Recipe by Dolester “Dol” Miles of Botegga in Birmingham, Alabama
For the cake:
¾ cup unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing pans
2¼ cups flour, plus more for dusting pans
1 cup firmly packed sweetened shredded coconut
¾ cup pecan halves, toasted
2 cups sugar, divided
1 tablespoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ cup cream of coconut
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk
For the filling:
2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
¾ cup sweetened condensed milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon cream of coconut
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
For the simple syrup:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
For the icing:
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup powdered sugar
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
* Bottega plates the cake with crème anglaise (if you have extra filling, that works too).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans and line bottom of each with a circle of parchment paper. Grease parchment paper then dust with flour, tapping out any excess.
Make the cake: In a food processor, finely grind coconut then transfer to a bowl. Finely grind pecans and 2 tablespoons of sugar. In another large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in ground coconut and pecans.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter, cream of coconut, and remaining 1¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, then beat in coconut extract. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with coconut milk, starting and ending with flour mixture.
Divide batter between prepared pans and smooth top of each with a spatula. Bake until cakes are golden and a tester comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cakes cool in their pans on a rack for 30 minutes. Run a knife around edge of each cake then invert onto a wire rack; remove parchment. Let cool completely.
While cakes are cooling, make the filling: Place egg yolks in a small heatproof bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan, combine condensed milk, butter, and cream of coconut and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until hot, about 4 minutes. Whisk a third of hot milk mixture into egg yolks to temper them. Transfer egg mixture to saucepan of milk and whisk constantly over medium-low heat until mixture has the consistency of pudding, about 4 minutes. Do not allow the custard to become too thick. Transfer custard to a bowl and stir in shredded coconut. Let cool completely.
Make the simple syrup: In a small saucepan, heat sugar and water, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat.
Assemble the cake: Cut each cake in half horizontally. Begin building the layer cake in a 9-inch cake pan: Place one layer in bottom of pan, moisten the top with a little simple syrup (you won’t need the full amount), and spread ½ cup coconut filling in a thin, even layer (use an offset spatula if you have one). Repeat with two more layers, then place final layer on top. Refrigerate cake for about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, make the icing: In bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Keep in refrigerator until ready to use.
To unmold, run a spatula around edge of chilled cake, place a cake plate over top, and invert cake over onto plate. Spread whipped cream on top and sides of cake and sprinkle with toasted coconut. Refrigerate until ready to serve.