Coconut Dream Cake (Drømmekage)

Danish coconut dream cake, from the cookbook Scandinavian From Scratch by Nichole Accettola.

This recipe for Danish Coconut Dream Cake appears in Scandinavian From Scratch by Nichole Accettola, published by Ten Speed Press.

Coconut dream cake is a Danish favorite, typically eaten as a sweet snack. I’ve never been to a Danish potluck where there wasn’t at least one dream cake on the table. A dense layer of coconut topping gets baked directly onto a rich butter cake, forming a chewy macaron-like crown. While Danish grocery stores sell boxes of dream cake mix in the baking aisle, they will never, ever be as good as the homemade kind! Although this recipe is for a sheet cake (the most common way you’ll find it in Denmark), you can also use it to make cupcakes. But remember to adjust your baking time accordingly.

Makes one 9 by 13-inch (23 cm by 33 cm) cake, or 12 cupcakes

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Coconut topping

  • 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter
  • 4 cups (200 g) unsweetened flaked or shredded coconut
  • 2 cups (375 g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (59 g) whole milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt


  • 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing
  • 1 3/4 cups (375 g) granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (415 g) plain yogurt (preferably full-fat)
  • 2 1/2 cups (320 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting if needed
  • 1/2 cup (48 g) almond flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Make the coconut topping

In a large saucepan, combine the butter, coconut, brown sugar, milk, and salt. Place the pan over medium heat and stir the mixture continuously until the butter has just melted, 1 to 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Make the cake

Butter a 9 by 13-inch (23 by 33 cm) baking pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, and preheat the oven to 350F (175C).

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium until soft and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until they are incorporated. Add the vanilla and yogurt, mixing to combine. Pause to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula and then beat again for about 1 minute.

In a large bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the mixer and beat on low until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it out with a rubber spatula. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the cake is about three-quarters baked, firm enough that the coconut topping won’t sink to the bottom after you add it. The cake should look golden on top, with cracks running down it, but still be slightly wobbly. A toothpick inserted int he center of the cake should come out with some batter on it.

Carefully remove the cake from the oven, leaving the oven on, and scatter spoonfuls of the coconut topping onto the cake. Do this gently (the cake will still be fragile).

Use an offset spatula to spread the topping evenly across the surface and out to the edges of the cake. Work swiftly, and don’t sweat it if your topping is a bit clumpy; it will level out quite a bit as it bakes. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes more, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. The coconut topping will appear bubbly and darker brown at the edges, and the center will be a golden caramel color.

Remove the cake from the oven and use a butter knife to loosen the edges where the coconut topping is stuck to the sides of the pan. This makes cutting it easier after it cools. Once the cake is completely cooled, cut it into twelve to sixteen squares and serve them straight from the pan, being mindful of the parchment paper on the bottom. The cake can be made ahead; store it in an airtight container, where it will stay fresh for up to 3 days.

To make cupcakes: Generously butter and flour a 12-cup muffin tin, making sure to coat all the flat surfaces between each cup with butter as well to prevent the coconut topping from sticking if your cakes overflow while baking. Decrease the initial baking time to 25 minutes, then add the coconut topping and bake for an additional 20 minutes, testing for doneness with a toothpick. Immediately after removing the cupcakes from the oven, use a butter knife to loosen the edges of each one, wherever the batter has come into contact with the pan. Then wait until the cupcakes cool completely before removing them.

This recipe was discussed on an edition of Central Time‘s Food Friday. Listen to the episode here.

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