- 3 1/ 4 cups cake flour, sifted
- 3 1/ 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon coarse Kosher salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 6 large egg whites, room temperature
- 3/ 4 cup whole buttermilk, room temperature
- 1 14 oz can unsweetened, full-fat coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
- 2 teaspoons coconut extract
- 1 1/ 2 cups unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 4 tablespoons coconut cream (see note)
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon meringue powder (optional)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1 teaspoon coconut extract
- 1 10-ounce packages natural, unsweetened coconut flakes
Preheat the oven to 350 and line three 8-inch round cake pans with a circle of parchment paper. Spray the paper with non-stick spray.
Sift the flour together with the baking powder and salt and set aside.
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar for 10-12 minutes, scraping the bowl down every few minutes, until very light, fluffy and pale in color.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg whites, buttermilk, coconut milk, vanilla, and coconut extract, just to combine. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the wet ingredients, starting and ending with the flour, mixing just until you have a nice smooth batter.
Divide the batter between the cake pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the centers are done, then set the pans on a wire rack, cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and cool completely.
To make the coconut cream used in the buttercream, place a can of full-fat unsweetened coconut milk (do NOT shake the can) in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours, or overnight - the cream and the water will separate, allowing you to drain the water and just use the cream. Take the chilled can, turn it upside down, and remove the bottom of the can. Drain off the coconut water, saving it for another recipe if you like. The can should be about 1/2 - 2/3 full of solid coconut cream. Let the can sit out at room temperature for several hours to let the cream soften up again, before adding to your buttercream. Whatever cream you don't use, you can save for another recipe, or use it in a vegan coconut whipped cream.
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute until smooth. Beat in the coconut cream. With the mixer on low, add the powdered sugar, meringue powder and salt and mix until combined. Add the vanilla and coconut extract, increase the speed to medium high and whip for 4-5 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally, until very light and fluffy. Add more coconut cream, a tablespoon at a time, if needed to reach the right frosting consistency.
Remove the cooled cakes from the pans. Set one cake, bottom side up, on a cake board or cake pedestal, and peel off the parchment paper. Repeat filling and stacking all three layers of cake, then frost the cake with a thin crumb coat of buttercream. Chill the cake in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Finish frosting the cake with a final layer of buttercream, and smooth it out, but no need to make it perfect. Press handfuls of coconut up the sides of the cake and over the top, until completely covered. Use a bench scraper or icing smoother to run it around the sides of the cake, making them straight and smooth.