Italian Cream Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting
The smell of burning leaves always reminds me of my pecan-picking days in South Georgia and of my grandmother, Big Mom. She paid us kids a nickel for each brown paper grocery bag we filled with pecans picked right off the ground of the grove she and Grand-Paw owned.
The work served two purposes: it tired us out thoroughly, expelling some of the youthful energy Big Mom called "Rambunctious". Two, it helped her gather the huge crop of pecans she would carefully crack and wrap for sale in foil-wrapped portions. While we bent and stooped again and again, the crinkling sounds and pungent smell of fall leaves burning in barrels etched a lasting memory.
As a reward for the day's work, we enjoyed the delights of homemade baked goods served after the meal with coffee and conversation around the dinner table. This recipe reminded me of Big Mom's cakes and those special days we shared during the pecan harvest.
Italian Cream Cake
Rich Flavor That Ripens
The simple recipe calls for chopped pecans, flaked coconut, 5 eggs, sugar, butter, vegetable shortening, regular flour and some baking soda. The flaked coconut and chopped pecans grow more flavorful after the cake sits overnight.
For buttermilk, I substitute regular milk with a tablespoon of lemon juice. Two percent milk works as well and cuts off more calories. Two cups of sugar can be reduced to 1 1/2 cups using a sugar substitute.
Grease and Flour the Pans
How to Grease and Flour the Cake Pans
You'll need three eight or nine-inch cake pans for this three-layer cake.
- Use a paper towel to spread about a tablespoon of solid vegetable shortening around the bottom and sides of the cake pan.
- Lightly wipe off any excess shortening.
- Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of flour into the pan and shake it around to all parts including the sides.
- Tap the bottom of the pan to remove any excess flour and set the pans aside while preparing the cake batter.
Three Cake Pans Greased and Floured
Cook Time—Oven at 350°
- 5 Fresh eggs, separated
- 2 cups sugar, granulated
- 1/2 cup butter, unsalted
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening, Crisco
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup regular milk or 2% milk, instead of buttermilk
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 cups flour, All purpose
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup chopped pecan pieces
- 1 cups shredded coconut
- Substitutions 12 packs of Splenda if desired, to replace half a cup of sugar
Preparing the Cake Batter
Instructions for the Cake Batter
- Separate the eggs, placing the whites into a chilled mixing bowl. Reserve the egg yolks to use later.
- Beat the egg whites until stiff and set aside. Add 1 TBSP lemon juice to the cup of milk and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, cut the butter into small pieces and beat with the electric mixer until it turns light and fluffy.
- Add the Crisco or vegetable shortening and blend together with the creamed butter.
- Add the sugar and blend it in thoroughly until it no longer feels grainy.
- Add the egg yolks a little at a time, beating on medium speed for about a minute between additions.
- Sift the flour and baking soda together. Add the dry ingredients a little at a time, alternating with the liquid milk mixture.
- Using a spatula, stir in the pecan pieces and the coconut. Lightly fold in the egg whites until mixed well.
- Pour into 3 greased and floured cake pans and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Three Pans Won't Fit in a Regular Oven
Only two of the pans fit in my oven without touching one another. I baked the first two layers, then baked the third one by itself for twenty-eight (28) minutes.
Three Layered Cake
Ten Minute Rest
After removing the cake from the oven, let the cake cool for ten minutes on wire racks. Setting a timer is a good way to be sure. If they remain in the pan too long they tend to stick.
10 Easy Steps to Get the Cake Out of the Pans
Tear off a sheet of waxed paper slightly wider than a flat dinner plate.
Place the waxed paper on top of one layer of the cake. Turn the dinner plate upside down and place it on top of the waxed paper.
Steps 2 and 3
Holding the sides of the cake pan and plate with pot holders, turn the pan and plate over.
Lightly drop the plate right side up on the counter.
Step 6 and 7
Thump gently on the bottom of the cake pan to loosen the cake. Remove the pan carefully.
Place another cooling rack upside down on the bottom of the cake that's upside down. We're going to turn this right side up.
Flip the entire stack over (cake rack, cake, waxed paper and plate) like a sandwich to set the cake upright.
Remove the plate and the waxed paper from the top of the cake immediately. Work quickly, to keep the waxed paper from sticking to the cake top.
Repeat this process for the other two layers, allowing each to cool upright on a cake rack.
Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients
- 1/2 Cup Butter
- An 8-ounce package of Cream Cheese
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 4 Cups of Confectioner's Sugar
- 1–2 Tbsp. Milk
Cream Cheese Frosting
Cream Cheese Frosting Instructions
- Cut 1/2 cup butter (one stick) into tablespoon-sized pieces.
- Using a hand mixer, cream the butter until it's light and fluffy.
- Add one 8 oz. package of Philadelphia cream cheese (softened) and blend together with the butter.
- Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
- Add 4 cups of confectioner's sugar a little at a time until the frosting reaches a good consistency for spreading.
- If the mixture seems too stiff, add a few drops of milk and blend it in. If it seems too loose, add a little more powdered sugar.
Refrigerate any leftover cake if the temperature is warm indoors. The cake grows moister on the second and third days.
I like to cut individual slices and place in covered containers for an easy serving to enjoy with a nice bag lunch.
© 2014 Peg Cole