Recipes/ Recipes: Desserts & Baking

Nana’s Coconut Cake

Nana's Coconut Cake

I don’t remember my Nana doing much baking, but her kitchen was always incredibly well-stocked with treats – and once she found out how much I loved this cake, she would buy it every time I came round for tea. My mum reminded me of it recently and I knew I had to try and recreate it.

One of the things I love about this cake in the homemade version is that it looks just like a storybook cake – creamy pale yellow icing, sprinkles of desiccated coconut and a cherry on top. If you’re a fan of glace cherries, please do feel free to be a bit more generous with them – the cake I remember only had one, so that’s all I used.

A note on the ingredients – just in case you’ve never heard of Fluff, it’s spreadable marshmallow in a jar. With a concept like that, you probably wouldn’t be surprised to know that it comes from America! I tried numerous ways of recreating the icing I remembered and this was perfect. You can buy Fluff in Sainsbury’s, or you could just make normal buttercream if you can’t get any.

Nana's Coconut Cake

Print Recipe
Serves: 12 Cooking Time: 1 hour


  • For the cake:
  • 3 eggs
  • About 200g margarine
  • About 200g icing sugar
  • About 200g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • To decorate:
  • 3 big spoonfuls of margarine
  • 2 big spoonfuls of icing sugar
  • 4 big spoonfuls of Fluff
  • Desiccated coconut
  • A single, perfect glace cherry



Preheat the oven to 190°C (180°C fan). Weigh the eggs, in their shells, then crack them into a bowl and add the same weight of margarine (by the way, I always use margarine for cakes, instead of butter, because I think it gives a lighter result). Beat thoroughly, add the same weight of sugar and half a teaspoonful of vanilla extract, beat again, and then finally add the same weight of flour and a teaspoonful of baking powder, and give it one last mixing.


Thoroughly grease a round baking tin or springform tin about 22cm in diameter, and line the bottom with a circle of greaseproof paper. If you only have a smaller tin, that’s fine, but be aware that the cooking time may be longer, so make sure you check that it’s cooked. Scrape the mixture into the tin and spread it out so that it’s roughly even, then place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.


When the timer goes, check the cake with a skewer – it should go into the middle and come out completely clean – and then allow it to cool in the tin for a few minutes before transferring it to a wire rack. Let it cool completely before icing it.


To make the icing, first combine the margarine and the icing sugar. Have a taste – it should be just a little less sweet than usual, as the Fluff will add lots of sugar. Next, beat in the Fluff, making sure to combine it really well.


Finally spread it carefully over the top of the cake with a palette knife, sprinkle the coconut on top, and crown with a glace cherry. Serve with tea, using your very best china.

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