I can't even remember the first time I made a Lane Cake, but it was many years ago. I was somewhere in my early teens, and my Mom loved it. In my young mind, it was a culinary triumph! I have heard it said that the Lane Cake was introduced sometime around the turn of the 20th century, and was also mentioned in the classic book "To Kill A Mockingbird."
I've made it a handful of times since then, but have long since lost the original recipe. The recipe you see here is one that was given to me about 5 years ago. I have no idea who it originated with. So, if someone out there claims it, please feel free to email me and I will credit it to you, or take it down if you are not amenable to having it shared.
Be warned, this recipe is not for the faint of heart. Making this Lane Cake is for those who enjoy spending some time in the kitchen to create something special and beautiful. It's a labor of love, well worth the time it takes to make!
I have seen several different recipes for the filling. You can change it up if you don't love the fruits and nuts used in this particular filling. To stay true to what makes a Lane Cake a Lane Cake, here are the non-negotiables of this boozy southern masterpiece. The cake is always white with a whipped white frosting, and the filling contains some sort of bourbon or brandy soaked fruit, as well as pecans and coconut.
The cake you see here is one I made while visiting family in Austin this Christmas Season. So fun! Hence the pretty decorations. But really, this is a great cake to make anytime of the year. I hope you enjoy the process, and I'm sure your cake will also be a triumph!
A COUPLE OF IMPORTANT PREP STEPS
Some of the ingredients will need to be at room temp when used. In order to make the best use of time, here are a couple of prep steps to minimize lag time.
1. Chop dried fruit and cover with bourbon or brandy. Set out at room temp for at least 3 hours. You will need these for the filling. Drain off extra liquor before using. (Do not use more liquor than what the recipe calls for. I love a boozy cake, but I have learned by experience that adding any extra will overpower the flavor of the finished cake).
2. The butter, cream cheese, and eggs should also be at room temperature when used. I set these out the same time as I do the soaked fruit. (Separate the whites from the yolks while the eggs are cold. This makes them easier to separate. Then, cover each and leave out).
In addition to the usual measuring items, mixing bowls, pans, etc., you need when baking, you will need a candy thermometer. (I did end up using a meat thermometer once and everything worked out fine). You will also need an electric hand or stand mixer, or better yet, both. The following are also helpful items for making this cake:
4 9" Cake Pans
Small ingredient bowls if you like to pre-measure
Baking rack for cooling your cakes
MAKING THE CAKE
Make the filling.
(I make the filling first, because it needs to chill before using. I then use that time to make, bake, and cool the cakes).
Using electric mixer, beat room temp yolks and sugar in a medium bowl until mixture falls in a heavy ribbon when beaters are lifted, about 5 minutes. Beat in softened butter. Transfer yolk mixture to heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until thermometer registers 160°F and mixture is thick, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in nuts, coconut, and fruit. Chill 2 hours.
Make the cakes.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter and flour four 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line pans with waxed paper. Sift first 4 ingredients into medium bowl. Beat butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with milk in 2 additions. Using clean dry beaters, beat room temp egg whites in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, beating until whites are stiff but not dry. Fold 1/3 of whites into butter mixture. Fold in remaining whites in 2 addition Divide batter among pans (batter will be about 1/2 inch deep). Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Turn cakes out onto racks; peel off paper. Cool absolutely completely.
Assemble cake layers and filling.
Place 1 cake layer on your platter. Spread with 1/3 of the filling, making sure to spread filling all the way to edges. Repeat layering of cake and filling 2 more times, Top with the final cake layer, and press down slightly. Chill cake. This is an important step that aids in setting the filling and spreading the frosting. (This is what the layers will look like on the finished cake).
Make the Frosting.
Beat cream cheese and 1/4 cup powdered sugar in medium bowl until smooth. Beat in bourbon and vanilla. Beat cream and 1/2 cup powdered sugar in large bowl until soft peaks form. Add cream cheese mixture to whipped cream; beat until stiff enough to spread.
Frost the cake.
You may lose a bit of the filling during the chilling process. Before frosting just clean up the perimeter of the platter. Then spread frosting over top and sides of cake. If desired, place pecans around edge of cake. Sprinkle with chocolate.
Add your own decorative touches!
Makes 10 to 12 servings
• 3 1/4 cups sifted all purpose flour
• 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature