Mom's Italian Cream Cake

I blogged about my mom's Italian cream cake a few years ago...updating the recipe a bit, making a few changes to the cake and the frosting.

When I volunteered to make a cake for an event recently, I decided to go with the original. was a GOOD cake. Why the heck was I messing with it???

There is really nothing Italian about this cake as far as I can tell. That doesn't stop it from being wonderful. The cake is fluffy and studded with coconut. The cream cheese frosting is decadent and packed with toasted pecans. One slice of this rich cake will have you wishing you'd worn your stretchy pants to dinner.

The original recipe comes from the River Roads Recipes 2 cookbook. I think most of our mom's and grandmother's recipes come from a cookbook or back of a box. But, since they were passed down, served at family meals and special occasions, written on recipes cards, they become theirs...and ours.

One of the keys to successful cake making is lining the pans. And greasing the pans. And flouring the pans. It seems like a lot of work, but when your cakes pop out of those pans with ease, it'll seem like no work at all.

First, trace the bottom of the cake pans onto parchment. Cut just inside the lines. Grease the bottom and sides of the pan. Place the cut parchment onto the greased bottom. (That sounds weird.) Grease the parchment. Sprinkle flour into the pan and tap, moving the pan until all of the bottom and sides are covered. Shake out the excess. This works whether you're greasing with shortening or butter.

Next, we'll cream the shortening, oil, and sugar. No butter here. It's ok.

You'll add eggs, buttermilk, flour, etc., then the coconut.

Next'll beat egg whites until they form a stiff peak. Folding these into the batter makes the cake light and fluffy.

For the frosting, I did make one tiny change from the original recipe. I toasted the pecans. I also swapped butter for the margarine in the original.

Oh, ok...maybe three minor changes. After frosting the cake, I made a bit more frosting for piping around the edge. You could skip it, but it looks so, so pretty! ♥

Mom's Italian Cream Cake
(makes one 3-layer cake)

for the cake:
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup shortening, plus more for pans
1/2 cup oil
5 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon butter flavoring (extract)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

for the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup salted butter, room temperature
1 pound powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups chopped, toasted pecans
1/2 teaspoon butter flavor
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

for the piped frosting:
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup salted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and line three 8-inch round cake pans with parchment. Grease the parchment and flour the pans.

Cream the sugar, shortening, and oil together until fluffy. Add in the egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir the baking soda into the buttermilk. Add the flour to the batter in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour. Fold in the coconut.

In another bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks are formed. Fold into the batter along with the extracts. Pour the batter evenly into three prepared pans. Bake for 25 minutes or until the center bounces back when lightly pressed. Cool cake in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool on a wire rack.

for the frosting:
Cream the cream cheese and butter. Gradually, beat in the sugar and flavorings. Stir in the pecans.

Frost the cake with a thin layer of frosting, using about 1/2-3/4 cup of frosting between each layer.

Make the piping frosting, if desired, using the same method. Place in a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe a border along the edge of the cake. Store in the refrigerator, taking out 30 minutes to an  hour before serving.



  1. I've posted this on my blog as well. It is one of my daughter's favorite so for years I made it for her birthday. I've been trying to do a little different here and there. Last year was Tiramisu cake with zabaglione cream on top. This year was Italian plum cake with plum glaze. The reason I like the last cake was that it wasn't overly sweet. Very flavorful and I would pick this one over the others. I loved the way you piped the border on the cake.

  2. Very appealing! Thanks so much for taking time to share the recipe and tips. This one's going right to my recipe box and then to my thighs . . . (sigh) but it looks to be worth every single calorie!

  3. I don't think I have ever made this!

  4. I still remember Jack bringing me a piece of this cake! It was heavenly:) I need to try your recipe. Now you have me wanting some!

  5. This cake would be popular at any event! Yum!

  6. This cake is wonderful. My grandmother and mother loved to bake and this cake was one of my favorites. I have never tired to make one. Could this recipe be used to make cupcakes?

  7. Decadent is the right word. Do you think it would work with Pam Baking Spray? Seems much easier than grease and flour x 6.

  8. I bake cakes and this my first time for this recipe. I'm going to change some of the decorations. I really believe this is a winner. My clients will enjoy


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