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.

Follow Friday – August 17 + 24, 2012

Today’s list covers two weeks in no particular order. By the looks of the links I saved, I have had organization and trying to understand technology on my mind – but there are some other lovelies here.

1. Follow Friday – Historypin by Leaves for Trees
2.  How to Journal: 5 Tips for Capturing Your Best Ideas (Part 1) and How to Journal: 6 Tips to Boost Creativity and Polish Your Writing (Part 2) by write to done
3. Quick Tips for Better Interview Video by Oral History in the Digital Age (I was led there by Dan Curtis’ Monday’s Link Roundup.)
4.  A Genealogy Research Resource You Can’t Resist! and How to Search in the FamilySearch Research Wiki by The In-Depth Genealogist
5.  Sepia Saturday – Bones by Peter’s Blog
6. Colourised Cornwall by Retronaut
7.  Back From Being on the Road; Glad I had the Digital Voice Recorder by Mnemosyne’s Magic Mirror
8.  Tuesday’s Tip: County Histories and Biographies (Mug Books) by AnceStories: The Stories of My Ancestors
9.  Transfer VHS Tapes to your Computer by C/Net
10.  How To Automatically Archive Your Life with IFTTT and Evernote by Lifehacker
11. “O” is for Oregon Street by Finding Eliza

And some new-to-me blogs (not always new blogs, but new to me):
1. Family History Sleuthing
2. Images Past
3. Our Great Greats



Treasure Chest Thursday – Transported Back in Time

Lola was berating me last night. She hadn’t been on a walk for two days and she had a lot of pent-up energy seeking release. It was half past dark, so I promised her we would go first thing this morning.

It may not have been the first thing we did, but I kept my promise.

The afternoon highs are still in the 90s here, but we have experienced the hope of fall. The winds shifted a couple of days ago and there was the slightest, but real, hint of fall. You could feel it. You could breathe it.

As I was contemplating the potential of cooler weather, I noticed a pecan growing on a young tree right at eye level as we walked by. That pecan transported me back to the days when my oldest daughter was a toddler and we would take walks and find treasures. A pecan lying on the ground would have qualified.

I found her a shoebox and we called it her Treasure Box. It became the dedicated space for all the treasures she picked up and brought home from a walk or found in our yard.

So on my walk this morning, I found myself picking up the kinds of treasures my daughter might have found 25 years ago – feathers, shiny rocks (always a favorite), acorns, acorn tops (good hats for fairies), pretty leaves (none of those today), and anything else that looked interesting.

It was a happy memory – walking with a little one, oooh-ing at a new find, talking about the newest treasure – what it was and why we enjoyed it, putting them in the treasure box, taking them out to look at again when we added more treasures. I hoped she would learn that real treasures are not found in a store.

My daughter added to her treasure box for a couple of years and hung onto it even longer. Sometime in her tweens, she went through the Treasure Box one last time and threw everything out.

I may have been more sensitive to this memory today because of something I saw on GMA before our walk. It seems that a young mother of a 10-week-old baby blogged that she was taking a vacation for six days. She wouldn’t be taking the baby with her. She has received a lot of flak.

It was annoying that GMA, in discussing this, paired one of their doctors with a “real housewife” from somewhere who, I thought, had nothing of value to say. I wondered how the doctor had allowed herself to be paired with this woman. I felt humiliated for her (the doctor). I changed the channel.

All I can say is – I hope this young mother comes back from her vacation refreshed and renewed. I hope she misses her baby while she is gone, for if she does, then there is a bond between them. And I hope they fill a Treasure Box together.