Call the Midwife-inspired coconut cake recipe

Make like the ladies of Nonnatus House with this comforting and special treat


Call The Midwife wouldn’t be Call The Midwife without a cup of tea and a slice of coconut cake. Throughout the programme coconut cake has been ever-present in the Nonnatus House. Indeed it’s so tasty that Sister Evangelina hides some in a saucepan for safe keeping in the very first episode. But Sister Monica Joan, who is obsessed with cake, gladly stumbles on it and devours it.


Coconut was immensely popular in the 1950s. It wasn’t quite as novel and exciting as the pineapple, but still retained an element of the exotic without being too pricey. Screenplay writer, Heidi Thomas, has written a companion book to the series called ‘The Life and Times of Call The Midwife’ which recalls her own family’s recipes for coconut cake that were used on the show. For her, coconut cake is both an everyday pick-me-up and can be made into a layered cake for more special occasions.

Our coconut cake recipe is flavoured with concentrated coconut flavouring, layered with cream cheese icing and sprinkled with desiccated coconut. With its snowy white icing and snow-flake flecks of coconut, this coconut cake makes a festive treat for a Christmas celebration and the perfect accompaniment to the 2014 Call The Midwife Christmas Special.

Coconut Cake Recipe
Serves 12-14

For the coconut sponge

340g unsalted butter, softened
340g caster sugar
340g self-raising flour
3 tsp baking powder
6 large eggs
2.5 tsp concentrated coconut flavour

For the cream cheese icing

375g cream cheese
180g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g icing sugar, sifted
100g desiccated coconut


2 x 8” cake tins
Greaseproof paper
A spatula


1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350F/gas 4.

2. Use a knob of the softened butter to grease the base and sides of the cake tins. Cut out 2 circles of greaseproof paper and line the bottoms of the cake tins.

3. Using an electric whisk mix together all the Victoria sponge ingredients until well combined. This should take around 2 minutes on a slow speed.

4. Use weighing scales to divide the mixture out evenly between the two cake tins.

5. Bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly golden and springy to the touch. A skewer poked into the middle of the cake should come out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack.

6. To make the icing, whisk the butter with the electric mixer until soft and creamy.

7. Add the cream cheese and icing sugar and whisk to combine.

8. Once the cakes have cooled completely, use a serrated knife to cut each cake in half horizontally.

9. Use 2/3 of the icing to layer the cake. Spread the icing out evenly over 3 of the layers. Top with the fourth layer of cake.

10. Use the remaining 1/3 of icing to cover the perimeter and top of the cake. Use the spatula to obtain a smooth, even finish.

11. Sprinkle the desiccated coconut all over the cake to decorate. Serve immediately with a pot of tea or refrigerate until 30 minutes before serving.

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See Call the Midwife Christmas Day at 7:50pm on BBC1