Jane’s Kitchen: Cloud-High Coconut Cake with Pineapple Fiilling (or Snowball Cake)

“From a magazine recipe my mom found in the early 1960’s. The very best coconut cake ever. The yellow cake is the easiest, most foolproof cake, and the most delicious. It’s hard to imagine it’s made with shortening, it tastes so buttery. Unfrosted cake freezes well; use for trifle or shortcake. Frosting makes great meringues (mix in coconut or ground nuts if desired, spread into shells or mounds on large greased cookie sheet. Bake at 250 F(convection) or 275F for 45 minutes. Turn off oven and leave in oven 45 more minutes to dry).” – Jane Levine


Servings: 30

Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Start to Finish Time: 2 hours



3 3/4 cups cake flour

2 1/3 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups shortening

4 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups milk

5 eggs



1 package (3 3/4 oz.) vanilla pudding mix, cooked or 1 1/4 cup vanilla pastry cream

1 can (8 oz.) crushed pineapple in juice, well drained



1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

1 teaspoon white vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 egg whites

1 pinch cream of tartar 


Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour two 8-in round cake pans and one 2 1/2 quart oven-safe bowl; or use 4 8-in round cake pans. In large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat flour, sugar, shortening, milk, baking powder, vanilla extract, salt, and eggs just until blended, constantly scraping bowl with rubber spatula. Increase speed to high; beat 2 minutes, occasionally scraping bowl. Spoon 1 1/2 cups batter into each 8-in cake pan; spoon remaining batter into oven- safe bowl. Place bowl with batter on upper oven rack and 8-in layers on lower rack. Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers of 8-in layers comes out clean. Remove 8-in layers from oven to cool on wire racks 10 minutes. Bake bowl with batter 40 minutes longer or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans and bowl; cool completely. 

Meanwhile, prepare pineapple filling: Cook the vanilla pudding using only 1 1/4 cups milk, or prepare pastry cream. Fold in pineapple and cool.

Prepare frosting: In heavy saucepan, heat sugar, water, corn syrup, salt and vanilla to a boil, reduce to medium heat and boil for 1 minute. Beat egg whites with cream of tarter at high speed until soft peaks form, then slowly pour in hot syrup and beat until thick enough to spread.

Assemble snowball cake: Cut a 6-inch round from a piece of heavy cardboard; wrap with foil. If bottom of dome- shaped layer is very rounded, cut off a thin slice to make flat. Cut dome-shaped layer and each 8-inch layer in half. Place bottom half of one 8-inch layer, cut side up, on cake plate. Spread with a heaping 2/3 cup pineapple filling to within 1/2 inch of edge. Top with top half of 8-inch layer; spread with 2/3 cup frosting. Place bottom half of second 8-inch layer, cut side up, over frosting; spread with 2/3 cup pineapple filling. Top with remaining half layer; place foil-wrapped cardboard on top. Insert flat half of domed layer, cut side up, on cardboard; spread with remaining filling. Top with rounded half of domed layer. With metal spatula, spread remaining frosting over entire cake. Press coconut into frosting to cover completely. Refrigerate if not serving right away.

Alternately use 2 or 3 layers of cake to make a standard layer cake. Remaining cake layers freeze well for another use. Try Boston Creme Pie or Strawberry Shortcake or any flavor of trifle. See notes.

Serving Ideas: Decorate with fresh flowers for spring/summer/fall or holly for a winter snowball.

To serve, remove dome-shaped layer with cardboard to plate. Cut into 12 slices. Cut remaining cake into 18 slices.

Yield: 1 snowball or 2 4-layer cakes