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Slowly add about one-third of flour mixture to creamed mixture along with half of milk/coconut/vanilla mixture. Beat on low speed until blended. Scrape bowl and repeat with another one-third of dry mixture and remaining milk mixture. Scrape bowl and repeat with remaining flour mixture. Scrape bowl and continue beating on low speed for a few seconds.
Spoon batter into prepared pans, spreading evenly. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until browned and sides pull away from sides of pans. Cool in pans on racks for 15 minutes. Invert onto racks that have been sprayed with nonstick coating to cool completely.
For the frosting: Bring water and sugar to boil; cover and cook without stirring for 1 minute. Uncover and boil, stirring frequently, until mixture is hot enough to spin a thread when a little is dropped from a spoon, or to about 230°F. Remove from heat and set aside. Use electric mixer – with whisk attachment if available – and beat egg whites until fluffy and soft peaks form when lifted with beaters or whisk. Still beating on high speed, gradually add sugar syrup in thin stream. Continue beating until frosting is fluffy and holds peaks.
Invert one cake onto serving plate; frost top and sides with frosting. Place second layer atop first and frost top and sides liberally. Sprinkle fresh grated coconut over top of cake and toss coconut gently onto sides.
When I think of Southern cakes, this is often the first one that comes to mind. This recipe comes from the files of one of my favorite Southern friends, Yolonda Brawley, and it’s now one of my family’s favorites.
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 1/2 ounces red food coloring
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon vinegar
Heat oven to 350°F. Cream shortening; beat in sugar gradually. Add eggs one at a time; beat thoroughly after each addition. Make paste of cocoa and food coloring; add to creamed mixture. Add salt, flour and vanilla alternately with buttermilk, beating thoroughly after each addition. Sprinkle soda over vinegar; pour vinegar over batter. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Bake in three 8-inch pans or two 9-inch pans for 30 minutes.
Also known as “The Cake that Doesn’t Last,” “Jamaican Cake,” “Granny’s Best Cake,” “Doctor Bird Cake” and “The Cake that Never Ends,” this old Southern delight was first published as Hummingbird Cake in Southern Living magazine in 1978. But it has been baked in the South for generations and called a variety of names. Nobody knows where the term “Hummingbird” comes from – perhaps it’s from the hums of glee as happy eaters bite into this cake. Other theories say it’s because the cake and icing are so sweet; on the website FoodTimeline.org, the writers suggest the cake originated in Jamaica, where the Doctor Bird (Swallow-tail hummingbird or Trochilus polytms) is a national symbol.
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