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Italian Cream Cake (VRP 034)

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Italian Cream Cake is a rich and luxurious cake that combines the flavors of coconut, nuts, and cream cheese frosting in a delightfully moist and fluffy texture. This cake is perfect for celebrations and holidays, where a special dessert is called for.

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Italian Cream Cake

Italian Cream Cake

Front of the recipe card for Italian Cream Cake.

Italian Cream Cake

Back of the recipe card for Italian Cream Cake.

Containing coconut and pecans, the Italian Cream Cake is a vanilla cake topped with either a whipped cream frosting or a cream cheese frosting. 

The origin is unknown, but the Italian cream cake is considered more Southern and does not have roots in Italy. More research is needed as we find conflicting information on the history of the Italian Cream Cake.

The first mentioned is in Texas in 1937, and it is assumed an Italian baker made it. It was named based on where the baker was originally from. The earliest origin is from Alberta, Canada, in 1913.

Food History

Despite its name, Italian Cream Cake is more a product of the American South than Italy. It likely gained its name from using coconut and nuts, which might have been considered exotic ingredients and associated with European delicacies. It has become a beloved treat in many Southern families, often appearing at gatherings and special events.

Recipe Discussion

The cake starts with a batter made from oleo (margarine), Crisco, and sugar, creating a rich and creamy base. Egg yolks are added one at a time to ensure the batter maintains its volume. Flour, baking soda, and salt are sifted and added alternately with milk to keep the batter light. Vanilla, coconut, and chopped nuts are stirred for flavor and texture. Separately beaten stiff egg whites are folded into the batter to introduce airiness and lightness. The cake is baked in three layers, which are then assembled and covered with a luscious cream cheese frosting and sprinkled with more nuts for an extra crunch.

Serving Suggestions

Italian Cream Cake is best served at room temperature. It pairs wonderfully with coffee or a sweet dessert wine. Consider garnishing with additional coconut flakes or whole nuts on top of the frosting for presentation.

Preparation Tips

  • Creaming Method: Ensure that the oleo and Crisco are well-creamed with the sugar to create a light and fluffy base for your cake.
  • Folding Egg Whites: Gently fold the egg whites into the batter to retain as much air as possible, which will help the cake rise and stay fluffy.
  • Baking Evenly: To ensure even baking, divide the batter equally between the three prepared pans. Use an oven thermometer to check for accurate temperature settings.
  • Cooling: Allow the cake layers to cool completely before frosting to prevent the cream cheese frosting from melting.

Other Vintage Recipes

Vintage Recipe Box 034

This collection doesn’t have a box (it was big, bulky, and not worth keeping).

The collection is about 2500 handwritten and clipped recipes from the estate of Dr. John J. POLLOCK (1933 – 2014) and Phyllis KOBYLINSKI Pollock from West Grove, Pennsylvania/New York.

The couple was married in 1959. Based on when they were born and married, I am going to assume that the collection is from the 1960s to the present. I will return and update this information if I find any clues to help me age the collection.

John’s family was Russian/Lithuanian on his father’s side and Russian/Polish on his mother’s side. Phyllis’ family was from Czechoslovakia and Polish.

Click here to learn more about the original owner’s history and to view all the recipes in the collection of Vintage Recipe Box 034.

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Italian Cream Cake Recipe

Italian Cream Cake

Italian Cream Cake

Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

Italian Cream Cake Batter

  • 1 stick oleo
  • 1 small can coconut
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup Crisco
  • 2 cups flour
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup nuts, chopped

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounce cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 box confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • Milk

Instructions

  1. Grease and flour 3 9" cake pans
  2. Cream butter (oleo), Crisco, sugar, add egg yolks and beat well
  3. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt
  4. Add to creamed mixture alternately with milk
  5. Stir in vanilla, coconut, and nuts
  6. Beat eggs whites until stiff and fold into batter
  7. Turn batter into pans and bake for 25 minutes at 300 degrees
  8. Cream Cheese Frosting
  9. Mix all ingredients except nuts with enough milk for spreading consistency
  10. Frost top of each layer and sides of cake
  11. Sprinkle nuts on top of cake

Italian Cream Cake is a show-stopping dessert sure to impress with its exquisite taste and elegant appearance. Whether you’re celebrating a birthday, an anniversary, or just a special family dinner, this cake makes a perfect centerpiece that tastes as good as it looks.

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Tisha S.

Thursday 14th of April 2022

Thanks for sharing. I want to try this recipe. My mother used to make Italian cream cake when I was growing up. She passed almost 30 years ago and we don't have the recipe anymore but this looks promising.

Simone

Saturday 7th of December 2019

A finalist in this year's StarTribune Cookie Contest, said her entry was based on an old "Italian Cream Cake" recipe that called for "oleo." http://www.startribune.com/best-holiday-cookies/564807802/?recipe=85 This is how I came upon your site and recipe. Thank you for your efforts in saving old recipes.

DNP - Billie

Sunday 8th of December 2019

Thank you for sharing this!!!

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