Recipe from From a Southern Oven by Jean Anderson (Wiley, 2012)No one knows who created Lord Baltimore Cake, when or where, though there are myths, one of them dating back to the original Lord Baltimore who, piqued at the extravagant use of egg whites in his wife’s favorite cake, spent a tipsy night with the head cook dreaming up a way to use the orphaned yolks. A later but similar story is that the cake was invented to use up the yolks left over from Lady Baltimore Cake. Trouble is, the original Lady B. Cake was yellow (for the story behind this beloved Southern classic as well as the recipe for it, see my Love Affair with Southern Cooking, 2007). In truth, that recipe comes from a tea room in Charleston, SC, not Baltimore, and was immortalized in Owen Wister’s 1906 best-selling romantic novel, Lady Baltimore). Note: Because the egg whites in the frosting never reach the temperature the U.S. Department of Agriculture deems safe, I specify pasteurized eggs, which many supermarkets now sell. If unavailable, buy eggs from a local source you trust to minimize the risk of salmonella food poisoning.
Makes One 9-Inch, 3-Layer Cake
- 3 cups sifted cake flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (no substitute)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 6 large pasteurized egg yolks (see Note above)
- 3/4 cup milk
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spritz three 9-inch round layer cake pans with nonstick oil-and-flour baking spray, line pan bottoms with parchment, spritz again, and set aside. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium-size bowl and set aside also.
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 large pasteurized egg whites (see Note above)
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped blanched almonds
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped candied red cherries
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped almond macaroons
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2. Beat sugar, butter, and vanilla in large electric mixer bowl, first at low speed, then at high, about 3 minutes, scraping sides of bowl frequently, until fluffy. Add egg yolks two at a time, beating well after each addition to combine.
3. Add combined dry ingredients alternately with milk, beginning and ending with dry and beating after each addition only enough to combine. Further beating will toughen the cake. Divide batter evenly among the three pans, spreading to edge and smoothing tops.
4. Slide pans onto middle oven shelf, touching neither one another nor oven sides, and bake about 25 minutes until layers begin to pull from sides of pans and cake tester inserted in middle of one layer comes out clean.
5. Cool layers in upright pans on wire rack 15 minutes, loosen around edges with thin-blade spatula, then invert on racks, turn right side up, and cool to room temperature.
6. For Frosting: With hand electric beater, beat sugar, egg whites, water, corn syrup, and cream of tartar in double-boiler top at moderate speed until smooth. Set over simmering water and beat about 7 minutes at high speed until thick and fluffy. Stir in vanilla and almond extracts. Place pecans, almonds, cherries, macaroon bits, and lemon zest in small bowl, toss well, and set aside.
7. Invert one cake layer in middle of large round cake plate. Spread with 1/2 cup frosting and sprinkle with 1/3 cup nut mixture. Place second layer right side up on top; spread with 1/2 cup frosting and sprinkle with 1/3 cup nut mixture. Center third layer right side up on top, then frost top with remaining frosting. Wreathe remaining nut mixture around top of cake.
8. Let cake stand about an hour, then cut into wedges and serve. Cover any leftover cake and store in the refrigerator.