Sift the dry ingredients
NOTE:* Some reviewers said to substitute coconut milk for the whole milk. I usually stick with a recipe, as is, the first time-- then make notes and adapt it next time.
Ina's recipe calls for both vanilla and almond extract. Again, some reviewers said they substituted with cococut extract. You decide... but, for me, almond extract it is!
I liked the taste of the cake batter. So, now, we fold in 4 ounces of sweetened shredded coconut.
The batter is a little on the thicker side. King Arthur Flour's Blog (which I love) recommends weighing batter, to divide evenly. It's a good tip, so I have less chances of baking lopsided layers.
Here are two baking gadgets I use all the time-- an off-set spatula to smooth out layers, and "baking bands" which I soak in water and wrap around the cake pans. They really seem to help cakes bake more evenly, and they tend to rise higher and more level.
The recipe says to bake at 350F for 45-55 minutes. Mine were ready in just under 45 minutes, so adjust according to your oven.
Cool the cakes in the pans for 30 minutes on a rack; remove the cakes onto the rack and allow them to cool completely, before frosting.
Ina uses a traditional cream cheese frosting with this cake. She adds both almond and vanilla extract. It is very creamy, and Craig licked the beater clean. He liked it a lot. Did I mention that the frosting has two packages of cream cheese and two sticks of butter. Weight Watchers will not be calling me as a spokesperson!
Frosting the cake is messy work, because you need to pat additional shredded coconut onto the sides. Hence, a traditional buttercream probably wouldn't work for this. More on that later...
When our dinner guests arrived, it was cute to see Larry's eyes fixating on the cake. He was thrilled!
From a true Southerner, his honest review of the cake was "very moist, not too sweet and just like home". It made me happy to see him delight in each bite of this dessert.
When we returned home, I froze four slices of this cake to give to Larry, when he returns from a week long business trip. I am happy to say that I ate two slices of this, in two days. My husband? He confesses to eating six slices of it over three days. He's put the guilt trip on me, but I won't take that one. I did not force him to eat it!
My opinion of this cake? I agree, it was very moist. I liked the frosting, but I think (next time) I'd rather make a butter cream frosting with less powdered sugar-- it needs to be soft enough to make the coconut stick. I think I'm in the minority of folks who likes cream cheese frosting (as opposed to loves)-- to me, it's good but I'm definitely a butter cream kind of gal.