Rose Levy Branbaum's "Heavenly Cakes" (2009) was the inspiration for trying something new for our springtime desserts. The cake batter was made from her Southern Coconut Cake recipe, but I used a traditional buttercream frosting. Everyone agreed the cake was just like Rose said - heavenly! I have simplified some of the steps. Yield: 16-20 servings.
1 1/2 cups coconut (more or less as needed to cover)
Lightly coat bottoms of 2 9-inch layer cake pans with shortening. Line with parchment paper cut to fit, then spray or grease lightly and dust with flour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In medium bowl, whisk the egg whites, 1/3 cup of the coconut milk, vanilla and coconut extracts just until combined.
In bowl of a stand mixer fitted with flat paddle, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt on low speed for 30 seconds.
Add the butter and remaining coconut milk. Mix on low speed until dry ingredients are moistened. Raise speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl.
Starting on medium-low speed gradually add the egg white mixture in three parts, beating on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition.
Scrape batter into prepared pans and smooth tops evenly.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean and cake springs back when pressed lightly in center. (Cake starts to shrink from sides only after removal from oven.)
Cool 10 minutes in pans on wire rack. Invert and finish cooling on racks with top cake sides up.
When cool, place bottom layer on cake plate, spread frosting on top, sprinkle with coconut. Place next layer in position and frost top and sides. Sprinkle top with coconut; to adhere coconut to frosted sides, cup palm of hand with small pile of coconut and press lightly into sides, turning and scooping more coconut as needed to go all around.
COCONUT BUTTERCREAM FROSTING:
In medium bowl blend together powdered sugar and softened butter using electric mixer.
Add vanilla and coconut extracts, and 1 tablespoon of milk, mixing. Gradually add just enough of remaining milk (or more if needed) to make frosting of spreading consistency.