[tweetmeme]I’m notorious for running out of time when I say yes to too many things. Imagine how surprised I was when I said yes to joining a baking club by Claire of Simply Sweet Justice. It was like having an outer body experience. My brain was saying, “Are you nuts? You work 7 days a week now, where are you going to get the time to do this well?” My heart said, “I really want to do this, it will be fun.”
Claire sent the recipe and I made it just the way she sent it. The first one I made I tried to cheat the oven and put 3 pans on one shelf and rotated and well, the cake was pretty crap. I didn’t eat it because we had friends stop by who were on their way to other friends who’d had a death in the family. I said, “Take this cake!!” and they did. So I never knew if I’d like it.
I remember when I lived in Tennessee, one of my employees at the Knoxville Glove Company (what a past I have) named Mae Parton – (yes, Dolly is her cousin), made an Italian Cream Cake for my birthday one year. It was fantastic! Out of all the people I’ve ever met, Mae cooked the most wonderful food. She was a very simple woman – happy to cut leather on a press 8 hours a day, 50 weeks a year. It would have driven me insane. She grew most of her food and would bring things in nearly every day for all her workmates. She was the only female leather cutter and the men loved her. She wasn’t much bigger than a minute and had a huge smile that put everyone at ease.
Thinking about Mae just now reminds me of the best thing she ever cooked and I’m going to make that for you very soon. I just have to find the recipe that She wrote out for me so many years ago.
Now back to the recipe club. Claire asked what we’d all like to bake for our first ever recipe and gave us a few choices. One was Italian Cream Cake and I knew that’s what I’d love to do. Others felt the same way so I was really looking forward to it.
The reason my first cake wasn’t perfect was this oven I have. It’s a brand new Miele oven that squirts water and does all sorts of good things but it comes with ONE oven rack. ONE. What were they thinking?? I must rectify this or stop making 3-layer cakes.
My second attempt was better and I baked two layers and then the third. Much better. I made the icing – again following the recipe and thought, “geez, this sounds SO sweet.” I tasted it and thought my teeth were going to rot off. Undaunted, I continued.
Iced the cake, sprinkled it with chopped pecans and shredded coconut and it looked great. I took a couple of photos and called John down for afternoon tea. That’s coffee break for Americans.
He doesn’t have a sweet tooth so I cut an ever so small piece of cake and he took one bite and said, “Seriously?”
“What’s wrong with it? Did I forget something?”
“The texture is fine, Maureen, but it’s sweeter than sugar.” (for the record I’m not sure that’s possible since I used sugar.)
Immediately I thought, “OMG I sent this to a grieving family.”
Since moving to Australia, my sweet tooth has gotten much thinner. Australians don’t eat anywhere near as much salt and sugar in our food as I did when I lived in the states. It took about 18 months for my palate to change. I still love sweet things, don’t misunderstand, but not that sweet.
So my humblest apologies to Claire.
When I mentioned to Parsley Sage from The Deep Dish that I thought the cake was really sweet, she said, “Oh, I didn’t follow that recipe exactly. It looked too sweet.” Well duh!! I thought the rules were make this recipe as is. You can see I’ve never done this sort of thing before. I’m a quick learner so just wait for next month.
- ½ cup butter, salted
- ½ cup shortening
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 5 eggs, separated
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3½ ounces coconut flakes
- 1 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
- 8 ounce cream cheese
- 1 lb powdered sugar
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Milk to thin frosting to desired consistency
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 3 8-inch or 9-inch cake pans and set aside. Combine the flour and baking soda, and sift.
- Cream the butter, shortening and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks and mix well. Add the buttermilk and flour mixture to the creamed mixture, alternating between the buttermilk and flour mixture. Add vanilla, coconut and nuts. Mix to combine.
- Stiffly beat the egg whites to form soft peaks and fold into the batter.
- Pour batter into the prepared pans and bake for 30 minutes (until the cake is golden and toothpick comes out clean). Allow to cool on racks. Remove from pans and allow to cool before frosting.
- Mix the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Add milk to thin frosting to desired consistency.
What a delicious sounding cake. I’ll have to make this for my baby nieces who have serious sweet tooths!
Kari @ bite-sized thoughts says
One oven rack?! My goodness, that seems most inconsiderate! Do they sell additions??
Given that challenge, this is seriously impressive and I can think of at least a handful of people who would probably welcome the sweetness! It is interesting to hear the shift from America to Australia though – I’ve not spent enough time in the US to really compare but I suppose intuitively I would imagine we’d have fewer super-sweet foods here.
yes, I know, inconsiderate.
Yes I can buy a new rack for over $200. I’m saving my .05 centses 🙂
I love this cake, though I’ve only made it with a cake mix. For shame! You will die, but I have to tell you, my recipe for wedding cake frosting, per batch (I make about 7 batches for each one) is 8 oz cream cheese, 1 stick butter, 2 lb powdered sugar, and some extracts/flavorings. So yeah, double the sugar on your frosting and you’ve got mine. You ain’t tasted sweet yet! hahaha I only use that much sugar to get it very thick, otherwise it doesn’t make a nice finish. But we like things sweeter here in the states I guess, b/c everyone loves my wedding cake. 🙂
I’m laughing out loud. Maybe the old me would have found it perfect. 🙂 I think I could have done the cake if both the cake AND the icing weren’t so sweet. The cake was really sweet before the icing went on I thought.
Choc Chip Uru says
This cake is presented phenomenonly – can I be honest with you though my friend? There is no such thing as too sweet 😛
Love the idea!
Choc Chip Uru
Any cake that is too sweet for you I’ll take. Just send it along. 🙂
Jackie @Syrup and Biscuits says
Whoa, sistah! (I bet nobody in Australia calls you sistah!) That is one fine cake!! In addition to all the wonderful sweetness, it uses my favorite baking ingredient: buttermilk.
I don’t relate, at all, to the concept of anything being too sweet. 🙂
Nicely done, Maureen!
Carol @ Always Thyme to Cook says
Looks amazing! Could never be too sweet for my family!
Hi Maureen! The cake looks great! Too funny, my friends who tried the cake all commented that it wasn’t as sweet as other cakes!
LOL isn’t it funny. I need to get my tongue tested, that’s for sure! The cake looked lovely. I’ll admit that with half a pound of whipped cream the cake went down beautifully. 🙂
You had me at pecans! Your cake looks delicious and I can hear my tummy rumbling.
Sweeter than sugar, well I would be happy if my husband said that about me but not about my cooking 🙂 I think with tweaking the cake would be awesome. I loved hearing about your quirky coworker too 🙂
I’m going to remove some sugar from the cake and I think it would be perfect for me. Mae would be pleased that I remembered her. 🙂 She’s probably a million years old now.
Cookin' Canuck says
Now that is a thing of beauty! Too sweet or not, I’ll bet it still tastes fantastic.
‘I’m notorious for running out of time when I say yes to too many things.’ That is me in a nutshell, hence why I’m still catching up on ‘yesses’ and promises, including yours!
That said, I wish we all knew or know a Mae. I love people who can not only cook and bake, but share it so willingly. Love that she was a teent tiny woman who cut leather!
On another note ONE RACK in your new oven? That’s crazy! Are there slots for more racks which you can buy separately?
Your cake looks terrific – I once ate a whole Italian Cream Cake, by mysel, in two days…LOVE THEM!! However, I agree..way too much sugar..2 cups in the cake and 1 lb in the frosting? My teeth hurt LOL
SarahKate (Mi Casa-Su Casa) says
Awww… I love that story about Mae! I grew up in the South and I know so many women like Mae. It’s almost like they are magic cooks, everything they cook is delicious! I’m with you on the lack of sweet tooth in Australia. I bet your less-sweet version is perfect!
YUMMMMM!! The picture of a piece cut out makes my mouth water, sersiuoly! I think I need breakfast. I am also going to try and make this little baby from that recipe card. (I love recipe cards by the way, especially when they are all mucked up by old droppings of oils and such. :)I would also like to invite myself to a festive christmastime hangout!
Wow that thing looks sinfully delicious!
Seems to have a lot of sugar inside, but it looks absolutely delicious… something to make when you’re expecting company I think – not such a good idea to make this for yourself at home, lol 😀
juniakk @ mis pensamientos says
wow, maureen, this cake looks decadent!! i love topping my cakes with nuts and coconut flakes too 🙂
Lord, I don’t know where to begin my comment! But Knoxville Glove Company? Ha we have more in common than you know which is probably why we get along so well! We’ll have to get together one day over cake (not too sweet) and coffee and talk. This cake looks and sounds marvelous. And isn’t it funny how my sweet tooth has also changed since living in Europe. American foods are way way too sweet for me now!
Frugal in WV says
I love things sweet, so this looks perfect 🙂 The photo looks beautiful!
Really interesting post. I always think I lead a pretty hum-drum life, but when I think back about all the different stuff I’ve done, it’s amazing what a collection of jobs, experiences I’ve had. But I can’t top the Knoxville Glove Company! And when it comes to baking, I always follow the recipe as written – there’s chemistry going on when you bake! I don’t wanna mess with chemistry. But good to know how sweet this is. I do enjoy sweet stuff, but moderation please. It sounds as if whenever I finally visit Australia (not happening soon, but something I’m determined to do) I’ll like the sweets there. Fun post – thanks.
Nami | Just One Cookbook says
Your story definitely remind me of my first few years of not being able to eat American sweets. “It’s sweeter than sugar” – yeah I kind of felt that and I understand that meaning well. Over 15 years, I think I’m more Americanized that I could eat some cake that most of my ex-pat Japanese friends can’t eat. LOL. I tell them to wait a few more years. 😉 I’m curious how dessert is like in Australia. From all the food blog’s pictures, the food in Australia is amazing. Definitely look more sophisticated. Anyway, you are amazing to bake the same cake more than once. I’d give up so easily… Beautiful cake Maureen!
balvinder ( Neetu) says
I don’t like too much sweet desserts. If a recipe calls for 2 cups of flour and 2 cups of sugar, I will definitely reduce the amount of sugar in gluten free things otherwise they will taste sweeter than sugar as your friend said.
I will be looking forward for your next attempt.
Kitchen Belleicious says
melt in your mouth delicious! One of my favorite cakes hands down! Beautiful! so glad to be back and seeing all your yummy dishes
I just had a slice of Italian Cream Cake the other day. Actually, it took me two days to eat it — SWEEEEET — yes — but absolutely delicious with a good cup of coffee. Yours looks fabulous!
Jennie @themessybakerblog says
Maureen, this cake looks beautiful and absolutely delicious. I can relate to you; I tend to take on a bit too much, as well. It’s something I’m trying to work on, but I love having hobbies and getting involved. In the end, I’m trying to find extra time for my many hobbies, but I refuse to give any of them up.
I know exactly how you feel, Jennie. I’m not very good at slowing down. 🙂
I am not a big fan of cakes but this one looks incredibly good!
Dear Maureen, I just loved reading this post. I love the way you write.
I love Italian Cream Cake. I bet I would love this cake just the way it is…as sweet as it is…it looks beautiful. Blessings dearest. Catherine
Oh I missed this one. For shame. It’s a beauty. I don’t have a super big sweet tooth, but you know I have heard sugar is good for grieving families!
It’s been years since I’ve last baked an Italian Cream Cake. It’s one of my favorites! When the temps cool down here in the States, I’ll have to turn the oven on and make your recipe!
Looks gorgeous Maureen 🙂
I could do with a slice tonight!