Coconut cake is a Christmas tradition in my family. I'll be making my first one this year. This is the recipe I'll be using. The cake takes coconut milk and fresh grated coconut. While frozen or bagged coconut is okay for some things, if you're going to make a coconut cake, use a coconut!
2 1/4 cups cake or pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup fresh grated coconut
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
10 tablespoons butter
3 large eggs
Fluffy Coconut Frosting:
2 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups fresh grated coconut
Grease two 9-inch round cake pans; line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper or waxed paper. Grease and flour the paper and sides of the pans; set aside. Heat oven to 350°.
Heat the coconut milk or milk with 1/2 cup coconut and the 1 teaspoon vanilla until hot. Put in blender and process until coconut is finely chopped. Set aside.
Sift the cake flour into a bowl with the baking powder and salt; set aside.
In a bowl of electric mixer, beat butter until light and creamy. Gradually add the 1 1/2 cups sugar, a few tablespoons at a time, scraping the bowl and beating for about a minute after each addition. Add the 3 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, scraping sides of the bowl frequently. Slowly add about one-third of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture along with half of the milk/coconut/vanilla mixture. Beat on low speed until blended. Scrape the bowl and repeat with another one-third of the dry mixture and the remaining milk mixture. Scrape the bowl and repeat with remaining flour mixture. Scrape the bowl and continue beating on low speed for a few seconds.
Spoon batter into the two baking pans, spreading evenly. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pans on racks for 15 minutes. Invert onto racks which have been sprayed with a little nonstick coating to cool completely.
Frosting: Bring the 1/2 cup water and 1 cup sugar to a boil; cover and cook without stirring for 1 minute. Uncover and boil, stirring frequently, until mixture is hot enough to spin a thread when a little is dropped from a spoon, or to about 230°. Remove from heat and set aside. In the bowl of electric mixer -- with whisk attachment if available -- beat the eggs until fluffy and soft peaks form when you lift the beaters or whisk. Still beating on high speed, gradually add the sugar syrup in a thin stream. Continue beating until the frosting is fluffy and holds peaks.
Invert one of the cakes onto a serving plate; frost top and sides with frosting. Place the second layer atop the first and frost the top and sides liberally. Sprinkle fresh grated coconut over the top of the cake and toss coconut gently onto the sides.