The speed of assembling this cake is prepping the components ahead of time and finding a way to delicious short-cut. Such as, bake the layers a couple days ahead and freeze unfrosted. Or use a good cake mix for the layers. As for lemon curd, make my version or buy a jar of good lemon curd. You need 10 to 12 ounces. And for the frosting, try it because it is delicious! Or just frost with whipped cream, lightly sweetened with powdered sugar.
Vegetable shortening and flour for prepping the pans
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs, separated
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 large lemons, scrubbed in hot water with a little soap
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 tablespoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Garnish: 2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
For the cake, place a rack in the center of the oven and have one rack above it if needed for the third pan. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease three 8- or 9-inch round cake pans with shortening, then dust with flour, and shake out excess flour. Set the pans aside.
Place the butter, shortening, and sugar in a large mixing bowl, and with an electric mixer on medium speed, cream until light, 1 minute. Add the egg yolks, one at time, and beat until just combined before adding the next one. Add the vanilla.
Sift together the flour and baking soda and add this in thirds to the mixture, alternately with the buttermilk. Blend on medium-low until smooth.
Place the egg whites in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form, 4 minutes. Fold the whites into the batter with a rubber spatula until the whites are just combined. Divide the batter between the three pans and place the pans in the oven, placing two pans on the center rack, and one pan above.
Bake the cake layers until they are golden brown and just pull away from the pan, 22 to 25 minutes for 9-inch pans, and slightly more for 8-inch pans. Let the cakes cool in the pans set on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then run a knife around the edges, give them a good gentle shake to loosen from the pans, and invert them once, then again, to cool right-side up on wire racks at least 30 minutes before frosting.
While the cake is cooling, make the lemon curd: Grate the zest of the lemons to yield 1 tablespoon. Cut the lemons in half, juice them, remove seeds and you should yield 1/4 cup lemon juice. Place the lemon juice and zest in a medium bowl and whisk in sugar and eggs until beaten and well combined. Whisk in melted butter.
Pour the lemon mixture into a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk constantly until the mixture gradually thickens and comes to a boil, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Continue to whisk the lemon curd off heat until it cools down, 4 to 5 minutes.
Strain the lemon curd to remove zest, if desired. Cover with plastic wrap and chill.
For the frosting, place about 2 inches of water in large saucepan. Place it over high heat, and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, place the egg whites, cream of tartar, sugar, water, and corn syrup in a large bowl that fits on top of the saucepan and creates a double boiler. Do not place over the boiling water yet. Beat with a small electric hand mixer on high speed for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the egg whites have soft peaks. Place the bowl of egg whites on top of the double boiler, making sure the bowl does not touch the boiling water. Regulate the heat so that the water continues below the bowl at a medium-boil. Pick up the electric mixer and carefully beat the egg whites on high speed for 7 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat and place on the kitchen counter. Beat on high 3 more minutes. Fold in vanilla. Frosting is ready.
To assemble the cake, place one layer on a serving plate or platter, cover with half of the lemon curd, add a second layer, cover with remaining lemon curd, then place final layer on top. Spread the top and sides of the cake generously with frosting. Pack coconut onto the sides of the cake using clean hands. And pile the remaining coconut on top of the cake. Slice and serve.