Italian Cream Cake


This cake is Ida’s favorite - she chooses it for her birthday cake almost every year. Whipping the egg whites is a crucial step; the cake structure will be ruined if this step is skipped. This is what gives the cake its fluffiness.





  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F and grease and flour 3 cake pans (9 inch). You can also cut a circle of parchment paper to go into the bottom of each pan before greasing them.
  2. Put the shredded coconut for the batter in a sealable container with the buttermilk and vanilla. Shake and then strain out the buttermilk (keep the buttermilk for a later step).
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer cream the shortening, butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt together onto a sheet of waxed or parchment paper. With the mixer on low speed, add the sifted ingredients in batches alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
  6. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff, and gently fold into the prepared batter.
  7. Gently fold the coconut, pecans, and vanilla into the batter.
  8. Divide the batter among the 3 prepared cake pans and bake for ~25 minutes, or until golden brown and a tester comes out clean when inserted into the middle of each cake.
  9. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for ~10 minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack to finish cooling (removing any parchment paper as well).
  10. While the cake is baking, prepare the frosting. In a large bowl combine the cream cheese, butter and vanilla and, using an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy.
  11. Add the sifted powdered sugar and mix until thoroughly combined.
  12. Add the nuts and mix together. Keep refrigerated until you are ready to frost the cake.
  13. When the cakes are completely cool, stack the layers with the frosting and frost the sides and top.


This recipe is adapted from Emeril Lagasse (who attributes it to Beth Lott’s mom).