Italian Cream Cake

Finished with crunchy walnuts, this classic Italian Cream Cake is one of our most beloved heirloom cakes. 

Italian Cream Cake
Makes 1 (9-inch) cake
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons (198 grams) all-vegetable shortening
  • ½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 2⅔ cups (334 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon (1.5 grams) kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole buttermilk
  • 1 (7-ounce) package (125 grams) sweetened flaked coconut
  • 2½ cups (283 grams) chopped walnuts, divided
  • Orange Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)
  • Garnish: chopped walnuts, orange curls
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with baking spray with flour.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat shortening, butter, sugar, zest, and vanilla at medium speed until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition. Add coconut and 1 cup (113 grams) walnuts, stirring gently to combine. Transfer to a large bowl.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites at high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into batter. Divide batter among prepared pans.
  5. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire racks.
  6. Spread Orange Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Gently press remaining 1½ cups (170 grams) walnuts halfway up sides of cake. Using a wooden pick, lightly scrape frosting in an upward motion on sides of cake to create a bark effect. Garnish with walnuts and orange curls, if desired.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes about 5 cups
  • 10 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ⅔ cup (150 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 teaspoons heavy whipping cream
  • 1½ tablespoons orange zest
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 8¾ cups (1,050 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, butter, cream, zest, and vanilla at medium speed until creamy, 4 to 5 minutes. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth.



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  1. A comment and a question…

    When I need to use chopped candied ginger in a dessert, I ‘grind’ the candied ginger & the granulated sugar together in my food processor w/the steel S blade. In this case, I’d first grind _thin strips_ of orange peel with sugar (which turns it into zest & captures more of the oils). Then add the candied ginger and grind it up using the sugar & blade to do the work. Then proceed with creaming the sugar and butter. It’s much easier than chopping and gives you a better texture. You need to grind up the zest first as it won’t grind up as well with the ginger in it.

    My question: why wouldn’t you use KAF’s Fiori di Sicili instead of the vanilla/orange? It’s one of my favorite flavorings.

    • Hi Rosemary,

      We so appreciate the wonderful tips! We try to keep the ingredients as accessible as possible, which is the reason we haven’t used this brand-specific flavoring. It does sound lovely however, so I will personally make sure to give it a try if end up ordering from them in the future!


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