Lane Cake

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    10 to 12

    servings

Appears in

If ever there was a true Southern ceremonial layer cake, this is it. Created in Clayton, Alabama, by Emma Rylander Lane and called simply “Prize Cake” in her hometown cookbook of 1898, Some Good Things to Eat, the cake quickly assumed her name, and its fame spread far and wide. There were no pecans or coconut in the original recipe, only raisins and “one wine glass of good whiskey or brandy,” but as the cake evolved in the twentieth century, these two extra ingredients became standard. I know some cooks in the Deep South who, to this day, refer to the masterpiece as Prize Cake, and it is indeed a winning cake for special occasions, worth every bit of the effort it takes to make.

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • ½ pound (2 sticks) butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • cups whole milk
  • 8 large egg whites, beaten till stiff

For the Filling

  • 10 large egg yolks
  • cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • ½ cup bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup seedless golden raisins
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (fresh or frozen)

For the Icing

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Method

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease three 9-inch round cake pans with butter and set aside.

To make the cake, cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer till fluffy. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt, then add it alternately with the milk to the creamed mixture, stirring. Beat in half the egg whites, then fold in the remaining whites. Spoon equal amounts of batter into each of the three prepared pans, bake 20 to 25 minutes, and turn out the cake layers on racks to cool.

To make the filling, combine the egg yolks, sugar, and orange zest in the top of a double boiler over simmering water and cook gently, stirring constantly, till the mixture thickens enough to coat a wooden spoon. Remove the pan from the heat, add the bourbon, vanilla, nutmeg, raisins, pecans, and coconut, and stir till well blended. Allow the filling to cool, then spread it evenly between the cake layers.

To make the icing, beat the egg whites in a bowl with an electric mixer till stiff, and set aside. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, water, salt, and cream of tartar, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to moderate, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the vanilla, stir, then pour the mixture slowly over the egg whites, beating constantly with a wooden spoon.

Spread the icing evenly over the top and sides of the cake and let stand for at least 2 hours before serving.