There are as many variations of Lady Baltimore cake as there are cooks. The following one, however, is from Alicia Rhett Mayberry, a great lady of Charleston who is usually conceded to have introduced the cake. Mrs. Mayberry’s recipe is made with two separate fillings and contains no figs or rose water, common additions in other recipes.

Although the original recipe says three layers, it works best as a two-layer, plus one very large cupcake, cake. Two layers will not make a cake as ineffably high as the standard Lady Baltimore. On the other hand, the fillings in this recipe are so achingly sweet and rich—more like divinity fudge than frosting—that two layers are already overkill. Reserve this cake only for those with a real sweet tooth.

For the Cake
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
For Filling I
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup walnut meats
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
For Filling II & Assembly
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 large egg whites, beaten until stiff but not dry
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup chopped raisins
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • Juice of ½ lemon
Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter two 8-inch layer cake pans and 2 medium muffin cups. To make the cake, cream the butter and sugar together until light. Beat the egg yolks until light, then beat them into the butter mixture. Sift the dry ingredients together three times. Fold the dry ingredients into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, ending with the flour mixture. Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold the whites into the batter. Spoon the batter into the cake and muffin cups and bake until they test done, about 25 minutes. Take out of the oven and let rest in the pans 10 minutes. Remove from the pans and cool on a wire rack. When cool, set the cupcakes aside for another use; fill and frost the cake layers as described below.

While the cakes are baking, make the fillings. For Filling I, put the sugar, walnuts, and water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat without stirring to the very soft ball stage (232°F on a candy thermometer) when a spoonful of syrup dropped into a cup of ice water forms thick threads. Remove from the heat and let cool to 110°F. Stir in the extracts, then beat until slightly thickened. Set aside until the cake layers are cool. Spread half of Filling I over each cake layer.

For Filling II, dissolve the sugar in the water in a heavy saucepan. Do not stir after this point. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover and boil for 3 minutes. Remove the cover and boil over medium-low heat until the mixture reaches the firm ball stage (246 degrees on a candy thermometer) when a spoonful of the syrup dropped into a cup of ice water forms a ball that holds its shape unless pressed with a finger. Pour the hot syrup slowly into the beaten egg whites, beating constantly. (Be sure to add slowly or you will end up with very nasty, sticky nuggets of cooked egg.) Continue beating until cool. Quickly add the extracts, raisins, nuts, and lemon juice. Set aside until the cake layers are cooled. Spread a little of Filling II over Filling I on each layer. Stack one layer on top of the other, filling sides up. Frost the sides with the rest of Filling II.

Taken from Fashionable Food: Seven Decades of Food Fads, by Sylvia Lovegren, available on www.amazon.com.