Coconut Cake with Strawberry Compote and Pink Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Coconut and strawberry isn't the most common combo, but this coconut cake with strawberry compote and pink Swiss meringue buttercream is delicious anyways.
the bff and i came up with this one back in january, over one of our insane skype dates (we talked for 6 hours once oops). we were both going home for a weekend and therefore planning our baking escapades, when she mentioned how to cake it’s coconut cake. but bff didn’t want to use lemon curd, because it’s “just lemon and fat and i don’t like either.” um, what? i was definitely glaring at her because i happen to love both lemon and fat. anyways, she realized she had a midterm and an essay due, so she didn’t go home and this cake didn’t happen. i was annoyed and sad because i thought i wouldn’t see her until spring break; as it turns out, she showed up at my apt at some crazy hour in my apartment courtesy of a friend who drove down to stay with me for the weekend. all was well, but we still wanted to make the cake. and we did over spring break, armed with my new friend (bff’s current roommate). i waited to post this coconut cake with strawberry compote and pink swiss meringue buttercream for this special occasion known as i turned 20 this week, wow i don’t feel 20 and i’m not ready to semi-adult at all.


so this cake:

  • coconut cake w two kinds of coconut: sweetened coconut and coconut milk
  • strawberries cooked down until jammy and compote-like
  • swiss meringue buttercream flavored with some of the aforementioned compote and tinted with pink food coloring to make different shades of pink

we halved the cake recipe (hence the weird measurements below) and baked it in two 6″ round cake pans, so they were fairly thick cake layers. we ended up splitting each layer in half crosswise to increase the compote/buttercream to cake ratio. also, psa: in case your buttercream splits and separates very badly because the strawberry puree is too watery, don’t panic, just start over and make more buttercream. or, you know, run to target, grab a tub of cool whip, and flavor/color accordingly. i won’t judge.

even if your coconut cake with strawberry compote and pink swiss meringue buttercream isn’t perf, have no fear. it’s still gonna be delicious. maybe not gorgeous or instagram-worthy, but no one will give any poops once they taste how buttery and moist and coconutty without being overly so (according to my mums) the cake is, or how fresh the strawberry is, with its sweet/tart balance cutting through the rest of the cake. and if you managed to get some non-separated buttercream on there underneath the cool whip, then you get two kinds of frosting, you lucky girl, you.

sweet coconut nothings:
Mini Brown Butter, Coconut and Raspberry Cakes
Red Bean Coconut Milk Popsicles
David Lebovitz’s German Chocolate Cake
Samoa Bars
Vanilla Coconut Quinoa Pudding
Coconut Cashew Granola

for those times when you don’t devour all the strawberries as soon as you get home from the farmers’ market:
Matcha Cake with Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Strawberry Daifuku

1 year ago: Garlicky Sesame Cured Broccoli Salad

Coconut Cake with Strawberry Compote and Pink Swiss Meringue Buttercream | Delicious Not Gorgeous

Coconut Cake with Strawberry Compote and Pink Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Yo Yo’s Coconut Cake
adapted slightly from How to Cake It

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 T baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup sweetened desiccated coconut (shredded is fine too)
1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar (cut from 1 1/4 cups)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 whole eggs + 2 egg whites, room temperature
1 1/6 cups unsweetened coconut milk

  1. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Whisk in the salt and coconut.
  2. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until smooth. Add the dry ingredients (in 4 parts) alternatively with the milk (in 3 parts).
  3. Pour into two greased and parchment lined 6” round cake pans. Bake at 350F for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs. Cool.

Strawberry Compote*
3/4 lb frozen strawberries

In a medium saucepan, cook the berries with a splash of water over medium heat until the berries are broken down somewhat (I wanted it chunky, but you can smush them up with a fork if you want it smoother) and the mixture has thickened (if you pick some up with a spoon and let it fall, it should trickle very slowly or plop), about 15-20 minutes. Add sugar to taste (I like it less sweet because the rest of the cake is sweet enough). Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Coconut Swiss Meringue Buttercream
from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook

2 egg whites
1/2 cup + 2 T granulated sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
leftover strawberry compote, but blended until completely smooth**
red/pink food coloring (optional; to be used during assembly)

  1. Whisk egg whites, sugar, and salt in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water until sugar has dissolved (you can rub some between your fingers, but I just feel around the bowl with my whisk).
  2. Whisk on medium-high speed (please use a stand mixer unless you want to whip for 30 minutes using a hand mixer; I wish I was kidding) until stiff peaks form and the bowl is cool to the touch, about 10 minutes.
  3. Switch to the paddle attachment. Add the butter 1 chunk at a time, beating until it disappears before adding the next one. Beat until the buttercream is pale and fluffy. If it separates, just keep whipping and the buttercream will fix itself (why can’t everything be like this?). If it’s super soft, put it in the fridge for 10 minutes, then try whipping it again.
  4. Mix in the strawberry puree until the buttercream is evenly colored and smooth.


  1. Level the tops of the cakes with a long, serrated knife. Place a dab of buttercream in the center of a cake stand/serving plate, then place one cake layer over the buttercream and press it down to help the cake stick to the buttercream and the plate.
  2. Spread a thin layer of the compote onto the cake, leaving a bit of a border around the edge of the cake so the compote doesn’t ooze out. Add another cake layer and repeat the compote/cake layering.
  3. Add the last layer, bottom up so that you have a flat top. Divide the buttercream into three bowls, and add different amounts of red/pink food coloring until you reach the colors you want (this is completely optional). Crumb coat the cake with the lightest buttercream, and refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes so that the buttercream can set up.
  4. Add a thicker layer of the light buttercream. Smear on dollops of the darker colors, and then use a palette knife or offset spatula and run the long edge of the tool (tip facing the floor and handle towards the sky) along the sides of the cake to blur the colors together.


*Feel free to sub in strawberry preserves if you’re lazy/running low on time/etc.

**Preferably use about 3/4 cup, but when in doubt, add less rather than more. If you end up using strawberry preserves instead of making strawberry compote, then you can use that, too. Blend or puree until it breaks down to your desired texture (but it’s easier to frost if there isn’t any big chunks of berries left).

12 Replies to “Coconut Cake with Strawberry Compote and Pink Swiss Meringue Buttercream”

    1. me too! thanks for taking the time to comment (:

  1. This looks delicious! and I love that pastel frost job!

  2. Love the way this cake uses coconut milk. Gives it a deep coconut flavor!

    1. definitely! i think having coconut milk AND the coconut that gets mixed into the cake makes it extra special.

  3. Coconut cake is one of my faves! And with strawberry? YUM!!!

    1. for the longest time i wasn’t into coconut; you know that thing where your mom/dad/some adult you trust doesn’t like something or tells you it’s bad, and you think that way for a looong time? that’s what happened to coconut. so i’m catching up for lost time! (:

  4. Pretty!! I would love to have a piece of that cake. 😀

  5. I love that your compote doesn't look weirdly colorful and fake – that's how you know it's the real thing!


    1. thanks lizzy! it’s all strawberries. i like to keep things fairly natural, though there is a hint of food coloring in the buttercream because the strawberries didn’t want to cooperate (;

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