From someone (me) who doesn’t care much for coconut, I sure do LOVE this Southern classic Italian Cream Cake! Although there’s nothing Italian about it, you can’t resist this Southern beauty. It’s light and fluffy and full of toasted coconut and pecans in every bite!
Italian Cream Cake Tips:
- In this recipe, I processed some of the toasted coconut in a food processor to achieve toasted coconut flavor in every bite!
- Toasted pecans enhance the flavor of this Italian Cream Cake even more.
- Cake layers can be stored wrapped in plastic wrap in an air tight cake container at room temperature for 3 days.
- To toast the pecans, adjust an oven rack to the center position and heat oven to 350 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, set pecans in an even layer and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring and rotating the pan half way through baking. Or, the perfect indicator of doneness is smell. Once you can smell toasted pecans it’s time to take them out.
- For the toasted coconut, adjust an oven rack to the center position and heat oven to 350 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, set coconut in an even layer and bake for 10 to 15 minutes stirring and rotating pan at least once or more if necessary halfway through baking. You may need to stir a few times during baking to be sure all the coconut gets toasted and doesn’t burn.
Cream Cheese Frosting Tips:
- The cream cheese needs to be very soft for this recipe or your frosting will come out lumpy. I set my cream cheese on the counter overnight and my cream cheese frosting always comes out smooth.
- Don’t over beat cream cheese frosting or it will become soupy.
- Cream cheese frosting can be kept at room temperature for about 6 hours, or stored in the refrigerator for 3 days. Bring refrigerated frosting to room temperature and beat on low speed before using.
- An easy way to garnish the sides of this cake is to take a rimmed baking sheet and pour coconut and pecans on top and mix together. Carefully pick up the cake using the cake board on the bottom. You can use a thin spatula to help lift up the cake if necessary. Holding the cake in one hand, use your other hand to generously scoop up the coconut-pecan mixture and press to adhere to the sides of the cake. Work over the rimmed baking sheet to catch any fall out so the coconut-pecan mixture can be used again.
- When frosting a cake, I generally use a large amount of frosting to smooth on the top and sides of the cake, being sure my cake spatula does not touch the cake and making sure there is always frosting between the cake and the cake spatula or whatever tool you’re using to frost the cake. You don’t want the cake spatula to touch the cake or it can pull crumbs into your frosting. On the plus side, the sides of this cake will be covered with coconut and pecans so if a little gets in, it’s no biggie.
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- 3 8-inch round cake pans
- Nonstick baking spray
- Food processor
- Stand mixer
- Hand mixer
- 8-inch round cake board
- 2 ½ cups lightly packed sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
- 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup canola oil
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- ½ cup heavy cream, cold
- 2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
- Pinch of salt
- 16 ounces cream cheese, cut into cubes, at room temperature
- Adjust an oven rack the center position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray cake pans with nonstick baking spray and set aside.
- In a food processor, add 1 ½ cups toasted coconut (save the remaining for decorating) and process until finely ground, about 1 minute. In a 2 cup liquid measuring cup, combine processed coconut, buttermilk and vanilla and let sit until softened, about 10 minutes and set aside.
- In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
- In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the sugar and butter on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 7 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the oil and mix until combined. Add eggs one at a time mixing on low speed until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the coconut-buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Stop the mixer before the last of the flour mixture has been combined and mix with a rubber spatula by hand to be sure not to over mix the batter.
- In a large bowl, add the heavy cream and beat with a hand mixer, until soft peaks form. Gently fold in the cream to the cake batter, followed by ¾ cup toasted pecans. Save remaining pecans for decorating.
- Divide the batter among the prepared cake pans and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake testers inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, rotating pans halfway through baking.
- Remove cakes from the oven and let cool in their pans for 10 minutes on cooling racks. Invert cakes onto cooling racks and let cool completely.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for 5 minutes. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, lemon juice and salt. Reduce the speed to low and beat for 1 minute.
- Increase the speed to medium and beat for about 4 minutes until fluffy. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the cream cheese and beat until smooth for about 1 minute. Do not over beat or the frosting will become soupy.
- Place one cake layer on a cake round cake board and spread about ¾ cup frosting on top, leaving about ½-inch from the edge free of frosting. Place the second cake layer on top and spread ¾ cup frosting on top, leaving about ½-inch from the edge free of frosting. Add the last cake layer on top and add remaining frosting and smooth over the top and sides of the cake. Pour remaing coconut and pecans on a rimmed baking sheet. Carefully pick up the frosted cake using the cake board on the bottom. You can use a thin spatula to lift up if necessary. Holding the cake in one hand, use your other hand to generously scoop up the coconut and pecans and apply and press to adhere to the sides of the cake, working over the baking sheet so any fallout will drop back into the pan for you to use again.
Storage: Cake layers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in an airtight cake container on the counter for up to 3 days.
Assembled cake can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Prepared frosting will keep at room temperature for up to 6 hours, or refrigerated for up to 3 days. Bring frosting to room temperature abd beat on low speed to soften before using.
To toast pecans: Heat oven to 350 degrees on a rimmed baking sheet, bake for 10 to 15 minutes stirring and rotating half way through baking.
To toast coconut: Heat oven to 350 degrees on a rimmed baking sheet, bake for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring at least once half way through baking.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1485Total Fat: 97gSaturated Fat: 41gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 51gCholesterol: 256mgSodium: 719mgCarbohydrates: 144gFiber: 6gSugar: 107gProtein: 16g
*Nutrition information is an estimate and will vary.*