Side Dish: Father’s Day

My dad wasn’t a cook, but he did appreciate the effort that went into good cooking. He also had a sweet tooth. So, for special occasions like birthdays or Father’s Day, instead of or in addition to the more traditional “guy” gift of a new shirt or power tool, I’d take him a freshly baked treat.

Usually my family and I arrived at my parents’ home with his sweet of choice: blueberry cobbler, cherry pie or oatmeal cookies.

But, for Easter 1996 — we were also celebrating his birthday — I decided to offer him an Italian Cream Cake made from a popular Holly Clegg recipe. The layer cake was such a hit he requested it again for Father’s Day.

The next year Clegg made honoring Daddy’s Father’s Day request easier when her book “Trim & Terrific One-Dish Favorites: Over 200 Fast and Easy Low-Fat Recipes” featured a recipe for Quickie Italian Cream Cake.

Here’s that easier version. May it help you and your family create fond Father’s Day memories, too.

Advocate-tested recipe

Quickie Italian
Cream Cake

Serves 28. Recipe is from “Trim & Terrific One-Dish Favorites: Over 200 Fast and Easy Low-Fat Recipes” by Holly Clegg (Clarkson Potter/Publishers).

1 (181/4-oz.) pkg. light white cake mix

1 cup low-fat buttermilk

2 large egg whites

1 large egg

1/4 cup canola oil

3 tbls. light brown sugar

1/4 cup flaked coconut

2 tbls. chopped pecans

Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 13-inch by 9-inch by 2-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray and dust with flour.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, buttermilk, egg whites, egg and oil, beating until well mixed.

3. In a small mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar, coconut and pecans; set aside.

4. Spread half the batter in the bottom of the pan, sprinkle with the brown sugar mixture, and carefully top with the remaining batter, spreading it out. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool and spread with the Cream Cheese Frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 (8-oz.) pkg. fat-free cream cheese, softened

2 tbls. light stick margarine

1 (16-oz.) box confectioners’ sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and margarine together.

2. Blend in the sugar, mixing well. Add the vanilla, mixing well again.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 185 calories, 4.4 grams fat, 21.5 percent calories from fat, 190 milligrams sodium and 9 milligrams cholesterol.

Cheramie Sonnier is The Advocate’s Food editor. Her email address is