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Italian Cream Cake

  • Yield: see notes


Have you ever made a genoise or a sponge cake? You beat a good amount of air into the whole eggs and fold it into the cake. This cake is 1 part genoise, 1 part creaming, 1 part dry, and 1 part wet. It’s a decent amount of work, but it’s one of my very favorite cakes. It’s light yet rich. In a lot of ways, it’s like a high-brow vanilla cake in flavor, with a hint of coconut for depth. Best served next day.




  1. Prep the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 325°. Prepare cake pans by cutting parchment to size to fit the base of the pans. Using a paper towel, pour a bit of oil onto it and rub it around the inside edge of the pan. Pour in a bit of flour at tap it around the edges until evenly and lightly coated. Discard the rest. Place in the cut parchment. Set prepared pans aside. Genoise—Into a large bowl, add the eggs and 1 cup of the sugar. Take out the hand mixer and set aside. Creaming—Into a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the remaining cup of sugar and the stick of butter. Measure out the oil and set aside. Dry—In a medium bowl, add flour, coconut, soda, and kosher salt. Whisk to combine. Set aside. Wet—In a liquid measuring cup, measure out the buttermilk. Add extract to the mixture. Set aside.
  2. Turn the stand mixer on to medium-low and cream together the butter and sugar. Let that continue to do its thing. Meanwhile, make the genoise. Using a hand mixer beat the eggs and sugar on high until doubled in size and very pale in color, about 5 minutes. The color will move from yellow, to pale yellow, to barely yellow, almost white. When you pull your beaters through the mixture, ribbons will indent then smooth on the surface almost immediately. Set aside and check on the creaming mixture. When the butter and sugar are sufficiently combined, mix in the oil until evenly combined, using a spatula to wipe down the sides.
  3. Get the dry and wet ingredients. With the mixer on low, add the dry and wet ingredients a little at a time, quickly alternating between the two. This should take about 1 minute. Once combined, wipe down the sides with a spatula and beat the mixture on medium-high for 10 seconds.
  4. Get the genoise. With the stand mixer on low, slowly pour it into the batter. Once poured in, turn off the mixer and remove bowl from the stand. Using a spatula, fold the mixture together until evenly combined. For a good fold, firmly pull the spatula about 1/3 of the way around the edge before scooping through the bottom and then on to the top. No need to be gentle here. The batter is ready when everything is evenly combined.
  5. Evenly distribute batter into the cake pans. Bake for 25-33 minutes depending on the size of the pan. When the cake is ready, it will begin pulling away from the sides of the pan. When you lightly press on the center of the cake, it will feel semi-firm and spring back. Remove and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before removing.
  6. Run a very thin knife around the edges to loosen. When you shake the cake pan back and forth, it shouldn’t stick to the sides. Carefully remove the cake onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  7. Meanwhile, make the frosting. Once the cake is completely cooled, frost the cake, first removing the parchment paper. To ice the cake as pictured, add a little more than 1/3 of the frosting to the first layer. Smooth to a level plane. Top with the remaining layer. Add the same amount of frosting to the top layer and roughly level it. With the remaining frosting, add dollops around the sides of the cake. Smooth with a spatula. Finally, smooth the frosting on the top or pull swoops into it. Garnish as you wish. I did more flaked coconut and crushed pecan. Best served next day. Store uncovered at room temperature on the counter for up to 3 days.


I’ve baked a two-layer cake in both 8″ round and 9″ square pans. Both turn out well. The 8″ cake is, of course, a bit thicker, resulting in a longer bake time (about 33 minutes). I’ve also baked these cakes in multiple ovens. As always, know thy oven. Bake times will vary oven to oven. Speaking of cake pans, I recently bought these 8″ round cake pans from Fat Daddios and absolutely love the results. I might have to switch my entire fleet.

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