It was my birthday this past Wednesday. How old? Old enough to make this cake and eat it, too.
The cake is a simple yellow cake that is flavored with coconut and pecans (finely chopped for me). The frosting *oh my the frosting* is basically a classic cream cheese on steroids. More butter, more cream cheese, and more sugar?? Yes, please!
I know how tasty and moist the cake is. I know how unbelievable the frosting is and I even know how delicious a slice is with some good vanilla ice cream. But what I don't know is why this is called an Italian Cream cake. Do you? Seriously, if anyone out there knows, please let me know.
Italian Cream Cake
For the Cake
1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
Pinch of kosher salt
2/3 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 Tablespoons (4-ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
3 extra large eggs, yolks and whites separated
1 cup sweetened shredded dried coconut, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
For the Frosting
12-ounces cream cheese, cold
12 Tablespoons (6-ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 to 3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
For the Cake
Preheat the oven to 350º F. Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with a round of parchment; set aside.
In a small bowl whisk together the flour and salt; set aside. In a separate bowl combine the buttermilk, baking soda, and vanilla; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy, about 30 seconds. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the 1 1/3 cups sugar. Beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 4-6 minutes. Beat the egg yolks in one at a time. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beating on low speed, add the flour in 3 parts, alternating with the buttermilk mixture in 2 parts; scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat until combined. Stir in the coconut and pecans.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar using a hand-held mixer or whisk until soft peaks form. Gradually add the 1/4 cup sugar and beat on high until stiff, but not dry peaks form. Fold one-quarter of the whites into the batter, then fold in the remaining whites. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and smooth evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Run a thin knife around the cakes to detach from the pan. Invert the cakes, remove the parchment, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the Frosting
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a hand-held mixer, beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla just until blended. Add the confectioners' sugar, one-third at a time, and beat just until smooth (do not over beat). Stir in the pecans.
Place one cake layer on a serving platter and top with 1 cup of the frosting, spreading evenly. Place the other cake layer on top and frost the sides and the top with the remaining frosting. Enjoy!
Source: Adapted from my mother, via Joy of Cooking, 1997