This made-from-scratch Italian cream cake is all kinds of indulgent! Simple to make, this sheet cake is perfectly moist and sweet and every bite is truly delicious!
What’s in this Italian Cream Cake Recipe?
This Italian cream cake is sweet and rich and it’s so simple to make from scratch. Topped with a cream cheese and pecan frosting, it’s perfect to serve at any occasion.
Eggs: We’ll be separating the yolks from the whites of 5 large eggs for this recipe. The yolks will help produce a tender cake, while the whipped egg whites will help the cake to remain light and airy.
Butter: Unsalted butter adds flavor and fat to the cake and helps create a tender crumb. We also use butter in the frosting to give it structure.
Shortening: Vegetable shortening (like Crisco) melts more slowly than butter, allowing the cake to rise higher in the oven.
Sugar: Granulated sugar sweetens the cake, while powdered sugar sweetens the frosting without making it gritty.
Flour: All-purpose flour forms the base of this cake, giving it structure.
Salt: Kosher salt enhances the vanilla and coconut flavors in the cake.
Baking Soda: Helps the cake to rise.
Buttermilk: Gives the cake a tangy flavor and helps create a moist crumb.
Pecans: Add texture and a nutty flavor to the cake and the frosting.
Coconut: Sweetened shredded coconut adds texture and a rich coconut flavor to the cake.
Cream of Coconut: Adds a rich coconut flavor to the frosting without making it too wet.
Sour Cream: Adds a tangy flavor and velvety texture to the frosting.
Cream Cheese: Adds a tangy flavor to the frosting while also giving it structure.
Pro Tip: For even more coconut flavor, add some sweetened shredded coconut to the frosting too!
Italian Lemon Cream Cake
Another popular Italian cake is lemon cream cake. While the traditional version of that cake is quite a bit different, you can easily adapt this recipe to make a close approximation. First, swap the coconut extract for lemon extract. Leave out the nuts and shredded coconut both the cake and the frosting. Leave the cream of coconut out of the frosting, and add ⅓ cup sour cream instead of ¼ cup. Finally, to add even more lemon flavor, swipe a layer of lemon curd over top of the cake before frosting it.
Is Italian cream cake from Italy?
Surprisingly, this cake is not Italian. It is widely believed to have been developed in the Southern United States!
What flavor is this cake?
This Italian cream cake is flavored with coconut and vanilla. The coconut works so well with the pecans and cream cheese frosting.
Should Italian cream cake be refrigerated?
Yes! Since this cake has cream cheese frosting, it needs to be refrigerated. I do not recommend leaving this cake out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours.
How many calories in a slice of Italian cream cake?
There are 593 calories in one slice of this cake. This amount may vary depending on the ingredients you chose.
Can you freeze Italian cream cake?
Yes! I prefer to freeze this cake without the frosting, but you can freeze it fully frosted if you prefer. It will keep well tightly wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 3 months.
How to Store Italian Cream Cheese Cake
Once cooled and frosted, this Italian cream cake can be refrigerated (covered) up to 3 days, although it is best eaten within 24 hours.
How to Freeze Coconut Pecan Cake
If you want to increase the shelf life of the cake it can be frozen with or without frosting, though I find it easier to freeze it without.
Freeze Italian cream cake whole or cut into individual slices tightly wrapped in 2 layers of plastic wrap and 1 layer of aluminum foil for up to 3 months. Let thaw at room temperature if unfrosted or in the refrigerator overnight if frosted before serving.
Italian Cream Cake with Cream Cheese Pecan Frosting
Author: Becky Hardin
This made from scratch Italian cream cake is all kinds of indulgent! Simple to make, this sheet cake is perfectly moist and sweet and every bite is truly delicious!
For the Cream Cheese Pecan Frosting
For the Cake
Adjust oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish or 3 (8-inch) round cake pans with baking spray. Set aside.
Separate the eggs (yolks and whites) into separate bowls and use a hand mixer to beat the egg whites just to stiff peaks. Set the beaten whites and yolks aside.
5 large eggs
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together at medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes.
½ cup unsalted butter, ½ cup vegetable shortening
Add the sugar and beat until lighter in color and fluffier, about 3 minutes.
2 cups granulated sugar
Add the egg yolks, beating until incorporated.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour and salt together.
2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon kosher salt
In a separate medium bowl, dissolve the baking soda in the buttermilk.
1 cup buttermilk, 1¼ teaspoons baking soda
Add the flour mixture to butter/sugar/egg, mixture alternately with the buttermilk/baking soda mixture in 3 additions; beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat just until incorporated after each addition.
Stir in the vanilla and coconut extracts, toasted pecans, and coconut.
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon coconut extract, 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, 1 cup chopped pecans
Fold in the beaten egg whites.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s). For a 9×13-inch cake, bake 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. For 8-inch round cakes, bake 25-30 minutes.
Cool the 9×13 cake in the pan set on a wire rack. If baking round cakes, remove them from the pans after 10 minutes. Cool completely on the wire racks, about 2 hours.
For the Cream Cheese Pecan Frosting
While the cakes cool, make the frosting. Fit a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat the butter and sugar together on low speed until mixed, about 1 minute.
¾ cup unsalted butter, 2¼ cups powdered sugar
Increase the speed to medium-high and beat an additional 2 minutes, or until paler in color and fluffy.
Add the cream of coconut, sour cream, vanilla extract, and salt. Beat until smooth, about 1 minute.
¼ cup cream of coconut, ¼ cup sour cream, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Add the cream cheese, about 1 tablespoon at a time, and beat until incorporated, about 2 minutes. Fold in the toasted pecans and refrigerate until ready to use.
16 ounces cream cheese, ¾ cup whole pecans
If frosting an 8-inch, 3-layer cake, use about 1½ cups frosting between layers and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides.
If frosting a 9×13-inch cake, spread desired amount of frosting on the top of the cake and smooth it out. Keep covered.