It may be the most famous cake in the South.
Have you heard the tale of one of the South’s most unique cakes—the Lane Cake?
If you’ve never had the honor of tasting a towering slice, here’s what you’re missing: Although there are many variations by a bevy of talented bakers, most Lane Cakes consist of three layers of white cake sandwiched with custard and fruit, doused with a generous glug of bourbon, and slathered in fluffy white frosting.
Our most recent rendition of Lane Cake (shown below) features a filling made from dried peaches and pecans, with a boiled frosting spiked with peach schnapps. Traditional? Maybe not. Delicious? You bet!
Lane Cake was the brainchild of Emma Rylander Lane of Clayton, Alabama, who entered her creation in a baking competition at the county fair in Columbus, Georgia, more than 100 years ago. She named her recipe “Prize Cake.” The judges took note and awarded her first place.
Rylander’s recipe for Prize Cake appeared in a book she published in 1898, Some Good Things To Eat. Rylander’s version called for raisins and a “boiled” frosting.” Another Alabamian, author Harper Lee, immortalized the Lane Cake in her 1960 masterpiece To Kill A Mockingbird, when her main character, Scout, referred to a neighbor’s Lane Cake as “so loaded with shinny it made me tight.”
Shortly after that book shot through the stratosphere of popularity, we published our first recipe for Lane Cake in Southern Living—in our second issue, in fact!
In true “I’ll put my own spin on it” fashion, that cake was a “naked” cake (well ahead of its time!) and featured no frosting at all—just the fruity, nut-filled layers and plenty of bourbon. I think it looks pretty darn good for 1966! (See the original photo above.)
A few decades later, in 1983, we published another version of Lane Cake, this time with the frosting, and more in keeping with Emma Rylander’s original recipe. In this photo from our archives, the topping of that cake looks a little like fruitcake, but the interior was a light and fluffy reader favorite.
This Lane Cake from 1999 is partying like its namesake year! As most of you know, we famously put a big white cake on the cover every year; Lane Cake was the perfect candidate. And if you can believe it, this recipe was made using a cake mix!
Lane Cake has a legion of fans all over the South, including former president Jimmy Carter! But it doesn’t take a presidential declaration to make a cake delicious—try a bite for yourself and you’ll agree. Which one of these old-fashioned Lane Cakes is your favorite? Should we bring back one of these recipes from the past?
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Read the original article on Southern Living.