This tall, moist masterpiece of a carrot cake is adapted from Dorie Greenspan's recipe in Baking: From My Home to Yours. Three layers of cake abundant fluffy cream cheese frosting and open sides topped with toasted coconut. Perfect for the first-time baker or the occasional baker and for any occasion--Easter, birthdays, anniversaries--or just to celebrate the simple joys in life.
Position the racks in the upper and lower third of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Grease (or butter) three 9-inch round cake pans (2 inches deep), flour them evenly and tap out the excess.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and set aside. Beat the sugar and oil in a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a whisk until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time until completely incorporated. Add the flour mixture on low speed or by hand with a spatula just until the dry ingredients disappear. Add the carrots and coconut until blended.
Divide the batter evenly among the baking pans. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through, just until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake just begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.
Cool the cakes for 5 minutes. Slide a table knife around the edges with care and flip the cakes onto cooling racks. (You can wrap cooled layers in plastic wrap to store at room temperature overnight or freeze the layers for 1 month and thaw before frosting.)
Before mixing, be sure that the butter and cream cheese are very soft. Whisk them together in a stand mixer or vigorously by hand until very smooth. Add the vanilla and powdered sugar and beat until very smooth and light in texture.
Divide the frosting roughly into thirds in the bowl. Use one part for spreading evenly between each of the two cake layers and the remaining portion for the top, making swirls to the edge. Sprinkle the top with the toasted coconut.