Italian Cream Cake for Christmas

It's post 8 in my 12 Sweet Posts of Christmas! Be sure and check out my series here.

Can you believe Christmas is now less than a week away?! I am almost ready, I just have a couple last minute gifts to purchase. This week has been insanely busy as I've been finishing up things at work before taking off next week, addressing the last few Christmas cards, shopping, and preparing for our work party. We are having a bake-off at work, as well as a brunch. So I've been preparing and prepping all week. I'm so excited about my submission for our bake-off! It's a cake that is not only delicious, but has a long tradition with my family.

My obsession with cakes began long before I ever cracked my first egg. When I was little, cake was my dessert of choice. There is a lady in my parent's church who makes the best cakes. She baked so many of my birthday cakes growing up, along with cakes at basically any wedding around, or church event. As a kid, weddings showers aren't always the most fun to attend, but I was known to willingly go as long as I knew I was going to get "Martha Terry cake."

Her mother, though, made a very special cake as well. Each year for Christmas, she would make us an Italian Cream Cake. It was her tradition, without fail each Christmas we would get one of these decadent cakes. I remember thinking how beautiful and fancy it looked. They were always tall cakes with a cream cheese icing smoothed out and covered with chopped pecans. The taste was pretty great too! I'm not a huge fan of coconut, but it really works in the cake. She passed away a few years ago, and we hadn't had one since! That is until my mother-in-law made one, the recipe was spot on. I knew I had to try this recipe out and keep the Christmas Italian Cream Cake tradition alive.

Last Christmas I had every intention of making one of the Christmas night. Unfortunately, half my family ended up getting pretty sick that day, and the rest of us didn't feel real great. I decided it probably wasn't the best time to try it. But this year, I finally accomplished the goal of making one. I tested out the recipe and made one for them a couple weeks ago. The verdict - they loved it! It's a very delicious, but also nostalgic cake. I decided to make one again for our work bake-off today. Fingers crossed!!

Here's how I made this rich cake:

Italian Cream Cake ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup butter (softened)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 oz flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
Italian Cream Cake instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Cream together butter and shortening until smooth
  • Slowly add in sugar, a little bit at a time
  • Separate eggs and add in the yolks (set the egg whites off to the side, they will be used soon)
  • In a separate bowl, combine flour and baking soda
  • Mix flour mixture into cake batter alternately with the buttermilk, begin and end with flour
  • Stir in vanilla
  • Stir in coconut and pecans
  • Beat egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff
  • Fold egg whites into cake batter
  • Bake in greased cake pans - the original recipe calls for baking in 3 8 inch (1" thick) cake pans for 25 mins. I baked in thicker 6 inch cake pans (2" thick) and it took more like 40 mins.
While the cake is cooling, get started on the tasty cream cheese icing.

Cream Cheese Icing ingredients:
  • 8 oz cream cheese (softened)
  • 1/4 cup butter (softened)
  • 1 lb powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Chopped pecans (to taste)
Cream Cheese Icing directions:
  • Cream together butter and cream cheese until smooth
  • Slowly mix in powdered sugar, little bit at a time
  • Mix in vanilla
  • You can add in pecans here if you like, but I like adding the icing without the pecans and then using them as garnish.
  • Smooth out icing between layers of cake
  • Add on icing to cake
  • Smooth out
  • Finish off by adding chopped pecans around the side of the cake, and sprinkled on top

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