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Gâteau d’Hélène | Moist Layer Coconut Cake – Recipe by Cindy


Coconut Cake Recipe

Gâteau d’Hélène | Coconut Cake

Cindy Becker
My dearest aunt Elise (she is French) used to make this cake for me every time I visited her in Lyon. She called it Gâteau d’Hélène. Basically, it's an American recipe for a layer coconut cake that my aunt decided to rename and make it a French one.
Ever since then, Gâteau d’Hélène is my favorite cake for ANY celebration. Try it, and if you like a combination of coconut and lemon, it will become your favorite too!
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 10 people
Calories 269 kcal


Lemon Curd

  • 3 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 75 ml  freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 150 grams granulated white sugar
  • 50 grams butter (at room temperature)


  • 325 grams all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 220 grams butter (at room temperature)
  • 320 grams granulated white sugar
  • 4 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 240 ml buttermilk (at room temperature)


  • 3 large egg whites (at room temperature)
  • 300 grams granulated white sugar
  • 60 ml cold water
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  • 2 cups dried coconut (shredded or flaked)


  • Step 1
    In a heatproof bowl, placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes thick (like yogurt).
    Step 1
  • Step 2
    Remove from heat and stir or whisk the butter and lemon zest into the lemon curd. Cover the curd and refrigerate until cold. 
    Step 2
  • Step 3
    Preheat oven to 350 °F.
    In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Step 4
    Beat the butter until soft, then gradually add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the vanilla extract.
    Step 4
  • Step 5
    With the mixer on low speed, add buttermilk first, and then add the flour mixture. Mix just until combined.
    Step 5
  • Step 6
    Evenly divide the batter and pour into the two 9 inch x 2 inch cake pans. To prevent the cake from sticking to the bottom of the pan, butter and flour them first and then line with parchment paper.
    Step 6
  • Step 7
    Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out just clean.
  • Step 8
    Cool the cakes in their pans for about 10 minutes, and then invert the cakes onto a greased rack. To prevent splitting, reinvert cakes so that tops are right side up. Cool the cakes completely.
    Step 8
  • Step 9
    In a heatproof bowl, combine the egg whites, sugar, water, corn syrup, and cream of tartar. With an electric mixer, beat the mixture until the ingredients are well combined.
  • Step 10
    Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water. Continue to beat, on medium-low speed, for about 2 to 3 minutes. Then increase the speed to high and continue to beat for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until soft peaks.
    Step 10
  • Step 11
    Remove from heat, add the vanilla extract, and continue to beat on high speed for another 1 to 2 minutes or until the frosting is thick. Let it come to room temperature, and then it's ready to use.
    Step 11
  • Step 12
    Cut each cake layer in half, horizontally. Place one cake layer on your serving plate and spread with 1/3 of the lemon curd and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of coconut. Continue with the next layers. 
    Step 12
  • Step 13
    Frost the top and sides of the cake with the frosting and then sprinkle with coconut. Serve the cake immediately, or cover and refrigerate.
    Step 13
  • Bon appetit!
    Your Gâteau d’Hélène is now done! Cut a piece of this wonderful coconut cake and drop me a line if you like it.
    Bon Appetit
Keyword gateau d'helene, gâteau d’hélène recipe, gateau helene recipe
Cindy Becker

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