Sylvia’s Sour Cream Coconut Coffee Cake

I gave myself the task of recreating my mother’s Christmas coffee cake, with mixed results, mostly wonderful.

Every year at Christmastime, my mom made a sour cream coconut coffee cake for every household in the family for folks to enjoy at breakfast while unwrapping presents. We all loved it, and looked forward to it. She would start baking a month before Christmas and tuck the cakes in the freezer as she turned them out. The freezing actually made them taste even better! 

Carrying on the tradition

The Christmas after Mom passed away, my sister and two brothers gathered at my house and enjoyed the last of her cakes, one I had tucked in my freezer the Christmas before. We ate the cake reverently, with tears, a last gift from her kitchen, and I can still taste it.

I wanted to carry on the tradition this year since none of us will be together physically, so I pulled out the recipe and remembered it was a simple concoction that she had ripped from a magazine at some time. It called for a yellow cake mix and a box of Jello cream of coconut pudding. Both contained a lot of artificial ingredients and flavoring, preservatives, etc., and the coconut pudding proved impossible to find, so I set about trying to recreate the cake from scratch.

Let’s use her yellow from scratch recipe!

Her yellow cake was always delicious, so I thought this would be a great place to start, enhancing it with coconut flour and extract to achieve that coconut flavor. 

She instructed us in her recipe to use a cheap yellow cake mix, nothing deluxe; we would add the pudding, two extra eggs, sour cream, and a half cup of vegetable oil, which all contributed to a lovely richnesss.

A little of this, a little of that…

Mom’s yellow cake called for ¾ lb. butter, and the coconut cake called for ½ cup of oil. I decided on ½ cup of butter and ¼ cup of oil. I substituted 1 cup of coconut flour for one cup of the white flour, and used coconut extract along with the vanilla. I also added ½ cup of unsweetened desiccated coconut.

Because of the extra moisture from the oil and the addition of the sour cream, I omitted the milk in the yellow cake recipe.

The batter was beautifully thick and luscious and I was hopeful.

There is good news and bad news. The good news is that the cake is absolutely delicious! The bad news, for me at least, is that it tastes nothing like mothers!

There is good news and bad news. The good news is that the cake is absolutely delicious! The crumb was tender and smooth, the cake moist and flavorful. The bad news, for me at least, is that it tastes nothing like mother’s! It has only the slightest flavor of coconut, the cinnamon in the middle drizzle being the most predominant flavor. I even added a sour cream and confectioners sugar glaze made with coconut liquor, and that didn’t even give it the flavor I remember.

Missing the artificial

I guess the imitation coconut flavor from the pudding is what I miss, and that’s too bad because I’ve looked over the past few months at several supermarkets and no one seems to carry it –– although it is available on-line, probably.

So, what I think I’ll do is use mom’s yellow cake recipe and add a box of the pudding I’ll get on-line (maybe, who knows these days?) and make this compromise for everyone. If I can’t get it, everyone will have a nice coffee cake for Christmas. When I make this again, I’ll omit the coconut extract.

In the meantime, if you are looking for a beautifully moist and delicious Bundt cake, here’s the recipe! 

Sour Cream Coconut Cake

  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 2 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups white sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. coconut extract
  • 1 cup full-fat sour cream
  • ½ cup desiccated coconut
  • Filling: ½ cup sugar mixed with 1 tsp. cinnamon and ¼ cup chopped walnuts (nuts optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a Bundt pan. Set aside.

Combine the flours, baking powder, and salt and sift again. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat until fluffy. Drizzle in the oil and continue beating until well mixed.

Add the eggs, one at a time, then the extracts.

Slowly blend in half the flour, the sour cream, then the rest of the flour and desiccated coconut.

Spread half the batter into the Bundt, sprinkle half the cinnamon filling evenly, then cover with the rest of the batter and the rest of the cinnamon mixture. 

Bake for 30 minutes, gently turn so browning is even, and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool for 15 minutes and remove to a wire rack until thoroughly cooled.

Drizzle with sour-cream glaze.

Sour Cream and Coconut Glaze

Combine ½ cup sour cream, 1/3 cup confectioners 10X, and 1 tbsp. coconut extract. Drizzle over cooled cake.

Sylvia’s Sour Cream Coconut Coffee Cake

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 box coconut cream pudding
  • And for sprinkling: 1/2 cup sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ cup walnuts.

Use a cheap store brand yellow cake mix, nothing fancy, no deluxe anything. Beat all ingredients together for two minutes (ignore box directions). Grease a large tube or Bundt pan. Put half of batter in prepared pan. Sprinkle half of sugar/cinnamon/nut mixture. Add rest of batter, and sprinkle the rest of the sugar mixture on top.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for at least 15 minutes before removing from pan.

 These freeze nicely if you want to make them beforehand for Christmas gifts.

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35 Comments Add yours

  1. This looks a lot like the cake my Grandma called her Sock It To Me cake. It had that cinnamon ribbon running through it, but I can’t remember if it had any coconut flavor or not…. She used to make it all the time when we were kids. Your version sounds delicious, but I’m sorry it doesn’t taste like your Mom’s. It’s those little things that stir our memories and make us feel close, isn’t it? I hope you’re able to find the coconut pudding. It seems to me that I’ve seen some (Jello brand) fairly recently, so I feel hopeful for you….

    1. Well, mom had this recipe for decades and it sounds like your Grandma’s was from the 1960s, so it might be similar. I have ordered some of the pudding on-line, fingers crossed. My problem is my mom’s recipe didn’t say if it was the cook or instant pudding! I ordered the cooked version because the box was slightly familiar! Stay tuned!

  2. looks delicious!! Can’t wait to make it 😊

    1. Thank you! It’s such an easy recipe and so delicious!

  3. NativeNM says:

    It warms my heart to see traditions being shared to be enjoyed again and again. Your Mom’s cake looks delicious and I’m sure it brings such great memories every time you make it.

    1. Thank you so much! This year in particular I thought it was important to keep as many of the traditions as possible since we won’t be together. It’s our history, and our present as well!

  4. looks delicious!!

    1. Thank you! It is highly recommended!

  5. I ‘think’ I found the pudding at a small grocery store near me, at least according to their online search. So, off I’ll go on Thursday and see if I can find it and make Sylvia’s cake. Thank you for sharing. Dessert is never healthy, but there needs to be some joy in Mudville. 🙂

    1. Good luck!!!! Let me know if you love it as much as we all do!

  6. Julia says:

    Good luck in you search to find the pudding. I hope you’ll be able to recreate your mother’s cake.

    1. I’m trying! I think I have ordered the right pudding! That’s a start.

  7. That is some cake! Looks yummy and most too. And, I also loved your ingenious substitutes. 🍮🍂🍂🍮

    1. Thank you my friend! XXOO

  8. What a sweet memory! I must admit I make bundt cakes all the time with cake mix, sour cream and pudding mix, and use melted butter instead of oil, and they are always a hit! I’m sorry you can’t find the coconut pudding, but I am pretty sure your scratch version of your mom’s cake is divine!!

    1. It is a wonderful memory. I’ve ordered the pudding, and hopefully I’ll be able to make this happen for the holiday!

  9. CarolCooks2 says:

    I have a new bundt tin which is crying out to be used…this recipe sounds like a winner have BM to make for Christmas for those who don’t like fruit cake 🙂

    1. While it wasn’t Mom’s original, this cake is so delicious that I’ll make it again and again. I hope you love it as much as we did!

      1. CarolCooks2 says:

        I am sure we will, Dorothy.. I hope you manage to replicate your mums original once you get your mix… 😀

      2. I’m sure I will, thank you! It will be great to bake these for everyone.

  10. I’m loving this cake! 👀🍃😍

    1. Thank you! It actually got even better with age, and I think I will always add the sour cream and oil to Mom’s basic yellow cake from now on!

  11. I like your recipe, Dorothy. I’ve never baked using a box cake mixture and I’ve certainly never seen coconut flavoured instant pudding here in South Africa. I’ve only seen chocolate and vanilla.

    1. I don’t like the flavor of cake mixes. They tend to be dry and one note and take pretty much the same amount of time as baking from scratch, so I’m not sure what the attraction is!

      1. I think people think they are easier but I agree with you. We are bakers though so cook from scratch is how we do things.

      2. I just always think it is funny –– in a mix, you still have to add the eggs, and the liquid. About the only real thing the mix does is combine the dry ingredients (including preservatives) which takes less than a minute!

  12. Full of emotions this cake! 💕
    And I have tried a few times to make my grandma’s recipe following step by step but nothing…the taste was not the same!
    I’m pretty sure they used to have their secrets 🥰
    It looks really moist and the combination of flavors must be really interesting 😋
    I would love to enjoy it on Christmas Day 🎄☺️

    1. Yes, it is a cake of memories and emotions! I agree they had their secrets, and I doubt they thought of them as such. I know when I make mom’s fried chicken for the family, it is almost there but not quite. I suspect she just tasted and tossed more of something in until it was “right”!

  13. That looks scrumptious Dorothy! Soft and Moist is the first thing I can think of. Its my fasting day and you are making me itch for a yummy coconut flavor cake now lol.
    I feel sorry that you were looking forward to your mother’s taste-alike cake. There is always a next time. But the good good news is you created a new recipe for your family to enjoy!

  14. This would make a lovely Christmas morning breakfast!

    1. That was always our tradition Brett Ann! We would have our large extended family Christmas gathering the weekend before and feast and open presents. Mom would send us all home with a coconut coffee cake to have on Christmas morning when we were all in our own homes sharing breakfast and opening more presents!

  15. kutukamus says:

    I like the looks of them all! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much! It’s now our new version of an old favorite!

  16. Beautiful cake! Using box cake mix is such a great idea to make it easier.

    1. I love the new version, but still miss mom’s!

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