I knew little to nothing about Alabama before starting this, (aside from it being the birth place of Beyonce’s dad.) While that does make it a sacred place, I was willing to bet it had even more to offer. I’ve never visited the state, save for passing through on a long road trip. Friends have praised the lovely beaches of the Gulf shore, and of course, the food.
A quick Google search made it extremely obvious that there is one dessert that stands above the rest in this state. That would be the Alabama Lane Cake. It’s hard to argue, Lane Cake was featured in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, in fact, some consider it to be the Lane Cake’s claim to fame.
According to “American Masters” (http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/harper-lee-the-cake-that-made-maycomb-famous-the-lane-cake/2533/) on PBS, the Lane Cake, was realized by Emma Rylander Lane, and earned her the title of first prize at the county fair. Later on, Lane published the recipe in 1898 in the pages of her cookbook, Some Good Things to Eat. I hoped to corroborate this legend, but unfortunately, there’s little information on the mother to this dessert. It really is too bad, as Lane, should be celebrated in her state for her accomplishments.
There’s plenty of room to deviate from this recipe, if needed. Modern Lane Cakes are going with the trendy “naked” look, i.e. no frosting. In looking over this recipe and researching it, apparently the key to a great Lane cake in booze, and lots of it, but you don’t have to add it.
This cake nearly killed me. I did not read the recipe thoroughly and obviously this led to crisis after crisis. It took me hours and hours to make this cake simply because I’m sloppy. I made two major adjustments to this cake. One, I made them into bars instead of a layer cake. Why? Because when you bake as often as I do, it’s not that easy to find cake-eaters. Two, instead of the classic boiled icing, I made a bourbon frosting. Why? Well, I wasted a lot of eggs trying to fix this thing and I didn’t have it in me to make an egg-based frosting. In addition, I was under a time crunch and we all know how fast it is to whip up a buttercream.
To help avoid confusion, I’m going to break this down into three parts: The cake, the filling, and the frosting. I will separate each by ingredients and its accompanying directions. I used a modified recipe from Tori Avery for the cake and filling (I divided her recipe by ¼). I used a bourbon buttercream recipe from MyRecipes.com
¾ cup of sifted flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
pinch of ground nutmeg
½ cup of sugar
¼ cup of butter
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup of milk
2 large egg whites
- Grease a 9X9 inch pan and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt, nutmeg, and baking powder.
- In a mixing bowl, beat the butter until nice and smooth.
- Slowly add the sugar to the butter until a nice fluffy mixture comes together.
- Add vanilla to the sugar and butter.
- Slowly add the flour and mixture and milk and mix until well incorporated.
- Get your egg whites and READ CAREFULLY.
- In a clean bowl, whisk together the egg white until soft peaks form. This could be tricky with such a small amount of liquid. I wasted an egg just to get it to fluff up and then dispose of one third of it.
- Fold together the fluffled egg whites and the rest of the batter, to this gently.
- Pour the batter into your prepared pan. Make sure it consistently covers your pan.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes. Utilize the toothpick test.
- Set aside and let cool.
Ingredients (if the filling sounds appealing, feel free to double it, mine was a little sparse)
2 large egg yolks
1/3 cup of white sugar
2 tbs of butter
pinch of salt
2 tbs of bourbon
¼ tsp of vanilla extract
¼ cup of chopped raisins
¼ of finely chopped pecans
¼ of shredded coconut
- In a saucepan, (over light heat) beat together two egg yolks. (I accidentally let them scramble and had to start over).
- Incorporate sugar until smooth and not grainy.
- Up the heat a little and add salt and butter. This should be mid-level heat.
- Stir mixture for several minutes until your wooden spoon has a thick layer of the mixture on it. Be careful here and make sure your eggs are well cooked.
- Do not allow mixture to boil.
- Remove from heat.
- Add vanilla and bourbon.
- Add the pecans, coconut, and raisons.
- Cool the mixture at room temp for about 30 minutes before applying it to the cooled cake.
The Frosting (Bourbon Frosting)
If you want to do the real frosting, use Tori Avery’s Alabama Lane Cake recipe on her website.
½ cup of butter (room temperature or softened)
2 ¼ cups of powedered sugar
2 ½ tbs of bourbon
2 ½ tbs milk
½ tbs of vanilla
- Mix butter in bowl until smooth.
- Add the powdered sugar, mix until smooth.
- Slowly add the bourbon, milk, and vanilla, mixing thoroughly between.
- This will make a thinner frosting.
- Spread the cooled filling over the cooled cake. There isn’t a lot of filling so spread as evenly as possible. If you made extra filling, this will be easier.
- Spread the bourbon frosting over the filling.
- I recommend chilling it so that it’s easier to cut. This made around 16 servings but feel free to cut how you please.
My scrambled mistake…
The frosting and application: