Folk School Recipe: White Coconut Cake with Lemon Curd Filling

Folk School Recipe: White Coconut Cake with Lemon Curd Filling

Featured in The Folk School Cookbook this lovely cake is perfect for Easter, May Day, or Mother’s Day, a wedding or baby shower or a spring birthday. It’s both beautiful and scrumptious and tastes like the very epitome of spring. If, for no other reason, you want to simply make it to mark the season, share it proudly and lovingly with friends and family.

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Grease three 9 x 1½-inch round cake pans. Cut parchment circles that fit the bottom of the pans, and spray parchment with oil.

Sift together on another piece of parchment or waxed paper:
3 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

Stir together in a mixing bowl:
1 cup egg whites (from approximately 8 eggs), beaten lightly
1 cup buttermilk or coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

In another, larger mixing bowl cream together  with electric mixer:
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar

This will take about 3–5 minutes of whipping on high speed. The creamed mixture should be light and fluffy.

To the creamed mixture, add alternately the dry and wet ingredients in three parts beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Like this: 1/3 of the dry with ½ the wet and repeat, end with 1/3 the dry.

Beat until smooth. Make sure the batter is thoroughly mixed.

Divide the batter between the cake pans. 

Bake 25–30 minutes or until centers spring back when pressed lightly with fingertip. 
Cool 5 minutes in pans, then remove and cool completely.
Serves 8–10.

Note: Successful cake baking depends mainly on having all ingredients measured carefully and at room temperature. Take your ingredients out of the refrigerator several hours before mixing the batter. Egg whites separate more easily when cold, but they whip better when room temperature.


lemon curd

Lemon Curd

Makes about 1½ cups

Whisk together in a medium bowl:
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks (or use a total of 6 egg yolks)

Add gradually in a steady stream:
¾ cup sugar

In a heavy saucepan, melt over low heat:
½ cup butter (1 stick)

Whisk the melted butter in a gentle stream into the sugar and eggs and then return to the saucepan.

Stir in:
juice of 3 lemons
zest of 2 lemons

Cook gently over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened. 

Allow to cool and keep refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.

Choose a white frosting to prepare for the cake (see below).

Cover the first cake layer with 1/2 of the lemon curd.

Place the second layer over the first and cover with the remaining lemon curd. 

Top with the third layer and cover with desired frosting.

Coat the frosting with 11/2 cups shredded coconut, gently patting onto
sides and top of cake.

White Frostings for Coconut Cake

Following are three different frostings for the White Coconut Cake depending on how sweet or rich you want the finished product to be. Feel free to experiment with these frostings on other cakes as well.

Tangy Whipped Cream Frosting

In a cold mixing bowl whip together with an electric beater until foamy:
2 cups heavy cream
¼ cup cultured buttermilk*

Continue to beat while adding:
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Whip until soft peaks form. Too much whipping will make butter.

*Buttermilk helps to stabilize the cream, keeping it from separating but the cake should not be
frosted until shortly before serving time and must be refrigerated after frosting. This is the lightest
frosting of the three.

Seven-Minute Frosting (fat-free)

Use a saucepan containing 2 inches water and a stainless steel bowl to create a double boiler.
In the bowl combine:
5 tablespoons water
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1⅓ cup sugar

Bring water to a boil in bottom pan, then turn heat down so that the water is at a high simmer. 

Add to the sugar and water in the bowl:
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon light corn syrup

Beat at low speed with whisk or portable electric mixer until temperature is 160˚F on instant-read thermometer. This will pasturize the raw egg whites. Continue beating with high speed for 7 minutes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

In the bowl of an electric mixer beat together:
8 ounces Neufchatel cheese, softened
½ cup butter, softened

Add while continuing to blend:
2–3 cups confectioners sugar, depending on your taste
2 teaspoons vanilla

Allow to chill to spreadable consistency.


Recipe featured above appears in The Folk School Cookbook by Nanette Davidson; Cookbook photography by Keather Gougler, unless otherwise noted.

The Folk School Cookbook:
A Collection of Seasonal Favorites

Arranged by the seasons, the 336-page hardcover book features Southern Appalachian cooking as well as cuisine from other parts of the world—especially those that have helped to shape the history of the school. Folk School regulars will recognize dining hall favorites, Fall Festival fare, Appalachian classics, and treats made for holidays and special events.

Nanette Davidson, cookbook author and former Folk School Resident Artist in Cooking, meticulously collected and curated over 200 recipes including some of the most memorable recipes served family-style in the school’s Dining Hall over the decades.

Between the beautiful photography, illustrations, stories, and the delectable recipes, you’ll be tempted to come to Brasstown for a visit. We hope you will! In the meantime, cook up a taste of John C. Campbell Folk School at home and share it with friends and family. The Folk School Cookbook is available at the Folk School Craft Shop. Place an order through our online store to have the cookbook shipped directly to you.

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