“Miss Maudie Atkinson baked a Lane cake so loaded with shinny it made me tight.” – Scout Finch in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird
Lane cake is a Southern cake popular during the holiday season, steeped in tradition and a fair bit of bourbon. Named for its creator, Emma Rylander Lane of Clayton, Georgia, she called it “Prize Cake” in her 1898 cookbook after winning first prize with it at a county fair. The popularity of the booze-soaked cake grew steadily over the years, but got a boost in attention after Harper Lee referenced it in her 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird, in which the young protagonist notes the particular potency of a Lane cake she samples. Given that the original recipe for Ms. Lane’s prize cake calls for up to three cups of bourbon, that must have been some cake.
Our take on the boozy dessert cuts back considerably on the bourbon, but there is still plenty in there, so this one is better served at grown-up gatherings this holiday season. A basic white cake is transformed by moist, rich layers of dried fruit and seasonal pecans spiked with holiday cheer in this most wonderful time of the year.
Holiday Lane Cake
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 sticks butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup milk
- 8 egg whites
- 1 stick butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 8 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup bourbon
- 1 cup golden raisins, chopped
- 1 cup pecans, chopped
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- 2 sticks butter
- 3 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
To make cake:
Sift flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.
Cream 2 cups butter, 2 cups sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract together until fluffy.
Add dry mix and milk and mix until well combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites until soft peaks form.
Gently stir egg whites into batter until fully combined.
Pour batter into two greased and floured 9” cake pans.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from oven, let rest 10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Using a long bread knife, cut each cake horizontally to create 4 layers.
To make filling:
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
Whisk egg yolks and sugar together, add to butter and continue to cook until mixture thickens to thick custard consistency.
Remove from heat and stir in bourbon, raisins, pecans and coconut.
Spread an even layer of filling over bottom layer of cake.
Place a second layer of cake on the first and top with filling then repeat with third layer. Place remaining cake layer on top.
To make frosting:
Beat 2 sticks of butter until fluffy.
Add confectioner’s sugar, vanilla extract and cream and beat until smooth and creamy.
Using a spatula or cake tools, completely coat cake with frosting.