The Legend of Lady Baltimore

Written by | February 24, 2014 | Posted in News & Culture

We’ve been enjoying the Pie versus Cake match-up that supports the February issue of Our State magazine. We’ve enjoyed it so much that we’ve had either pie or cake every week to celebrate a match-up.

As we near the end of the competition, there is one match-up that we can’t get out of our heads. Lady Baltimore Cake’s loss in the first round. Her elegance was marred by the muddied reputation of the Mississippi Mud Cake.

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Sounds divine, doesn’t it? We couldn’t get it out of our heads.

We’ve all spent a significant number of years in North Carolina and the Pie vs Cake competition was the first we’d heard of the Lady Baltimore Cake. As we were looking for the perfect recipe, we couldn’t help but do a little research on the cake. It seems the cake made it’s first appearance in the 1906 novel Lady Baltimore and was named after a delightful cake described in the book.

We tried to get a few local bakeries to make the cake, but our powers of persuasion didn’t work. Luckily, the Pumpkin Spice Fairy jumped in and made one for us.

Without further ado, we present you the Lady Baltimore Cake.

Lady Baltimore Cake

lady baltimore cake slice

Yield: 1 (9-inch) 2-layer cake

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole buttermilk
  • 5 egg whites, beaten until stiff


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour two (9-inch) round cake pans lined with parchment circles. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add extracts, beating to combine.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; sift twice. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture in 3 batches, alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
  4. Stir in one-fourth of egg whites to lighten. Fold in remaining egg whites. Divide batter among prepared pans.
  5. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center of layers comes out clean, 22 to 25 minutes. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove layers from pans, and let cool completely on wire racks.

Boiled frosting


  • 6 large egg whites
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup chopped golden raisins
  • ½ cup chopped currants
  • ½ cup chopped dried figs
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur, such as Grand Marnier


  1. In a medium bowl, combine raisins, figs, pecans, and liqueur. Let stand for 20 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the sugar and the water, stirring occasionally. Once it comes to a boil, continue stirring, more frequently, until the sugar is dissolved; boil the syrup until it registers 248 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
  4. With the mixer running add the hot syrup to the egg whites, in a slow, steady stream.
  5. Add the vanilla, beating the icing until it is smooth and cool.
  6. Transfer two cups of the frosting to a bowl. With the remaining portion of frosting, fold in the chopped figs, pecans, and raisins.
  7. Place the first cake layer on a serving plate, flat (un-cut) side up. Spread it with the fruit and nut-filled frosting, keeping a ½ inch margin around the edges. Place the other cake layer on top of the frosting. Use the reserved plain frosting to frost the top and sides of the cake.

If you’re in Durham, stop by and have a slice with us. But you better come quick, it won’t last the rest of the day. Those of you who aren’t in Durham will just have to follow our antics on Instagram. Spoiler alert: We eat a lot. And really like to compare things.

There’s still time to vote in the pie versus cake bracket. Right now you’ve got Pecan Pie versus Apple Pie and Pound Cake versus Chocolate Layer Cake; the winner is revealed March 7.