Baking Easter Memories with Grandma

by Pastry Chef Lorna Stokes


Pastry Chef Lorna Stokes has a hat for every holiday – and a special Coconut Cake recipe for Easter! We’re anxiously awaiting Easter Sunday to see what her “Easter Bonnet” might look like!

When I was 8 years old, my family and I moved to Andalusia, Alabama to live near my grandparents. To say the town was tiny would be an understatement, but I loved it. The weather was beautiful , everyone was incredibly friendly, and fried foods were a food group.

In the South, food and family are a major part of life. Our Sundays were devoted to family and dinner. Tradition was church, followed by a huge lunch at grandma’s with the family and friends.  This was a special time to spend with each other, while devouring crispy fried chicken, creamy mashed potatoes, and piping hot rolls. The best part? There was always dessert. Since grandma knew dessert was the highlight of my meal, she sometimes made two.

My grandma is a phenomenal old school cook, making everything from scratch.  Think of Paula Deen, but taller, skinnier, and much more demure.  She is the sweetest thing in the world, never wanting to speak ill of a single person, and has a pot of coffee with cake prepared for a pop-in guest.  She is my role model, as a southern lady and a cook.

One of my fondest memories is of grandma’s infamous coconut cake she would make for our Easter dinner. I’ve never been much of a coconut fan, but this cake she made was mind blowing. Fluffy, moist cake, sweet, white icing, and just the right amount of flaky coconut.  No matter how much I ate for lunch, there was always room for dessert. I’d have one piece after lunch, one an hour later, and another piece just before I went to bed. (Yes, I was a chubby child) This cake would be gone in two days.

For Christmas 2008, my grandma gave my sister and I an incredible gift. It was a book full of all her recipes, from her Crockpot Mac ‘n’ Cheese to her Cornbread Muffins. And in the dessert section? Her coconut cake recipe. YES! I finally had the amazing recipe all for myself!

Grandma is older now, and since grandpa passed away, she doesn’t cook much anymore. However, the memories of all those special dinners in Alabama hold a special place in my heart.  I’d like to share this special recipe with you and hope you make memories with it too!

Grandmas Coconut Cake


¼ Cup Oleo (Butter)
¾ Cup Shortening
1 ¾ Cup Sugar
3 Eggs, Separated
3 Cups Flour
4 tsp Baking Powder
1 ¼ Cup Milk
2 tsp Vanilla

White Frosting

1 ½ Cup Shortening
½ Cup Milk
1 tsp Vanilla
2 lbs Powdered Sugar

Shredded Coconut


Preheat the oven to 350F. Oil and flour three 8-inch cake pans. Set aside.

Combine all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, cream the oleo, shortening, and sugar together with a mixer. Add the yolks and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the milk and vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients. Whip the eggs whites to semi-stiff peaks and fold into the cake batter.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool.

To make the frosting, combine the shortening and vanilla. Add the powdered sugar. Add the milk and beat until fluffy.


To assemble cake, stack each layer with frosting in between.  Frost the sides and top. Cover with shredded coconut and serve.

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