Of all our Series of Unfortunate Events recipes, I think this was the one I was most excited about. I knew for sure I would be making Uncle Monty’s famous coconut cake from The Reptile Room as our dessert—it’s the food I remember best from the whole series! All the cakes I’ve made on the blog so far have been chocolate (like Delicious Death and Dauntless Cake), so it was fun to try something different. And you can bet the Mister was excited: he loves coconut! This particular recipe starts with a mix, but I used a few baking tricks to make it more like homemade. The frosting is my own invention too, but I used this BHG recipe as my starting point. The final result is a moist, fluffy cake with just the right amount of coconut. So eat up! If your life is anything like the Baudelaires’, you may not know when you’ll encounter such a delicious dessert again. 😉
Uncle Monty’s Coconut Cake
“He, Mr. Poe, and the Baudelaire orphans were sitting around a bright green table, each with a slice of Uncle Monty’s cake. Both the kitchen and the cake were still warm from baking. The cake was a magnificent thing, rich and creamy with the perfect amount of coconut.”
— A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Reptile Room
- For the Cake
- 1 box Duncan Hines Classic White cake mix
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
- 3 egg whites
- 1/2 tsp coconut extract
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- NOTE: Since most coconut cakes require cake flour, I decided to circumvent the need for a special ingredient by starting with a mix. We’re gonna dress it up by replacing the water and oil that the box calls for with milk and melted butter. The extra dairy fat will make the cake super moist and delicious. We’re also adding extracts to amp up the flavor. You can also add an extra egg white to increase the moisture if you want!
- For the Frosting
- 1/3 cup softened butter
- 4 1/2 cups sifted powered sugar, separated
- 1/4 cup milk, plus extra to reach consistency
- 1 tsp coconut extract
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup shredded coconut, separated
Makes 8-12 servings, depending on how thin you slice
- Preheat your oven to the degree listed on the box. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round piece of parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper.
- Combine all the cake ingredients in a large bowl and beat according to package instructions. I added a little cake enhancer too, but you don’t have to.
- Pour the batter into the pans and bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- When the cakes are fully baked. flip them out of their pans onto a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes or so.
- While you wait, make the frosting by beating your butter in a standing mixer on medium speed for 1 minute or until fluffy. Turn the beater up to high and gradually add in half your powdered sugar. Beat in your 1/4 cup milk and extracts. Gradually beat in the remainder of your sugar, scraping the sides of the bowl if necessary. Stop the beater and stir in 3/4 cup of your shredded coconut with a spatula. Beat in a little extra milk until the frosting spreads easily.
- When the cakes are completely cool, you’re ready to begin layering. You have a couple options here. I reeeeeally wanted my cake to look exactly like the picture in the book (which has three layers), so I cut each of my layers in half width-wise to make four narrower layers. Then I just saved one for making cake balls later. But if you just want two layers, you can skip the cutting step and just stack the two cakes as they are.
- Get out whatever plate you want to put your cake on and place two pieces of parchment paper over it, overlapping 3 inches or so in the middle (this will keep your plate clean as you frost). Place your first layer right-side-up on top of the parchment paper. Frost the top of the layer right up to the edges. If you decided to cut your layers, be sure to frost gently to keep from pulling up pieces of cake.
- Place your next layer upside-down on top of the first layer. Frost this layer right up to the edge too. If you’re just doing two layers, you can go ahead and frost the sides. Since I did three layers, I added another layer and frosted the top of that too. Then I did a thin coating of frosting on the sides, basically just as a crumb coat.
- Use the remainder of your frosting to give the whole cake a nice, even coating on the outside. Sprinkle your remaining coconut shavings on top and slide the parchment paper out from underneath the cake.
- Cut and serve after viewing Dr. Montgomery’s award-winning reptile collection.
CAN’T GET ENOUGH COCONUT? CHECK OUT OUR OTHER COCONUT RECIPES!