This Italian Cream Cake has three layers of moist cake filled with shredded coconut and toasted pecans! It’s filled and frosted with a whipped cream cheese frosting for a lovely light and classic cake!
What is Italian Cream Cake?
The origin of Italian cream cake doesn’t really seem to be known. And despite it’s name, it’s not exactly Italian in origin. It’s really more of a southern cake defined by the addition of coconut and pecans and cream cheese frosting.
Funnily enough, despite living in the south in my entire life, this is a cake that I had never actually tried until recently. It’s never something my family has ever had, nor have I really seen it around much. But after getting several requests for a recipe for Italian Cream Cake, I went on the hunt to track some down to try it.
I found some at my favorite bakery in our area north of Atlanta. The cake had wonderful flavor, the coconut and pecan complemented everything beautifully and the whipped cream cheese frosting was so light that I couldn’t stop eating it! Such a tasty cake!
How to make Italian Cream Cake
So after my taste testing, I set out to make this cake at home. Traditionally an Italian cream cake is made with a combination of butter and shortening. I wanted to be sure that I had the best version of this cake, so I actually started out with my Moist Vanilla Layer Cake, which I love, and worked from there. After adjusting for the various ingredients needed for this cake, what resulted was quite similar to the other recipes that you would find for this cake. The primary ingredients I played around with where the butter versus shortening and the flavorings.
I personally felt that the butter and shortening combination lent a flavor that slightly better complemented the pecans and coconut. That said, the all butter version was just fine and will work if you truly don’t want to you use shortening.
The other thing I preferred was the addition of just a touch of almond extract. Not enough to take over the cake at all, but just enough to ramp up the flavor a tad. It leaves you thinking, “What is that yummy little bit of extra flavor?” Unless you give away your secret, no one will ever know. Of course you could leave it out, if you prefer.
1 (16.25-ounce) package white cake mix (I used Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe)
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 (3 1/2-ounce) can flaked coconut
2/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
3 T Rum (optional)
Cream Cheese Frosting (below)
Beat first 4 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer 2 minutes. Stir in coconut and pecans. Pour into 3 greased and floured 9-inch round cakepans.
Bake at 350° for 15 to 17 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
Sprinkle each cake layer evenly with rum, if desired; let stand 10 minutes.
Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Chill 2 hours before slicing.
Cream Cheese Frosting
•1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
•1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
•1 (16-ounce) package powdered sugar
•2 teaspoons vanilla extract
•1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
How to make it:
Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla and pecans. Frost cake when completely cooled.