This glorious Italian Cream Cake is one of the greatest cakes ever invented! It’s a spectacular cake, any way you slice it. Pardon the pun. The rich thick pecan and coconut filled batter is only trumped by the decadent cream cheese frosting. It’s ideal for showcasing as the feature dessert for birthdays, holidays or any special gathering.
Easy Italian Cream Cake Recipe
What’s Italian About This Cream Cake? Nothing, actually. This vintage cake dubbed “Italian Cream Cake” is more Southern than Italian and no one really knows definitively why it was given this name. That said, Italian cream recipes are basically the same, and true to form as it is with all recipes, my take on it has evolved through the years in my kitchen. While it does take several steps to create this cake it’s a labor of love well worth the effort when you see the delight on the faces of your family and friends. It’s a very special cake for a special occasion. Ingredients to make Italian Cream Cake:
- Flour – All purpose flour sifted with baking soda and baking powder.
- Butter – Salted butter, softened.
- Sugar – Granulated sugar and light brown sugar.
- Flavorings – Vanilla extract and almond extract.
- Eggs – Five large eggs.
- Milk – Whole buttermilk (not fat free).
- Mix-ins – Sweetened flaked coconut and chopped pecans.
- Frosting – Plain cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, almond extract.
- Garnishes – Reserved coconut and toasted pecans.
How to Make the Best Italian Cream Cake Recipe
My family members are die hard sweet or savory coconut fans. Coconut and pecans pair beautifully in this spectacular cake frosted with a dreamy cream cheese frosting. It’s such an amazing cake, it’s guaranteed to turn any occasion into something special. I always like to include a few tips to ensure your cake making success:
- Kitchen tools you’ll need to make Italian Cream Cake: An electric mixer, either a stand mixer or a hand mixer whatever you have on hand. Large mixing bowls, measuring cups and spoons and a whisk to sift together the dry ingredients, plus a large silicone spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl while mixing. A sheet pan and chopping tool to prep the nuts for roasting.
- Ingredients you’ll need to make homemade Italian Cream Cake: All purpose flour, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, salted butter, baking powder, baking soda, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla extract, almond extract, sweetened flaked coconuts and pecans. Softened cream cheese and powdered sugar along with vanilla and almond for the frosting.
- If you only have unsalted butter on hand, add 1/2 tsp salt to the dry ingredients and proceed with the recipe.
- Traditional Italian cream cake recipes often call for solid vegetable shortening in the batter. That said, after years of making this cake, I prefer using all butter in my cream cake batter.
- Granulated sugar alone doesn’t give the depth of flavor you gain by adding brown sugar to the batter along with a touch of almond extract. Don’t skip it, it’s what sets this recipe apart from the rest.
- It’s well worth the small amount of effort it takes to toast the coconut to use as a garnish for the sides of the cake. Not only does toasted coconut make it pretty, but it adds a spectacular flavor as well.
- See how to toast coconut here for this cake recipe.
- Store this cake in an airtight container chilled for up to one week, if it lasts that long.
- This Italian Cream Cake is one of those showpiece cakes that make a statement on the dessert table. It’s okay to feel proud once you serve it, I know I do.
- You can make and bake the cake layers up to one month in advance for a timesaver. Let the cake rounds cool completely then wrap in freezer wrap and heavy duty foil.
- Thaw frozen cake layers in the refrigerator and frost before serving.
More Southern Style Cake Recipes to Add to Make
Cakes just spell celebration no matter when they’re served. In my opinion, life is much too short to skip dessert or only have cake once a year on your birthday. Baking can be therapeutic, and sweets tend to bring happiness to those around you. Other cakes you may like to try:
- German Chocolate Cake with Coconut Pecan Icing is a classic that never goes out of style.
- Million Dollar Pound Cake Recipe is a must-make for any occasion.
- Island inspired Hawaiian Pineapple Coconut Poke Cake is a cake mix hack that everyone can make.
- Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Coconut Pecan Icing is a retro cake that’s rich and delicious.
- Coconut Cream Pound Cake is drizzled with a vanilla cream glaze.
- Double Chocolate Coconut Zucchini Cake will have the kiddos eating their vegetables and loving it!
- My Buttered Rum Cake is a holiday favorite!
- Red Velvet Layer Cake is an iconic Southern dessert.
- You may also like this recipe for Coconut Custard Layer Cake from Beyond Frosting.
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Helpful Kitchen Items:
Italian Cream Cake
- 2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup salted butter softened
- 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp pure almond extract
- 5 large eggs
- 1 cup whole buttermilk
- 14 oz package sweetened flaked coconut divided
- 1 1/2 cup pecan pieces toasted divided
- 2 (8 oz) blocks cream cheese softened
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- 2 lb powdered sugar
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp pure almond extract
- reserved coconut toasted
- 1/2 cup reserved toasted pecans
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 3  inch round cake pans or spray with baking spray. Set aside.
- Sift the flour, baking soda and baking powder together.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the softened butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, pure vanilla and almond extracts. Beat until creamy and light beige in color, around 3-4 minutes
- Add the eggs 1 at a time beating well after each addition.
- Add the sifted dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk. After all has been added, increase the mixer speed and beat until fully combined.
- Mix in 1/2 of the 14 ounce flaked coconut and 1 cup of toasted pecans by hand.
- Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes back clean. Cool completely on a cooling rack.
- For the frosting: Cream together the cream cheese and butter until light, fluffy and pale yellow in color. Add the vanilla and almond extracts. Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating until creamy and smooth.
- Line the edge of the cake plate with wax paper strips.
- Frost the cake between the layers sprinkling each with reserved toasted pecan pieces. Add the final layer and frost the top and sides.
- Press toasted coconut on sides. Decorate the top as desired with the remaining chopped pecans. (See in the Cook's note for how to toast coconut)
- Store chilled until serving.
b) “How to” for toasting the coconut here
c) Alternative frosting technique: Mix the toasted pecans into the frosting by hand and spread onto the top and sides of the cake.