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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. So this is probably a rookie question but the cake consistency is a bit different than what I’ve ever baked…. how do you know when it’s done? Tooth pick method seems to come out gooey every time.

    1. Well Brian, it’s hard for me to explain but you’re looking for no wet batter on your toothpick. A few sticky crumbs is fine,but the cakes should be firm (no jiggling if you wiggle it) and sometimes the actual surface of the cake is a bit sticky but the cake itself should not be wet. The key here is not wet. Lol. Kind of tricky to explain I know…

    1. That’s a good question Raquel! Toasting coconut is really easy. Just preheat your oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with some parchment paper or foil. Sprinkle on the coconut and spread it out then bake it until it turns lightly golden, about 10 minutes or so stirring it every 3 minutes or so. If you’d like to see a video, I tried to find something on YouTube that wasn’t too annoying (hard to do by the way) but I did find this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHS4sA228TU I hope that helps! Rachel

  2. I just made this cake and made a huge mistake. As I was putting it into the oven I realized I’d used plain flour instead of the self rising! As it was baling it seemed to rise like it should. But now it seems like a sticky mess! I’ve made these before and turned out fine. I couldn’t find my recipe so I used this one. Nor sure what else I may have done wrong?

    1. Hi Gloria, first, I’m sorry your try at it wasn’t as it should be. It happens to all of us, and unfortunately unless I was standing over your shoulder in your kitchen it’s going to be really hard for me to know exactly what went wrong. But I can say that because baking is truly a science, anytime you use a different ingredient than the one that’s called for, you’re sure to get a different result. Especially when the plain flour had no leavening. Of course, egg whites do take some of that role and help things rise, but it won’t do all the work. Leavening also influences texture, too. I’m not sure what you mean by a sticky mess–the batter was? They were after they baked? It’s just hard for me to know. I’ve sure made those kinds of errors before myself and I know it’s frustrating, but I hope you won’t let it get you down. –Rachel

    1. Hey Laurel, That’s a great question. I’d say yes, but when it comes to baking it’s easy to upset the balance of things. You’re welcome to try 1 whole stick (oh my gosh) of softened butter in place of the 1/2 cup shortening OR you could try 1/2 cup of coconut oil. That has a similar texture to shortening but keep in mind that it will give your cake even more of a coconut flavor–of course it’s in the batter and coated on the outside anyway so that may not be a problem. I always recommend for baked goods to follow the recipe, but you are more than welcome to give it a go. Let me know if you do and how it turns out! –Rachel

    1. Marty you are so funny! I told a friend that there’s enough fat and sugar in this cake to make it pretty much impossible to go bad. Like a fruitcake. LOL. I’d be glad to mail you a slice. 🙂 Merry Christmas to you! –Rachel

    1. Leanne you are too much girl! Thank you so much for reading my posts–all this would never go anywhere without people like you. I appreciate you more than you will ever know! –Rachel

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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.