Lord Baltimore Cake
An elegant and impressive layer cake perfect for the holidays.
Lord Baltimore cake is a lesser-known version of the Lady Baltimore cake, a southern creation inspired by Owen Wister's novel Lady Baltimore. In the story, the narrator swoons over a sumptuous layer cake with nuts served by the eponymous character. A classic Lady Baltimore cake is a fluffy white-layer cake made with egg whites, so a Lord Baltimore cake was developed as an alternative, made with egg yolks. This recipe features a batter scented with orange zest, and layers of fresh cranberry sauce with candied pecans enrobed in snow-white seven-minute frosting (named for the length of time it takes to prepare the frosting). This cake is perfect for a celebration or a crowd, especially at the holidays!
Equipment: large mixing bowls; dry and wet measuring cups; measuring spoons; cutting board; chef’s knife; whisk; hand or standing mixer; rubber spatula; (2) 9-inch round cake pans; offset spatula; parchment paper; wire cooling rack; saucepan; candy thermometer
Cake Ingredients: 3 cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups sugar 4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1½ cups buttermilk
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup vegetable oil 6 large egg yolks 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon orange zest
2 cups strained fresh cranberry sauce 1 cup chopped candied pecans
Frosting Ingredients: 6 large egg whites ¼ teaspoon kosher salt 3 cups sugar 1 cup water 1 teaspoon light corn syrup 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and lightly flour 2 round cake pans, then line the bottoms with parchment paper.
Custom Parchment Paper Liner for a Round Cake Pan
“Take a sheet of parchment paper and fold it in half, then fold it in half again (you should have a square). Fold that square in half again diagonally, and then fold it one more time (you should have a triangle). Place the point of the folded parchment paper over the center of the cake pan to measure its radius. Trim the excess parchment paper from the edge of the pan and you'll have a perfect fit.”
2. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt. Mix in the buttermilk and butter on a low speed just until they are incorporated in the dry ingredients, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat the mixture for one minute. Reduce the speed to low again and add the egg yolks, one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Mix in the vanilla extract and orange zest.
3. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans and smooth the surface with the back of a spatula. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the cake.
4. Let the cakes cool for 15 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
5. Next, make the icing. In the bowl of a standing mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt just until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
6. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup. Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved, stirring gently and constantly. Once the sugar has dissolved, cook without stirring until the temperature on a candy thermometer reaches 240°F.
7. As soon as the sugar mixture reaches 240°F, remove the pan from the heat and bring it to the standing mixer with the egg whites. Turn the speed to medium and carefully pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites and whip for 7-8 minutes, until the mixture is white, glossy, and has cooled completely. Stir in the vanilla.
ILOC tip: the easiest way to tell if the frosting has cooled completely is to put your face near the mixer and feel the air temperature as the whisk attachment is moving. When the air is no longer at all warm, the frosting is ready.
8. To assemble the cake, first slice each cake in half crosswise to yield a total of four layers. Place one cake layer in the center, the trimmed top facing up. Using an offset spatula, frost the top of the cake with 1 cup of frosting. Dollop 2/3 cup of cranberry sauce over the frosting, then sprinkle with 1/3 cup of candied pecans. Top with another cup of frosting, then add the second cake to the frosted cake, but this time with the trimmed top down, touching the frosted cake. Repeat this process with the filling two more times and then top with the final layer of cake.
ILOC tip: the filling between the layers should not be too thick or the cake will collapse! Straining the cranberry sauce so that it is not at all wet will help keep the cake intact. With that in mind, use your judgment in adjusting the filling quantities as you are assembling the cake. It's all about technique, not torture!
9. Frost the sides of the cake, paying close attention to blending the sides well so you do not see the layers. Make fanciful designs on the top using the offset spatula for a show-stopping decoration.
"It is not necessary to use all the frosting. Save any extra frosting for later use, such as Baked Alaska!"
Makes 12-16 servings.