautiful off-white color.
Frost the completely-cooled bottom layer, then add the second layer and frost the top and sides. Decorate as you wish with the lemon slices, berries, and mint leaves!
Serve at room temperature.