Billie’s Italian Cake

  • As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

    These cupcakes based on Pioneer Woman’s Italian cake have chopped pecans and coconut flakes in the frosting and in the batter

    You’re probably questioning my intelligence right now, aren’t you? That or you’re wondering if I posted the wrong pictures for the recipe. In that case, no. This really is it!

    Throughout this PW Wednesday series, the ladies and I have learned to modify almost all the recipes we’ve done. This is because we want the recipes to be healthier or because the quantity was made for a circus. Most of the time it was both. We used Ree’s recipes as guidelines and we added, subtracted ingredients to our taste. Which is why this series is so fun. One recipe, five very different dishes as the final outcome.

    With that said, this week’s recipe was my choice again. I decided that we needed something sweet. We’ve done a bunch of savory dishes and while they have been nothing but amazing, we needed a sweet one to round out the savory dishes! So, I chose this cake. Err, cupcake? Again, modification.

    The original recipe was a three layer cake that fed about 8-10 people. I really didn’t need that so I decided to halve the recipe and bake cupcakes instead! I really loved it. It has coconut flakes and chopped pecans IN the frosting and within the batter, there were coconut flakes. I only had half of one, the rest I gave to my coworkers and Jason. The reviews are this: not too sweet, the frosting is amazing, the cake batter is super moist, and love the coconut addition!

    I must agree with all those. I did modify my frosting because I’m not a fan of getting a cavity as soon as frosting touches my teeth, so it definitely worked because everyone agreed this wasn’t a super sweet cupcake (which I don’t know how I achieved that because it seems like everyone else who made it this week thought it was too sweet). I love how moist my cupcakes came out. One friend said that he expected it to be a kind of dry cake but he was happily surprised with a moist cake. I’d have to say I think my favorite part is the fact that the batter is laced with coconut flakes. So yummy!

    Grab the original recipe below for the cake, but here are my modifications:

    • I halved the recipe to make cupcakes. You use the same cake batter but just use and bake them in muffin tins! I was able to make 14 cupcakes with the halved recipe.
    • The original recipe calls for 5 eggs. How the heck do you halve 5 eggs?! I didn’t want to do the math like Rachel did, so I just threw in 3 eggs. Turned out perfectly fine.
    • I halved the frosting recipe and didn’t add as much powdered sugar as it called for (which if you’re curious it called for TWO POUNDS!! Cray cray). I likely added about 1/2 a cup. I added more pecans and coconut flakes instead :) I also think if I didn’t modify the frosting, my frosting would’ve been too runny to pipe.
    • I used a decorating tip with a large opening. Not sure you’ll be able to use a pretty frosting tip because there are pecans and coconut flakes folded into the frosting so with a small tip, it’ll likely all get stuck when you pipe.

    Here are the ladies & their versions & opinions! It’s funny that two of us did cupcakes and the other two made the layered cake! I love us!

    Rachel – Baked by Rachel

    Megan – Wanna Be A Country Cleaver

    Gina – Running to the Kitchen

    Billie's Italian Cake

    One of my favorite cakes transformed into cupcakes!
    Prep Time: 25 mins
    Cook Time: 18 mins
    Total Time: 43 mins
    Servings (adjustable, but please note that results, timing, and cookware may vary when adjusting servings): 9 cupcakes
    Author: Julie Chiou
    5 Hassle-Free Ways to Simplify MealtimeSign up here for all the secrets!


    For the cake

    • 5 eggs, separated
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
    • 1 cup vegetable oil
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
    • 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1 cup buttermilk

    For the icing

    • 2: 8- ounce packages of cream cheese
    • 1 cup unsalted butter
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 pounds powdered sugar
    • 1 cup chopped pecans
    • 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes


    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans or 2 quarter sheet pans or one 9x12-inch pan.
    • To make the cake, beat the egg whites until they're stiff. Transfer them to another bowl, then clean mixing bowl and beater.
    • Combine the butter, vegetable oil, and granulated sugar in the mixing bowl and mix until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and vanilla, then beat until smooth.
    • Add the coconut and beat to combine.
    • Combine the flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a bowl then alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk, mixing for a few seconds after each addition.
    • Add the egg whites and fold them gently in with the rest of the batter.
    • Pour the batter onto the greased pans and spread it out. Bake cakes for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
    • Turn the cakes out of the pans and allow them to cool completely.
    • In the meantime, you can make your icing. To make, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar in a mixing bowl. Beat until very light and fluffy.
    • Add 3/4 cup of the chopped pecans (reserving 1/4 cup for topping) and the 1 cup of coconut flakes. Mix until all combined.
    • Stack the cake layers, spreading a generous amount of icing in between each layer. Take the extra icing and spread it all around the sides.
    • End with sprinkling of the remaining chopped pecans.
    • You can wrap the cake up or place in tupperware for up to a week.


    Source: page 243 of Ree Drummond's The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier


    Julie Wampler of Table for Two
    Meet The Author: Julie Chiou
    Dinner for Two Cookbook
    Order My Cookbook!

    Dinner for Two

    Leave a Comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Recipe Rating


  • Carla @ Carla's Confections says:

    Obsessed with how good these look! Seriously swooning over these. Great job on eating half of one. I wish I had your will power! :)

  • Rachel @ Baked by Rachel says:

    Feeding a circus… lol. I truly love how each week we all end up with something totally different from each other.

  • Kathryn says:

    This cake does sound seriously crazy as written. I love seeing the changes that all you ladies have made.

  • amy @ fearless homemaker says:

    i like that you + rachel made these into cupcakes – that’s what i would’ve done, too. sounds tasty, although very very intense! i wouldn’t expect anything less from the PW. =)

  • Rachel Cooks says:

    TWO POUNDS of powdered sugar?!? Oh Ree. LOL. Love that you turned these into cupcakes. Very fun!

  • Gina @ Running to the Kitchen says:

    I should’ve cut way back on the powdered sugar like you did. I didn’t use a full pound but definitely more than half a cup. Ugh…too sweet!
    I love all our pictures and variations this time around :)

  • Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious says:

    I absolutely love your modifications, as I’m not much of a sweet tooth person. And great idea turning these into cupcakes! Doesn’t it make serving so much cleaner and easier?

  • Megan {Country Cleaver} says:

    I loved that you made these into cupcakes – and halved the recipe. In retrospect I should have done the same. The nuts seriously helped cut the sweet factor of the frosting, but I wish I could have just stuck with 1 pound of sugar. 2 was kidna over the top.

    Good choice Julie – I loved all the coconut and anytime I can break out my cake decorating gear, it’s a good day.

  • Ali @ Gimme Some Oven says:

    Oooh – love that you went with cupcakes! These are adorable!!

  • Ashley says:

    These look like so much fun for your face! And I love finding scaled down sweet recipes, we’re only two over here, and 24 cupcakes or entire layer cakes can seem insane to make sometimes!

    • Julie says:

      Haha I love that you said “so much fun for your face” true!

  • Cassie says:

    I love your modifications and that you made cupcakes. The frosting sounds dreamy!

  • Tracey says:

    I just want to take my finger and swipe it through the frosting on your cupcakes, it looks so yummy! :) I love turning layer cakes into cupcakes so you can scale back, great idea!

  • Stephanie says:

    I need to start halving/quartering my recipes. I always make too many. I love coconut so I’m totally going to make these cupcakes these summer. Or cake, whichever works. hehe

  • Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. says:

    Glad you chose a sweet recipe! And I love that you made cupcakes instead! I’m all about coconut right now so I would be all over these!

  • Katie says:

    These are the prettiest cupcakes I’ve ever seen!

  • Erin @ Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts says:

    Glad you chose a dessert! As much as I love all the savory recipes, this looks amazing too!

  • Jackie @ Domestic Fits says:

    Seriously gorgeous. Love these suckers.

  • Jennifer | Mother Thyme says:

    These look so good! I loved that you made them into cupcakes. My favorite part would be the coconut flakes too! I would put them in everything if I could. :)

  • Jenny @ BAKE says:

    These look delicous!

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says:

    These look absolutely fantastic!! I haven’t tried this kind of cake before and it sounds sooo good!

  • Laurie {Simply Scratch} says:

    These are absolutely stunning!! Love that you turned the cake into cupcakes!! Smarty pants!

  • Elizabeth says:

    These look divine!

  • Shawn @ I Wash...You Dry says:

    After checking out all ya’lls recipes…I think i would totally go for the cupcake version. These just look so much more fun, and easy to prepare. Thanks for testing out these recipes!

  • Katrina @ In Katrina's Kitchen says:

    I love that you girls all have such different takes on each recipe! Now I want a cupcake. Or four.

  • sally @ sally's baking addiction says:

    TWO POUNDS of powdered sugar? Def cray cray Julie, haha.

    Julie I have to say – I think these pictures are the PRETTIEST pics I’ve seen on Table for Two yet – they are literally perfect. It takes me about 60 shots to get the pictures I like. I’m still learning! I always love drooling over your pics. :)

    • Julie says:

      Thanks Sally! These are my favorite pictures to date too :) I have some next week that are contenders though! hehe xoxo

  • amanda @ fake ginger says:

    I want a few of these delivered to my house immediately. :)

  • Katie @ Blonde Ambition says:

    This is, like, ACTUALLY a super creative cake-turned-cupcake! I’ve seen sooo many desserts (and even cocktails) made in to cupcakes nowadays that I started to feel like the novelty was wearing off, but for some reason the idea of this is so neat to me!

  • Vera Zecevic – Cupcakes Garden says:

    These cupcakes are absolutely amazing! I’m delighted with them! I’ve featured this recipes on my blog! I hope you don’t mind! If you don’t agree with that please contact me and I will remove it. All the best.

    • Julie says:

      Hi vera, it would’ve been nice if you had asked to used my photos before making your post. With that said, could you credit me for my photographs by saying “Photos by” or something along those lines?? Thank you.

  • Vera Zecevic – Cupcakes Garden says:

    Thanks Julie, I did what you want ! I always put credit bellow images, maybe you didn’t notice! I’ve also put credit bellow every photos how! Thanks again! Cupcakes are so lovely!

    • Julie says:


  • Shah says:

    Hi! Love the modifications, may I know how can i get your recipe for the cupcakes? Thanks!

    • Julie says:

      Hi Shah, if you read the blog entry, the bulleted list tells you how I made them into cupcakes. Pretty much the same ingredients/process. I just halved the recipe.

  • 5 Hassle-Free Ways to Simplify Mealtime