Lane Cake

This layered white cake was first introduced in a cookbook by Mrs. Emma Rylander Lane of Clayton, Alabama, which she self-published in 1898. Lane cake has long been considered a labor-of-love cake, and it was even written about in Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird. In the book, when Aunt Alexandra came to live with the Finch family, Miss Maudie Atkinson baked a Lane cake to welcome her.

Lane Cake
Makes 1 (9-inch) cake
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2¼ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 3½ cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole buttermilk
  • 8 large eggs, separated
  • Lane Cake Filling (recipe follows)
  • Lane Cake Frosting (recipe follows)
  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Spray 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with baking spray with flour.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, and extracts with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy. In a medium bowl, sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition.
  3. In another large bowl, beat egg whites (reserve yolks for Lane Cake Filling) with a mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form; gently fold egg whites into batter. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  4. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire racks.
  5. Spread warm Lane Cake Filling between layers. Let cool completely; refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. Spread Lane Cake Frosting over top and sides of cake; serve within 2 hours.

Lane Cake Filling
Makes about 3 cups
  • 1½ cups chopped pecans
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 8 egg yolks (reserved from Lane Cake batter)
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • ½ cup golden raisins, chopped
  • ½ cup dark raisins, chopped
  • ¼ cup bourbon
  1. In a medium saucepan, cook pecans and butter over medium heat, stirring constantly, until butter is melted. Stir in sugar until combined. Stir in egg yolks until well combined, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 to 5 minutes or until mixture is very thick. Remove from heat, and stir in coconut, all raisins, and bourbon. Let stand for 5 minutes; use mixture while still very warm.

Lane Cake Frosting
Makes about 5 cups
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup water
  • 6 egg whites
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring sugar and ¾ cup water to a boil over medium-high heat, and continue cooking until a candy thermometer registers 248º.
  2. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites at mediumhigh speed until stiff peaks form. With mixer running, pour hot sugar mixture into egg whites in a slow, steady stream, and continue beating for 10 minutes until mixture cools to room temperature and is a spreadable consistency. Use immediately.

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