Food + Wine


When I was younger, I thought Coffee Cake had coffee in it. Otherwise, why call it Coffee Cake? It’s like hey – here’s a Chocolate Cake. But yeah – there’s no chocolate in it. Why would you think there’s chocolate in this chocolate cake, dummy? No, no. It’s just cake to have with chocolate. It’s just plain cake.


And then I made it one time in college from a recipe off the back of an Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix box. I was poor. Living alone. At our beach house (yeah, don’t feel too sorry). And my daddy was coming to visit, so like a good southern girl I wanted to have something for him when he got there. All I know is that I had all the ingredients needed to make that boxed coffee cake, and I was so proud.

I don’t even know if I can technically call my recipe here a coffee cake, except that I am anyway. The definition is fairly loose on what constitutes a coffee cake. Recipes started showing up in American cookbooks in the late 1880’s and they can have coffee in it, but don’t have to (and rarely do these days, anyway)… it also generally is a one flavor driven cake – said flavor being whatever you want it to be… a fruit, a spice, a nut… Most of the coffee cakes you see around now are that same kind with the cinnamon streusel topping that probably came from that (or another) box from which I made mine in college. And if not, the recipe is likely something like this :

flour, baking powder, sugar, room temperature butter and eggs, sour cream… that’s pretty standard.

So what’s a coffee cake, then?

It’s a cake that can be served with coffee.

This here is that.


To be honest? I haven’t much thought of coffee cake since that boxed one I made for my daddy. Eh. Me and cake are sort of like OK friends. Like we get along, we can have a fine conversation at a party- me and Cake.

Me and Pie, though? Don’t put me in a room alone with Pie. Somebody’s getting pregnant.

I do love making cake, and I think I make pretty good cake…

But most cakes in the world to me are just shapes of dry decoration.

This cake recipe isn’t really like a cake you’d serve for a big event where exclamations and frosting and layers are expected… it’s a cake that you can have for breakfast, snack, or yes -dessert.

…and with coffee, sure!

It’s beyond perfect to me, this Coconut Coffee Cake. It’s moist, just sweet enough, humble, and exquisitely delectable.

It also is so very simple to make, and I highly recommend doing it like I did – on a weekend, with sweatpants and fuzzy socks, and a Lifetime Christmas movie over the surround sound.

Oh yeah, I have absolutely started that. Yep. It’s the first thing I do when it’s close to holiday time. I won’t listen to Christmas music yet, I won’t decorate the house yet… I won’t go all in on the hard stuff ’til after Thanksgiving, BUT I will binge watch the hell out of some vanilla Hallmark / Lifetime holiday movies.

It brings me such great joy.

As does this coffee cake.


serves about 8

Preheat oven to 350.

(You will be using room temperature eggs, so make sure they’ve been out long enough – OR place cold eggs in a bowl of warm tap water for 5 minutes.)

Grease an 8 inch metal round cake pan and dust with white sugar and shredded coconut. Cover the greased surface – sides as well- with both, and tap out any excess to be discarded.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the following –

  • 1 cup white AP flour
  • 1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut (if you’re using unsweetened coconut, note the difference in sugar amount below)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar (3/4 cup if your coconut is unsweetened)

Process this until the coconut is broken down into the flour (this makes a lighter, more tender cake as the coconut flakes turn into a flour instead of staying stringy. It’s also great for those people who aren’t too keen on the texture of coconut.. like my son 😉 )

Transfer this dry ingredient mix to a mixing bowl and wait for the wet.

In a liquid measuring cup, measure out :

  • 2/3 cup of unsweetened, full fat coconut milk (be sure it is at room temperature and the coconut cream is mixed evenly with the coconut water so you’re getting the full on milk product)

Crack in :


Whisk to break down the eggs completely into the coconut milk.

Whisk the wet into your dry. Fully combine.

Add in :

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted

Whisk again until you have a smooth batter.

Pour your batter into your prepared pan. Make sure it’s even and smooth.

Bake on the center rack in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until it has pulled away from the edges, the edges are golden brown, and a toothpick comes out with no wet batter when inserted in the center.

Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes.

You will likely need to run a butter knife around the edges to loosen up some of the caramelized sugar around the edges and bottom.

Invert onto a plate to remove, and then transfer to a serving plate, right side up. Or keep it in the cake pan! Your choice.

Also garnish it with fresh fruit or powdered sugar… or serve with whipped (coconut) cream if desired.

And oh yeah – with coffee probably.

thanks for reading, y’all. much love x







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