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  • Writer's pictureGrace Saadi

50 Tastes: Lane Cake, Alabama

Updated: Jul 10, 2022

The first in a series of recreating 1 dessert from each of the 50 States. The Lane Cake is a confection of a creamy, boozy curd like filling of raisins and various other mix sandwiched between four thin layers of white sponge caked and encased in what the recipe calls “boiled white frosting”.

 


AL-A-BAMA! You just sang that in your head, didn't you? Personally, I think back to the ear-piercing shouts of my fellow fourth-grade classmates and me as we performed Fifty Nifty United States during back-to-school night for our collective parents' misery. It was the first to come to mind when plotting ideas for this series, the good ol' southern state of AL is known for far more than just its alphabetical order. It is, in fact, one of few states to have declared an official state dessert!


Speaking of state series, Justin Davies (@justinthetrees) recently completed one of the most impressive projects I've witnessed to date on TikTok. Self-explanatorily dubbed the "State Tree Map", Davies embarked on hand crafting a complete map of the United States entirely out of official state trees. The series progressed with educating viewers on the uses and scientific nature of each tree, as well as providing relevant stories and history grown from each set of roots. Some viewers even sent in wood from their home state! Like over 1 million of his other followers, I absolutely loved this series. It really was the best of all the app can offer, and thus inspired me. Though I lack the tools...and woodworking experience... and the wood, I wanted to do my own take on this map. 50 Tastes (see if you move the s around you get a pun...get it?) will be a series in which I embark on recreating 1 dessert from every state in America. While my series will be severely lacking in the "map" aspect, I look forward to delving more into the diverse tastes of the United States of America.


Up first we have the Lane Cake of Alabama. This cake uses nearly a dozen eggs in total (consider the 12th to be a snack before starting this endeavor of a confection) as well as a variety of other pantry staples. It's best to make sure you're well stocked up before starting this recipe. that means checking the liquor cabinet too. Because I still can't tell if Mrs. Lane/Law genuinely call for 1-3 cups of bourbon or brandy in this recipe. Nevertheless, let's see what this southern staple is all about!


 

Mrs. Lane's Original "Prize" Lane Cake

Makes 1 9" round 4 layer cake


Cake

3 ¼ cups sifted cake flour 2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder 1/16 teaspoon salt 1 cup butter, at room temperature 2 cups sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla 8 egg whites 1 cup milk


Instructions:

  1. On wax paper sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla. Add egg whites, in four additions, beating thoroughly after each addition.

  3. Fold in flour mixture alternately with milk; begin and end with dry ingredients. Batter should be smooth but look slightly granular.

  4. Turn into 4 ungreased 9-inch round layer-cake pans lined on the bottom with wax paper.

  5. Bake in a 375-degree oven until edges shrink slightly from sides of pans and tops spring back when gently pressed with finger, or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean — about 20 minutes. Place pans on wire racks to cool for about 5 minutes.

  6. Turn out on wire racks; remove wax paper; turn right side up; cool completely.

  7. Put layers together (on a cake plate) with Lane Cake Filling, stacking carefully; do not spread filling over top. Cover top and sides with swirls of Boiled White Frosting.

  8. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator. If refrigerated, allow to stand at room temperature for half a day before serving because cake texture is best when cake is not served chilled.


Filling

8 egg yolks 1 cup sugar ½ cup butter, at room temperature 1 cup seedless raisins, finely chopped 1 – 3 cup bourbon or brandy (I believe this should be 1/3 cup, but this remains uncertain) 1 teaspoon vanilla


Instructions:

  1. In a 2-quart saucepan, beat the egg yolks well; beat in sugar and butter. Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly until quite thick.

  2. Remove from heat; bourbon and vanilla. If the mixture thinned out too much with this addition, or has too strong of an alcohol taste, continue to cook on the stove until you reach your desired taste and thickness.

  3. Remove from heat, strain through a fine mesh sieve and stir in the raisins.

  4. Cool slightly; use as directed.



Boiled White Frosting

1 1/2 cups sugar

2/3 cup water

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

3 egg whites

pinch salt

1 teaspoon vanilla


Instructions:

  1. In a saucepan combine the sugar and water with a pinch of cream of tartar. Boil the sugar until it reaches 245 degrees, do not stir during this process.

  2. Meanwhile, put the egg whites and a pinch of salt in the bowl of a mixer with the whisk attachment. Beat until the egg whites are peaked.

  3. Very slowly and gently pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites, being careful not to pour it directly into the whisk as this will cause it to splash.

  4. Beat the frosting on high speed for about 7 minutes or until the sides of the bowl cool down. The frosting should be light and fluffy.

  5. Add the vanilla extract. Use immediately.

 

Works Cited

McNAMARA, TOM. “Harper Lee ~ The Cake That Made Maycomb Famous: The Lane Cake.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 2 June 2020, https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/harper-lee-the-cake-that-made-maycomb-famous-the-lane-cake/2533/.




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