VERONICA HINKE

author • speaker • journalist • coach

Recipes & Food Styling

Lady Baltimore Cake

Jun 15, 2021 | Cakes, Desserts, Food Styling, Recipes, Summer Desserts

Lady Baltimore Cake

My Grandma never made a Lady Baltimore Cake that I knew of. It was “way too fancy,” as she recalled from her days growing up in Ironwood, Michigan. There, the cake was reserved for such special occasions as a Wedding.

In Autumn of 2013, Grandma and I sat at her kitchen table and planned out a year-long series for the newspapers that we called “Cake of The Month.” The editors loved the idea, and the series ran throughout 2014. 

Almost every month seemed to have an obvious connection to a cake, and Grandma’s Lady Baltimore Cake seemed perfect for June, the traditional month for weddings. 

The are as many stories handed down about the origins of Lady Baltimore Cake as there are nuts and dried fruits in the filling.

My favorite one is the story of Owen Wister in 1906. Wister was in Charleston, South Carolina working on his romance novel, “Lady Baltimore.” Wister wrote about the cake, saying it reminded him of a wedding cake. Here is what he wrote about ordering the cake for the first time:
“I should like a slice, if you please, of Lady Baltimore,” I said with extreme formality. I thought she was going to burst; but after an interesting second she replied, “Certainly,” in her fit regular-exchange tone; only, I thought it trembled a little. I returned to the table and she brought me the cake, and I had my first felicitous meeting with Lady Baltimore. Oh, my goodness! Did you ever taste it? It’s all soft, and it’s in layers, and it has nuts–but I can’t write any more about it; my mouth waters too much!”

Grandma’s recipe features raisins and dried prunes, but I made mine with dried blueberries, dried cherries and dried apricots. Delicious!   

Lady Baltimore Cake

Cake

2 1/4 cups cake flour

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed at room temperature

1 cup buttermilk

2 eggs

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Filling

1/2 cup pitted dates, chopped

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon honey

1 1/2 teaspoon rum extract, divided

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Frosting

4 egg whites

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 cups sugar

2/3 cup water

1/2 teaspoon light corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Step 1

Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and line two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together cake flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add butter and beat on low speed until completely dissolved into dry ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, oil, and extracts. Add half the liquid ingredients to the dry and beat on medium for 3 minutes. Scrape down sides of the bowl, add remaining liquid ingredients, and beat on medium-high for 2 minutes. Divide batter between cake pans, spread evenly, and bake until the cake springs back to the touch, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool in pans completely before removing.

Step 2

Make the Filling: Combine dates, raisins, water, honey, and 1 tsp. rum extract in a medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until water is absorbed and fruit is syrupy. Remove from heat; add 1/2 tsp. rum extract and walnuts.

Step 3

Make Frosting: With the whisk attachment in a stand mixer, beat egg whites and salt until stiff peaks form. In a saucepan, combine sugar, water, and corn syrup over medium-high; stir until sugar is dissolved, then stop stirring and allow to boil. Cook until a candy thermometer registers at 238°F. Continue whipping egg whites on medium speed as you slowly stream in the hot sugar mixture. Whip until frosting has cooled completely, 6-8 minutes. Add vanilla and mix to combine. Take 1 cup of frosting and fold in to fruit and nut mixture.

Step 4

Assemble Cake: Cut each cake layer in half horizontally using a long serrated knife. On one cake layer, evenly spread 1/3 fruit and nut mixture. Place another layer on top and repeat process of layering with fruit and nut mixture. Add third layer and cover with remaining fruit and nut mixture. Place final layer on top and cover entire cake with Frosting, using a spatula or spoon to create decorative swirls.