Mom is always there for me to gossip to, vent to, and just talk to. She's more than just my mom, she's one of my best friends. You know how sometimes friends drift apart? Things change, people change and you just drift away from people. Well, if you're friends with your mom, that friendship will last forever and you will never worry if that friendship will disappear. She will always be there for you and love you no matter what.
Mom and I after graduation last spring
So I want to dedicate this to my mom. I love you, Mommy! You mean so much to me!
When I asked Mom to choose a birthday dessert I could make for her, she chose Italian Cream Cake. Let's just say I didn't oppose. I love Italian Cream Cake! It's a butter cake with coconut and pecans. SO yummy.
I used google to find the best recipe out there (I'm the google queen. I google everything. The internet is so resourceful!) I found this recipe online and it was highly rated by a lot of people, so I knew it had to be good. I followed the recipe almost exactly and it was incredible! We took it to Mom's birthday dinner with the whole family and everyone raved about it. My little cousin, Jake, said it was the best cake he had ever had in his entire life (in his 12 years of living). It was a hit!
This cake is awesome. It's so buttery and nutty...yum. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I wonder if there's any left....
This cake isn't hard to make, it just has a few steps that are different and a little more complicated than usual, like beating the egg whites and folding them into the batter. Good thing Mom is worth it :)
Italian Cream Cake
Recipe from All Recipes
1 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. butter (1 stick)
1/2 c. shortening
2 c. sugar
5 eggs, separated
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. flaked coconut (I used sweetened)
1 c. finely chopped pecans (or walnuts)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease three 9" cake pans. Okay, I don't have three 9" cake pans, but I do have three 8" cake pans, so that's what I used. Improvise people! You're going to need to line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper. I know it seems silly, but it really helps. What I do is get out a big piece of parchment paper and trace around the bottom of the cake pans three times.
Then just cut them out. Spray the bottom of the pans with a little nonstick spray and then lay the parchment paper in each pan. Then spray again on top of the paper and on the sides. I guess if you wanted you could just spray the pans really, really well, but just know that you're being risky! I used to not do this step and the bottom part of the cake would stick to the pan in a few places and the cake would come out crumbly. Not good. Now I always do this. It really is worth it. And if you don't have parchment paper and you bake a lot, I would go ahead and invest. It doesn't cost more than foil or anything like that. I always use it when baking cookies to keep the bottoms from burning and it also helps when it comes to clean-up!
Anyways, I'm done preaching. Let's make some buttermilk. If you have buttermilk already, awesome. If not, use that trick I told you about a while back. Since we need one cup, get out a 1-cup measuring cup and pour enough milk to come just underneath the 1-cup line. Then pour in enough vinegar to bring the mixture up to the 1-cup line. Easy! Let it sit a few minutes and stir. It will look a little bit curdled and it's supposed to! Then we need to dissolve the baking soda in this. Just dump it in and stir it so it dissolves. To be honest, I don't know what the purpose of doing this is, but the recipe says to, so I'll trust them.
The baking soda will make the "buttermilk" foam up a bit. Just stir it!
Set this mixture aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. My butter wasn't at room temp. So I just beat the heck out of it until everything was combined and creamy.
Now we need to add the egg yolks to this. Y'all have separated eggs before right? Well, if you haven't, crack it like usual, but don't let any egg out. Gently pull apart the two sides of the shell and make sure the whole yolk stays in one side. Over a bowl, gently dump the egg back and forth between the two sides of the shell, letting the egg white fall into the bowl underneath and making sure you don't break the yolk. Once you have the whites in a bowl and the yolk in the shell, just dump the yolk in the mixer and set the whites aside. Repeat this until you have done all five eggs.
What's that? You're still confused because I explained that horribly? Yeah I figured. Here's a video I found on youtube that will show you how to do it!
Better? Okay, good! Well look what happened when I was separating my last egg...
The yolk just went ahead and plopped in the whites! No big deal, I just gently fished it out and made sure I didn't break the yolk. No problem!
Beat the yolks into the butter/sugar/shortening mixture. Also, add the vanilla. If you add a little more than 1 tsp. no one will judge you :)
Sift together the flour and salt or if you're me, just throw in some salt and slowly add the flour. Sifting is necessary in some things, but I don't think it's that important here. The mixture will get thick now.
Now go grab that buttermilk mixture from before. Add it alternately with the flour, beginning and ending with the flour. So I added the flour 1/2 cup at a time. Started with 1/2 cup, then 1/3 of the buttermilk mixture.....and so on. Do you get it? Do this until everything is in the bowl.
It's lookin' more like cake batter now! Remember those egg whites we sat aside earlier? Go get'em. We have to beat those bad boys until their fluffy. Then we'll fold them in. This will make the cake really light and crispy. This cake is worth all this work, I promise!
Since my stand mixer was occupied, I got out my hand mixer and whipped the whites. This will take a few minutes. You'll see the whites start to get really foamy and they will grow a lot in volume.
Not quite. We're looking for stiff peaks.
Perfect. See the peaks in there?
Now we need to fold them into the batter. I did this in 2 parts. Dump half of the whites in and fold. Then dump the other half in and fold. IMPORTANT: Don't use the stand mixer for this. Just take the bowl out and use a spatula. The mixer will break up the egg whites!
Folding is just what it sounds like. Folding the batter so you don't break the egg whites up. Here's a youtube video on how to do it.
It says this person was folding egg whites into cheese grits......gross. I like cheese grits, but I don't know why you'd put egg whites in there! I just wanted to show y'all how to fold them in. Slowly stir them in until you can't see them anymore. It might take a few minutes.
Look how cute my new spoonula is :) It matches my measuring cups! I saw it at Tuesday Morning last week and knew I had to have it.
Once the egg whites are mixed in, add the pecans and coconut until those are mixed in. Fold these in gently, so you don't break up the whites.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the middle of each pan comes out clean. Start checking the cakes around 20 minutes so you don't overbake them.
I left mine in the pan for about 15 minutes and then inverted them onto a cooling rack. The parchment paper will come out with the cake. Just peel it off!
While those are cooling, make the frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
2 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese, softened
1 c. butter (2 sticks), softened
2 tsp. vanilla
2 lb. bag of powdered sugar (or 7 1/2 cups)
4 tbsp. cream (thinking back, I think I forgot to add this. Whoops!)
1 c. chopped pecans or walnuts (for topping, optional)
In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, butter and vanilla. I used clear vanilla (I got it at Hobby Lobby) so the color wouldn't change, but use what you have. Once that is all combined and creamy, add the powdered sugar slowly. If you're using the stand mixer make sure the speed is low so you don't get powdered sugar all over you! It's happened to me before... it ain't pretty.
Not all that creamy yet, but you see what I'm getting at.
Slowly add the powdered sugar and add the vanilla.
If it's too thick, add some milk or cream. If it's too thin, add some more powdered sugar. Once it's the consistency you want, get ready to frost your cake!
Those stripes are from the cooling rack :)
Dump some frosting in the middle and spread it out until it's covered. I like to frost the middle parts and do the outside last.
As far as frosting the sides, I spoon some frosting on the edge and then kind of push it down the side and smooth it as I go. I learned that from Paula!
Just keep frosting and smoothing until it looks the way you want it. My frosting was kind of runny so I put a thin layer on the cake and stuck it in the freezer for 30 minutes. The frosting hardened up a bit and it was so much easier to frost after that.
Once it's frosted, decorate it how you want. You could add some more chopped pecans on top or do whatever you want. I took some leftover icing and colored it pink and wrote on the cake. And of course added some sprinkles :)
Happy birthday Mom!! I love you!