Italian Cream Cake is a three-layer masterpiece of light sponge cakes with pecans, and luscious cream cheese frosting with toasted coconut, and vanilla and almond flavors!
Preheat oven to 350F/175C and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Chop up the pecans, they don't need to be too small.
Spread pecans evenly on one of the baking sheets and repeat with the coconut.
Put both sheets in the hot oven and toast for 5-10 minutes. CHECK ON THEM FREQUENTLY! The coconut goes from toasted to burnt very quickly! I really like the toasted coconut because it gives a lot of texture to the cake, but I suppose you could skip the toasting part if you wanted.
Remove both sheets from oven and set aside to cool.
Grease and flour three 8-9 inch round cake pans. (I actually used aluminum disposable pans at my mom's house and the cake turned out fine!)
In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream together the butter and the sugars for about 5 minutes until light in color and fluffy.
Add egg yolks and extracts to the butter/sugar and mix until incorporated.
Sift together flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix into batter alternately with the buttermilk in a few parts.
Add coconut and pecans and mix well.
Beat egg whites to soft peaks and gently fold into the batter.
Divide the batter evenly between the three pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow layers to cool completely before decorating.
Cream together butter, extracts, and cream cheese in a large bowl or stand mixer.
Slowly add confectioner's sugar a little bit at a time until it's all incorporated. Beat the frosting until light and fluffy.
Position first layer on a cake stand and top with a hefty dollop of frosting. Spread evenly across the layer. Top with the second and third layers in the same fashion.
Frost the sides of the cake. Use all of the amazing frosting and make it really thick! Don't worry about making it too pretty, the coconut and pecans will hide any mistakes.
Pat handfulls of coconut onto the side of the cake. Sprinkle pecans on top of the cake.