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Italian Cream Cake Recipe

All good bakers, let’s have a moment of silence for the Italian cream cake’s awesomeness. All new bakers, join in too because you’ll be a pro once you get this baby on your table and enjoy the cheers (and empty plates) it brings. 

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Italian cream cake is southern enough to make you say "honey","y'all" and "I do declare this is good!" without giving it a second thought. A true showstopper for any special occasion. This cake is a wow-er. A wow-zer. A “what in the world did you do there?” kind of thing.  And you’ll see why it should only be made for special occasions when you get to the ingredients.

It would kill you if you ate it more than that.

All I can do is recommend that you just close your eyes and eat it and don’t think about the calories. Why ruin such a good thing?

I know this isn’t truly the easiest recipe I’ve ever posted. But I hope you’ll stay with me on it. Every once in awhile we have those times when we need something amazing. And this is just the thing.

If you’re new to baking, I believe you can do this. See below for some links to helpful videos for how to work with egg whites if you’ve never done that. And of course, if you have ANY questions at all, I’m only an email or a comment away.

italian cream cake on a glass cake plate

Now warning: this cake has coconut and pecans. If you don’t like those, don’t make this because it won’t be the same cake. You could, possibly, sub the pecans for walnuts I guess…

But if you make it according to the instructions, sit back and enjoy. This cake is rich, but not overly sweet. It’s dense, but it’s moist at the same time.

A couple of tips to keep in mind about your Italian cream cake:

Remember to separate the eggs, then whip the egg whites to stiff peaks.(Check this helpful little snippet if you’re not sure how. Or take a look at my ultra helpful post on everything you need to know to bake cakes like an old Southern woman. 

FOLD in your egg whites to keep as much air in the batter as possible. If you don’t know how to fold, you can watch this video–nothing like a random YouTube guy to get your lesson from. Maybe one of these days you’ll get a lesson from me.

This recipe takes  a few most of the bowls in your kitchen. Sorry about that. And the calories? Well, this just isn’t something you should eat when you’re counting.  I just wanted to warn you.

A note on the frosting: If you want a thick frosting, make a double batch. I find a thin skim is plenty on this ultra-rich cake, so plan accordingly if you want more. If your frosting is thick, feel free to thin it slightly with one teaspoon at a time of milk if it’s hard to spread. 

a slice of italian cream cake being lifted from the main

Italian Cream Cake

Rich, sweet and an amazing showstopper for any event, this cake is made totally from scratch.
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 12 people
Author Rachel Ballard


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 cups self rising flour
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut, divided
  • 6 egg whites beaten to stiff peaks

For the frosting

  • 1/4 cup butter softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans


  • Preheat the oven to 350. 
  • Grease and flour 3 8-inch cake pans. Set aside. 
  • In a large bowl, cream the butter and shortening until smooth. Add the sugar and beat well.  
  • Add the egg yolks and mix well. 
  • Sift the flour and add into the sugar and butter mixture one-third at a time, alternating with the milk. 
  • Stir in the vanilla, 1 cup of coconut and the pecans.
  • Fold in the egg whites carefully until no pockets remain.
  • Divide evenly between the three prepared pans. 
  • Bake 25 minutes and turn out to a wire rack to cool completely
  • While the cakes bake, sprinkle one cup of coconut on a baking sheet and toast it in the oven alongside your cakes until brown and nutty, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir it every couple of minutes to make sure it doesn’t burn. Then set aside to cool 

For the frosting:

  • Cream the butter and cream cheese until well mixed. Add the vanilla and powdered sugar and mix until well combined. 
    Spread between layers of cake and on top and sides. 
    Use your hands to press the toasted coconut all around the sides. 
    Sprinkle pecans over the top. 


If you like your frosting very thick, it’s fine to make a double batch. 


Calories: 917kcal
Tried this recipe?Tag us on Instagram @feastandfarm and hashtag it #feastandfarm
Course Dessert
Cuisine American

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  1. I’m in the process of making this and my cake layers look to have ‘bubble’ spots all over them. What cousin cause this?

    1. Growing up it was always left at room temperature. Today I make it the day before we want to eat it and leave it at cool room temperature. Beyond that I refrigerate it. –Rachel

  2. 5 stars
    This cake is amazing I do a lot of baking but this one is unbelievable I make baked goods for work and this recipe people want to pay me to make it for them.My sister has a bake sale coming up guess I better make 3 of these. Thank you for this recipe

  3. Hi! I make this cake 2x a year for my husband and love it. My sis in law wants it without the coconut in the cake batter. Would I just omit or do I need to add something? More pecans?

    1. Eh…good question. I’ve never left it out and I don’t think I’d add extra nuts. I’d probably just follow the recipe as written minus the coconut. –Rachel

    2. Jamie, you could add a little coconut extract for the flavor. if she doesn’t like that add about 1/2 a teaspoon of almond extract. I often add almond extract, it gives it a great flavor.

  4. so, my husband is allergic to the gums that they put in cream cheese. can I substitute marscapone for the cream cheese? 😊 Christie Coco

    1. Absolutely! It’s a perfect swap. And as a side note–there are a lot of better cream cheeses coming out now that don’t have any gums. Good culture is one brand I know. –Rachel

    1. Hi Sandy, I’m not an expert on high elevation baking. Usually online you can find guides that will walk you through how to adjust your liquids and bake times. –Rachel

    1. Yes Jennifer you’ll find that there in the instructions where it says “egg whites beaten to stiff peaks” so that means you’ll need to beat them before you begin making the rest of the recipe. –Rachel

  5. My layers “collapsed “ during baking. Is that normal for this recipe? Also, even though I greased and floured the pans, the cake wouldn’t release. I had to do some tearing to get the layers out. Did I do something wrong? But it’s yummy

    1. Oh the joys of baking! Your layers should not have collapsed but that can happen if a cake batter is over mixed. You may have folded those egg whites in just a bit more than needed. And as for the sticking, I think all pans are different and some just seem to stick like little demons. Try a circle of parchment paper in the bottom next time to help. –Rachel

    2. hello.. try making some baking goop. you can find the recipe online. Ive never had any recipe stick ever again. It will make enough to last you a long time and you can freeze the rest. Just let it thaw when you need more.

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About the Author

Rachel Ballard, RN, BSN brings more than 20 years of professional nursing expertise to Feast and Farm. With a love for nutrient dense foods that support wellness, she works to distill complex health information and current trends into recipes that fuel the best version of yourself. Read more about Rachel here.