7 1/2ozshredded sweetened coconut2 cups, for topping
To Make the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line three 9-inch cake pans with parchment circles, and spray the pans with nonstick cooking spray. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside for now.
Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted wit ha paddle attachment, or use a hand-held electric beater. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla extract.
Turn the mixer to low speed and add a third of the dry ingredients. When they’re mostly incorporated add half the evaporated milk, then half of the remaining flour. Finish by adding the rest of the milk, then the rest of the flour. Mix until the batter is smooth, then scrape down the bottom and sides with a spatula.
Divide the batter into the three pans (if you want to weigh it out, each pan gets about 16.67 oz batter). Tap the pan a few times firmly on the counter top to level the batter and knock out any air bubbles. Place the pans on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when touched. Cool the cake in the pans until completely cool. In the meantime, prepare the glaze, filling, and frosting.
To Make the Coconut Soaking Syrup:
In a small bowl, stir together the coconut milk, sugar, and vanilla; set aside.
To Make the Coconut Filling:
Combine the cream, sugar, and butter in a large pot and place over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced and slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut, cornstarch, and vanilla. Cool and then store in the refrigerator until ready to use. If you need to cool it down quickly, spread it into a thin layer on a baking sheet and press a layer of cling wrap on top, and refrigerate until completely cool and thick.
To Make the Cream Cheese Buttercream:
Place the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or use a handheld electric beater. Beat on medium speed until very smooth and lump-free, about 2 minutes. Stop the machine periodically to scrape off the paddle and sides of the bowl. While beating, gradually sprinkle in the powdered sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and continue to mix until combined.
When the cakes are cool, turn them out of the pans, remove the parchment paper, and trim any uneven edges. Place one cake on your serving platter or a cardboard cake round. With a pastry brush, coat all of the cakes with the coconut soaking syrup.
Put some of the frosting in a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip, or a large plastic bag with a hole cut in the corner. Pipe a circle around the outer edge of the cake on the serving tray, and fill the center with half of the coconut filling. The frosting circle will act as a moat and keep the coconut filling from leaking out. Top it with another cake round, and repeat the frosting and filling procedure a second time. Place the third cake round on top, and frost the top and sides of the cake with the rest of the cream cheese frosting. Generously cover the top and sides of the cake with shredded coconut. Refrigerate the cake for at least 45 minutes before cutting and serving.
This recipe is adapted from The Lemonade Cookbook by Alan Jackson and Joann Cianciulli, used with permission.