Italian wedding cake is a light, fluffy yellow cake flavored with crushed pineapple, filled with creamy coconut, and topped with decadent cream cheese frosting. The cake is moist and flavorful and puts a twist on the traditional idea of a white or yellow wedding cake with plain vanilla filling and frosting. The recipe is somewhat flexible, so Italian cake is also easily subject to variations and ingredient swaps.
The cream cheese frosting that adorns most of the wedding cakes is just as smooth and simple to decorate with as buttercream, so brides and grooms don't have to worry about compromising presentation quality for taste. One potential concern is temperature, however. While many buttercream frostings are actually prepared with shortening to keep their structure stable, the cream cheese and butter in the Italian cake's frosting don't stand up well to very warm temperatures. The cream cheese frosting choice is not suitable for an outdoor summer wedding unless the cake can be refrigerated until right before dessert at the reception.
Although the cream cheese frosting is the traditional choice and pairs very well with the coconut filling and pineapple flavor in the layers, couples who prefer the more polished look of fondant can also have a decorator cover their cake in that type of icing. The inner flavors will still stand out, and the fondant covering will help keep the layers moist. Another option is Italian meringue buttercream, which is even silkier than cream cheese frosting but is also made with butter, and is subject to melting or drooping.
Keep the look of your Italian cake classic and simple by decorating it with fresh roses, lace, or a filigree pattern.
Italian Wedding Cake Recipes
If you want to try making your own wedding cake or would like to provide your cake decorator with a recipe to use, the first step is to poke around for tried-and-true classics. When you search online, pay attention to recipe reviews and user comments to note how you can get the best version of the cake possible.
- AllRecipes.com is one of the web's most popular recipe sites for its ease of use and helpful comments. Its Italian wedding cake recipe is made rich and moist with buttermilk and egg yolks. The recipe features flaked coconut in the batter rather than the filling and chopped pecans on top of the cake.
- Blogger Sugar Plum also uses buttermilk in her original recipe for the cake, but she ups the amount of coconut and jazzes up the serving by topping each slice of cake with a creamy custard sauce.
- Sandra Lee's recipe may only be suitable for the most rushed brides and grooms because it calls for a boxed cake mix and canned frosting, but it's a good way to test the flavor of the cake if you've never had it before.
- Cooks.com suggests using a brown-sugar icing for the cake rather than the traditional cream cheese frosting.
Another option is to use another recipe as a guide and make up your own version of the cake. Brides who love coconut may want to use a recipe for coconut cake as a base and simply add some fresh crushed pineapple, while grooms who prefer the sweet tang of hummingbird cake may want to prepare layers of that and stuff sweetened flaked coconut into the filling and frosting. The flavors of the cake are adaptable and meld well with a number of alternatives, from warm nutmeg and ginger during the autumn or winter to light and bright citrus flavors in the summertime.
Italian wedding cake is a fun, creative dessert option for couples who want to savor a delicious slice of something other than vanilla or chocolate. If you have Italian ancestry or are celebrating your wedding with an Italian theme, consider using the cake as just part of a larger dessert bar that includes other Italian classics such as panna cotta, ricotta cheesecake, and tiramisu. Alternatively, emphasize the flavors of your special cake by decorating the surrounding area with fresh coconuts and pineapple before you and your guests dig in.