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November 05, 2013


I had to give this  Grandma Yearwood's Coconut Cake a try  when I first saw it. This rich, moist, and coconuty cake is made with vanilla wafers crumbs and topped with a lemon coconut glaze. It's simply amazing! 

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Vanilla wafer coconut cake is a recent discovery for me. I was curious about this novelty and did a little research. It didn’t take long for me to conclude that every Southern family has their own version of this cake, so it seems. Naturally, my curiosity was piqued—I had to make one. Let me tell you, it is DEE-li-cious! It is decadent, rich, moist, and sweeeeeeet!

The only dilemma I had was deciding which recipe to use. In the end, I went with Trishia Yearwood’s because I had seen her make it on her cooking show. Another deciding factor was her coconut lemon glaze which sounded luscious.


After having made this cake three times, I have a few tips that I like to share.  First, if you decide to use a fancy bundt pan, make sure to prep it REALLY well for easy unmolding. The first time I made the cake was for my sister’s birthday. I used an intricately designed bundt pan with lots indentations and curvatures. I had greased and floured it, but when I tried to unmold the cake, the sucker would not come out! The pretty presentation I had in mind never came to fruition. In the end, I poured the glaze over the unmolded cake, stuck in a few candles, and called it a day. Thank goodness the cake was amazing, and neither the birthday girl nor anyone else cared that it they didn’t get a perfect slice.

Tip number two, the original recipe instructs you to turn the cake onto a rack after cooling for 10 minutes. If you are able to do it successfully, please let me know. For this particular cake, I find that it sticks to the pan and breaks off if I attempt to unmold it before it is completely cooled. So, if you have a hard time unmolding, allow the cake to cool longer. Giving it a couple of good taps might help.

Tip number three, the recipe uses unsweetened coconut flakes, but if all you have is the sweetened ones, use those. I don’t always have the former on hand, but I usually have the latter. I make sure to reduce the sugar by 1/4 cup in both the cake and glaze when using sweetened coconut flakes.

The last tip, Trisha’s recipe calls for a 12 oz. box of vanilla wafers, but please be aware that these cookies come in two size boxes, 11 oz. and 12 oz, depending on the brand. If you use an 11 oz. box, there is no need to purchase another one, just make up the disparity by adding 1/8 cup flour to the recipe.

If you have never heard of this coconut cake, I can’t stress enough how you need to have it at least once in your lifetime. Keep it in mind for your next special occasion. You will be glad you did!

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Note:  If using an 11 oz. box of vanilla wafers, add 1/8 cup flour to the recipe.

2 sticks (1 cup) butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
6 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 box (12 oz.) vanilla wafers, finely crushed
6 oz. coconut flakes (reduce sugar by 1/4 cup if using sweetened coconut)
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Coconut Lemon Glaze:
2 cups sugar 
1 1/2 cup water
2 tbsp. cornstarch
Pinch of salt
Grated zest of 2 large lemons
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
6 oz. coconut flakes (reduce sugar by 1/4 cup if using sweetened coconut)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Generously coat a 9-inch bundt cake pan with cooking spray and a light dusting of flour. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, then add vanilla extract. Beat well.  Add vanilla wafer, coconut flakes, and pecans. Mix until well incorporated.  Pour batter in pan and bake for about 1 hour 10 minutes. Cool completely. Use a knife to loosen the cake from the edges and interior of the pan. Invert onto a plate and give it a couple of good taps to unmold.  

For the glaze, place all ingredients in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Cook, stirring until thickened (about 15 minutes). Using skewers, poke holes on top of cake and drizzle glaze over cake.   

Makes 10-12 servings.

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