What Is An Italian Cream Cake And What Does It Taste Like?

Frosted white cake with pecans
Frosted white cake with pecans - Inese Online/Getty Images

If you're looking for an easy way to amplify a basic cake flavor, Italian cream cake may just be the recipe to try. The dessert is characterized by a white cake base with coconut, buttermilk, and pecans mixed in. The buttermilk vanilla cake is fairly mildly flavored on its own. The added pecans and coconut, however, give it a buttery, nutty taste, as well as adding a little bit of crunchy texture to every bite.

When you add buttermilk to the cake batter, it introduces extra acidity to your recipe. This alters the texture of the cake, making it lighter and more tender. It also reacts with the batter's baking soda, causing the cake to rise a little higher as it bakes. After it's baked, this light moist cake is topped with cream cheese frosting, and even more pecans and coconut are sprinkled on to decorate the dessert. The cream cheese frosting and the buttermilk in the batter add a little extra tangy flavor to the dessert, providing a nice contrast to all the sweetness.

Though this cake has a lot of components and seems quite fancy and impressive, it's basically a classic white cake recipe with a few extra ingredients. Still, none of the cake's ingredients seem typically Italian in origin, so where did the name originate?

Read more: Cake Hacks Every Baker Will Wish They Knew Sooner

What Are The Origins Of Italian Cream Cake?

Mixing white cake batter
Mixing white cake batter - New Africa/Shutterstock

Despite what its name suggests, Italian cream cake likely may not be Italian at all. In reality, the recipe was probably invented somewhere in the southern United States. Some theories suggest that it was so named because the original baker was of Italian descent. However, like many origin stories, there's no evidence to support this, and if there was such a baker their name is lost to history

Since we know that Italian cream cake likely originated in the southern United States, there's a good chance that the original baker may have taken inspiration from some other classic desserts. The pecans and coconut can often be found in carrot cake recipes, serving as a little bit of added texture and flavor alongside grated carrots. Southern coconut cake is also fairly similar to an Italian cream cake, as it calls for coconut to be mixed into a white cake base. Some variations even suggest adding pecans in, either folded into the batter or as a garnish on top. The cake may also be a chocolate-free twist on German chocolate cake, which calls for pecans and coconut to be added into a sweet filling between and on top of layers of cake.

Some Variations On Italian Cream Cake

Italian cream cake on plate
Italian cream cake on plate - Warren Price Photography/Shutterstock

As with any cake, Italian cream cake can be customized to suit your taste and the occasion, and there are quite a few traditional variations to whip up. You'll find plenty of recipes for chocolate Italian cream cake, which simply calls for a little cocoa powder to be mixed into the batter and the frosting. Caramel pairs naturally with nuts, and is another staple of Southern cooking, and a caramel Italian cream cake evokes the flavor of that other Southern favorite, the pecan pie. You can even find recipes that add a bright citrusy zing with orange or lemon curd in the mix.

While we may never know for sure where Italian cream cake came from, it's safe to say it fits right in among other Southern classic treats. Regardless of its mysterious name and origin, the cake is a popular choice for birthdays, church potlucks, and dinner parties throughout the South. If you're looking to amplify the flavor and texture of your white cake batter, try adding a few extra ingredients to transform it into an Italian cream cake.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.