Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Icing:
Preheat the oven to 350. Have all ingredients at room temperature, about 70 degrees. Grease and flour two 9x2-inch or 8x2-inch round cake pans or line the bottoms with wax or parchment paper.
Whisk together until thoroughly blended:
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
Beat in a large bowl until creamy:
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
Gradually add and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes:
1 1/2 cups sugar
Whisk together, then gradually beat in, taking about 2 minutes:
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beating at low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with:
1 cup buttermilk
Add 1 to 3 tablespoons of red food coloring with the first addition of buttermilk.
Beat until smooth and scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary. Divide the batter between the pans and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes in 9-inch pan, 30-35 minutes in 8-inch pan. Cool completely and remove from pans. Fill and frost with double recipe of Cream Cheese Frosting. Sprinkle with shredded sweetened coconut.
Cream Cheese Frosting (use double recipe for this cake)
Beat in a medium bowl of electric mixer at low speed just until blended:
8 ounces cold cream cheese
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (optional)
2 teaspoons vanilla
Add one-third at a time and beat just until smooth and the desired consistency:
1 pound (4 cups) confectioners' sugar, sifted
If the frosting is too stiff, beat for a few seconds longer, do not overbeat.