You will need:
For the cake
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
2 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs, separated (set whites aside)
1 tablespoon good quality vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup grated coconut
1 cup toasted chopped toasted pecans
For the frosting
3 1/2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese
1 1/3 cups (2 sticks plus 5 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 pounds confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 cup grated coconut (can toast it for a change-up to the recipe)
1 1/2 cup toasted, chopped pecans
To prepare the cake: Spray three 8- or 9-inch cake pans with cooking spray and line the bottoms with baking parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter, vegetable shortening and sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, two at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.
Combine the flour with the baking soda; set aside about 1 tablespoon. Sift 1 cup of the flour mixture into the creamed ingredients and combine. Stir in the buttermilk, and then sift in the second cup of flour. Add the coconut. Stir the reserved spoonful of flour into the chopped pecans, and then stir the nuts into the cake batter. Set aside.
Beat the egg whites until stiff. Gently fold about a third of the beaten egg whites into the cake batter to lighten, and then fold in the remaining whites in two additions. Divide the batter among the three cake pans. Bang the pans on the counter one time to remove any air pockets.
Bake about 35 minutes. When done, the cake layers will be golden brown and will pull away from the sides of the pans. Cool for about 10 minutes, then turn the cake layers out onto a flat surface like a cardboard cake round. Remove the parchment paper. Let the layers completely cool.
To prepare the frosting: In a mixer, cream together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Sift in the sugar by fourths and fully incorporate after each addition. Thin with a little heavy cream. Beat on high speed for several minutes, until frosting is very creamy.
Move one cake layer onto a serving plate. Slide slips of parchment paper around the outside bottom edge to protect the plate. Spread about 1 cup of frosting on top of the first layer and sprinkle with half the coconut. Top with the second cake layer and spread another cup of frosting on it. Sprinkle with the remaining coconut. Place the third layer on top.
Put 2 cups of frosting in a small bowl. Stir in about 1 tablespoon of cool water. Use this thinner frosting to completely crumb-coat the cake top and sides. Refrigerate the cake for about 20 minutes to set this coating.
Reserve about 1 cup of the remaining frosting. Then use the rest to frost the top and sides generously. Press the toasted, chopped pecans into the sides of the cake. Put the reserved cup of frosting in a pastry bag; press shells or another design around the top edge of the cake (if desired). Remove the slips of parchment from under the edge of the bottom layer, and continued garnishing around the bottom of the cake with the remaining frosting.
Store the cake in the refrigerator and try not to eat it all by yourself :)
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A Week of Christmas Treats!
This Italian Cream Cake is a tradition in my family on my father's side. Another good one from Grandma Millie! You can find it on the table for any family gathering and it is so good. I even remember when my Aunt Holly would have it on her Thanksgiving table and everyone always enjoyed it.