This is an old post about Italian Cream Cake. And if you are wondering what is Italian Cream Cake, you are not alone! It is a three layer cake with vanilla-pecan layers and loads of cream cheese icing. It’s a cake you don’t see very often on restaurant menus, though it is still popular in Texas and other states where pecan growing states. It’s not really Italian (kind of like German Chocolate Cake isn’t German), but the cream cheese is similar to mascarpone, so at some point people started calling it Italian Cream Cake. Maybe its name should be changed to Southern Cream Cake?
Italian Cream Cake Ratios
This is the most common recipe, or at least most common in my many Texas cookbooks. It calls for a mixture of butter and shortening, unlike Paula Deen’s version which is made with all butter. Both versions are good, but the shortening lightens the crumb and the layers bake up a little fluffier.
Measurements for this cake are usually 2 cups flour, 2 cups sugar, a combination of 1/2 cup shortening and 1/2 cup butter, 5 separated eggs and a cup of buttermilk. It is extremely moist, but not mushy. It’s dense and light at the same time, and the layers usually bake up flat, which is helpful when you are building a tall cake.
This is pretty much the only version of the cake I make, but I also like Cooking Light’s, which is excellent for a light cake. I need to update the post with new photos.
If you want to try a scaled down version, here’s a link to a six inch.
Italian Cream Cake
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup buttermilk room temperature
- 5 large eggs separated and at room temperature
- 4 oz unsalted butter plus 1/4 teaspoon salt (114 grams)
- 1/2 cup shortening (96 grams)
- 2 cups granulated sugar (400 grams)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups all purpose flour (280 grams)
- 2/3 cup pecans toasted and chopped
- 1 cup angel flake sweetened coconut (100 grams)
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter softened, plus 1/4 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted)
- 12 oz cream cheese softened
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 5 1/2 cups powdered sugar not sifted (about 1 ½ pounds)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour 3 (9-inch) round cake pans or spray with flour-added cooking spray and line bottoms with parchment circles.
- Have all ingredients measured and ready to go.
- Stir baking soda into buttermilk and set aside.
- Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; set aside. I like to do this first and get it over with.
- Cream butter, salt (if using) sugar and shortening in bowl of stand mixer for 3-5 minutes. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping the bowl often. Beat in vanilla. By hand or using lowest speed of mixer, add flour and buttermilk mixture alternately to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Fold in egg whites. When egg whites are incorporated, fold in the pecans and coconut. Batter should be thick and light. Scrape into prepared pans dividing evenly.
- Bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until cake tests done. My cakes were fairly pale in the center and didn’t appear done, but the cake tester came out clean so I knew they were. Let cool in pans on rack for about 10 minutes, then turn from pans and cool completely.
- Cream the butter and cream cheese. Add vanilla. Gradually add powdered sugar. Beat until well blended. Frost the cakes and stack. Garnish with pecans.
- This recipe makes enough frosting to frost the cake generously and still have a little extra for decorating.