Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Lightly grease and flour 3 (8-inch) cake pans. Using an electric mixer, cream the sugar with 1/2 cup of the butter. With the mixer running, add the oil and incorporate thoroughly. Add the egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each yolk. Sift the flour and baking soda together. Alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the egg mixture. Mix thoroughly. Fold in 2 cups of the coconut. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold the egg whites into the cake batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake the cakes for about 25 to 30 minutes or until the center of each cake is set.
Using an electric mixer, cream the remaining butter with the cream cheese. Add the powdered sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of the milk. Mix well. Spread a thin layer of the filling on top of each cake. Place the layers of cake on top of each other. Ice the sides and top of the cake with the boiled icing. Sprinkle the remaining cup of coconut over the top and sides of the cake. Place a slice of the cake on a plate and garnish with powdered sugar, fresh mint and lemon zest.
Yield: 1 (8-inch) cake
In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes. Bring the sugar to 240ºF. **If crystals appear on the side of the pan, take a damp pastry brush and brush the sides down. Meanwhile, combine the whites, salt and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with wire whip. Beat on low speed until soft peaks form. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until stiff peaks form. In a steady stream, add the sugar syrup to the whites and continue to whipping until the icing is spreadable. Whip in the vanilla.
Yield: about 2 1/2 cups