This is my mother’s favorite cake recipe. Her best friend, Mabel, always made it for special occasions. It’s a great cake for your holiday baking because you can make it ahead of time and freeze it. I am a firm believer that freezing this cake makes it even better! It’s pretty garnished with red and green cherries, too.
— Kim Nelson
Cooking spray or extra vegetable shortening and flour for preparing the pans
5 large eggs, separated (reserve both the yolks and the whites)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted twice
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract
For the cream cheese frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, cold
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 (16-ounce) boxes powdered sugar, sifted
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat three 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray or a thin layer of shortening with a light dusting of flour.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff, 3 minutes. Carefully transfer the whites to a clean, dry bowl and set aside.
In the same mixer bowl used for the egg whites, whisk together the butter and the shortening on high speed for 2 minutes. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides and around the bottom of the bowl. Beat in the egg yolks on low speed to combine. Scrape down the bowl. Increase the speed to high and beat for 1 more minute.
Combine the baking soda and the buttermilk, stirring until dissolved. Pour the buttermilk into the butter mixture and add the flour. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Beat on high speed for 1 minute. Add the coconut, pecans and both extracts. Mix well. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the beaten egg whites. Divide the batter among the prepared pans.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out with just a few crumbs on it, 25 minutes. Let the layers cool for 15 minutes before turning them out onto wire racks to cool completely.
While the cakes bake, make the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and around the bottom of the bowl. Add the cream cheese and vanilla and beat on high speed until smooth, 1 minute.
With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the powdered sugar just until blended. Scrape down the bowl. Increase the speed to high and beat until smooth and fluffy, about 1 minute.
Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Frost with 1/2 to 3/4 cup cream cheese frosting, then add a second cake layer and spread with 1/2 to 3/4 cup frosting. Add the final cake layer and frost the top and sides. Serves 8 to 10.
— From "Daisy Cakes Bakes: Keepsake Recipes for Southern Layer Cakes, Pies, Cookies and More" by Kim Nelson (Clarkson Potter, $25)