Fiona Cairns' coconut and chocolate cake recipe

(103 ratings)

Coconut and chocolate is a winning combination when it comes to baking - so if you love both, then try out this delicious birthday cake recipe from Royal Wedding cake maker Fiona Cairns

Coconut and chocolate stripey cake
Preparation Time1 hours
Cooking Time40 mins
Total Time1 hours 40 mins

Coconut and chocolate is a winning combination when it comes to baking - so if you love both, then try out this delicious birthday cake recipe from Royal Wedding cake maker Fiona Cairns. Unlike our classic chocolate cake, which is covered with chocolate icing, this has been smothered with a delicious coconut frosting and filed with buttercream.


For the cake:

  • 350g unsalted butter, really soft, diced, plus more for the tins
  • 2tbsp cocoa powder
  • 350g self-raising flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 350g golden caster sugar
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • 90g creamed coconut, grated, or grated fresh coconut

For the coconut frosting:

  • 300g cream cheese
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 45g creamed coconut, grated, or grated fresh coconut
  • 1tsp vanilla extract

For the buttercream:

  • 150g 70% cocoa solids chocolate
  • 225g unsalted butter, softened
  • 300g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1tsp vanilla extract

You'll also need:

  • 1 large nylon icing bag, with star nozzle
  • 2 x 20cm cake boards




  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Butter two 20cm round sandwich tins and line the bases with baking parchment. Make an 8cm high collar of baking parchment for each tin too. Mix the cocoa powder with 1–2 tbsp boiling water, and set aside to cool.
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl, add the butter, eggs, sugar and vanilla. Beat until well blended, taking care not to over-mix. Remove half the batter to another bowl.
  3. Gently stir the coconut into one bowl and scrape into one of the tins.
  4. Add the cocoa paste to the other, stir and scrape into the other tin.
  5. Bake both cakes for 30–40 minutes, or until a skewer emerges clean.
  6. Remove from the oven and leave the cakes for a minute or two, then run a knife around each to loosen it from the tin. Turn out on to a couple of wire racks. Remove the papers and leave to cool completely.
  7. Meanwhile, to make the coconut frosting, place the cream cheese in a bowl. Sift over the icing sugar and whisk until well blended.
  8. Add the coconut and vanilla and mix well. To make the chocolate buttercream, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over barely simmering water, making sure the bowl does not touch the water. Set aside to cool.
  9. Beat the butter until really pale and fluffy, then add the icing sugar and vanilla.
  10. Beat for five minutes until light and creamy. Add the chocolate and beat again. Take a few spoonfuls and, with a palette knife, place into the icing bag. Only half-fill the bag, or it will make a mess.
  11. Level the tops of the cakes, turn upside down and place on a work surface. Cut the cakes into 2cm strips; each should make 10 strips. Alternate them so each cake has 10 strips of the two flavours. Transfer to the cake boards. Wrap one cake and freeze for another day.
  12. Using half the coconut frosting, sandwich together the strips of cake and spread the rest over the top and sides. Rest in the fridge for an hour to firm up.
  13. To decorate the cake, place it on to an upturned 15cm cake tin.
  14. Pipe chocolate roses of varying sizes, from the inside outwards. Practice first on a small plate and scrape the buttercream back into the bag to re-use. (Watch our step-by-step video for how to pipe rose icing.) Lift gently on to a serving plate.
Top Tip for making Fiona Cairns' coconut and chocolate cake

This recipe is best made on the day, but you can freeze the other half to use another time!

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Jessica Dady
Food Editor

Jessica Dady is Food Editor at GoodtoKnow and has over 11 years of experience as a digital editor, specialising in all things food, recipes, and SEO. From the must-buy seasonal food hampers and advent calendars for Christmas to the family-friendly air fryers that’ll make dinner time a breeze, Jessica loves trying and testing various food products to find the best of the best for the busy parents among us. Over the years of working with GoodtoKnow, Jessica has had the privilege of working alongside Future’s Test Kitchen to create exclusive videos - as well as writing, testing, and shooting her own recipes. When she’s not embracing the great outdoors with her family at the weekends, Jessica enjoys baking up a storm in the kitchen with her favourite bakes being chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, and a tray of gooey chocolate brownies