This recipe is adapted from Tabasco Award-winner The Tastes and Tales of Moiliili , a 1997 collection of recipes and stories from Honolulu's Moiliili Community Center.
FOR THE CAKE:
2 tsp. butter, softened
3 cups plus 2 tbsp. cake flour
1 1⁄2 cups sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 14-oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
8 egg whites
1⁄2 tsp. salt
FOR THE FROSTING:
1 1⁄4 cups light corn syrup
2 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1. For the cake: Preheat oven to 350°. Grease 2 round 9" cake pans with butter. Dust each pan with 1 tbsp. of the flour, tapping out excess; set aside. Sift together the remaining 3 cups flour, sugar, and baking powder into a large bowl. Add coconut milk, stirring until batter is smooth, then set aside. Put egg whites and salt into a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Fold whites into batter. Divide batter between prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Set aside on a rack to cool, then remove from pans.
2. For the frosting: Bring corn syrup and salt just to a boil in a small pot over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, beat egg whites in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form, 2–3 minutes. Increase speed to high and gradually add corn syrup while beating constantly until stiff, glossy peaks form, 2–3 minutes. Fold in vanilla.
3. Put 1 of the cake rounds on a cake plate, spread one-third of the frosting on top, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the coconut. Set the remaining cake round on top, then ice cake with the remaining frosting. Sprinkle top and sides with remaining 3/4 cup coconut.