Not everything in life is hard right now. A lot of things are, but this cake isn’t one of them.
So … this is a post about my Easy Italian Cream Cake. And I feel a little weird posting it right now. The recent hubbub over Tina Fey’s sheet-cake sketch in the wake of Charlottesville has my social media feeds full of folks smarting at the suggestion that we should just ignore these racists and neo-nazis and, well, just eat cake. So, full disclosure, this is just a recipe and not a recommendation that you ignore white supremacists and not protest. RESIST! And… when you’re done resisting, enjoy this easy way to make an impressive cake. I don’t know, maybe you can have a party to write letters to your representatives and serve this cake. It will be the piece de’ resistance at your party of resistance.
I do think (mostly) Fey meant her sketch to be a commentary on how helpless many of us feel in the face of such outrageous displays of hatred, and was maybe(?) even meant to be taking a jab at white complacency. Nonetheless, it turned tone-deaf and I understand why many were hurt, and felt it was insensitive. Complacency isn’t an option when you’re the target. And that last punchline was…really not okay. At any rate, just more on why I feel weird talking about cake at this present moment. This is the world we’re living in. These bastards are ruining cake, y’all. They must be stopped. Haha…oh God, there’s just no way to be light-hearted about this. I’m just going to give you this yummy recipe. Take care of each other, friends.
(If you don't know what I'm talking about, you can watch it here. And for some sample commentary, here, and here.)
So…in case you haven’t yet noticed, cakes are my jam. I jump at any chance to make them; baking is my love language. I’ve made this cake a few times, most recently for Mother’s Day and again for a Housewarming/Anniversary party we just had. I discovered that you can achieve either a fluffy, moist texture that crumbles when you cut it, or a more dense, pound-cake like texture if you shift the ingredients slightly. The fluffy one is my fave, but I’ll post both iterations below. For our anniversary party, I tried decorating the cake with fresh flowers, inspired by garden party and wedding pinterest boards the world over. Actually, I’ve used fresh flowers to decorate a cake before and I’ll give you another wonderful cake tip: any sins can be hidden with fresh flowers. Lumpy cake? No worries. I once had to bake a birthday cake for my sister and couldn’t find my baking pans at the last minute. I had to use an odd assortment of dishes and ended up with a really weird shaped cake, but nobody had any idea once I decked it with fresh flowers.
Another cake tip: I almost always start with a cake mix. Nobody ever knows. Either Bustle or my sister once gave me a book called the Cake Doctor, which was all about doctoring cake mixes to make special, seemingly baked-from-scratch cakes. I was already doing this, but that book really helped me level up in terms of cake trickery. It wasn’t used for this particular cake, but I highly recommend it.
Fluffy Italian Cream Cake:
1 package white cake mix
1 1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup walnut oil
4 oz (half a package) cream cheese
1 full cup sweetened, flaked coconut
1/3 cup pulverized almonds (I recommend buying flaked almonds in the baking aisle and using a food processor to chop them really fine. I use this inexpensive, one-cup food processor, but you could also use a manual chopper if desired)
1 tbsp vanilla
Betty Crocker cream cheese frosting
*Use almonds and extra coconut for decorating, or use fresh flowers for a fancier cake
Prepare cake according to the package directions, substituting milk for water, and walnut oil for vegetable oil (see above). Once blended, add cream cheese and mix till completely blended. Blend a full measuring cup of flaked coconut and the almonds. Bake according to the directions. Cake should be slightly brown, and spring away from the sides of the pan.
Dense Italian Cream Cake Version:
1 package white cake mix
1 cup & 2 tbps milk
1/3 cup walnut oil
6 oz (3/4 a package) cream cheese
2/3 cup sweetened, flaked coconut
1/2 cup pulverized almonds (I recommend buying flaked almonds in the baking aisle and using a food processor to chop them really fine. I use this inexpensive, one-cup food processor, but you could also use a manual chopper if desired)