When Angie Mosier was growing up in Atlanta, a trip Downtown meant a visit to the Rich’s bakeshop and a purchase of their famous coconut cake. Angie loved the pomp of the bakeshop. She loved how a counterwoman pulled the cake from the glass case, placed it in a box with the Rich’s logo, and tied it with twine to make it easy to carry. “When I opened my own small bakery just south of Atlanta, I tried my best to recreate the cake,” says Mosier. “From the flavor all the way down to the box and the twine. One day an elderly man came into my bakery and told me, ‘I ran the Rich’s bakeshop for thirty years.’ Carl Dendy and I became friends. He even shared the formula for his huge batch of cake batter and icing, which I have adapted here.”
Basic yellow cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Easy buttercream icing:
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pound of confectioners sugar
1 to 3 tablespoons whole milk, half-and-half, or cream
2 (14-ounce) bags of sweetened, shredded coconut, divided
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup easy buttercream icing
1. To make cake layers: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 2 eight- or nine-inch cake pans; set aside. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; set aside. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture in 3 equal additions, alternating with half of the milk, beating only until the batter is smooth after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as you go. Beat in the vanilla. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pans. Bake until center of the cake springs back when pressed lightly with your finger, about 25 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely. Meanwhile, make the icing and then the filling.
2. To make the icing: Beat the butter and vanilla in a bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually beat in the sugar, letting each addition blend into the butter before adding more. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as you go. The mixture should look a little dry at this point. Add the milk 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high speed until you get the right texture. The icing should be smooth but not so creamy that it won’t hold onto the cake.
3. To make the filling: Stir 1 bag of the coconut and the cream together in a bowl. Let sit and soak for 10 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of easy buttercream icing.
4. To assemble the cake: Place 1 of the cooled cake layers on a serving plate or cake stand. Tuck pieces of wax paper or plastic wrap under the edges to catch the excess coconut. Spread the filling over the top of the cake. Stack the second layer on top. Spread the remaining icing over the top and sides of the cake. Cover the icing with the coconut in the remaining bag, gently pressing to adhere. When all the coconut is on the cake, gently ease the wax paper strips out form under the cake.