A “locavore” is a person whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or produced food. Along those lines, every month, local chefs welcome Orlando’s locavore, Misty Heath, into their kitchens to break down how to make some of their signature dishes for our readers to make at home.

This column is also featured in our monthly print product, available in restaurants and storefronts across the City Beautiful.

This recipe was made possible by the generous cooperation of our friends at 4Rivers Smokehouse, who invited us into their test kitchen in Winter Park to learn from their cake boss,

As a cook my entire life, I have always looked at feeding people and sustaining them is my way of showing love.  Taking the time to build a delicious, beautiful treat for a loved one to consume—it’s thoughtful, gratifying and soulful.

This desire to sustain and give is part of the fiber of the entire 4Rivers family and this featured cake is a perfect example.  John’s mother, Teresa, adored coconut—and passed that love on to John.  To honor his mom and her legacy, this remains a standing menu item on all the 4Rivers’ menus.  This recipe is a great staple and something any home cook can confidently produce.  And if your layers aren’t perfect, no one will notice—the coconut will make it all better! 



1 cup salted butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups  shredded sweetened coconut
2 tsp vanilla extract

Frosting and Topping

8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1 cup salted butter, softened
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
4 cups shredded sweetened coconut


Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour 3 (9-inch) cake pans. In a large bowl, whisk/sift together self-rising and all-purpose flours. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar together using an electric mixer (or stand mixer). Slowly add eggs one at a time, incorporating each one before adding the next. Alternately add flour mix and milk, in 3 batches, beginning and ending with flour to wet ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in coconut and vanilla. Divide evenly in pans and bake 22 minutes or until lightly golden. Allow to fully cool before frosting.

Making the Frosting

Mix butter and cream cheese in large bowl with electric mixer until completely combined. Slowly incorporate confectioners’ sugar.  Increase speed to high and mix until smooth and fluffy.

Assemble the Cake

Place one layer on platter/stand. Top with 1/4 of the frosting, spreading almost to edges. Add second cake and repeat. Add third cake and frost top and sides with remaining frosting. Cover generously with shredded coconut.

Tips and the 411:

This cake has been on the 4Rivers’ menu since opening day and they now make over 1,500 of them a year. In fact, they make so many of them that the cream cheese frosting is made in a 180-gallon mixer which makes over 100-quart batches at a time.

You could totally bathe in it.

  • Not feeling up to the stress of tackling a three-tiered cake? Go for cupcakes or a 9×13-inch sheet cake. Your belly won’t know the difference but your conscience will.
  • Cream cheese frosting freezes great. Feel free to make extra and save it for later.
  • Put the coconut shavings on the cake while holding it over a bowl to save some time and a lot of mess.
  • Even out the first two layers so they sit evenly atop each-other. Use the scraps you’ve shaved off to make cake balls like they do at the restaurant and dip them in chocolate.

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