Family Recipe Friday – My Big Tall Italian Wedding Cake (Italian Cream Cake)

Continuing with recipes my mom contributed to the Friendship Circle Cookbook, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Clovis, NM, 1973.

Three recipes for Italian Cream Cake are included in the cookbook, reflecting the popularity of this cake in the late 60s and early 70s. Mom was trending. It remains a family favorite. 

And Mom made My Big Tall Wedding Cake using this recipe.

Husband and I were attending Baylor University in Waco, TX. when we got engaged. My family had moved to Odessa while I was in college, so I had no attachments to anyone there. We wanted our college friends to attend our wedding, so we decided to get married in Waco on the Friday beginning Spring Break.

Mom had taken up cake decorating while living in Clovis.  We were planning our wedding on a budget, so I asked Mom if she would make the cake. She had never made a wedding cake before, but we found a cake that I liked and she thought she could handle. It’s right there on the cover of this Wilton Year Book.

Mom decided the cake would taste much better if she used her Italian Cream Cake recipe – using that good cream cheese frosting between layers, coconut in the cake, and decorator frosting only on the outside of the cake. She baked the cake layers and made the little dried frosting flowers in Odessa. I can’t remember if she made the frosting and brought it with her, or brought her electric mixer and made the frosting in my apartment. You’d think I’d remember that, but you know how it is with weddings and frazzled brides….

I don’t know much about the trip from Odessa to Waco. All I know is that two adults and three girls ages 5-9 and all the components of the wedding cake made the 355-mile drive in the family’s red and white station wagon and all arrived safely.

My memory of Mom assembling the cake is vague at best. What I believe happened is that she assembled and decorated all of the layers in my apartment. On the day of the wedding, the decorated layers went back into the station wagon for the drive to the church and Mom assembled the whole thing there.

Like I said, Mom had never made a wedding cake before. In her haste to finish the cake and get herself spruced up before the wedding, I guess she neglected to read “The Wilton Way to Assemble a Tier Cake.”


And that’s how it became My Big Tall Wedding Cake.

It was taller than anyone in the room.



I don’t know how Mom even got the top layer on there. She must have stood on a ladder.

We had to remove the top layer so we could cut the cake. How did we do that?

Never the less, it was a lovely cake. It tasted delicious. Mom’s decorating was awesome. And we had a good laugh. (Except my husband’s sister, who cried the whole time. Tears of joy, she assured me.)

And now I suppose I should share the recipe as promised.

Italian Cream Cake

2 cups sugar
1 stick butter or oleo
1/2 cup Crisco
5 eggs, separated
2 cups flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon soda
1 can Angel Flake coconut

In mixing bowl add sugar, oleo, and Crisco and cream well. To this add egg yolks (one at a time and cream well). Add flour, buttermilk, soda and coconut. Fold in 5 beaten egg whites.   Pour into three 8″ or 9″ pans. Bake at 350 degrees about 25 minutes.


1  large package cream cheese (8 oz.)
1 stick butter or oleo
1 box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans

Cream cheese and oleo. Add other ingredients. Frost cake.

Addendum: November 11, 2012

When I was with my parents recently, I found out that my memory was not perfect when I wrote this. Imagine that! Dad had been in Odessa for a few weeks when I got married, but Mom and my sisters were still in Clovis, NM. Mom was handling life with my sisters pretty much on her own and getting the house ready to sell during this time. She and my sisters and the cake made the drive from Clovis to Waco; Dad drove in separately from Odessa.

13 thoughts on “Family Recipe Friday – My Big Tall Italian Wedding Cake (Italian Cream Cake)

  1. Your mom did a wonderful job. The top layer is big in addition to being tall.
    The cake from my first wedding had similar small flowers. That must have been the trend, as well as hats for the bride.

    • My mom not only made our wedding cake, but she also made our rehearsal dinner that we ate in my apartment (it’s a long story). Nothing fancy, but still… She did a lot for me! Did you wear a hat too? They were in style, those big floppy hats.

      • I did wear a hat. It was borrowed from my best friend who was also my maid of honor. She wore it at her wedding the year before, so definitely a trend. This was 1980 and 1981.

        • Mine was in 1975 – does that make me a trendsetter? Ha! I made my dress and bought a plain floppy hat and just started covering it with leftover lace. No clue what I was doing. I had a really homemade wedding.
          I always appreciate you “talking” to me, Danita!

  2. What a great story! I can’t believe your mom made your wedding cake! And not ever having made on before! Whew! She was brave. And with all the mom of the bride has to do she added that to the list. What a super woman!

    • She did much more than make the cake – I guess she was brave and super! I couldn’t believe it when they pulled up in the station wagon with those cake layers intact in the back of the car. Thanks for stopping by Jana!

  3. Your mom did a great job with your wedding cake, especially since her was her first try. The recipe sounds delicious, especially the cream cheese frosting! Enjoyed seeing your wedding pics. Fun story!

    • She had decorated quite a few birthday cakes by then, but nothing big like this. The cake is good – it gets requested around here for birthdays. Thanks for stopping by!

    • She sure did! She was a trooper – doing so much for us. I left on a honeymoon; I never asked, but I bet she just wanted to go to bed. Thanks for your comment!

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