Mama Reed’s Vanilla Wafer Cake



Sometimes I post things and it actually worries me that you might live your life without trying a particular recipe. Like my Chicken Stew, Apple Dapple Cake, or Banana Pudding. Well today I’m adding Vanilla Wafer Cake to that list. This cake is the kissing cousin of my Apple Dapple Cake. They come from a different branch of the family but chances are if you have the good sense to like one of them, you’ll like the other as well.

My mother got this recipe from her grandmother, Mama Reed. Mama Reed had an expansive array of recipes but this cake was my mother’s favorite by far. When she married my father, this was the first recipe she asked for to use in her own kitchen.

Mama Reed was known for her cakes and her large scale baking. Of course back then they didn’t think of it that way, she had ten kids so small scale baking was certainly out of the question. During the winter when family was expected to visit, Mama Reed would start baking cakes a few days ahead of time and due to space constraints in the house, she’d set them out on tables on the screened in porch covered in towels to keep for the few days until company arrived. This cake is sturdy but very moist and would no doubt have been carefully set out along with the best of them. My mother says this is a great cake to take places as it is more stable than others so it travels very well. It can also sit under a cake dome for a week and still be moist. Trust me, the only way we know this is from the times Mama made more than one!

My parents have a large house on the Tennessee river with one of the best views you’ve ever seen. They often have friends come to visit for the weekend and this is the cake she makes every time. Its great to have on hand as a dessert, quick coffee treat, or filling snack. I love desserts that are filling and not too sweet but sweet enough.

Okay so basically, I am assigning this cake as homework because I just know you’re are going to love it. Now y’all know I have a teaching degree (Home Ec) that I’ve never got to put to good use so I’m gonna get my fork ready and my red pen out and wait on your to turn in your assignments!


You’ll need: eggs, coconut, milk, vanilla wafers, sugar, and nuts

(we use pecans -pronounced puh-kahns)


Place vanilla wafers in a large sealable bag and crush them with the rolling pin or any other stress relieving device.

Mama and I think this rolling pin was the one which belonged to my great grandmother, Lela. There is a funny story about that.

You see, Lela had this rolling pin (perhaps the one above) which she had used for years, as long as my mother and her sister could remember. After Lela passed away, both my mother and my aunt asked my grandmother about possibly having “Granny’s” rolling pin. My Grandmother is uniquely practical (sometimes in rather humorous ways) and not wanting to disappoint, she went to an antique store and bought another one just like it, thereby having a rolling pin to give to each daughter.

They didn’t realize this until years later when Mama mentioned something about having Granny’s rolling pin and her sister looked quite confused as she said that she was the one who actually had Granny’s rolling pin. Upon talking to my Grandmama she said “Weeeeellllll now, I hated for one of you to have it and not the other so I just bought an extry”.

Gotta love my family…


Crush your vanilla wafers like this.


Beat up your eggs well and coarsely chop your pecans, then toss all ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix until well blended, about two minutes should be more than enough.


Until it looks like this.

Now if y’all don’t dip a spoon in that and take a bite then something is wrong with you!


Pour into a greased and floured tube pan.

(I just dip a paper towel into some shortening and smear it all over the insides of my pan, then put a few tablespoons of flour in and turn my pan while patting it a bit until the flour has coated the inside. Then I hold it over the trash can upside down and pat it until the excess falls out)

Bake at 350 for one hour.


Oh my goodness gracious, don’t we all just love Mama Reed now?


Serve to  happy people! (If they weren’t happy before, they will be now!)

This is AWESOME with coffee….or a Diet Dr Pepper…or a glass of tea…..or water…..or…well, you get my point.

Mama Reed’s Vanilla Wafer Cake
  • 6 whole eggs
  • 3.5 oz can of coconut (if you use bagged sweetened flaked coconut, just use 1 cup - don't use frozen)
  • ½ cup milk
  • 12 ounce box vanilla wafers (Mama says don't use generic ~eyeroll~ I'll do a "no comment" on that one coz y'all know what I do...)
  • 2 C sugar
  • 1 C chopped nuts (we use pecans)
  1. Beat eggs well. Crush vanilla wafers. Mix wafers and all other ingredients into eggs. Pour into greased and floured tube pan. Bake at 350 for one hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.


For more stories about Mama Reed, please visit some of her other recipes below

(views of the Tennessee from my mother’s house can be seen on the Rice Pudding post)

Mama Reed’s Southern Style Rice Pudding

Mama Reed’s Tea Cakes


Dear friends,

Thank you so much for taking the time to leave your wonderful comments. Comments are everything to me when it comes to Southern Plate, absolutely everything. When you comment, you give me a chance to “meet” you, to know you’re out there. You turn this into a conversation for me rather than just me talking to the wind and I can’t tell you how much they mean to me. For each of you who take the time to read Southern Plate, thank you so very much. For each of you who take the time to comment, that thanks goes double!! I just love y’all, I really do!


Christy :)

“I really don’t think God wanted me to be skinny!” ~Thea Pappalardo

“God made too many good foods and too many good cooks!” ~Colleen Sowa

Conversation eavesdropped between two members of Just a Pinch recipe club. Permission to quote obtained by moi…(Debbie Strum)

Thank you for submitting this on our Give A Penny Page, Debbie Strum!


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  1. Caroline Thomas says

    Thank you for putting this recipe here. My mom (now 80) makes this every winter and it is always put out with her Christmas cookies on Christmas Eve. She has always called it Wainscot cake–has anyone ever heard of it called that?

    • says

      We use bagged or canned coconut. As I’m typing this, I am actually munching on some coconut from a bag. I looked to read the ingredients and they are “coconut”. That’s it. So not all of them have preservatives. But if you think about it, Jams, jellies, things we home can, all of them have preservative agents in them. Whether it be vinegar, sugar, whatever. So the word in and of itself is not a bad thing. Just like “processed” isn’t really a bad word. I have to process my garden tomatoes in order to put them up. Did I make them inherently bad? Course not. But I did process them :). Home canned foods are all processed foods by definition. Tangent, sorry…
      If you would rather use frozen coconut that is fine. Just know that if there are any differences in that and the bagged or canned (I don’t believe they are) you’ll need to accommodate for them. I’m just telling you what we do when I share a recipe. Hope this helps!

  2. Danny McFarland says

    Thank you for this recipe! I’m a 50 year old bachelor and this was my first made from scratch cake! I remembered my mom making this for Christmas every year and decided to give it a shot. Turned out fantastic!

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