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A slice of yellow Italian cake coming out of a layered cake
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5 from 6 votes

Italian Cream Cake

A Southern classic, Italian Cream Cake is filled with shredded coconut, coated in decadent cream cheese frosting, and covered in toasted pecans. This light and fluffy cake is a perfect dessert for birthdays, holidays, or weeknights! 
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, south, Southern
Servings: 14 servings
Calories: 817kcal


For the Cake

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 250 grams
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk 237 ml
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature 1 stick/113 grams
  • 1/2 cup refined coconut oil 118 ml
  • 2 cups granulated sugar 400 grams
  • 5 large eggs, separated at room temperature 250 grams
  • 1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut, plus 1 cup for finishing the cake 80 grams plus 80 grams
  • a few drops of lemon juice

For the Coconut Milk Soak

  • 1/4 cup coconut milk 59 ml
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 10 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature 1 1/4 sticks/142 grams
  • 16 oz cream cheese packages, cut into chunks, room temperaure 227 grams
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 5-6 cups confectioners' sugar 625-750 grams
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, toasted 180 grams


For the Cake

  • Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C). Butter three 9-by-2 inch (23 by 5 cm) round cake pans, then line the bottoms with parchment and butter it as well. Lightly dust the pans with flour, tapping the pans on the counter to shake out the excess.
  • Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl. Set aside
  • In a large measuring cup or small bowl, combine the buttermilk and vanilla. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer) cream the butter, coconut oil, and sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the egg yolks one (19 g) at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary. Then continue to beat until light in color and texture, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Turn the mixer speed down to low and add the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with the buttermilk mixture and beginning and ending with the flour, mixing until just combined. Gradually add the 1 cup (80 g) coconut. If using a stand mixer, transfer the batter to another large bowl (if you don't have a second mixer bowl).
  • Wash and dry the mixer bowl and wipe the inside of the bowl (or another large mixing bowl) with the lemon juice to make sure the bowl is squeaky clean. Attach the bowl to the mixer stander (if using) and fit it with a whisk attachment. Put the egg whites in the mixer bowl (or large mixing bowl) and beat (with clean beaters if using a handheld mixer) until stiff peaks form, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Scoop up a little of the egg whites with a rubber spatula and gently stir them into the cake batter to lighten it and make it easier to fold in the rest of the egg whites. Then gently fold in the remaining egg whites until thoroughly incorporated, about 1 minute.
  • Gently scrape the batter into the prepared pans, dividing it evenly. Smooth the tops with a spatula.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean and the cake is light golden. Let the cakes cool in the pans on a large wire rack for 20 minutes then invert them onto another rack, peel off the parchment and let cool completely.

For the Coconut Milk Soak

  • In a measuring cup, combine 1/4 cup coconut milk and vanilla extract. Set aside.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, cream cheese, vanilla and salt on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually add 5 cups confectioners sugar, beating until thoroughly incorporated. Then continue to beat, adding up to 1 cup more confectioners sugar if needed, until the frosting is light and fluffy, about 4 to 6 minutes.

To Assemble

  • Level the tops of two of the layers with a serrated knife to make them flat. Place one layer cut side up on a serving plate. Brush the top of the layer with half of the coconut milk soak.
  • Using an offset spatula or a butter knife, spread the layer with a big dollop of the frosting. Place the second leveled layer on top and brush with the remaining milk soak, then spread with another big dollop of frosting. Place the final cake layer right side up and frost the top and sides with a thin layer of the remaining frosting.
  • Place the cake in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to set the frosting.
  • To finish, fold 1 cup of the pecans into the remaining cream cheese frosting. Using an offset spatula, frost the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle the top of the cake with 1 cup coconut and the remaining pecans.


The frosting can be made ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.  Bring to room temp before using.
The cake can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Bring to room temp before serving.


Calories: 817kcal | Carbohydrates: 91g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 49g | Saturated Fat: 28g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 135mg | Sodium: 354mg | Potassium: 207mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 74g | Vitamin A: 1005IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 79mg | Iron: 2mg