Recipe Review

I Tried Recreating Tom Cruise’s “Famous” Coconut Cake, and It’s Far from What I Expected

published Jun 13, 2023
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Someone serving slice of Tom Cruise cake.
Credit: Lena Abraham

What do Angela Bassett, Kirsten Dunst, Tom Hanks, and Jon Hamm all have in common? (Ok, besides being celebrities.) They, along with the rest of the celebs on this star-studded list, have received the famed “Tom Cruise Coconut Cake” during the holiday season. The white chocolate coconut Bundt cake from Doan’s Bakery in Woodland Hills, California has had famous recipients gushing for years, garnering so much attention that Doan’s now sells the cake on Goldbelly. And though I’m curious to see what all the fuss is about, spending $125 to ship a cake almost 3,000 miles seems a little excessive.

Luckily, there’s a copycat recipe that will cost me far less, so I can see if this sweet is worth the hype. (Really I’m just following in John Travolta’s daughter’s footsteps, who just whipped up a copycat version herself!)

Get the recipe: Tom Cruise Cake

Credit: Lena Abraham

How to Make White Chocolate Coconut Cake

Before I begin, a major disclaimer: Allrecipes updated their recipe (the one listed below) the day after I made it. What are the chances?! Luckily, the internet archive Wayback Machine has the version of the recipe that I used saved, so you too can make this cake the way I did. 

Start by preheating your oven to 350°F and greasing and flouring a 10-inch Bundt pan. Next, whisk together all-purpose flour, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl.

In another large bowl, use a hand mixer to beat sugar and softened unsalted butter until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Next beat in the large eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Once the eggs are incorporated, mix in vanilla extract, coconut extract, and sour cream.

Next add your dry ingredients to your wet ingredients, folding until just combined. Then fold in the sweetened shredded coconut and white chocolate chips. Transfer your batter to your prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour and 25 minutes. 

Allow the cake to cool for 20 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack to cool completely. Meanwhile, make the frosting by beating together room-temperature cream cheese, softened unsalted butter, vanilla extract, and salt in a large bowl with a hand mixer. Gradually add powdered sugar until combined, then add heavy cream and beat until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.

When your cake is cool, frost the top and sides, then press sweetened shredded coconut all over the outside of the cake.

Credit: Lena Abraham

My Honest Review of White Chocolate Coconut Cake

The new recipe has been tweaked in quite a few ways, but the most major changes include swapping in all-purpose flour for the previously called-for cake flour, the addition of coconut extract (and the removal of almond extract), using white chocolate chips in place of chopped white chocolate, and cutting the inclusion of coconut milk from the batter. It’s likely these two recipes would yield quite different cake textures, but I’d wager that the flavors are pretty similar.

The version of the cake I made, however, was… just OK. I may be biased because white chocolate isn’t usually my thing, but I found this cake to be quite a bit too sweet. Between the sweetened coconut, the chocolate, and the cream cheese frosting, it was all a bit too saccharine for my taste. The new version of the recipe has even less salt than the version I used, so I think it’s safe to say I would have had a similar opinion had I used the updated recipe. If I were to do it again, I think I’d add a full teaspoon of kosher salt to the batter, use unsweetened coconut, and toast the coconut to add some nutty flavor.

As for the texture, it was a bit too dense for me, but perhaps the new version of the recipe has remedied that issue. The fat from the coconut milk I used probably contributed a bit to the denseness, so I’d be curious to try the new version to see if the texture has improved.

Credit: Lena Abraham

3 Tips for Making White Chocolate Coconut Cake

  1. Lightly toast your coconut. For an extra nutty, coconut-y flavor, toast your coconut until lightly golden, then let it cool completely before adding it to your batter and later to the outside of your cake.
  2. Be thorough when prepping your Bundt pan. Make sure you grease every nook and cranny of your Bundt pan before adding a flour coating. Bundt pans are notoriously tricky and you want your baked cake to slide out of it like butter. So, take your time making sure it’s fully prepped before pouring in your batter.
  3. Refrigerate the frosted cake before serving. Refrigerating this cake helps firm up the frosting, and I happened to prefer the flavor more when it was chilled. You only need about 20 minutes in the fridge to chill the cake, but if it’s been refrigerated overnight, just give it 5 or so minutes to soften at room temperature before slicing.

Get the recipe: Tom Cruise Cake