Cooking Light Five-Star Italian Cream Cake

This cake tastes so rich, it’s hard to believe it’s light. I made it about 15 times for photography when we featured it on a cover, and it traveled great when I froze it overnight. Now, at our house, it’s the traditional cake for birthdays, holidays, and company. – Kellie, Test Kitchens Staff – This is a free sample recipe of our Quick-Smart™ premium recipe collection. The complete Premium Collection is available by subscription only.

Cooking Light Five-Star Italian Cream Cake


  • 1 tablespoon light butter (do not soften)
  • 1 (8 ounce) package Neufchatel cheese (do not soften)
  • 1 (16 ounce) package powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • CAKE:
  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup light butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon butter extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 egg whites
  • Lemon rind strips (optional)


1 Prepare Cream Cheese Icing: Beat butter and cheese at high speed of an electric mixer until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, and beat at low speed until blended. Add vanilla; beat well. Cover, and chill.

2 Coat bottoms of 3 (9-inch) round cakepans with cooking spray (do not coat sides of pans); line bottoms of cakepans with wax paper. Coat wax paper with cooking spray, and dust with flour; set aside.

3 Beat butter at medium speed of an electric mixer until butter is creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

4 Combine 2 cups flour and baking soda; stir well. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in pecans and next 3 ingredients.

5 Beat egg whites at high speed of mixer until stiff peaks form (do not overbeat). Fold egg whites into batter; pour batter into prepared pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 23 minutes. Cool in pans 5 minutes on wire racks. Loosen cake layers from sides of pans using a narrow metal spatula, and turn out onto wire racks. Peel off wax paper, and cool completely.

6 Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate, and spread with 2/3 cup Cream Cheese Icing; top with second cake layer. Repeat with 2/3 cup icing and third cake layer. Spread remaining icing over cake. Garnish with lemon rind strips, if desired.

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