Thursday, May 17, 2007

Creamy Italian White

Some countries wear white to funerals. Others wear white to symbolize purity, innocence, or peace. You can see why I don't wear white. But when seven spoons author, Tara posted the Shades of White theme for a dessert post of the month. I literally jumped out of my chair at work and went over to Bob, immediately babbling about the round-up. He sat there with a smile on his face while I went a mile a minute.
I started making a list of things to make-cake, ice cream, frosting, and the lists goes on. I realized afterwards that my bank account could not take a hit like this. It would greatly hurt my summer money. I paused. Wait a minute. VERONIKA'S BIRTHDAY/GRADUATION CAKE!
The smile reappeared on my face. Veronika's favorite cake is Italian Cream Cake, which is a shade of white. I began my search for the perfect recipe for the perfect lady. The internet gave me many millions of choices. Most of them with cream cheese frosting with pecans in it. Well, that wasn't white was it.
Then I was stumped, how to get it white? I read the ingredients- sugar, shortening, butter, eggs, levening agents, coconut- wait what. Coconut. Instead of pecans I would do coconut. Probably not my own idea, probably been substitute for pecans before, but it solved my problem.
Tuesday night I made the cake. Successfully beating my egg whites unlike the dulce de leche cake. I didn't make them stiff enough meaning a suken cake, but I was still happy. However, during baking, I read the reviews. "Double frosting on cake or won't have enough." I cursed. I only had one brick of cream cheese. I got off work at 5 p.m., farmer's market, Veronika at 7 p.m., when did I have time for another brick.
Sadly, I called Veronika Wednesday afternoon, asking if she could pick up cream cheese and powdered sugar. I felt horrible. Asking the birthday girl to pick up ingredients is not the thing to do. (Veronika, I love you!) So I beat the cheese with butter and sugar, sprinkling it over the stove. It came together and I started eating it, while icing the cake.
Veronika knocked and I yelled to come in. Opening the door with messy hands is not a good idea. She came and said hello, putting her finger in the bowl. I caught her and glared. Dinner was cooking and we caught up. Once again, realizing, she's leaving me for grad school. We ate pizza and watched Bones, drooling over David Boreanaz. In between, I beat more frosting.
Then I got, "Is the cake ready yet?"
I looked at her. Her face had a big grin. "Almost."
She got up and came for more icing. I said nothing because I was engrossed in the frosting process, which I royally suck at. I have a tendency to take the crumbs of the top. It makes a big mess and not a pretty cake. The coconut would perfect where I would fail with the frosting. However, pressing coconut became a task, but then it was done. Perfecto.
"Take a picture so I can eat it," I heard.
I cut a slice giving it to her, while I took photos.
"Is it good?" I asked.
"It's great," she answered.
Now the first time I had Italian Cream Cake, I had it in a restaurant. It compared to carrot cake without the carrots. I was told that I had bad cake and must try it again. Veronika gave me that chance. I must say that the cake was excellent. Next time more coconut.
Veronika is a special lady. Full of happiness, spirit, and spit. Ask her about getting dessert and she's always game. She gives in to indulgence. A small slice will never do, it's always larger than life. Like her heart and spirit. I'll miss her, when she's gone.

Epicurious Italian Cream Cake
For cake layers
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable shortening, softened
1 stick (1/2 cup) margarine, softened
5 large eggs, separated
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans

For frosting
an 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 stick (1/2 cup) margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
a 1-pound box confectioners' sugar

Make cake layers:
Preheat oven to 375°F. and lightly butter and flour three 9- by 2-inch round cake pans, knocking out any excess flour.

In a bowl with an electric mixer beat together sugar, shortening, and margarine until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Into another bowl sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Beat flour mixture into egg mixture in 2 batches alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, until combined. Beat in vanilla, coconut, and chopped pecans. Beat egg whites in another bowl until they just hold stiff peaks and fold into batter gently but thoroughly.

Divide batter among pans, smoothing tops, and bake in upper two thirds of oven, switching position of pans in oven halfway through baking, until a tester comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool cake layers in pans on racks 10 minutes and invert onto racks to cool completely.

Make frosting:
In a bowl with an electric mixer beat together cream cheese, margarine, and vanilla until smooth. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar, beating until creamy.

Stack cake layers on a cake plate, spreading about 1/2 cup frosting between each layer. Spread remaining frosting on top and side of cake.

*Note: Coconut works well to cover frosting mistakes. Oh and definitely double the frosting.


Cookie baker Lynn said...

Your cake is just beautiful. And you are an awesome friend to make it for the birthday. I think the coconut is lovely - a fine substitute for pecans.

Kate said...

Veronia really must be a special have you make her such a wonderful cake.It looks delicious !

jenjen said...

I completely missed out on this month's SHF. This entry looks perfect.
Right now I am going through a phase where I love wearing white (except white pants).

Freya and Paul said...

I am bookmarking this recipe - it is stunning and just perfect for the event! I want a slice now!

tara said...

A lovely looking cake, by all accounts. This is surely one I will try. Thanks so much for participating!

Claire said...

So pretty! I love this kind of cake...and you are great to make it for a friend.

Andrea said...

This sounds wonderful! I know I'm going to try this very soon! Thanks for sharing the recipe.