Mother Knows Best: Italian Cream Cake

Back when I was in first or second grade, a boy in my class decided to start calling me "Bridget Tee-tee."
{Potty humor is all the rage with the elementary set.}

See, my first name ended with a T and my last name started with a T.  Get it?  What a clever guy.  I didn't find it so funny.

I came home from school crying to my mom about the unfortunate "tee-tee" teasing going on.  My mom asked who was saying it.  I told her...Guy Hartfield.  She gave me some sage advice,
"The next time he says that, call him Guy FARTfield."

Now, I grew up in a house where *ahem* farts were referred to as toots, so I had no idea what it even meant.  Sure enough, the next day at school as we lined up for music class, Guy sidled up along side me and called me "Bridget Tee-tee" just loud enough where the other kids could hear.  Unsure, I told him to "Be quiet, Guy Fartfield!" The other kids laughed and I never, ever heard a word about "tee-tee" again.

Morals of the story:
  • Don't mess with the girl with curly hair...or her mom.
  • Mother knows best.

Which brings me to this Italian Cream Cake.  My mother made it a lot when we were growing up.  I grumbled and complained because, hello?  You're making a cake without any chocolate?!?

Turns out, mom was right.  This cake is utterly delicious.  Now, Italian?  I'm not so sure.  I mean, when I think of pecans, coconut, and cream cheese, Italy doesn't immediately spring to mind. 

Mom's recipe came from the River Road Recipes 2 cookbook.  If you're from the south, I bet you or your mom have at least one RRR cookbook in your collection. They're the Junior League of Baton Rouge cookbooks, and they are winners.

I changed the recipe up a bit...replacing the margarine with butter, adding a little salt, toasting the pecans, etc.  Oh, and since this IS Italian Cream Cake, I updated the frosting with lots of creamy mascarpone.

Italian Cream Cake
{3-layer cake, serves 12}

for the cake:
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
5 eggs, separated and at room temperature
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup angel flake coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla

for the frosting:
1 & 1/2 cups chopped pecans
12 oz mascarpone, room temperature
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
2 TBSP unsalted butter, room temperature
1 lb. + 1/4 cup powdered sugar, divided
pinch kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Butter three 9" round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment.  Butter the parchment and flour the pans.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 350.

Cream together the sugar, butter and oil.  Add in the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Stir the soda into the buttermilk.  Add the flour and buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour.  Add the salt with the last addition of the flour.  Fold in the coconut and vanilla.

Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form.  In three additions, fold into the batter.

Pour into the prepared pans and bake for 25 minutes or until done.  Remove to wire cooling racks and let cool in the pans for 10 minutes.  Remove from the pans and let cool completely.

make the frosting:
Place the pecans on a cookie sheet in a single layer.  Bake at 350 for 4-6 minutes, until fragrant and toasted.  Remove from the pan and let cool completely.

Cream together the mascarpone, cream cheese and butter.   Beat in the 1 pound of sugar, pinch salt and vanilla until smooth and combined.  Remove 1/2 cup of frosting for piping and stir in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar to thicken.

Stir the pecans into the remaining frosting.

Spread about 1/2 cup of frosting between each layer of the cake.  Use the remaining to go around the sides and top of the cake.  Pipe a border with the reserved frosting.

(Note: this frosting makes just enough to cover the cake.  You will not have thick layers of frosting, but it is very rich, so that's ok.)

Mom, you were right.  I should have never doubted you. {About anything.}

***Guy Hartfield, wherever you are, sorry to out you on a baking blog.  I'm sure we've all learned from this experience.***

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