A Lady Baltimore Cake is an American white layer cake with fluffy frosting and a fruit and nut filling. The cake is believed to have been created in the Southern United States in the early 20th century, but its exact origins are disputed. The most popular legend of the Lady Baltimore is that Alicia Rhett Mayberry, a Southern belle, baked and served the cake to novelist Owen Wister in Charleston, South Carolina. Wister was said to have been so enamored with the cake that he used it as the namesake of his novel, Lady Baltimore.
According to food historians, the cake may have actually originated with Florence and Nina Ottelenguis, the longtime managers of Charleston’s Lady Baltimore Tea Room, who developed the cake based on a version of the common Queen cake from the late nineteenth century. The Ottelenguis are said to have annually baked and shipped a cake to Owen Wister as a “thanks” for making their creation famous, and were known to ship hundreds of cakes around the country at Christmastime.
The first recorded mentions of a cake with the name of “Lady Baltimore” began appearing in 1906, with several newspaper articles referring to it as the “famous” or “original” cake.
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 1/4 cups white sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk 6 egg whites
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 recipe Lady Baltimore Frosting (*) (Recipe as below)
- 1/2 cup raisins, coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup chopped pecans
- 1/3 cup chopped candied cherries
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 9 inch round layer pans.
- In a large bowl, cream butter or margarine, 1 1/4 cups sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla together well. Beat until light and fluffy.
- Stir flour, baking powder, and salt together in another bowl. Add flour mixture to butter mixture in 3 parts alternating with milk in 2 parts, beginning and ending with flour.
- Using clean beaters, beat egg whites in mixing bowl until soft peaks form. Add 1/2 cup sugar gradually while beating until stiff. Fold whipped egg whites into batter. Pour into prepared pans.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until an inserted wooden pick comes out clean. Cool.
- To Make Filling: Stir 2 cups Lady Baltimore Frosting, raisins, nuts, cherries, and 2 teaspoons vanilla or sherry all together. Use as filling to spread between layers. Spread remaining frosting on tops and sides of cake.
(*) Lady Baltimore Frosting RECIPE:
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/4 cup corn syrup
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 4 egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In medium saucepan, measure in sugar, water, corn syrup, and salt over medium heat. Stir to dissolve. Cook to soft ball stage, 240 degrees F (115 degrees C), without stirring. It should fall from spoon in a thin thread.
- Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form; do this shortly before syrup has reached the soft ball stage. When ready, pour syrup in a thin stream over stiff egg whites, being careful to beat continuously the whole time. Add vanilla and beat until the right spreading consistency is achieved.