Amazing Italian Cream Cake

5 from 13 votes

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Get ready to live because this Italian Cream Cake Recipe is about to blow your ever-loving minds. A light vanilla based cake, laced with toasted pecans and coconut only to be slathered in decadent cream cheese frosting. It’s a glorious dessert, any way you slice it. 

Ever since I started testing this Italian Cream Cake a few weeks ago, I haven’t been able to get it off my mind. This cake is not for the faint of heart. The textures and flavors, the light and moist crumb of the cake all married with some seriously buttery and tangy cream cheese frosting is out of this world delicious. The batter is made in a similar fashion to my vanilla cake, and believe it or not relatively straight forward to make! Keep reading…I’ll convince you.

Italian Cream Cake Recipe

First of all, what is Italian Cream Cake?

Surely it’s a cake from Italy, given the name and all. WRONG-O! This cake actually is derived from the south and there is nothing Italian about it. After some research, some think it’s origins are from Texas, whereas others think it comes from Georgia. Regardless, ‘Italian Cream Cake‘ (or sometimes also called Italian Cream Cheese Cake) is only a name and at the end of the day, you won’t care because of how delicious it is.

Easy Italian Cream Cake

Italian Cream Cake Recipe

Like I mentioned above, this cake has a buttery vanilla base, has toasted pecans and coconut folded in and baked in between 2 cake pans. Once the cakes have baked and cooled, slice each layer in half and fill with cream cheese frosting.

Decorations can vary, depending on preference and what kind of decorating tools you have. I love the crunch of a pecan, so just coated the outside with nuts, but generally left my version of Italian Cream Cake pretty plain to show you don’t need fancy tools to get a beautiful finished product. I just used a small offset spatula for the entire cake! Simple, but effective and very inviting.

How to make Italian Cream Cake

Just like making any other kind of cake, the steps don’t really vary all that much! The hardest part is waiting for the cakes to cool so you can assemble this beauty. Of course the detailed instructions with measurements are found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two round baking pans with parchment paper and nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl or measuring cup, stir buttermilk and vanilla together. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir butter, oil and sugar together until combined.
  5. Add in the eggs and egg whites and beat until very light and fluffy.
  6. Alternate adding in the dry ingredients with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the dry.
  7. Fold in pecans and coconut.
  8. Divide batter evenly between two baking pans and bake.
  9. Cool cakes completely and slice in half.
  10. Fill each layer with cream cheese frosting and frost the entire exterior generously. Decorate with extra pecans and/or coconut. Serve.
Italian Cream Cake

Keeping your cake moist

I hate a dry cake, so here are a few tips and tricks to ensure you will have success with this Italian Cream Cake recipe!

First of all, please note that I purposely use a combination of butter and oil to ensure this cake stays moist. Butter adds flavor and the oil adds that extra insurance. Buttermilk, another listed ingredient, also does the same thing!

Baking cakes at a lower oven temperature for longer period time will also retain a lot of that moisture. Just be sure to watch it and test it as you go so you don’t over bake! Once your cakes come out of the oven, let them cool completely, but don’t let them sit out ALL DAY. The edges can get crusty and stale tasting if left out past 12 hours. If you’d like to make this cake in advance, great! Simply wrap the cooled cakes in plastic wrap and leave out on the counter or refrigerate, whatever your preference is.

Do I have to refrigerate Italian Cream Cake?

If you’re going to be making this cake and eating it within 2-3 hours, it is absolutely fine to leave out of the counter. If you plan on keeping this for a few days, then definitely refrigerate. Cover entire cake gently with plastic wrap (toothpicks sticking out of the cake will help the plastic wrap not stick).

If you have eating half of the Italian Cream Cake and want to store the remaining, press plastic wrap directly on the cut portions of cake, while loosely wrapping the top and edges.

Italian Cream Cake Recipe

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5 from 13 votes

Italian Cream Cake

Get ready to live because this Italian Cream Cake Recipe is about to blow your ever-loving minds. A light vanilla based cake, laced with toasted pecans and coconut only to be slathered in decadent cream cheese frosting.
servings 12 servings
Prep Time 35 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 10 mins

Ingredients

For the Italian Cream Cake

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 whole egg whites
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans toasted
  • 1 cup shredded coconut

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 cup butter very soft
  • 16 oz cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 pounds powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions

For the cake:

  • Line the bottom of two 8 or 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper. Spray well with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together to combine. Set aside.
  • In a liquid measuring cup, stir buttermilk and vanilla together. Set aside.
  • In a separate large bowl, mix butter, oil, and sugar together until combined. Mix in eggs and egg whites, one at a time, until the mixture becomes very light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix again briefly.
  • Alternate adding in flour mixture with buttermilk mixture, being sure to start and end with flour. Scrape the sides and mix again to ensure a smooth batter. Fold pecans and coconut in by hand.
  • Divide evenly between baking pans and smooth the top. Bake 30-40 minutes in the lower 2/3rds of the oven. The cake will be done when a toothpick comes out clean or mostly clean with a few moist crumbs.
  • Cool 15-20 minutes in cake pans before trying to invert on cooling racks. Cool completely before frosting and decorating.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • Place all ingredients into a large bowl. Stir with a hand mixer (or stand mixer) until completely combined, thick and smooth. Scrape the sides and stir again briefly to ensure a smooth frosting. Use as desired.

Cake Assembly:

  • Using a serrated bread knife, slice each cooled cake in half lengthwise to get four thin cakes.
  • Place one cake onto a cake plate or serving platter. Spread about 3/4 cup of frosting onto the cake evenly (doesn't have to be exact) being sure to push frosting right to the edges of the cake. Top with another slice of cake. Continue frosting and filling the cake until all four slices of cake are stacked on one another with frosting in between each. With remaining frosting, frost cake exterior.
  • Decorate with more coconut and pecans as desired and serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 1057.7kcal | Carbohydrates: 140.01g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 53.51g | Saturated Fat: 32.91g | Cholesterol: 158.25mg | Sodium: 582.82mg | Potassium: 206.43mg | Fiber: 1.62g | Sugar: 113.47g | Vitamin A: 1337.28IU | Calcium: 98.67mg | Iron: 2.16mg
Course: Desserts
Cuisine: Southern
Keyword: italian cake, italian cream cake, italian cream cake recipe
Polaroid photo of granola bars

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Recipe Rating




35 Responses
  1. Erin

    This looks awesome and my mom totally wants me to make this for her for her birthday. Coconut question – do I use the sweetened shredded coconut from the baking aisle? Or is there a non-sweetened version I should use? Thanks!

  2. Jody Simpson

    Would you please consider posting high altitude modifications for those of us who live in the mile high city or other high altitude locations? Thanks. Love you recipes.

  3. Dawn Williams

    5 stars
    Another great cake recipe 🙂 . I have made almost everyone of your baked goodies and my family (myself inluded) absolutely love them.

  4. Pam S

    A trick I learned for taking my Italian Creme Cake to the next level is to use frozen shredded coconut in the batter. It is very moist and tends to melt into the batter so that you get the flavor but not the texture of the coconut, which many people object to. Frozen coconut can be hard to find, but when you do, stock up. It really makes this cake even more delicious!

  5. Cindi

    Awe man.! As a type 2 diabetic…140 grams of carbs and 113 grams of sugar per serving is death on a plate for me! It sure does look good, though!

  6. Felicia D.

    I’m not a big cake person but Italian Cream Cake is the exception & my favorite! This looks so good, and easy! Can’t wait to try it 🙂

  7. Sarai montes

    5 stars
    I was looking for a new cake recipe to try out.. this will definitely be my next one. Thanks lauren for the great recipes 😊

  8. Jinny Beard

    This recipe I must try! All of your dessert recipes have been amazing and I have not been disappointed by a single one! Whenever I want a dessert recipe , go to Lauren’s latest!

  9. Marcela Villegas

    I’ve always wanted to try an Italian Cream cake and this one looks amazing! I’ve made several of your recipes, including ñ some of one of you books ( pizza dough, Blake’s scones) and Inlove them! Thank you for sharing them with us!

  10. gina Coscarelli

    Hello, just wanted to clarify, or more accurately disclaim your “wrongo” in reference to the origin of Italian cream cake. Although it surely made its way to the south, just as the best southern recipes have made their way across time and nations, the root of this cake is actually renaissance Italy. Many, many years later, it made an overwhelming welcome in Canada prior to continuing its trek south, where Texans laid claim to its origin. It migrated southeast, where the south, in its love for all thing rich and comforting claimed its roots as its own. However, being Italian and cooking so my entire life, a truly spectacular dish can only begin with an understanding of its origin an of the culture surrounding the region of its roots. Given the number of years between Renaissance Italy and this cakes migration south, it stands to reason that the origin would have been unknown and the south claimed this treasure as its own. However, I would be denying my heritage and my cultural cuisine by not bringing it back home where it belongs.
    Buon Natale

  11. Kacee

    5 stars
    Would rate higher than 5 stars if I could! I made cupcakes and they came out the most perfect texture and the frosting is thick and amazing. It’s nice to have a cake where you can’t quite tell what the flavor is unless you baked it. A welcome change from vanilla or chocolate. This is definitely now my go-to dessert and will recommend your recipes to everyone. Thanks! This is the best cake I have ever tasted.

    1. Lauren

      No, you don’t separate them and beat to stiff peaks. In step 4, it says to beat the eggs and egg whites into the mixture until its light and fluffy.