Michelle’s Coconut-Walnut Coffee Cake

For the morning coffee at church one Sunday, Michelle served this delicious coffee cake. I asked for permission to publish the recipe on my blog, and she was kind enough to email me her recipe for Coconut-Walnut Coffee Cake.

She introduced it with a brief explanation.

“When I do coffee at church I like to make something new. So I go through my many many cookbooks and find something that I have all the ingredients for and make it. It’s a fun challenge and I find things that I wouldn’t have made otherwise. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s not, but most of the time it’s good.”

A woman of courage and imagination: I am not sure that I would be brave enough to try a new recipe when I was committed to serving the result to a hundred or more people the next morning.

Michelle also noted that the recipe called for a teaspoon of salt, but that she used only a quarter teaspoon. Since I think that salt is a flavor enhancer, I used a half teaspoon the first time I made this cake, and we liked the result. Later I made it exactly according to the recipe, and we liked that also. I would not use more than half a teaspoon, but use your judgment. Either a quarter or half-teaspoon seems okay, but I agree with Michelle that a full teaspoon seems excessive.

This cake is a version of spiced coffee cake, but the combination of flaked coconut and walnuts makes it especially flavorful.


1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts


If necessary, chop the walnuts, then grease and flour a nine by thirteen-inch pan and preheat the oven to 350º.

Beat the sugars, eggs and vanilla into the oil in a large mixing bowl. Measure the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into a sifter and sift the dry ingredients by thirds into the egg mixture, alternating with the buttermilk. Stir just until everything is well moistened. Fold in the coconut and walnuts.

Pour the batter into the pan and bake for forty to forty-five minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick. If it comes out clean when you insert it near the center of the cake, the cake is done. Be careful not to overbake it.

Cool on a rack and enjoy.

NOTE: Michelle also noted that she didn’t have any buttermilk in her refrigerator, so she soured a cup of regular milk with a tablespoon of lemon juice. Thanks to my wife’s advice, I do the same when I forget to buy buttermilk, and the results are always fine.

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