If you haven't had the joy of being served Italian Cream Cake.....you must make it for yourself! It's incredibly delicious, with pecans and coconut and a scrumptious icing! Unlike any other cake you've tasted. The strange thing is the name! My daughter-in-law, Deanna's family is Italian (and Scottish) but has never heard of this cake. I've never found it in any Italian cookbooks, but you will find it in lots of Mississippi Delta Church cookbooks and in a few areas around Mississippi.
I really think it was "born" in the Delta and then spread around the state and the deep South. The Delta has a huge Italian population dating from the early 1900's with a reputation for serving fabulous food in their homes and churches. Everyone waits for the church suppers when the whole church gathers to prepare homemade meatballs and luscious desserts! Many of the Delta's world famous old restaurants were started by Italian families and are still going strong today....Doe's in Greenville, Lillo's in Leland, Giardenia's and Lusco's in Greenwood. Indianola had Labella's for generations and now their famous "floating hamburger" is still served at Pea Soup's! My grandmother and I loved that hamburger!
I first tasted the Italian Cream Cake here in Indianola at a church pot-luck supper and fell in love with it. It's a little time consuming, but is so worth the extra work. In 1992 I baked this as a three tiered 50th anniversary cake for my parents. I was glad we had a walk in cooler at The Crown to keep the cream cheese icing from melting in the June heat! When my nephew Patrick married, I baked him an Italian Cream Wedding cake and other times huge rectangular cakes for birthdays. This is our family cake now, so delicious and a labor of love! And of course, it is in my new cookbook, The Crown of Southern Cooking, Recipes from the Birthplace of the Blues! $19.95 on our website or at The Crown. Come an eat lunch with us in Indianola, after you've visited the B.B. King Museum, or before...we serve lunch from 11 to 2 Tuesday - Saturday! Come see us! Six pies, Pavlova and Trifle are always on our Dessert /table and maybe some of this delicious cake!
Italian Cream Cake
6 large eggs, separated
2 cups sugar, divided
2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup shredded coconut
Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly beat in 1/2 cup sugar until stiff peaks form. Transfer mixture to another bowl.
In original bowl, cream butter, remaining sugar, salt and vanilla, Beat in egg yolks one at a time until consistence of whipped cream.
Stir soda into buttermilk. Add alternately with flour to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour. fold in egg whites, then add pecans and coconut (using slow speed on mixer. or by hand.)
Pour batter into 3 (9-inch) cake pans that have been buttered and floured. Bake in preheated 325 over about 40 minutes. Cool cakes and remove from pan. For Frosting combine butter, cream cheese and vanilla in electric mixing bowl until smooth. Slowly add sugar and continue beating until smooth and creamy. Frost layers and sides of cooled cake and refrigerate iced cake. Recipe for Icing follows and I hope you'll enjoy it! We LOVE this cake!
Italian Cream Frosting
3 sticks butter, softened
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 (1 pound) boxes powdered sugar!