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Coconut Angel Food Cake

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Coconut Angel Food Cake

Coconut Angel Food Cake
Sara Remington
Provided by:
total prep
Submitted by Catherine Watson
From her grandmother Luta Frierson Keith’s recipe, Anderson, South Carolina

Catherine Watson fondly recalls her grandmother Luta Frierson Keith, who was born in 1892 and was affectionately known as Ma-Ma. Everything Ma-Ma made was heavenly, but this cake was Catherine’s favorite. “Ma-Ma appeared at the door every Christmas morning wearing her wispy little hat, leather gloves, and that mink tail ‘thingie’ around her suit . . . you know the kind where the mouth opens and hooks to a tail? She carried that mile-high cake, looking just like one of the Wise Men!”

Catherine reminisces, "Tell me grandmothers don’t make major memories for the little ones. I am over 60 and it’s as if it were yesterday." Now Catherine carries on Ma-Ma’s tradition and makes Coconut Angel Food Cake every Christmas. When we asked Catherine to share a recipe with us, she wrote to Momma Reiner, “I have decided, Kimberly, that this is really fun! So many happy memories seem to revolve around food . . . especially sweets . . . and typing these recipes off reminded me of how often I have made them and all the calories that went out my front door!!”

Recipe courtesy of Sugar, Sugar: Every Recipe Has a Story by Kimberly “Momma” Reiner and Jenna Sanz-Agero/Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2011.


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 11 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 batch Angel Food White Icing (recipe below)
  • 2 to 3 cups sweetened flaked coconut (Catherine uses Baker's Angel Flake)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup egg whites (from about 4 large eggs, separated)
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract


  • Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and cream of tartar. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry, about 1 1/2 minutes. (Ma-Ma's directions say to whip those egg whites sky-high!) Use a spatula to slowly fold the sugar into the egg whites. Do not beat. Add the vanilla. Add the flour mixture into the egg whites, a little at a time, stirring gently. Pour the batter evenly into an ungreased standard angel food cake pan. Bake for about 50 minutes, until the cake springs back when touched in the center. Gently invert the pan and set on a wire rack to cool completely. You may also invert the pan on top of a bottle (neck through the hole of your tube pan) to allow the cake to cool. While the cake is cooling, make the icing.
  • Slice the cooled cake into three layers. Place one cake layer upside down on a serving platter and spread icing over the top and sides, being generous on top, as it will be a filling layer. Cover the icing with coconut. Place the middle layer upside down on top of the bottom layer, spread icing over the top and sides, again, being generous with the top/filling layer, and sprinkle coconut over it. Place the third cake layer right side up on top of the second layer and complete the frosting of the top and sides. Sprinkle the remaining coconut over the entire cake, covering it evenly.
  • In a saucepan over medium heat, mix together the sugar, cream of tartar, salt, and hot water. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved (the liquid should change from cloudy to clear), 3 to 5 minutes. Cover the saucepan and boil for about 1 minute to wash down any sugar crystals that may have formed on the sides of the saucepan. Remove the lid. Continue to cook without stirring until a candy thermometer reads 240°F. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool just a bit.
  • When the candy thermometer reads 236°F, beat the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium to high speed until stiff peaks form, about 4 minutes. Add the sugar syrup slowly to the egg whites, beating on medium speed. Add the almond extract and continue to beat for 5 to 8 minutes, until the frosting is cool and holds its shape.

  • Sugar Mommas Tips:
  • Sugar Mommas Nifty Gadget: Use Wilton’s egg separator to obtain fast and easy egg whites with no mess. The egg yolk sits in a top cavity while the whites slip through slots into a bottom compartment. This is fun to watch, and the kids get a kick out of it.
  • Old School:If you can’t find flaked coconut, you may use sweetened shredded coconut. Luta used one fresh coconut, which she shredded herself. This seems like a perfect excuse for a Hawaiian vacation.
  • Carpool Crunch:If you’re rushing off to a function and want to bring an impressive cake, look no further. No need to slice into layers and frost individually. Just take the whole cake out of the tube pan, frost the top and sides, sprinkle with coconut (you’ll only need about 1 1/2 cups), and serve.
  • Sass It Up:Vanilla extract can be used in place of almond for the icing. You can also add sliced fruit between your layers. Try adding a few drops of blue or red food coloring to the icing for a petal pink or sky blue cake—perfect for a baby shower.