Cake must be pre-frozen before serving — see below.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
3 ounces frozen coconut, thawed or 1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
5 3/4 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour three 8x1 1/2 -inch or three 9x1 1/2 -inch round baking pans; set aside. In small bowl combine 2 cups flour and baking soda; set aside. In very large bowl combine unsalted butter and shortening; beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar; beat until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk to egg mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Fold in coconut and 1 cup pecans. Spread cake batter evenly into prepared pans.
Bake until wooden toothpick inserted near cake centers comes out clean (allow about 35 minutes for 8-inch pans or about 25 minutes for 9-inch pans). Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes; remove from pans. Cool cake layers completely on wire racks.
For frosting, in large bowl combine cream cheese, 1/2 cup butter, and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until smooth. Place one cake layer, bottom side up, on serving plate. Spread with about 1/2 cup of the frosting. Top with second cake layer, bottom side down. Spread with another ½ cup of the frosting. Top with remaining cake layer, bottom side up; spread top and sides with remaining frosting and sprinkle top with remaining 3/4 cup pecans. After you frost cake, place in freezer, unwrapped. Once it freezes (about 2 hours), slice it, cover with foil and put it back in the freezer. Take it out to thaw when you leave for cocktail party (allow about 2 hours to thaw; remove foil before cake thaw so icing will not stick to foil). Makes 16 to 18 servings
Note: If you don't have three same-size pans, divide two-thirds of batter between two pans; bake, cool, and remove cakes from pans. Refrigerate remaining batter while cakes bake. Wash and dry one of the pans; grease and flour the pan. Bake remaining batter in prepared pan according to directions.