Coconut Almond Rice (Horchata) Cake

Did you go into the kitchen yesterday morning to have a large, healthy glass of water?

Of course you did.

Because you’re smart, and good, and nutritional-like.

Did you decide to throw yourself a bone and amp your water up by turning it into your favorite agua fresca? Perhaps. Innocent enough.

Horchata is made with ground rice and almonds. It’s cool and refreshing. And it’s a water-based beverage so no harm, no foul.

Did you think about the lovely flavors of Horchata while you were mixing your drink and come to the conclusion that they would make an excellent cake?

Fair enough. We’re just thinking here. No confectionary steps have been taken.

No ovens have been preheated. No pans lined and greased. No batter has been mixed. Not a single shred of coconut has been toasted.

And certainly no frosting has been whipped. None. Absolutely, positively none.

Because you’re good. And nutritional-like.

Did you catch a glimpse of your reflection in that stainless steel whisk?

Did you realize, at the precipice of a complete shame spiral, that you had come into the kitchen for a glass of water and were leaving with a face full of frosting-covered cake?

No way. Couldn’t have happened.

That wasn’t you, was it? I can’t imagine. No one does that.

And certainly if someone did do that, it would be a problem.

That person would have to admit their problem. They might have to go on a show and talk about their problem. They would need to put their fork down for just a second and stop eating Horchata Cake in order to keep themselves from exacerbating their problem.

So I think we’ve learned our lesson here today, haven’t we?

If you are ever, ever thinking about making a cake instead of drinking a glass of healthful water, check yourself before you wreck yourself.

It’s just not worth it. How could it be? We all know that water tastes so, so much better than cake. Ten times out of ten.

I’m super glad that I could share this fictional account with you as a sort of public service announcement. Just remember, I’m here to help.

Horchata Cake

For the cakes:
3 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. white sugar, granulated
1 c. unsalted butter, softened
4 large egg yolks
4 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
1 1/4 c. long-grain rice, ground (see below for additional information on preparing the rice)
1 1/2 c. almonds, skinless, ground (see below for additional information on preparing the almonds)
2 tsp. cinnamon, ground
2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the frosting:
5 large egg whites
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. salt
3 c. white sugar, granulated
1 c. water
1 1/2 c. coconut, shredded, sweetened, chopped (see below for additional information on preparing the coconut)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Grease 3- 9″ circular cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment and grease the tops of the parchment lining. Set the pans aside.

Using a spice or coffee grinder and working in small batches, grind the almonds and rice to a fine powder. When processing the almonds, be sure not to grind for too long or you will end up with almond butter. Some small pieces of almond and/or rice are fine – neither needs to be completely pulverized.

In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together and set aside.

In a very large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks and vanilla and continue to mix. Add dry ingredients slowly to wet ingredients, alternating with buttermilk and mixing carefully but thoroughly until a uniform batter has formed. Fold in the ground almonds and rice.

Pour the batter into the 3 prepared pans (fill each pan approximately halfway) and bake for 28-30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center of one of the cakes comes out clean. Remove baked cakes from the oven and allow to cool completely before unmolding.

Meanwhile, chop the flaked coconut (this is not an exact science, you are just generally reducing the size of the pieces to make the finished frosting a little neater). Place the coconut pieces on a pan and toast for 6-8 minutes on the top rack of your oven. Watch your coconut carefully – it will burn in an instant – you just want it to turn a light golden color and become slightly crisp. Set the toasted coconut aside to cool.

To prepare the frosting, bring the sugar and water to a boil in a small sauce pan. Boil the mixture for 5 minutes or until it reaches 242° on a candy thermometer, whichever comes first. Remove the syrup from heat. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt until stiff, glossy peaks form. Beat in the sugar syrup and continue to beat until stiff peaks reform. Fold in the coconut. Chill the finished frosting until you are ready to assemble the cake.

Once the cakes have cooled, unmold them (I strongly recommend using cardboard cake rounds to transport and support the layers of this cake as you assemble it). Using a serrated knife, slice off any bumps or ridges that are left in the tops of each cake layer so that they will lay as flat as possible. Place your foundation layer bottom down and spread the top with frosting. Carefully stack your next two layers, also bottom down, and frost generously in between each layer. Frost the sides and top of the cake with remaining frosting. Serve immediately.

YIELD:  approximately 10-12 servings


  1. 41

    Laura in Guatemala says

    You can buy rice flour at any international supermarket and that will work as well. It’s what is used here in making Horchata.

  2. 40

    connie says

    My husband just finished eating his slice and he loved it.
    So I guess my worries about the crunchiness were unfounded.
    I had sampled a sliver off the bottom of one of
    the cakes before frosting so I guess
    the frosting really helped tone down the overall
    crunch factor.
    By the way, the frosting is fantastic.

    • Meagan says

      Hi Connie, It sounds like the cake worked out – I’ glad to hear it! This particular recipe does produce a cake with a slight crunch to it. I personally think that the frosting and soft cake crumb sort of ‘absorb’ the slight crunchiness of the rice pieces, but anyone who finds this type of texture objectionable should probably use cooked rice. I’m actually working on another horchata recipe that involves cooked rice, so you might be interested in that. Stay tuned!

      • connie says

        My husband loved the flavor of the cake so much that I thought I would give it another try.
        I had previously used my blender to grind the rice – i thought very fine-
        but it probably could have been finer. So I just purchased an inexpensive
        coffee grinder and ground rice with it and it is fantastic. It is extremely fine.
        I’m sure this is going to improve the texture of the cake.
        Can’t wait to remake the cake.

  3. 39

    connie says

    I just made ithe cake and as another poster commented I had trouble with
    the rice. I did put it through the blended uncooked and almost pulverized
    it but there were time little bits, much smaller than chopped peanuts.
    But it was enough to make the cake too crunchy. THe rice didnt seem to absorb any
    liquid and soften during hte cooking but will soften by tomorrow.

    Anyway, I wonder if hte ground/pulverized rice was soaked in the buttermilk for a day ahead of time
    if that would help to eliminate the crunchiness.

  4. 35

    Jenny says

    I have a question. Well first let me say, I saw this cake, instantly wanted to make it, and DID!! The cake is delicious. I messed up along the way with the rice however. Was I supposed to cook it first? If I wasn’t I think I need a new chopper because my delicious cake is crunchy! :-(

    • Meagan says

      Hi Jenny! Did you grind/pulverize your rice first? The finished cake should have a very small amount of crunch to it, like as if you had included some finely chopped peanuts in the batter, but certainly nothing that would be hard on your teeth! Next time I would be sure to grind your rice as finely as possible. Alternatively, you could cook and then roughly chop the rice or even omit the rice altogether, although I do love the flavor it lends to this cake. Hope this helps!!

  5. 34

    Betty says

    regarding the frosting….do you pour the hot sugar syrup into the egg whites?
    or do you let it cool for a while

    • Meagan says

      You want to pour the boiling syrup directly into the whipped egg whites with as little cooling as possible. What you’re essentially trying to do is ‘cook’ the raw egg whites without scrambling them. It’s OK for the syrup to cool slightly, but generally you want it to keep it as close to the target temperature as possible when adding it to the egg whites. I hope this helps!

  6. 31

    Teardrop says

    luv your quirkiness! what a great idea!!! the pics look fabulous!!! i really want some of that cake now!!! and i love coconut in cakes, not many people do!!! now i was wondering, instead of the grinding, can one substitute with buying the powder horchata in a bag that they have already pre-packaged? i know it’s not the same as homemade but i just wanted to do a “Rachel Ray” thing to cut in time. what do you think? is it possible?

    • Meagan says

      Go for it! I would sample the mix first, or use a trusted brand, so that you don’t end up adding something to your cake that tastes like cardboard. But once you’ve found a mix that you like, that’s a great idea for saving time. Let me know how it turns out!

      • Teardrop says

        i didn’t think about that… good point!! i certainly wouldn’t want a cardboard cake!!! :giggles: thanks for pointing that out! :-)

  7. 26


    Congrats on top 9! I can really see why this got in that pick. It is elegant and such a creative use of ingredients. I have never had horchata, but have eyed it often, wondering about the taste. Since I have bookmarked this recipe, it appears that I will be finally trying it out in the form of a delicious cake! Have a great weekend.

  8. 23


    Ive never seen ground rice used like this before, Im really intrigued as to what texture it would lend the final (oh so gorgeous!) product. Such a stunning cake, and a lovely post too :) Might give this recipe a shot if im feeling adventurous some time!

  9. 17

    Mary says

    You are soooooo funny! Life’s lessons in a food blog – who would have thought? And I agree with Laura – rushing out now to get that awesome shade of pink!

  10. 16


    I’ve never heard of horchata cake before! Sounds amazing, i’m not a fan of horchata but i am really curious to know how it taste!

  11. 13


    What a fun post! I went to the kitchen for a diet coke and came out with….a diet coke! Dang it! Where’s my cake?

  12. 11


    I read your post with a smile on my face. Now I know why I never go to the kitchen for a glass of water. I might end up whipping something else up. The hubby already complained that he’s gaining weight so every extra glass of water will kill him =)

  13. 10


    Being from AZ, I love reading your blog and checking out all your recipes! Love the fact that you bring a little southwestern kick into almost everything you bake. Love Horchata, love cake. Win win!

  14. 5


    Scarletta, you have a very playful sense of humor. I’m sure, after having admitted that you’ve made this cake, you’ll be able to then admit how well worth it it was. One cannot go wrong with such wholesome flavors…

  15. 4


    I love horchata! It’s my favorite agua fresca. Although, I’ve not tried a pina or tamarindo yet. Ah, I must try those. However, I feel horchata will always be my number one. I’m so excited to see you’ve incorporated it into a cake! However, first, I think I need to learn how to make the drink. Thanks for the PSA ;-) I’m going into the kitchen now to drink some water.

  16. 3


    I am forever going into the kitchen for something to drink, like water, and coming out with a handful of something else. DAMN.

    I saw a horchata beverage on another blog the other day and it made me think of Rice Dream. That really good rice milk stuff. I wanted some even then. AND NOW A CAKE? Yum.

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