Special Occasion Cake: Italian Cream Cake

A slice of Italian Cream cake - perfect for birthdays, graduations and other special occasions
A slice of Italian Cream cake - perfect for birthdays, graduations and other special occasions | Source

This is a 3-layer white batter cake with chopped pecans and coconut flakes covered with cream cheese frosting. It's an impressive looking cake that isn't hard to make.

3.7 stars from 23 ratings of Italian Cream Cake

A special occasion calls for a special cake

The first time I had Italian Cream Cake, I knew it was a special dessert.

We were living in Mississippi in the early 1980s. My husband was stationed in Gulfport, about 1.5 hours west of Mobile, where his parents and two of his brothers lived. We were fortunate to live near family for several years so we could celebrate holidays and birthdays with my in-laws.

The year my husband's grandfather turned 90, my in-laws threw a big party. One of my sisters-in-law brought Italian Cream Cake and as soon as I tasted it, I knew I had to have the recipe.

In our family, as in most I'm sure, the birthday person gets to pick what's on the menu for dinner and their birthday treat. This is the cake my husband and younger son choose when it's their day. It's also the cake I make for special occasions, such as my boys' high school graduation parties. It never goes unappreciated!

It isn't nearly as complicated as it appears and definitely well worth the time it takes. Enjoy!


Cook Time

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 25 min
Ready in: 55 min
Yields: Makes 1 9" 3-layer cake


Italian Cream Cake

Ingredients

  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 stick margarine
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla flavoring
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 3 oz coconut flakes, (none of us like coconut that much so I just add a small handful)
Combination of dry and liquid ingredients for Italian Cream Cake
Combination of dry and liquid ingredients for Italian Cream Cake | Source
Incorporating the beaten egg whites into the batter for Italian Cream Cake.
Incorporating the beaten egg whites into the batter for Italian Cream Cake. | Source
Pecans and coconut flakes added to the batter for Italian Cream Cake.
Pecans and coconut flakes added to the batter for Italian Cream Cake. | Source

Instructions

  1. Combine baking soda and buttermilk in a bowl or large glass measuring cup; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream sugar, margarine and shortening.
  3. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each.
  4. Add buttermilk/baking soda mixture, alternating with flour to cream mixture.
  5. Stir in vanilla.
  6. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into the creamed mixture.
  7. Gently stir in pecans and coconut.
  8. Divide batter evenly between 3 9" cake pans that have been greased and floured.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes

Beating Egg Whites

Egg whites in a chilled bowl.
Egg whites in a chilled bowl. | Source
The egg whites are beginning to get thicker.
The egg whites are beginning to get thicker. | Source
Beaten egg whites with soft peaks.
Beaten egg whites with soft peaks. | Source
If the beaten egg whites form stiff peaks when the beaters are removed from them, the whites are ready to go into the cake.
If the beaten egg whites form stiff peaks when the beaters are removed from them, the whites are ready to go into the cake. | Source

Beat a better egg white

Properly beaten egg whites will give your cake good volume and texture.

For best results separate the eggs when they are cold, but bring the egg whites to room temperature before beating them.



Make sure the bowl and beaters you plan to use are clean and chilled. Put them in the freezer to chill while you make the rest of the batter. Use a copper or stainless steel bowl, not aluminum or plastic.





Don't beat the egg whites until just before you're ready to add them to the batter because they start to lose their volume right away.





The egg whites will start out thin and runny but as you continue to beat them, they'll begin to form soft peaks. When the egg whites have formed stiff peaks, they're ready to go into the cake batter.

Buttermilk subsitute

Until I learned this trick for making a buttermilk substitute, I would buy the smallest container of the milk I could find and end up tossing out what I didn't use for the cake. Then I found this trick and it has come in handy many times over the years.

To make 1 c. of buttermilk:

Stir 1 Tablespoon of cider vinegar or lemon juice into one cup of milk. Let sit for a few minutes before using.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 stick margarine
  • 1 box powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla


  1. Cream the cheese and margarine.
  2. Add sugar a bit at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Stir in vanilla.
  4. Frost cake

.

How to Frost a Three-Layer Cake

Spread about 1/4 of the frosting on the bottom layer that's been placed on a cake, flat side down.
Spread about 1/4 of the frosting on the bottom layer that's been placed on a cake, flat side down. | Source
Add another layer of 1/4 of the frosting. The second cake layer is placed upside down on the first layer.
Add another layer of 1/4 of the frosting. The second cake layer is placed upside down on the first layer. | Source
The third layer goes top side up and the rest of the frosting is used.
The third layer goes top side up and the rest of the frosting is used. | Source
The frosted Italian Cream Cake.
The frosted Italian Cream Cake. | Source

How to frost a 3-layer cake

Frosting a layer cake isn't hard. Follow these tips below to make your cake presentable!

1. Make sure cakes are completely cool before you frost them. Brush crumbs from one layer. Place it on a large platter or cake plate. Using about one-fourth of the icing, frost the top of the cake to about 1/4" from the edge.



2. Brush crumbs from a second layer. Place that layer upside down on the first, so the flat bottom of the cake is facing up. Frost the top of that layer the same as the first layer with another one-fourth of frosting.





3. Take the final layer, brush the crumbs off and place it, flat side down, on top of the second layer.






4. Generously frost the top and sides with the remaining frosting.

Frosting a layer cake

Did you like this recipe?

If this cake is something you'd like to make (or have made) please give it a vote up, star rate it or pin it. Thanks!

More by this Author


Comments 43 comments

Maralexa profile image

Maralexa 5 years ago from Vancouver, Canada and San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

Danette, this is a terrific hub. Your tip on beating egg whites is really helpful. Your tip on making buttermilk is excellent and your tip of putting the second layer of cake on upsidedown makes a lot of sense. Thank You.

However, I have been very successfully dieting this week (day 4) and your gorgeous cake is just too tempting!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

"Italian Cream Cake" is a lovely name and the photo of the cake is lovely too! The cake sounds absolutely delicious. I love creamy cakes, and your recipe sounds perfect for a special occasion. Thanks for sharing it.


homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 5 years ago from Texas

I absolutely love Italian Cheese cake. I have never made one, so I just might have to try this recipe out. I can tast it now!


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Sorry Maralexa! I know what you mean, I was starting to get a craving for this cake as I was writing it! Glad you found the tips helpful. Here's something to think about that I do, now that there's just the two of us at home - I freeze individual slices. That way I can dole them out to myself without having too many calories at once. I have even managed to still have pieces in the freezer a month after the occasion!

AliciaC - It really is a wonderful cake. When I mentioned to a friend that I was making it for my son's graduation, her eyes lit up! Everyone who has it loves it.

Homesteadbound - Just to clarify, this isn't a cheesecake. But I'm thinking you meant the cream cheese? It's not hard to make so I hope you give it a try.


larry71 profile image

larry71 5 years ago from Illinois

Love the hub. look forward to loving the cake. :)

voting up and awesome.


europewalker profile image

europewalker 5 years ago

Yummy! Thanks for the recipe, I love Italian cream cake!


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Thanks Larry - I hope you enjoy it

Europewalker, thanks for taking the time to read and leave a comment. I appreciate it.


homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 5 years ago from Texas

You are correct. Hubpages was keeping me up past my bedtime again when I commented earlier. This morning when I saw the picture of your cake one word came to mind - decadent!


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

I can totally understand Homesteadbound! It was about 1:30 a.m where I live when I wrote that. I'm surprised it came out as coherent as it did.


bell du jour profile image

bell du jour 5 years ago from Ireland

Looks amazing! can't wait to try:-)


Pinkchic18 profile image

Pinkchic18 5 years ago from Minnesota

This looks delightful! It made me instantly want to go bake one up! Thanks for sharing!


cardelean profile image

cardelean 5 years ago from Michigan

I remember you making this for CJ's graduation and I loved it then. You had given me the recipe but I had forgoten about it until now. I'm definitely going to have to make it soon. I'll make up a reason if I need to! :)


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

Hi Danette, this recipe is completely new to me and I am so looking forward to trying it, looks and sounds delicous, thank you for sharing.


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Bell du jour- I hope you do give it a try, it isn't hard and well worth it.

Pinkchic18 - Thanks for stopping to read and comment.

Hey Cara - I was trying to think of a reason too while I was writing it.

Hi MovieMaster - thanks for reading. It is delicious.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

Danette, Voted way UP This is awesome-well written and great visuals which always helps me. As much as I love EATING this cake I have never made it. YUM I will have to make it for J's birthday coming up in November. I can't believe he will turn 18 !!!


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

It isn't hard to make just time consuming. Too bad I can't be out there to make it for you.


breathe2travel profile image

breathe2travel 5 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA

Italian Creme cake is probably my favorite cake! I loooooooooove it. My recipe is similar to yours, except I use butter, not margarine. :) Yum. This makes me want to get the ingredients together and bake one! Voted up and useful. :)


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Thanks breathe2travel. I was feeling the same way, wanting to get the ingredients so I can make it. Why save it for special occasions, right? Any day can be a special day!


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 5 years ago from South Carolina

Mmmmm...this looks so yummy. Love the side bar tips and the videos are great for young bakers inexperienced at frosting cakes.


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Thanks Gail for stopping by to read and comment.


RebuildingJobs profile image

RebuildingJobs 5 years ago from USA

Looks yummy! I can't wait to make it! I loved the visuals you put on the hub.


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Thanks RebuildingJobs! I appreciate your taking the time to read and comment.


Vicki99 profile image

Vicki99 5 years ago from Meridian Idaho

Oh my! I can't wait to try this. Great looking cake.


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois Author

Vicki99 -- I guarantee it is absolutely fabulous!


theclevercat profile image

theclevercat 4 years ago from Massachusetts

Oh what!!!! This looks like the cake I tasted on a special occasion way back in Brooklyn in the 1990's. I never knew what it was called, but now I have the recipe. Thanks!!! Voted useful and pinned.


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 4 years ago from Illinois Author

Thanks theclevercat. I hope it is as good as you remember it to be.


Teresa Coppens profile image

Teresa Coppens 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Danette, scrumptious looking cake. I really dislike coconut though so I think I would leave it out of my recipe! Great instructions and I now know how to ice a layer cake to get great results. Voted up!


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 4 years ago from Illinois Author

Thanks for reading and leaving a comment Teresa. We're not crazy about coconut either although I do add some just for the taste of it. Glad the video was helpful.


Andi 4 years ago

Am I crazy, or is there not a temperature given to bake the cake? I assumed 350, but was kinda nervous!


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 4 years ago from Illinois Author

Wow! I can't believe that I didn't put that in and that no one else caught that!

Yes, 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Thanks for letting me know and I hope you enjoyed the cake.


ptrg777 profile image

ptrg777 4 years ago from New York

Me being Italian this being back a lot of memories. Never tried to make it myself but this looks easy enough for me to try it! I don't mind the cocount but maybe I'll emit it the first time to see how the cake comes. Thanks!


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 4 years ago from Illinois Author

Thanks ptrg777 for reading and taking the time to leave a comment. It is easier than it looks. I hope you do try it and enjoy it.


vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 3 years ago from Peru, South America

I love Italian cream cake and am thrilled to have your recipe! I also use lemon juice to sour fresh milk as a buttermilk substitute since we can't even buy it here in Peru. I can't wait to try this. Thanks for your recipe!


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 3 years ago from Illinois Author

Hi vespawoolf. Thanks for reading my hub and commenting. Peru must be a fascinating place for you with your cooking experience and maybe a challenge too?


calculus-geometry profile image

calculus-geometry 3 years ago from Germany

Interesting tip about the type of metal the bowl should be made of! What happens to the egg whites when you beat them in a plastic or aluminum bowl?


Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 3 years ago from Germany

Yummy! I love Italian Cream Cake. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Voted up and useful. Happy weekend!


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 3 years ago from Illinois Author

Hi calculus-geometry, it has something to do with fat or grease that may not be cleaned off the bowl. Here's a link I found about it online. http://humantouchofchemistry.com/whipping-egg-whit...

Hi Thelma - thanks for voting the hub up and useful. Have a great weekend too!


Debraw50 profile image

Debraw50 2 years ago

Oh thank you Danette for those yummy recipes. Very good articles and great tips on frosting the layer cakes and the making of the buttermilk. Keep giving us those recipes. We love them. I am going to try the Italian Cream Cake.


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 2 years ago from Illinois Author

You're welcome Debraw! Thanks for reading


Kaili Bisson profile image

Kaili Bisson 2 years ago from Canada

Danette, this looks so good. I am going to try this recipe when the weather gets a little cooler.


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 2 years ago from Illinois Author

Hi Kaili, Thanks for leaving a comment. It is very good and not terribly time consuming to make. I break it up into 2 days - measuring out my ingredients, chopping nuts, etc, then the next day I mix and bake. Makes the work easier. Hope you like it!


Margie Lynn profile image

Margie Lynn 7 months ago from Beautiful Texas Hill Country

I love this cake it is scrumptious!


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 7 months ago from Illinois Author

Hi Margie! I agree it is absolutely delicious! In fact, every time I see the photo, my mouth waters for it. My husband's birthday is coming up mid-June so I'll be making it then for him. Can't wait! Thanks for reading and commenting.

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