His 23rd birthday is on Tuesday, but I am at my internship from 8-8 on Tuesday. Therefore, today was cake day. Now, he didn't even want a cake. I said, "What kind of cake do you want?" and he said, "I don't want a cake." So I interpreted that as, "Lauren, pick out an awesome cake that you've been wanting to make for awhile!" I picked this Italian Cream Cake because it's been consistently highly reviewed, and also because his father's side of the family is Italian. Represent, yo.
This took awhile but it was delicious and it smelled wonderful while it was cooling. I panicked when I started making it because I have never heard of butter extract in my life (turns out you can buy it here) and the Internet said you can't really properly substitute anything for it. So I just sucked it up, added some extra vanilla, and baked the cake anyway. And I totally skipped all this sugared kumquat crap because I hate random garnishes. I thought it was very yummy, and the cream cheese frosting was very tasty too. Not overpowering at all. The coconut flavor is in the background to enhance the cake, so it isn't a coconut-flavored cake. He enjoyed his birthday cake as well. I'm not sure I'd rank it up there as a "best cake ever," but it was definitely yummy and we'll be taking it for lunch all week!
Italian Cream Cake
Cooking Light, November 1995
Cream Cheese Icing (Recipe Follows)
Vegetable cooking spray
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup light butter
2 egg yolks
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon butter extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 egg whites (at room temperature)
Sugared kumquats (optional)
Orange rind strips (optional)
Kumquat leaves (optional)
Prepare Cream Cheese Icing; cover and chill.
Coat bottoms of 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray (do not coat sides of pans); line bottoms of pans with wax paper. Coat wax paper with cooking spray, and dust with flour; set aside.
Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine 2 cups flour and baking soda; stir well. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in pecans and extracts.
Beat egg whites at high speed of a mixer until stiff peaks form (do not overbeat). Fold egg whites into batter; pour batter into prepared pans. Bake at 350° for 23 minutes. Let cool in pans 5 minutes on a wire rack. Loosen cake layers from sides of pans using a narrow metal spatula, and turn out onto wire racks. Peel off wax paper, and let cool completely.
Place 1 cake layer on a plate, and spread with 2/3 cup Cream Cheese Icing; top with another cake layer. Repeat with 2/3 cup icing and remaining layer, ending with cake. Spread remaining icing over cake. Garnish with kumquats, orange rind, and kumquat leaves, if desired.
Note: To make sugared kumquats, dip kumquats into lightly beaten egg whites, and drain; roll in sugar.
Cream Cheese Icing:
1 tablespoon light butter
1 (8-ounce) package Neufchâtel cheese
1 (1-pound) package powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream butter and cheese at high speed of a mixer until fluffy. Add sugar; beat at low speed until well-blended. Add vanilla; beat well.