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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 would like to make these into cupcakes for a graduation party with the pecans on top and rim the cupcake with cocnut. Would it work?

    1. You know Anne, I’ve never tried them that way but I would think so. This cake doesn’t rise a ton so I’d say fill them 3/4 of the way full. I assume you are going to make the frosting? This cake NEEDS its original frosting so don’t leave that out. 🙂 Rachel

    1. Hey Paula, actually, I just don’t think this cake would be the same without it. It would be really sweet and not have the flavor it’s intended to have. Maybe you can make it sometime when you’ll be around people who do like coconut and have a slice then. 😉 Sorry–I wish I had a better answer for ya. –Rachel

    1. Eu não tentei farinha de soja, mas por favor tente se você quiser. Eu não acho que a farinha de soja vai lhe dar a mesma textura, mas você está convidado a experimentar. Obrigado pela visita!

  2. Hello There,
    I am looking to bake a cake to celebrate Mother’s Day with my family and would love to make this, however, I need to feed way more than 12. Do you know if this recipe would work in a larger sheet cake pan (much bigger than 13×9)? I thought I would bake just the one sheet cake and skip the layers because it would be large enough to cover the servings I needed. Thank you for your help.

    1. Hey Nikki! How big is your pan? That’s the first question. If it’s a true sheet pan (I use a half sheet pan here for some things and it measures 15×21. It’s also not very deep so that’s going to skew your bake time tremendously. Not to mention that you’ll have to double or even triple the recipe, which isn’t impossible, but anytime you do that with baked goods, you risk the chance that it may not turn out right. Baked goods don’t always tolerate a double or tripling like a meatloaf or casserole will. Let me know how big your pan is and we can sure try to figure it out.

    1. Hi Rebecca,

      Best practice is to use unsalted butter in baking. Truth be told, I’ve used salted butter here and it’s fine but the experts will alway say unsalted so go that route just to be safe. I hope you enjoy the cake! –Rachel

    2. I’ve made an Italian Cream Cake before and I used rum flavoring extract in filling & icing and it was delicious. Do you ever make it like that.

    3. No Shelia, I’ve never tried that! I’m kind of funny about rum and rum flavoring. My family’s not too fond so I don’t use it but I can imagine it might be fabulous with the toasted coconut and cream cheese. There’s a new idea everyone! Thanks Shelia. 🙂 –Rachel

  3. my recipe is just like this one. However every time I bake it the cakes fall in the middle. Do you have that problem? I do not understand what I am doing wrong. This is my families favorite cake!

    1. Hey Lori,

      If your recipe is just like mine, the problem may be with your oven temperature. Just because your oven says it’s baking at 350 or 400, doesn’t mean it is. All ovens are different and centers that fall can be caused by baking too high or too low. To know for sure, place an oven-safe thermometer in your oven and see what it’s really reading. You may also want to read this article I found: https://www.craftsy.com/blog/2014/09/how-to-keep-a-cake-from-falling/
      It has some great tips for success. I hope that helps, and thank you for your question! –Rachel

  4. How long will this cake last at room temperature? I’m looking to bake a cake for a school bake sale, but we have to turn it in 2 days before the sale. Thanks.

    1. Hey Ashley, gosh that’s a little bit tough. If you knew that it could be refrigerated for the two days leading up to the sale, then yes, I’d say that’s just fine. But to leave a cake with cream cheese frosting out on the counter for a couple of days (probably more like 3 days) I probably wouldn’t do. It’s a very “durable” cake–dense and rich–so it will hold up structurally for that length of time I just think I’d feel better if it could be kept cold.

  5. Is there any way I could double the recipe and make a 3 layer cake with a 14 inch round pan? Would I just bake for a little longer?

    1. Hey Monique, I’d almost tell you that you can–but here’s the thing about baking…just because we can double a recipe doesn’t always mean that we should. Some baking recipes fail miserably when they are doubled but you are welcome to try. If you bake it in a 14″ pan you will certainly have to bake it longer and check it often to make sure it doesn’t over bake. Are you comfortable doing that? If you bake a lot you’ll know when your cake is done. But if you’re new to baking I’d recommend just sticking with the regular version and making two cakes perhaps. More work, but at least we would both be sure that the original recipe works. Let me know if I can help you further. –Rachel

  6. Two questions:
    1. I assume since you specify 3 round pans, we split the batter in thirds, right? The “pour in pans” part is missing from the instructions
    2. If I don’t have self rising flour, but have regular flour, soda and baking powder, is there a way I can substitute those for the self-rising?

    1. Yes Geoff, your right–divide it in to thirds. I’ll make sure I add that step in the instructions. And you can make self rising from all purpose. You’ll need 1 cup of all purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt. That’s a single batch so you’ll need to double that for the recipe. I can’t guarantee the results though–I know it’s “supposed” to be the same but for the life of me I think the homemade version performs differently for some reason. I hope you enjoy it! –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.