Shredded coconut, chopped pecans, and almond extract come together to make this moist and fluffy gluten free Italian cream cake oh so good!
What is Italian cream cake?
Italian cream cake is a moist buttermilk cake with shredded coconut and pecans folded directly into the batter. It is frosted with cream cheese frosting and oftentimes topped with more pecans and coconut.
The first time I learned of Italian Cream Cake was years ago when I worked at a cake bakery frosting 8-inch cakes all day. We would slice off the slightly domed tops of the cake before frosting them. All it took was one bite to know this cake was something special.
Ten years and one celiac diagnosis later it was time for me to get in the kitchen and make a gluten free Italian cream cake so I could eat it once again.
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Can I freeze this cake?
Yes! My favorite way to freeze cakes is by the slice. Simply cut the leftover cake into slices and lay them on a lined sheet pan to freeze. Once the cake slices are frozen you can put them into a gallon zip top bag and label the bag with the date on the outside.
This way you can pull out one slice at a time if you like. Let it come to room temperature before devouring. Do not microwave the cake to warm it up or you will have frosting soup.
- I like to cut out parchment circles when I'm making layer cakes to put in the bottom of the pan. This ensures the cake will come out of the pan with no problems. There's nothing worse than pulling a gorgeous cake out of the oven only to have it fall apart while trying to remove it. Spray the bottom of the pan then lay the parchment circle on top and then spray the pan as you normally would.
- Do not frost the cake warm! I know this is tempting because the cake smells and looks so darn good but wait until the cake is completely cooled and room temperature before frosting. Otherwise the frosting will just melt.
- Don't remove the cakes from the pan right when they come out of the oven. They will be too hot and won't stay together. Wait until they're warm and not hot before flipping out of the pan.
- An easy way to remove the cakes from the pan is to lay a cooling rack up against the top of the cake pan and then flip both the cake pan and the cooling rack together.
- Use a serrated cutting knife like a steak knife to cut through the cake when ready to slice it. The cake is very soft and this will help keep it from falling apart when you cut it.
Gluten free all purpose flour is actually a blend of multiple flours, starches, and oftentimes xanthan gum. Every brand is slightly different with varying ingredients and ratios therefore they all come out somewhat different. I recommend using Bob's Red Mill 1:1 All Purpose Gluten Free Flour not only because the taste and texture is delicious but because that is what I've used to make this recipe and I can't tell you with absolute certainty it will come out as good with another kind.
I do not recommend this. I know it is common to substitute buttermilk for milk with an acid like lemon juice but in my experience a recipe doesn't come out right this way and I usually have to adjust measurements because of it. Buttermilk is much thicker than milk and therefore reacts differently. The Kitchn has a good article on buttermilk and how it's made.
Other Gluten Free Cake Recipes You Might Love
- Gluten Free Sour Cream Pound Cake
- Gluten Free Red Velvet Cupcakes
- Gluten Free Spice Cake
- Gluten Free Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Maple Frosting
Gluten Free Italian Cream Cake
- Stand Mixer with the Paddle Attachment
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 ⅓ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- 1 t. vanilla extract
- ½ t. almond extract
- 4 large eggs
- 2 ½ cups Bob's Red Mill 1:1 Gluten Free All Purpose Flour
- 1 t. baking powder
- ½ t. baking soda
- ¼ t. kosher salt
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- ⅔ cup chopped pecans
- Cream cheese frosting*
- Make sure the rack is in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut out two parchment paper circles slightly smaller than the 8 inch cake pans. Spray the bottoms of the cake pans and set the parchment circles in them. Spray the pans with the nonstick spray and set aside.
- In a medium bowl measure the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir with a whisk and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment cream the butter, oil, sugars, vanilla, and almond extract for 3 minutes on medium speed.
- Add the eggs one at a time beating until incorporated after each addition. Scrape the bowl as necessary.
- Add half of the flour mixture to the mixer and beat on medium speed until mixed combined. Add the buttermilk and on low speed beat until combined then add the remaining flour. Mix until a smooth batter forms scraping the bowl as necessary.
- Fold in the coconut and pecans with a spatula. Divide the batter into the cake pans and bake until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. This should take about 35 to 38 minutes.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool until warm. Place a cooling rack onto the top of the cake pan and gently flip the cake over onto the cooling rack.
- Let the cakes cool completely and then frost with cream cheese frosting and top with more toasted coconut and/or pecans.
Delicious!! Have tried your recipe and it is moist and flavorful!!!
I made half again the recipe to make a three layer cake for my son-in-law’s birthday. It came out perfectly! This recipe bakes well, slices well, and Rita’s tea great! Would love to know the calories per serving.
Can i use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil?
You should be able to!
This cake is delicious! It’s super moist and the frosting is light and fluffy (I’m not a huge fan of cream cheese frosting but I really liked this version).
This cake is amazing!!
I used cup4cup flour added 1tsp xanthum gum and about 1/3 cup of ricotta cheese. I didn’t add pecans o my unsweetened shredded coconut. Cake is moist!
For the frosting I added 1/4 tsp vanilla extract and 1/4 tsp almond extract and would splash some heavy whipping cream until I liked the consistency.
So so good!!
Tip* Do not over mix your batter!
I'm so glad you loved it! And thanks for sharing the substitutions you've used!
Can you use df butter?
I have not tried it yet, but it's worth a try!
Can this be made with almond flour?
No, almond flour isn't a 1:1 substitution with all-purpose or gluten-free flour. I always recommend finding a recipe that calls for almond flour. I have many of them!
My son requested this cake for his birthday. Can I make part of this ahead of time? I was thinking of making the cake layers 2-3 days ahead and then cooling, wrapping and freezing them until the day of my son's birthday.
Yes, that should work great and make them easier to assemble/frost.
Can I substitute olive oil for the vegetable oil? I’m also wondering about using unsweetened coconut instead of the sweetened?
Technically, olive oil should work, but it has a strong flavor so I think it would come through in the cake and not complement the other flavors. For this reason, I'd recommend not to use olive oil. However, if you do use it, please let us know how it came out.
If you like a less sweet cake, I think unsweetened coconut would work great.