Y’all know I’m usually all about making a recipe your own and substituting what you have on hand for what you don’t. With this recipe, though, if at all possible, I strongly encourage you to stick as close to my ingredients list and instructions as you can. Make a trip to the grocery store if need be because the end result is more than worth it!
This is the perfect cake for any special get together: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Birthdays, or “Just Because”. Whenever you make it, you’ll most certainly be required to make it again as the question will arise “Is Grandma/Aunt/Sister making her Italian Cream Cake this year?” so get ready to start a new tradition.
Why is this cake so special? Well, it’s tender, light, moist, and filled with a flavor you can only get from a special “from scratch” Italian cake recipe. Fortunately, though, there isn’t a lot of fuss involved so there is nothing to deter you from adopting this as your signature special occasion cake. Not that I’m hinting at anything….
To make this amazingly wonderful cake that your family and friends really and truly deserve a chance to enjoy, you’ll need: All Purpose Flour, Sugar, Whole Buttermilk, Solid Vegetable Shortening (such as Crisco), Baking Soda, Butter, Eggs, best quality vanilla you can find**, and coconut*.
*Oh dear coconut, whatever have you done to turn half of the world against you? I don’t know what you’ve done but that you are a giant stop sign for some folks on recipes. While I cherish and hold you dear, those who do not despise you with a disdain I normally reserve for things that can be found inhabiting shells and salted water…
If you are in this group of coconut haters, you *could* leave the coconut out. I would never, ever, ever, ever do such a thing as it is such an integral part of Italian Cream Cake for me but if you just have to, I’m not gonna stand in judgement. Free will and all that. Will it taste the same? Well no, because it won’t have coconut in it. So the main thing to decide is if not having coconut is going to be a benefit or detriment for you. 🙂 Then, you just do what you gotta do and don’t worry about other folks. I mean, we are the family who makes our Red Velvet Cake green so who am I to say anything?
** By “best quality vanilla you can find” I mean that just as I say it. If you open up your pantry and the best you can find is imitation vanilla, well then use it. If you have this amazing vanilla that you buy in Epcot from time to time so you shelled out the moolah for it because it smells like sugar cookies and love, then use that.
Place butter, shortening, and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until well combined all fluffy, or fluffified.
Please please please please please make sure your cream cheese and butter are room temp in this recipe. You know how I tell y’all not to fret over little details like this in most of my recipes? Well, if I tell you it’s time to get particular, get particular ;). This is an easy one to do, though. I just set my butter and cream cheese out as soon as I get up in the morning so they are room temp by mid to late morning, and then bake it.
Add your eggs. Two eggs I cracked for this had double yolks! It’s the little things that thrill me :). This recipe calls for five eggs but if you see more than that here it is due to the double yolks in a couple of them. I still go by the size of the egg rather than how many yolks are in it.
My little hens made me proud with these!
Beat those in real good, scraping down the sides as needed. Already, this batter is like a rich, smooth velvet, but it’s about to get even better.
Stir your baking soda into your flour.
Add flour mixture and buttermilk and mix until well blended, about a minute.
Add in coconut and vanilla and mix again until incorporated and batter is nice and creamy. Oh what lovely batter this is!
Spread batter into greased 9×13 pan. If you want to get fancy you can make this in two 8 or 9 inch round pans but I mean, we have already made this cake from scratch and I’m just a 9×13 girl unless someone is getting married or turning 16 so….
Bake this at 350 for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If you are baking it in round pans it will bake for about 25-30 minutes but you’ll need to keep an eye on it and still test for doneness.
Once it is done, let it cool completely and then make your cream cheese icing and top off the cake, recipe below. Cover with foil or cling wrap to keep it airtight until serving time. ENJOY this cake, and enjoy watching everyone else enjoy it, too!
- ½ cup shortening
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 5 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temp
- ½ cup butter, at room temp
- 3.5-4 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 1-2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 teaspoon butter flavoring (optional)
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease a 9x13 pan by spraying with cooking spray and set aside.
- In large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together shortening, butter, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat well until smooth, scraping sides as needed, about two minutes.
- In separate small bowl, stir together flour and baking soda. Add flour mixture and buttermilk to the egg mixture and mix until well blended and completely smooth, about two more minutes. Add in coconut and vanilla and mix until well incorporated.
- Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
- Place cream cheese and butter in mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add favorings and about half of sugar and mix again, scraping down sides as needed, until sugar is well incorporated. Add remaining sugar and mix until a nice fluffy icing is formed, again scraping down sides as needed, about one to two minutes. Mix in pecans. Ice cooled cake.
- Store this cake, well covered, in the refrigerator for up to a week or at room temp for up to two days.
Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand.