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Italian Cream Cake

This Italian Cream Cake is one of my favorite desserts. It’s the perfect recipe for those who are looking to impress their friends and family with a little bit more than just cake, frosting, and sprinkles. Make it for a special occasion, or holiday gathering when you want a beautiful dessert that looks as good as it tastes.

Italian cream cake topped with cream cheese frosting and pecans resting on a vintage green glass cake stand. One slice has been cut out and a silver cake server rests beside.
It tastes as good as it looks!

Get a special cake by using common ingredients and common tools which you probably already have in your kitchen if you like to bake!

Ingredients

  • Butter
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Eggs
  • Self Rising Flour
  • Chopped Pecans
  • Buttermilk
  • Vanilla
  • Shredded coconut

For the Frosting

  • Butter
  • Cream Cheese
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Chopped Pecans

Tools

Here are a few tools that you’ll need to make this Italian Cream Cake. Some you’ll absolutely need and others are optional but will make things much easier.

Essential

An electric mixer

Three 8″ or 9″ cake pans

A cake plate – This can be as simple as a round cardboard cake board if that’s all you have or as fancy as the vintage glass cake stand I borrowed from a friend. 😉

Optional

Cooling racks – This will speed up the time it takes for the cake to cool enough to remove from the pans. Once the cakes are removed from their pans it will help them cool down quickly to frost. Optional but a time-saver.

Three 9" baked cakes resting on wire cooling racks

Icing spatula – Use the straight edge of a large knife if you don’t have one.

Piping bag and tips – This is to pipe some frosting around the bottom of the cake and at the top. Completely optional, but looks stunning. If you don’t have a piping bag, you can always cut the corner of a zipper sandwich bag, place the tip inside, and use the sandwich bag as your piping bag.

Turntable – This makes it so easy to ice the cake evenly.

Cake shovel – This makes it a breeze to transfer the cake from the turntable to the cake stand. It would be cool if it also helped you shovel cake in your mouth, but alas…

This cake decorating kit has most of what you need at an affordable price point if you want to try using some of these helpful tools without investing too much at first.

Making The Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Grease and flour three 8″ or 9″ cake pans.
  3. In a large bowl cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla together by beating well until smooth.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until smooth.
  5. Gradually add self-rising flour and buttermilk, alternating and mixing well after each addition until well combined.
  6. Mix in 1 cup coconut and 1 cup pecans. Do this by hand or with the mixer on the lowest speed.
  7. Pour batter into cake pans evenly dividing between the three pans.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes for 9″ pans and 25-30 minutes for 8″ pans. The cakes are done when a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean.
  9. Cool cakes on a wire cooling rake. Remove from pans and allow to cool completely before frosting the cake.

Frosting the Cake

  1. Use an electric mixture to cream together the cream cheese and vanilla until smooth and creamy.
  2. Gradually add the powdered sugar to the cream cheese while mixing. Beat until creamy and smooth.
  3. Prepare the cake plate by lining the edges with aluminum foil as shown. If you’ll be frosting and topping the cake using a turntable and transferring to the cake plate using a cake shovel you can skip this step.
  4. Layer each round cake on top of each other placing frosting in between each layer.
  5. After adding the final layer, frost the top and sides.
  6. Press toasted coconut over the top and around the sides of the cake.
  7. Remove foil and pipe cream cheese frosting around the bottom and on the top as desired for decoration. Add any remaining pecans to the top of the cake.
  8. Chill before serving.

Substitutions

Buttermilk really makes this cake and is worth driving to the store to get. If that’s not possible, make a buttermilk substitute by adding a tablespoon of either white vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of regular milk. Stir, allow it to sit for 5 minutes, and use it in your recipe.

A bottle of buttermilk placed next to a kitchenaid stand mixer. 1 cup of the buttermilk has been poured into a pyrex liquid measuring cup and is ready to go into the mixer.

I used self-rising flour in this cake because it’s one less step to take. If you only have all-purpose flour on hand you’ll need to add 1tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp baking powder, and a pinch of salt to your flour before adding the flour mixture to the mixer.

If you don’t have enough butter on hand, use a little shortening to make up the difference. I prefer to use all butter for the best flavor but you can sub out shortening for some of the butter in a pinch.

Zoomed in shot of the inside of an Italian Cream cake with a slice taken out.

Tips

It’s best to think ahead and leave the butter and cream cheese out on the counter for a few hours to let it naturally soften. If you’re like me and never think about your recipe until you’re in the kitchen getting ready to make it, here’s a trick.
Roll the wrapped butter sticks in between your hands like you’re a child making a Play-Doh snake. Do this for a few minutes until the butter is softened. You can do the same thing with cream cheese. Due to it being in the shape of a rectangle, I just squeeze and mash the foil package until it’s softened.

Use shortening and flour to truly “grease and flour” your pans. Cooking spray (even the kind with flour in it) isn’t going to be as good as doing it the old-fashioned way. You’ll be glad you did when your cakes cleanly pop right out of the pans.

When piping cream cheese icing through a tip, allow the bag with tip, icing, and all to chill in the fridge for a few minutes before starting. This will make the icing thicker and more workable.

If you don’t have a turntable and need to frost the cake directly on the cake plate that you’ll use for serving, foil is your friend! Place aluminum foil pieces around the edges of the cake pan. Place the cake on top. Once you’re finished icing the cake, remove the foil and all the frosting and toasted coconut that is out of place will be taken care of.

decorating a cake on a cake stand using aluminum foil to make cleanup easy.
A simple way to keep the edges clean.

Other Dessert Recipes

If you loved this Italian Cream Cake recipe you might also like…

Zucchini Cake with Caramel Frosting

Red Velvet Funnel Cake Sticks

Rainbow Unicorn Cake

Round Italian cream cake covered in coconut and pecans on a vintage glass cake stand.

Italian Cream Cake

Jenn
This Italian Cream Cake is easy to make and pefect for birthdays or special occassions. The light, creamy flavor manages to be rich and decadent at the same time.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Layering/Frosting/Decorating 15 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12
Calories 717 kcal

Ingredients
  

Cake Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans toasted
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup shredded coconut

Frosting Ingredients

  • ½ cup butter softened
  • 16 oz cream cheese softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla

Topping

  • 1 cup shredded coconut toasted
  • ½ cup chopped pecans toasted

Instructions
 

How to Make the Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Grease and flour three 8" or 9" cake pans.*
  • In a large bowl cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla together by beating well until smooth.
  • Add the eggs one at a time and beat until smooth.
  • Gradually add self-rising flour and buttermilk, alternating and mixing well after each addition until well combined.
  • Mix in 1 cup coconut and 1 cup pecans. Do this by hand or with the mixer on the lowest speed.
  • Pour batter into cake pans evenly dividing between the three pans.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes for 9" pans and 25-30 minutes for 8" pans. The cakes are done when a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean.
  • Cool cakes on a wire cooling rake. Remove from pans and allow to cool completely before frosting the cake.

How to Make the Frosting

  • Use an electric mixture to cream together the cream cheese and vanilla until smooth and creamy.
  • Gradually add the powdered sugar to the cream cheese while mixing. Beat until creamy and smooth.

Assembly

  • Prepare the cake plate by lining the edges with aluminum foil as shown. If you'll be frosting and topping the cake using a turntable and transferring to the cake plate using a cake shovel you can skip this step.
  • Layer each round cake on top of each other placing frosting in between each layer.
  • After adding the final layer, frost the top and sides.
  • Press toasted coconut over the top and around the sides of the cake.
  • Remove foil and pipe cream cheese frosting around the bottom and on the top as desired for decoration. Add any remaining pecans to the top of the cake.
  • Chill before serving.

Notes

*I used 9″ cake pans and my cook time was 20 minutes. If you’re using 8″ cake pans the cakes will take a little more time. Check 8″ cakes at 25 minutes and cook until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Keyword birthday cake, cake, cake frosting, dessert
Nutrition Facts
Italian Cream Cake
Amount Per Serving
Calories 717 Calories from Fat 288
% Daily Value*
Fat 32g49%
Saturated Fat 14g88%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 10g
Cholesterol 115mg38%
Sodium 241mg10%
Potassium 274mg8%
Carbohydrates 102g34%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 83g92%
Protein 10g20%
Vitamin A 697IU14%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 121mg12%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Did You Make This Recipe?Please leave a comment below or share on Pinterest
Recipe Rating




Kelsey

Monday 2nd of August 2021

Very good looking cake. Tasty too!

Jenn

Tuesday 3rd of August 2021

It was almost too pretty to eat...almost. ;)

Leslie

Monday 2nd of August 2021

This cake was so yummy. The icing was so good rich!

Jenn

Monday 2nd of August 2021

Yes! A little bit of Italian Cream Cake goes a long way. I'm so glad you enjoyed it!