This cake has been a long time coming! So my husband and I have been together since I was in my young 20's. So long ago that he first Christmas we spent with his family, I cried because I was homesick! That first Christmas in Arkansas was a sweet one- lots of desserts and savory dishes, including his parents' neighbor's creations. Mrs. P's italian cream cake was one of the sweeter parts!! She seems to keep them in the freezer for any occasion. Chock full of pecans and coconut, the cake is M----. (for you, L.) So for his birthday this year, my husband requested this cake.
For some reason I hallucinated asking for this recipe multiple times, but I must not have ever really done it! In desperation I made Emeril's version, thinking I was never going to get Mrs. P's. However, later that morning, my mother-in-law sent me Mrs. P's! I barely wanted to open it, worried it was going to be very different. It was identical, except Emeril called for 2 cups of coconut, which I probably prefer anyway! I had to use my favorite cream cheese icing recipe, but otherwise this is Mrs. P's cake. Perfect!! I brought leftovers to work and it was a big, big hit.
Adapted from Emeril and Mrs. P.
For the cake:
1/2 cup shortening, room temperature (115gm)
1 stick butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar (450 gm)
5 eggs, separated and at room temperature
2 cups flour (220 gm)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 cups shredded coconut (185 gm)
1 cup finely ground pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the frosting:
Adapted from Ina Garten
2 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cup butter, softened at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 tsp coconut extract
1 1/2 lbs powdered sugar, sifted
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and grease and line with parchment 3 (9-inch) cake pans, and wrap with cake strips.
In the bowl of an electric mixer cream the shortening, butter and all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking soda) until light and fluffy. This is the reverse creaming method of Rose Levy Berenbaum that distributes dry ingredients well and makes a nice crumb. It also tolerates mixing without getting tough. Add the egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. With the mixer on low speed, add the buttermilk.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff, and gently fold into the prepared batter. Add the coconut, pecans and vanilla and fold into the batter. Divide the batter among the 3 prepared cake pans (about 543 gm each) and bake for about 25-35 minutes, or until golden brown and top springs back.
Make frosting by beating together all the ingredients.
Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes before popping into freezer to finish cooling for about 20 minutes covered in plastic. When the cakes are completely cool, add 1 1/2 cups frosting between each layer (1 cup if you don't love frosting), and frost tops and sides. This will be just enough to get the job done- I had to make a small batch of another type of frosting for the decorations.