Italian Cream Cake

by Laura on March 21, 2012

Work is so engrossing for me that, when my Sweet Boy is away, I often realize I am sitting in total darkness, the sun has set, the black sky has swallowed up the day, and the moon has appeared out my window.  The television set in my neighbor’s window flickers across the way and lights up the bare branches as they sway in the wind.  It’s time to cobble together a dinner for one, tonight tuna with olive oil and mayonnaise, picholine and nicoise olives, little cubes of feta, whole pink peppercorns, thyme, and a little lemon zest.  And then to bake a cake, for when the house is full and lively again.

This cake has made so many appearances at our table in the last 14 years since I first made it that I couldn’t count them.  My friend Diane made it for my 30th birthday party and shared her recipe, but it always brings to mind my Honey Girl now, who loves it best.  And since I’m missing her and anticipating our quiet week together in Ireland, I’ve been thinking about it, and about her smiling face across the table, at all of her ages, eating it, with and without front teeth.  This is for you, my Honey Girl.

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lizzi March 22, 2012 at 4:04 am

SO beautiful, Laura! I just know I have fallen in love with this cake already. One day, I’ll fly you out here to bake a gigantic version for my wedding. Not even borderline joking.

2 Laura March 22, 2012 at 8:58 am

Lizzi, Not even borderline accepting! That would be wonderful! (And I’d take pictures for you, too. Though fear not, my wedding photography is much better than my food photography.)

3 Barbie Van Horn March 22, 2012 at 9:33 am

Simply beautiful.

4 Laura March 22, 2012 at 9:56 am

Thank you, Barbie.

5 Kris Jacobson March 22, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Holy Buckets…does that sound and look good!

6 Jen March 22, 2012 at 1:18 pm

This is such a beautiful cake and picture! I am afraid I am too messy to get my cakes to look that georgous!

7 Laura March 22, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Thanks, Kris. You’re always so generous to me.

8 Laura March 22, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Thank you. This one is very forgiving. All that shaggy coconut covers up a very casual frosting job.

9 Lizzi March 22, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Laura – you’re hired! My boyfriend and I were joking the other day about how if we ever get married, we could have an killer wedding on a budget – we’ve got very useful friends who’d give us good deals (chefs, owners of venues, jewelers, winery owners…). Now that I’ve found our cake maker and photographer, we’re set! Just need to make friends with a florist and a dressmaker ;)

10 Laura March 23, 2012 at 4:48 pm

I’m in! xo

11 kris jacobson March 26, 2012 at 3:42 pm

And Laura, your opening description is so vivid.

12 Imen March 27, 2012 at 9:47 am

I am totally making this for our little Spring Farm Fling on Sunday….looks and sounds gorgeous xx

13 Laura March 27, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Yay! The key is not overbaking. Test it a bit early. It’s amazing when it’s moist. xo

14 Laura April 7, 2012 at 8:07 pm


15 Linda May 3, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Cake looks wonderful. Did you want to add 2 cups of sugar? Beautiful job otherwise.:)

16 Laura May 4, 2012 at 8:41 am

Linda, Thank you. Yes, the measurement is correct. Two cups of sugar go into the cake.

17 Maya May 28, 2012 at 4:01 am

Looking nice, but this is definitely not an Italian cake. Italians don’t use cream cheese for frosting, believe me..

18 Laura May 29, 2012 at 10:54 am

Yes, of course. I don’t know quite why it’s called Italian cream cake. It’s an American classic.

19 Susan Pein May 31, 2012 at 12:17 pm

I saw this cake on foodgawker and i had to make it!! It was by far thee best cake I’ve ever had!! My family loved it! The only thing I did different was switched out the pecans for walnuts! It was amazing!!!

20 Laura May 31, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Isn’t it? We love it, too. I’m so happy you enjoyed it. A walnut version sounds delicious. Thank you.

21 Ashley June 16, 2012 at 1:38 pm

It looks yummy. (you left the sugar out of the ingredient list..)

22 Laura June 17, 2012 at 10:32 pm

Thank you.

23 Dawn September 16, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Oh my God. I found this cake and you on foodgawker, and I am so glad I did. I made the cake on Friday for a gathering on Saturday.
I was a hit! Thank you for taking the time to teach us nonfoodies what all the foodie terms mean. I would have never tackled a recipe that called for “folding in egg whites”. Thanks for telling me what my egg whites should look like and how to fold them in. I believe I’ll stay around! ~Muah~

24 Laura September 16, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Thank you! Oh, this makes me so happy! You have brightened my day.

25 Janie November 4, 2012 at 11:02 am

I make this cake but ice it with equal parts cream cheese frosting and real whipped cream made from the carton of heavy whipping cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar, folded together to get a lighter, creamier icing than straight cream cheese frosting and a firmer icing than straight whipped cream. One step more work but really worth it.

26 Laura November 26, 2012 at 8:11 am

Janie, That sounds delicious!

27 Bliss August 9, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Any idea how much batter this recipe yields? Trying to figure out if I need to double it to make 2 10″ layers.

28 Laura August 9, 2013 at 9:25 pm

Bliss, No need to double it. It will certainly fill two ten-inch layers, and likely with batter to spare.

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