A Cozy Kitchen’s Hibiscus Coconut Cake

For years and years, I was strictly a pie person. But as soon as I delved into the world of cake, I became obsessed with making the fluffiest, softest and most flavorful cakes. This was my first time making a coconut cake and I ended up on making it a mostly-butter cake with a bit of oil. The butter gives it amazing flavor, while a teeny bit of oil adds some nice moisture and softness. The weirdest ingredient in the ingredient list is the coconut extract but luckily for all of us, it’s super easy to find at all grocery stores. I used the McCormick brand and it was delicious! 

To make this cake, you’re going to want to start by grabbing a medium bowl and mixing together the flour, flaked coconut, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Also you’ll want to whisk together the milk, oil, coconut and vanilla extract. The coconut extract is very thin so be careful measuring it out. It can get away from you and pour out of the container very quickly!

The next step is super important with this cake because the aeration between the fat and sugar is what gives it a nice springiness. I say beat it until super fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Next, add the egg yolks and beat until combined.

Rotating between the two, you’ll want to add the milk and flour, starting and ending with the milk.

Add the egg whites to a clean bowl and using an electric-hand mixer, you’ll want to beat the egg whites until light and fluffy about 3 to 4 minutes.

You then want to fold the egg whites into the batter. This will result in a super light and fluffy cake.

After you bake the cake layers, you’ll want to make the frosting.

I was first introduced to hibiscus flowers when I went to go make my favorite agua fresca flavor: agua de jamaica! I still love to make that drink, but now I love to use dried hibiscus flowers in all sorts of baked goods. The color is so beautiful and the flavor is tart.

I added a bit more lime juice to this frosting to accentuate the tartness. I also added a bit of food coloring to give it a bit more of that pink color (it had a tough time showing up on camera).

I always, always try and decorate a cold cake. This makes it much easier to frost, but since I was in a bit of a rush, what you could do is what I did: wait until it’s cooled, give it a crumb coat and then transfer it to the fridge to chill for about 2 hours, ideally overnight.

I added the second layer of frosting the next day and added the bits of stars and florets and topped them with toasted coconut. The topping looks much harder than it looks but a lot of the tips I used are actually super simple to use. You don’t need to know any special techniques. Simply add the frosting the piping bags with the tip attached and press gently and lift up quickly!

I transferred this cake to the fridge until I was about an hour out from serving it. No one likes cold cake but in warm temperatures, frostings get a bit wonky and can start melting. I hope you enjoy it!



2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sweetened flakes coconut

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup milk

2 tablespoons vegetable or grapeseed oil

1 teaspoon coconut extract

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups white granulated sugar

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 large eggs, separated and divided

1/4 cup of loose-leaf hibiscus leaves OR 1 hibiscus tea bag

Juice from 1/2 lime

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 cups powdered sugar

Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour two 8-inch cake pans or two 9-inch cake pans. If you’re like me and are a little paranoid of a cake sticking, line the bottoms with rounds of parchment. Set the pans aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, coconut, baking soda, baking powder and salt. If the coconut is clumpy, which tends to happen with sweetened coconut, break it up with your fingers and disperse it throughout the flour mixture.

In a measuring cup, measure out the milk and whisk in the oil, coconut extract and vanilla extract.

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand-up mixer (with the paddle attachment), add the butter and sugar; beat until very fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the egg yolks (remember the eggs are separated!) and beat until incorporated, about a minute or so.

Alternating between the flour mixture and the milk mixture, add the two in a few batches. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

In a separate clean bowl, add the egg whites. Using an electric hand mixer, beat the egg whites until fluffy and stiff, about 5 minutes. In two batches, fold the egg whites, into the batter.

Divide the cake batter amongst the cake pans and transfer to the oven to bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

Clean out the bowl you used to make the cake and dry it thoroughly. While the cakes are cooling, make the frosting.

Add the tea leaves to a measuring cup. Pour 1/2 cup of water over the leaves and allow to steep for about 10 minutes. Remove the leaves or tea bag from the water and squeeze in the juice from 1 lime. Transfer it to the fridge to cool (it should cool pretty quickly).

Meanwhile, add the butter and beat until smooth about 30 seconds or so. Take the paddle attachment off and place a sieve on top of the bowl and sift in the powdered sugar and add the salt. Turn the mixer to low until the powdered sugar is almost incorporated. Add three tablespoons of the cooled hibiscus tea to the frosting mixture and beat once more until combined. Lastly, if you like, add a drop or two of pink or red food coloring.

Place one layer on a cake board or cake stand or plate (I also love turning plates upside down and using them as cake stands).

Add about 1/4 cup (you can eyeball this measurement) to the top of the first cake layer; smooth it out so it’s a nice even layer of frosting.

Place the second layer on top and repeat the process. Skim the top and sides and transfer it to the fridge to chill for 1 to 2 hours.

Remove from the fridge and give it one last layer of frosting. If you like, this is totally optional, divide the frosting amongst a few piping bags with different tips on them and decorate the top! Slice up and serve. 

For more of Adrianna’s amazing recipes, make sure to check out her recipe and lifestyle blog A Cozy Kitchen. Also, if you are looking to try this cake for yourself, make sure to tag @ACozyKitchen and @BeMakeful on Instagram and Twitter to let us know!