May 3, 2012

OOTW Italian Cream Cake

A lady at work asked me to make an Italian Cream Cake for her 50th birthday. Her only request was "lots of coconut and lots of nuts". I had never made an Italian Cream Cake and I'm still a little hesitant about coconut so I wasn't sure if I would appreciate if I actually made a good Italian Cream Cake. Well hold the phone, this was AWESOME.

I went through a lot of recipes and they were either based on oil or shortening/butter. I made the oil version first but it completely fell apart when I tried to take it out of the pan. This could've been baker error, but I never make mistakes so.... ;) So I started with a shortening/butter base and it turned out beautifully. This cake is moist and dense and complimented so well with the tangy cream cheese frosting.

To make sure my "customer" got her birthday wish, I pressed toasted coconut and pecans into the frosted cake. I ate more than one bite of my friend's piece of cake. This was a HUGE hit at the birthday party. So much so that someone requested the recipe as cupcakes so that they could serve it at a luncheon.

People have been raving about this cake every day since I made it... just saying: it's good!

OOTW ("Out Of This World") Italian Cream Cake
adapted from Aunt Tom's Italian Cream Cake recipe
yields - 3 layer cake or 34 cupcakes

For cake layers
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable shortening, softened
1 stick (1/2 cup) margarine, softened
5 large eggs, separated
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 ½  teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon coconut extract
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans

For frosting
an 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 stick (1/2 cup) margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon coconut extract
a 1-pound box confectioners' sugar
1 c. chopped pecans

For decoration (optional)
Toasted coconut
Chopped pecans

Make cake layers:
Preheat oven to 375°F. and lightly butter and flour three 9- by 2-inch round cake pans, knocking out any excess flour.
In a bowl with an electric mixer beat together sugar, shortening, and margarine until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Into another bowl sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Beat flour mixture into egg mixture in 2 batches alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, until combined. Beat in vanilla, coconut, and chopped pecans. Beat egg whites in another bowl until frothy.  Add cream of tartar and beat until they just hold stiff peaks and fold into batter gently but thoroughly.
Divide batter among pans, smoothing tops, and bake in upper two thirds of oven, switching position of pans in oven halfway through baking, until a tester comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool cake layers in pans on racks 10 minutes and invert onto racks to cool completely.

Make frosting:
In a bowl with an electric mixer beat together cream cheese, margarine, and vanilla until smooth. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar, beating until creamy.
Stack cake layers on a cake plate, spreading about 1/2 cup frosting between each layer. Spread remaining frosting on top and side of cake.
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