Coconut-Lemon Easter Cake: Made with Love (and a little help from Trader Joe’s)

Jazz up a convenient vanilla cake and frosting mix with lemon curd, organic strawberry fruit spread, fresh lemon juice, and organic coconut oil.

Impress friends and family this Easter with a homemade decadent, moist coconut cake, layered with tangy lemon curd and strawberry, and cloaked in a velvety coconut frosting.

No time? No worries. This cake can easily be prepared in approximately 60 minutes  with a little help from your local supermarket—in my case, Trader Joe's.

Start with a vanilla cake mix. Trader Joe’s makes a wonderful vanilla-bean mix that calls for eggs, milk and melted butter. I substituted melted coconut oil which lends the cake a subtle coconut flavor. The zest of one lemon was also added to the batter.

Since I wanted a layer cake, I prepared 2 boxes of the mix using two 9-inch cake pans.  It worked beautifully. Be sure to grease the pans, and line the bottoms with parchment paper or they will stick. Trust me.

While the cake is baking for 40 minutes, the frosting can be prepared.  I used the Trader Joe’s White Frosting Mix, which is basically a mixture of confectioner's sugar, salt and vanilla to which I added butter and hot water.

Though the box states the mix will frost two 9-inch cake layers, I found this a bit stingy. I was able to increase the amount with extra confectioner's sugar and butter on hand, but I would suggest preparing two boxes of the frosting mix.

To make a lemony frosting, I added 3 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice to the TJ mix.  

Let the layering begin. Allow the cakes to cool slightly. Slice off about a half-inch of the rounded tops with a serrated knife to allow them to sit level on top of each other.

Spread approximately 1/3 cup of of lemon curd over the top of the bottom layer. I used Trader Joe’s Organic Strawberry Spread, but you can substitute any brand or flavor of fruit spread.  The fruit spread can even be eliminated if you prefer the singular flavors of lemon and coconut.  Top this layer with the second cake and repeat with lemon curd and strawberry spread.

When frosting a cake—especially one with a layer of filling on top—first add an ample amount to the top.  Then you can begin to gently spread it out. Otherwise, the fillings start to mix into the frosting and you suddenly have a “tie-dyed” look to the cake.  

Frosting cakes was never my forte or joy, but I learned something important in my pastry class at culinary school—chopped nuts, flaked coconut or crushed cookies or candy can hide a multitude of sins. In this case, toasted sweetened coconut and adorable store-bought marzipan eggs were my new best friends. No need to worry about a perfectly frosted layer cake when you can cover it with these goodies.

The coconut can certainly be left un-toasted if desired. Decorate with marzipan or robin’s egg candies, and/or fresh strawberries.  

No one will be the wiser believe that this lovely and delectable spring cake started in a box.

What you’ll need...

2 boxes of vanilla cake mix

1 jar of prepared lemon curd (use most of the jar)

1 jar of strawberry or raspberry fruit spread (use approx. 4-6 tablespoons)

1 jar of coconut oil (1 cup for the TJ mixes)

1 lemon (use all of the zest + 3 teaspoons of the juice)

unsalted butter (1 cup for the frosting)

milk (2 cups for the TJ mix)

eggs (4 for the TJ mix)

1 bag sweetened coconut

decorations:  Easter candy such as candied robin’s eggs or marzipan eggs, or fresh strawberries

2 9-inch diameter cake pans

parchment paper


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