Rich’s Magnolia Room & BakeShop Coconut Cake

Richs Bakeshop Coconut Cake - if you are from the South, you'll remember and love this cake! Although, Granny's was much better.

Rich’s Magnolia Room & Bakeshop Coconut Cake

Rich’s and its Magnolia Room restaurant are no more, but here is one of the recipes that made it famous.

Hands on time: 20 minutes Total time: 1 hour and 30 minutes Serves: 16

Rich’s always did a three-layer cake, with two layers of coconut filling, but some home cooks don’t have three pans of the same size, so two would work just fine.


  • Shortening and flour for pans
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour (if you can’t find cake flour, use White Lily brand all-purpose flour)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon powdered milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2/3 cup liquid milk (2 percent or whole)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons powdered milk
  • 1/2 cup water (for dissolving milk powder)
  • 2 pounds frozen shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened — recipe tested with unsweetened), divided
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cake pans by lightly greasing with shortening, then dusting with flour. In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside. In a small bowl or measuring cup, stir the powdered milk into the water and mix until dissolved. Combine the liquid milk with the powdered milk/water mixture and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the shortening and the sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add about half the flour mixture, beating until just incorporated, and then half the milk mixture, again beating until just incorporated. Repeat this step, adding the remaining flour with the remaining liquid, and beat until just smooth (about 1 minute). Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowls once or twice during the mixing. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake for about 20 to 30 minutes. The cooking time will vary depending on how many cake pans you use and how full they are. The cake is done when it springs back when lightly pressed near the center with your finger. Allow the cake to cool for a few minutes in the pan, and then turn out onto cooling racks to cool completely.

In a mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, combine the vegetable shortening, vanilla and salt and cream together until incorporated. Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar until it forms a very thick consistency. Dissolve the powdered milk in the water and gradually add, just 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time, until the icing is a nice, spreadable consistency.


Make filling: In a large bowl, thaw the frozen coconut. Set aside. Take 1 1/2 cups of the coconut and place in a smaller bowl.
Combine the water and sugar and pour over this smaller bowl of coconut. This should be very moist but not soupy. Place one layer of the yellow cake on a cake plate and spread with icing. Spoon the moistened coconut over that. Place the next layer on top and spread with icing, spooning the moistened coconut over it. Continue this process until all your layers are filled; however, don’t put the moist filling on the very top of the last layer, as it will be iced. Next, cover the entire cake with the icing. Make sure to use a thick coating of icing to eliminate any of the cake showing through. Take handfuls of the dry, thawed coconut and press the flakes into the icing. You may want to put a tray underneath to catch any coconut that falls as you do this. Continue pressing dry, flaky coconut all over the cake until it is completely covered. Chill for about 1 hour to set (it helps the coconut to stay), and then serve.
Thawed frozen coconut really does make a difference for this easy cake. You can assemble the cake when the layers are still a little warm as the shortening-based frosting doesn’t melt. While it’s good after an hour, it’s far better after a day.
Per serving: 802 calories (percent of calories from fat, 59), 7 grams protein, 80 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams fiber, 54 grams fat (40 grams saturated), 43 milligrams cholesterol, 402 milligrams sodium.

Copyright 2009 Atlanta Journal-Constitution. All rights reserved

11 thoughts on “Rich’s Magnolia Room & BakeShop Coconut Cake

  1. I have made the Rich’s version once, but the work is too much. That said, it was the best cake I’ve eaten since Rich’s was sold, You must put candied cherries in the cake mix, and not raisins. The icing is a lemon and cherry glaze with coconut added, and it goes between the layers as well as on the cake. It had two layers of white (not yellow), and two layers of spice cake intermittent. Mix up nutmeg and cloves, and don’t use allspice. This cake not only taste good, but you can smell the spices before you eat it.


  2. Thank you for replying. the Southern Living Japanese Fruit cake is missing some of the fruitcake fruit that the Rich’s cake had. I think I can incorporated some candied cherries etc., and it will be similar. Now I just need to wait on the Christmas fruit to get here. I’ll keep you posted on how it turns out.


  3. Thank you for re-publishing this recipe. I saved the one that was printed in the AJC April 8, 2007, and made it for the first time yesterday. I knew that something was not right, but I kept going. The batter was way too thin. When baked, the cake was gooie. After finding your post, I see that the paper printed it incorrectly. The recipe in the paper called for 1 1/4 cups flour and 2 1/4 cups of sugar, which is reversed from yours of 2 1/4 cups of flour and 1 1/4 cups of sugar. Just putting this out there in case someone else has come across this.


      • Hi Joy. I have heard there was a Rich’s Japanese fruit cake. I always liked the chocolate and coconut myself. I am working on my mother’s Japanese fruitcake to bring it to modern terms (it is that old). I am told it is different from the Rich’s one though. Relatives who had a slice of both say so. Mom wrote down the AJC published recipe and the Southern Living recipe and made her own version. She was like that. Look at the Southern Living version online and see if it looks like the one you remember. The recipe ingredients sound the same. Good luck.


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