This ITALIAN CREAM CAKE is a classic southern dessert and perfect for any special occasion! The buttery cake is fluffy and moist, with a bit of tang from the buttermilk and a slight nutty flavor from the coconut and toasted pecans!
I’m Italian by marriage (Zitaglio) and I’ve been to Italy so I’m pretty much an expert on all things Italian.
Kidding! And, actually, Italian Cream Cake is not Italian but originated in the southern U.S.
But it really doesn’t matter where this cake is from or how it came about. IT IS MAGICAL AND WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.
That was a little dramatic, but this is truly a show-stopper and the perfect cake for special occasions!
This buttery cake is fluffy and moist, with a bit of tang from the buttermilk and a slight nutty flavor from the coconut and toasted pecans. Coconut haters- pleeease don’t turn your nose up at this cake! It is NOT overwhelming, but it adds a sweet nutty flavor and little texture.
This recipe uses egg whites, which lightens up the batter and gives it volume… AKA a fluffy, light, PERFECT texture!! If you’ve never used egg whites in a cake before, don’t worry. It is a delicate process but it is NOT hard. You just need a little egg whites 101 and you’ll be good to go. I’m a visual person, so here are a few videos of steps included in this recipe:
- If you haven’t separated egg whites and yolks before, here’s a quick tutorial!
- Here is a video on how to beat egg whites to stiff peaks… the egg whites lose their volume when you over-beat so be sure to stop and check the peaks often.
- This video shows you how to fold egg whites into the cake batter. I use a spatula instead of a spoon. Be gentle and don’t over-mix!
The holidays are the perfect occasion to bake this beautiful cake… I know you and your family will love it!
25 minPrep Time
20 minCook Time
45 minTotal Time
Yields 1 8-inch 3-layer cake
- 5 eggs (room temperature)
- 1 stick butter (room temperature)
- ½ cup shortening
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup buttermilk (room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups cake flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup chopped pecans, toasted
- ½ cup sweetened flaked coconut
- 2 sticks butter, softened
- 16 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 4-8 cups powdered sugar (depending on preference)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Pinch of salt
- 1-2 cups chopped pecans, toasted + pecan halves for decoration
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 3 8-inch round cake pans lined with parchment paper.
- Separate eggs and allow to come to room temperature.
- Combine baking soda and buttermilk. Set aside.
- Whisk together cake flour and salt. Set aside.
- Using mixer (I use paddle attachment), cream butter, shortening, and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add vanilla and beat until smooth.
- Add flour and buttermilk alternately with mixer on LOW speed, beginning and ending with flour, and mix until just combined.
- Add coconut and pecans with mixer on LOW speed, and mix until just combined.
- Transfer batter to a medium size bowl and wash mixing bowl thoroughly to use for egg whites.
- With whisk attachment, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
- Add 1/3 egg whites to batter and fold with spatula to loosen batter. Fold in the remaining egg whites to the batter.
- Divide batter among the 3 prepared pans and spread it out evenly.
- Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, or about 20-22 minutes. Remove and let cool in pans for about 10 minutes, then remove from pans to cool completely.
- With your mixer on medium-high speed (I use paddle attachment), beat the cream cheese and butter until well combined and smooth, about 2 minutes.
- Add vanilla, salt, and powdered sugar, and beat on low speed until combined. Once combined, beat on high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, or until smooth and fluffy. Continue to add powdered sugar to your preference. (I start with 4 cups and usually add 2 to 3 more cups).
- Place one cake layer upside down on a serving plate and spread about 1-2 cups of frosting on cake (don’t spread too close to the edges). Repeat with second layer. Add third cake layer and frost a thin layer on the sides and top.
- I usually put it in the fridge or freezer at this point for 5-10 minutes and then add additional frosting to the top and sides.
- Press chopped pecans into sides.
- Place 1-2 cups frosting in a pastry bag with a Wilton 1M or 2D tip, and add swirls to top for decoration. Place pecan halves on swirls.
Store in refrigerator and remove 30 minutes to an hour before serving. To toast pecans, spread out on a cookie sheet and bake for 5-7 minutes at 300 degrees F.