Italian Cream Cake was one of my favorite sweets growing up. I think of it as one of my grandma's signature desserts. It's a recipe out of her church cookbook, and it was usually my birthday cake request for her. When I got married and Italian Cream Cake was a wedding cake option, my decision was already made for me. But I wanted to be accommodating since I know some people aren't fans of coconut and give our guests another option, chocolate cake with the same yummy cream cheese frosting.
Jonah and I did the whole bride and groom thing, feeding each other Italian Cream Cake, no shoving or smearing was allowed by me. But when cake was served to all our guests, only the chocolate cake came out. The plan of two cakes got lost in translation somewhere along the way. These things happen in the chaos of weddings, but two lessons were learned that day:
1) Don't sweat the small stuff, especially when no one else will even notice.
2) Always just serve whatever kind of cake you want.
So only the bride and groom ate Italian Cream Cake on their wedding day. It's sort of special really, and since our fifth wedding anniversary is this Saturday, I thought it was time for us to share another one.
Italian Cream Cake
Adapted from the Robert McIntire United Methodist Church Cookbook
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sugar
5 eggs, separated
2 cups all-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sweetened coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 8 oz. package of cream cheese
4 tablespoons butter (half a stick)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 16 oz. box of powdered sugar
1 cup pecans, finely chopped (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 8-inch round cake pans. (I used three 6-inch pans and had batter to spare.) Using an electric mixer, cream butter with shortening. Add sugar and beat until mixture is smooth. Separate egg yolks and whites. Beat egg whites until stiff and set aside. Add yolks to batter and beat well. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture a little at a time, alternating with buttermilk until combined. Mix in vanilla, coconut and chopped pecans. Then gently fold in the beaten egg whites. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Set on cooling rack for 15 minutes, then remove cakes from pans and allow to cool completely.
For frosting: Using an electric mixer, combine butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add one box (16 oz.) of powdered sugar and mix well. Add vanilla and beat until smooth. Frost cooled cake and coat sides with finely chopped pecans by pressing lightly into frosting.
This is one of those cakes that gets better with time. I made it on a Saturday and thought it was tastiest on Monday. Enjoy!
[wedding photo by: Kellie Kano]