Spread coconut flakes out on a baking sheet. Cook for about 5-10 minutes. They will toast quickly. Let cool.
Increase temp to 340 degrees F. Butter and flour three 6-inch pans. I use cake strips on my pans for more even baking as well.
Sift the dry ingredients (including sugar) together in a large bowl.
Beat the wet ingredients together in a medium bowl.
Add the wet to the dry and mix until just combined.
Divide the mixture evenly into the cake pans. Place wet cake strips around pans.
Bake at for about 25-30 minutes or until the centers are springy to the touch.
For the Vanilla Buttercream:
Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the confectioners' sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/4 tsp salt, and milk. Mix.
Transfer to a piping bag. Snip off the tip.
For the Assembly:
Pipe buttercream between each cake layer.
Pipe an outer layer and smooth out with a scraper.
Mix cocoa powder and vanilla or alcohol. Using a paint brush, splatter the cake and chocolate eggs to create a speckled look.
Chill for about 10-15 minutes.
Pipe a ring of buttercream on the cake. Press toasted coconut flakes onto ring. Create a nest shape.
Add eggs to the inside of the nest.
This cake is Easter-themed but you can skip the blue food coloring, coconut nest and chocolate eggs to make any style vanilla cake you'd like!
If you’re not using 6-inch pans, double the recipe for 8-inch pans or triple the recipe for 9-inch pans.
If you see little clumps of butter after you mix the wet ingredients don’t panic, it all works out by the time you mix in the dry ingredients. You can even use melted butter and warm the milk and sour cream up a bit if you like.
You can substitute whole milk yogurt for the sour cream if desired, I do it all the time and can’t really tell the difference.
To get FLAT layers that are moist inside and out try using cake strips! You can buy a set online or make your own from foil and paper towels at home. I made a wholeblog post on it so check it out if you’re interested!
Think American buttercream is too sweet??? Whip up a batch of Italian meringue buttercream instead! It's super-smooth and not too sweet.