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Italian Cream Cake (+Video)

The Best Homemade Italian Cream Cake with Butter Cream Cheese Frosting recipe is a one layer moist cake with sweetened coconut and chopped pecans!

A ONE LAYER ITALIAN CREAM CAKE RECIPE

I’m convinced that the key to a homemade cake coming out tender and moist (sorry, I know a lot of people hate that word but it’s really the only one that applies here) is buttermilk! I use it in my One Bowl Chocolate Cake and decided to use it in this Homemade Italian Cream Cake recipe as well. 

Homemade Italian Buttermilk Cream Cake slice on a white plate with chopped pecans.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

What is Italian Cream Cake made of?

It is a vanilla cake filled with pecans and coconut and topped with a cream cheese frosting

Which cream is used in cream cake?

There is no cream used in Italian Cream Cake, funny enough. The only “cream” used is the cream cheese in the frosting. There’s not actually any heavy cream in this particular recipe. So perhaps the frosting is the “cream” part.

Do you have to use buttermilk?

If you want a moist cake then real buttermilk is a must. Not the fake buttermilk made with milk and lemon juice or vinegar. The real stuff with the fat in it are what is going to make it moist.

Why is it called Italian Cream Cake?

No one actually knows although there are some theories. It’s not an Italian Cake – we do know that. It first appeared in publications in the southeastern United States. So, it’s actually a southern cake from what little is known about its origins. The prevailing theory is that perhaps an Italian immigrant baker came up with the recipe and it became known thereafter as “Italian Cream Cake”.

How do you store leftover Italian Cream Cake?

Leftovers should be stored in a cover container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Italia Cream Cake can also be frozen. Put the cake in a freezer safe container or wrap very well to prevent freezer burn. The cake will keep in the freezer for up to 6 months. Defrost in the refrigerator.

Homemade Italian Cream Cake recipe for The Country Cook. Closeup photo of a slice on a small round white plate.

INGREDIENTS NEEDED: (SEE RECIPE CARD BELOW FOR THE FULL RECIPE)

cream cheese, shortening, eggs, buttermilk, pecans, butter, vanilla, coconut, flower, powdered sugar.

HOW TO MAKE ITALIAN CREAM CAKE:

  • Preheat oven to 325f degrees. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray (like Baker’s Joy.) In a large mixing bowl (or in the stand of an electric mixer) mix together butter, shortening and sugar until smooth.
butter, shortening and sugar in a white bowl.
  • Add in egg yolks one at a time, mixing with an electric hand mixer or stand mixer after each egg, until blended.
adding eggs to butter sugar mixture in a bowl.
  • In a small bowl mix together buttermilk, vanilla extract and baking soda.
buttermilk, vanilla extract and baking soda being whisked together in a clear bowl.
  • Add 1/2 a cup of flour at a time, and 1/4 of the buttermilk mixture. Repeat this until flour is added and buttermilk mixture is added. Blend well with hand mixer or stand mixer each time you add an ingredient.
buttermilk added to butter mixture in large white bowl.
  • Gently stir in the pecans, sweetened coconut, and beaten egg whites, until well blended.
  • Pour batter into prepared baking dish.
batter spread into white baking dish.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes. Reduce heat to 225f degrees, and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely.
fully baked cake in baking dish.

For the frosting:

  • In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, stir together butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and 1/4 of the box of powdered sugar.
powdered sugar, butter and cream cheese in a bowl.
  • Mix on high until smooth and add more powdered sugar. Continue this process until the box is empty and frosting is completely smooth.
buttercream frosting in a white bowl.
  • Frost the cooled cake and top with coconut and pecans.
homemade butter cream cheese frosting on homemade Italian Cream Cake topped with chopped pecans and shredded coconut in a white baking dish.

And serve. Any leftovers need to be refrigerated

a spatula shown holding a slice of cake from the white baking dish.

WANT MORE DELICIOUS RECIPES?

Homemade Italian Cream Cake with Butter Cream Cheese Frosting recipe

Italian Cream Cake (+Video)

The Best Homemade Italian Cream Cake with Butter Cream Cheese Frosting recipe is a one layer moist cake with sweetened coconut and chopped pecans!
4.86 from 78 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 15

Ingredients

For the cake:

For the frosting:

  • ½ cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 8 ounce block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 box (16 ounce) powdered sugar (also called confectioners sugar)
  • shredded sweetened coconut for topping
  • chopped pecans for topping

Instructions

For the cake:

  • Preheat oven to 325F degrees. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray (like Baker’s Joy.)
  • In a large mixing bowl (or in the stand of an electric mixer) mix together 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened to room temperature, 1/2 cup vegetable shortening (CRISCO) and 2 cups sugar until smooth.
  • Add in 5 large egg yolks, one at a time, mixing with an electric hand mixer or stand mixer after each egg, until blended.
  • In a small bowl mix together 1 cup buttermilk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon baking soda.
  • Add 1/2 a cup of the 2 cups all-purpose flour at a time, and 1/4 of the buttermilk mixture.
  • Repeat this process until all the flour and buttermilk is added. Blend well with hand mixer or stand mixer each time you add an ingredient.
  • Gently stir in 1 cup chopped pecans, 1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut and 5 large beaten egg whites until well blended. Pour batter into prepared baking dish.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to 225F degrees, and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely.

For the frosting:

  • In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, mix together 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened to room temperature, 8 ounce block cream cheese, softened to room temperature, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/4 of the 1 box (16 ounce) powdered sugar.
  • Mix on high until smooth and add more powdered sugar. Continue this process until the box of powdered sugar is empty and frosting is completely smooth.
  • Frost the cooled cake and top with shredded sweetened coconut and chopped pecans and serve.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • Leftovers need to be kept refrigerated. Cake can be frozen.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

Nutrition

Calories: 512kcal | Carbohydrates: 74g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 22g | Sodium: 327mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 59g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“The Country Cook” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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Recipe Rating




75 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Fantastic cake gone in 1 day ! Everyone loved it , said I must ! make it again “now family favorite “ icing was heavenly would be great on other types of cakes

  2. 5 stars
    I’m cooking for a crowd! Can this recipe be baked in a jelly roll or sheet cake pan? If so, is that enough batter or do i need to make a batch and a half?

  3. 5 stars
    I just bought a piece of Itallian Cream Cake, from BQB here in IL. It was fabulous so I thought I’ll look up a simple recipe on Google and I found yours quick and simple enough anxious to try asap yummm

  4. One other question, if i dont care for the texture of the coconut but love the flavor could i use some coconut extract in place of the shredded coconut and if so how much?

    1. 5 stars
      I love the flavor of coconut but am not fond of the stringy texture. I pulse mine briefly in the food processor until it’s the size of a grain of rice. This way I get all the flavor, maintain the integrity of the recipe, and everybody loves it!

  5. 5 stars
    This cake is super yummy! Awesome texture and so so good. It isn’t too sweet, which makes it more enjoyable. I used all butter instead of using crisco. I also didn’t cook it as long as the recipe stated too. It got quite brown on top of cake but was still super moist and chewy. Definitely watch the cake towards the end of the cook time. Don’t hesitate to use this recipe! It was a big hit.

  6. 5 stars
    Just made this for our Christmas Party. Delicious is not a big enough word for this cake. I made this cake in 2 nine inch round pans.I made a double batch of icing. My dad requested an Italian cream cake because he had not had one since my mom passed. He said it was the most delicious cake! Even more than Mom’s. That high praise.

  7. 5 stars
    I made this for my son’s birthday today and it is delicious. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I have never made an Italian Cream Cake and always wanted to, but just hate to make layer cakes. This one is great!

  8. 5 stars
    Your recipe is literally amazing! I’ve made this cake yesterday and everyone here liked it.
    I’m an MA candidate and I’m having exams these days by the way, under this condition that forces us to stay at home, which made me seek a new hobby to pass the time. It also happens that I’m so curious about other cultures (and their food is not an exception) so I’ve made like more than 25 different desserts dishes depending on different foreign recipes from around the world since the pandemic has started,and this cake has proved to be one of the best.
    Best regards!
    Anwer from Iraq.

  9. 5 stars
    I make this for my husband’s Birthday every year. He always requests it. This is by far the best recipe I have ever used! Thanks so much!

  10. 5 stars
    I’ve made this cake several times. My family/extended family request it for birthdays and other family gatherings. There is never any left. It gets rave reviews each time. Can I use the basic cake ingredients and omit the coconut and pecans for a basic vanilla cake?

    1. I’ve made this many times. So good. I made it for our home makers group
      and it won for International Taste day.

  11. Brandie, I’m planning on making 4 sheet pans for my church, 18×26 inches, ( using pan extenders 16×24 inches ). Right now, I plan on taking your recipe and multiplying it by 3 for each sheet pan. Clear this up for me, under “for the cake” you specify 1/2 cup of shredded sweetened coconut and 1 cup of chopped pecans … no problem. I don’t see how much coconut and pecans to add to top the cake under the frosting section. It is nearly 3 am and I may not be fully awake yet haha or just delirious. Help a guy out … Thanks.

    1. Hi Jim – it’s not you – ha! Bless your heart for baking so much cake for everyone! I didn’t actually specify an exact amount for the topping. That is your description. Personally I love a generous amount of coconut and pecans but I know that is not to everyone’s liking. So this part will be up to you how much you’d like to add as the topping. Perhaps make a pan that doesn’t have any coconut or pecans for those that prefer less – rather than more? 🙂