As part of my commitment to Banned Book Week (September 25-October 2, 2010), I’m reading TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD along with a number of other banned or challenged books. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is a reread for me but I’m still loving it. This time around I noticed a reference to Lane Cake. I’d never really thought about Lane Cake before but anything to do with cake is fine by me. A quick Internet search produced several recipes and a good bit of history on the confection. Seems the recipe first appeared in Emma Lane’s cookbook Some Good Things to Eat, which she self-published in 1898.
All the recipes I found were a little different but they do share common themes: white cake with whipped egg whites; a cooked fruit filling with yolks, sugar and raisins; and a white icing.
Since temps here yesterday reached 105 degrees I was in no mood for a trip to the grocery store so decided to see if I could pull off the cake without a trip outside. Turns out I had a box white cake mix in the pantry, an assortment of fruits and butter and confectioner’s sugar. My cake wasn’t going to be exactly like the traditional versions but I decided to give it a go.
The box cake mix called for 3 egg whites, which I whipped into soft peaks like the Lane Cake recipes expected. I followed package directions and mixed in the oil and water and then folded in the egg whites. Lane cakes generally have 4 layers but I had only enough batter for two, which was fine by me. I filled two buttered rounds with my mix and baked at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
The fruit filling started with a ¼ cup of butter and a ¼ cup of white sugar (like many traditional recipes). I melted both together over a double boiler. I then took the remaining three egg yolks, tempered them with a little of the hot/sugar mix and when the eggs had come up to temp I mixed them into the sugar/butter mix. This is the part when traditional recipes call for all kinds of dried fruits. I had no dried fruits except raisins so I improvised and mixed in a few fresh peaches as well as one cup of frozen mangos, strawberries and pineapple (from a Dole fruit smoothie mix). I let the mixture cool completely. This mixture turned out to be a little moist for my tastes so I drained all the excess juices away.
Then I mixed a ¼ cup of butter and a ¼ cup of cream cheese with a couple of cups of confectioner’s sugar and a few tablespoons of milk. To mimic the traditional use of coconut (which I didn’t have) I tossed a little coconut extract into the icing.
To assemble, I placed the first cake layer on a plate, spread my fruit mixture and then placed the top layer in place. I iced and popped in the refrigerator.
I’d made so many modifications I wasn’t sure how this cake would turn out, but it was actually quite tasty and got two thumbs up from family and friends!