This is a very special, nostalgic cake for my family. It was my great-grandmother, Baba’s favorite go-to cake recipe. The Lady Baltimore Cake. It’s dainty, delicate, feminine and beautiful to look at. It starts with a light, tender white cake, filled with a delicate orange marmalade filling, spread with a fluffy marshmallowy frosting and sprinkled all over with sweetened coconut. Baba made this cake for special occasions, birthdays, holidays, etc. My mother’s birthdays were made so special because Baba would always make her this cake. And finally, after years of being too scared to try it for myself, I made it for my mother’s birthday last week. I love making something that Baba used to make- it’s almost as if it transports me through time and I’m standing next to her in her kitchen, baking alongside her.

Food is so powerful. One taste can bring back old friends, memories, and family. Glancing at an old, hand-written recipe can bring back smells and emotions and feelings from your childhood. Eating at your mom’s table, no matter your age, can make you feel safe and happy. Sharing a dessert with your husband can make you feel so loved and secure. And baking a cake from a book that your great-grandmother once used links you to something you can’t quite explain. I was so happy to make this cake for my mother, because for one short moment, we both got to be with Baba again. This is a very special cake. One I hope to be making for years and years to come.

(That’s Baba’s china my mom let me use in the pictures- we thought it only fitting! Isn’t it gorgeous?)

The cake portion of this recipe is very similar to Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake (my favorite white cake recipe), which is why it’s so light and fluffy. However, I noticed something odd while reading over the frosting portion of the recipe; no butter. NO butter?! What?! But I trudged on, thinking to myself, “Baba used this recipe a ton, so it must be right!” Upon actually making it, I realized it’s basically a marshmallow frosting. YUM! The frosting takes a little extra time and effort but in the end, it’s worth every second. I couldn’t get Joel to stop eating it! If you ever need an impressive cake for a special occasion, try the Lady Baltimore Cake- it’s different from your run-of-the-mill white cakes and really looks beautiful on a cake stand. It would really be perfect for showers, actually.

Lady Baltimore Cake

3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
grated zest of one lemon
3 cups cake flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
6 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 3 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper and grease generously.

Cream butter, sugar and lemon zest together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.
Combine milk, water and vanilla. Add small amounts of flour mixture to creamed butter mixture, alternately with milk mixture, beating until smooth after each addition.

Beat egg whites until stiff and gently fold into batter. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The cakes shouldn’t get very brown on top. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pans, then transfer cakes to wire wracks to cool completely.

For the Orange Marmalade Filling:
3/4 (18-ounce) jar orange marmalade
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Grand Marnier (or any orange liqueur), optional

Heat the marmalade, orange juice and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat just before it reaches boiling point. Remove from heat and stir in the Grand Marnier. Strain out the peels and allow to cool to room temperature.

For the Frosting:
3 cups sugar
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla

sweetened, flaked coconut, for garnish

Using a mixer, beat egg whites until stiff.

Boil sugar, water and cream of tartar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until it reaches 238 degrees on a candy thermometer, or until a small amount of syrup will form a soft ball when dropped into very cold water (this is what’s known as “soft ball stage”).
With the mixer running, slowly pour the hot syrup over the egg whites and continue to beat until the mixture is of spreading consistency (this could take up to 10 minutes; don’t be alarmed if your mixture is runny, just keep beating and eventually it will thicken up.). Add vanilla.

To Assemble:
Spread half of the orange marmalade filling in the center of the bottom cake layer, leaving an inch border around the outside (when you add the frosting, the marmalade will spread). Gently spread some of the frosting over the marmalade and place second cake layer on top. Repeat with the other half of the marmalade filling and more frosting, then place the third cake layer on top. Frost the whole cake with the frosting (be generous, the recipe makes a TON of frosting!) and sprinkle generously with coconut. Refrigerate until 30 minutes to one hour before serving.

Recipe source: adapted from Baba’s favorite, The American Woman’s Cookbook

I hope this cake made your birthday extra-special, mommy! I love you!

 

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63 Comments »

  1. This looks and sounds amazing. I am totally digging the orange marmalade with Grand Marnier. That is MY kind of filling!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Noelle — March 9, 2011 @ 7:56 AM

  2. Aww…this post is so sweet. That cake looks delicious, and I just love that you placed it on her china.

    And do I spy your infamous bubble bath sprinkles? Heehee!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Amy @ The Nifty Foodie — March 9, 2011 @ 8:01 AM

  3. YES you do, Amy!! Good eye! ;) I was so happy to finally get to use them!

    [Reply]

    Comment by amy — March 9, 2011 @ 9:03 AM

  4. What a beautiful post, Amy! I’m all teary-eyed reading about how much you love and miss your Baba. I love my Mammo and miss her every single day. I love when food can take you right back to the moments when you were together. Thank you for this.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Kelsey — March 9, 2011 @ 9:34 AM

  5. How beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Valerie — March 9, 2011 @ 10:32 AM

  6. Great post Amy, your cake is perfect! I love that china too.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Tracey — March 9, 2011 @ 12:02 PM

  7. Baba would be so proud of you, Amy! :) It looks beautiful!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Jessica of My Baking Heart — March 9, 2011 @ 12:20 PM

  8. That is one beautiful cake!

    Great blog; happy I found you!

    Mary xx
    Delightful Bitefuls

    [Reply]

    Comment by Mary @ Delightful Bitefuls — March 9, 2011 @ 2:55 PM

  9. I’m happy you found me too, Mary! Thank you!

    Thanks, Jess- I hope she would be!

    Tracey- my mom has promised me that china! She’s going to pass it down to me someday! I’m so excited! :)

    [Reply]

    Audra Gosdin Reply:

    I got the same china from my mom!! Must have been a popular choice in its day! And BTW, your cake is in the oven!!!! I am so excited!!! My best friend sent you to me because of this cake!

    [Reply]

    amy Reply:

    That’s awesome Audra! I hope you enjoy it as much as my family has through the years!! So happy to have you as a reader! :)

    [Reply]

    Comment by amy — March 9, 2011 @ 3:13 PM

  10. I’ve always heard of Lady Baltimore Cake, but never actually had it.. Here’s my opportunity to try it :)

    [Reply]

    Comment by Evan@swEEts — March 9, 2011 @ 4:44 PM

  11. Hope you enjoy it, Evan!

    [Reply]

    Comment by amy — March 9, 2011 @ 4:44 PM

  12. What a perfect birthday! How special is it to be surprised with Baba’s cake that my sweet daughter made?! And yes, you’re right, for a little while I felt like Baba was with us. Thank you for very much.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Mother — March 9, 2011 @ 4:47 PM

  13. This cake is gorgeous. I could totally see it at a baby or bridal shower. It’s perfect. I can’t WAIT to make it!

    [Reply]

    amy Reply:

    Thank you, Hezzi! I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Hezzi-D — March 9, 2011 @ 6:51 PM

  14. I love this post, Amy, and I really love that you put the cake on your grandmother’s china. How fitting and sweet.

    [Reply]

    amy Reply:

    Thanks so much, Annie!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Annie — March 9, 2011 @ 7:39 PM

  15. What a sweet story behind this recipe. :) Making sweet memories around food, sounds just like my family! This cake looks divine, too; I definitely think I need to try this one!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Penny Candy Studios — March 9, 2011 @ 8:06 PM

  16. This was incredible!

    [Reply]

    amy Reply:

    Thank you, Sweetie!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Joel — March 9, 2011 @ 8:34 PM

  17. This cake looks beautiful and so, so yummy. I can almost imagine the taste and texture.
    ~thechildcooks

    [Reply]

    Comment by thechildcooks — March 9, 2011 @ 9:17 PM

  18. I can see why your Mom loved it so much. What a special thing to do for her! Is there any left? :)

    [Reply]

    Comment by Kimby — March 10, 2011 @ 4:10 AM

  19. Such a delicate, dainty cake. Lovely that you honored your Baba and your mother with this beauty. While reading I couldn’t help wondering if my efforts to feed and spoil my family will be remembered like this one day, if it will have an impact on those I love.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Nuts about Food — March 10, 2011 @ 4:34 AM

  20. OMG that is so beautiful!!!! I feel the same way about family food memories. Last christmas, my mom made my sisters and I a cookbook compilation of all our special family holiday recipes, best present ever!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Colleen — March 10, 2011 @ 9:28 AM

  21. Beautiful in every way. I’m in! please tell me where to get those sprinkles.

    [Reply]

    amy Reply:

    Actually, I designed them for a sprinkle design contest and they won, so they sold them for a limited time. I don’t think you can buy them anymore, unfortunately. :(

    [Reply]

    Comment by thunja — March 10, 2011 @ 12:00 PM

  22. This cute looks absolutely delicious. I stumbled upon your recipe when I was looking to make a white cake for my son’s first birthday. I want to make a big cake with a heavy layer in the middle and I wanted to know if this cake can handle it. I wouldn’t want it to crumble and fall from the weight. This is what I’m making – http://iammommy.typepad.com/i_am_baker/2011/02/chocolate-covred-cherry-oreo-cake.html

    [Reply]

    amy Reply:

    Hmm, I’m not really sure this cake would be able to handle something like this. It’s very delicate and light- you might go with a traditional yellow cake since those are usually a little more dense.

    [Reply]

    Anju Reply:

    Thanks so much for replying. I’ll have to save your recipe to make my own birthday cake in a few weeks :-)

    [Reply]

    Comment by Anju — March 10, 2011 @ 12:57 PM

  23. Such a beautiful cake! And I especially love the sprinkles! I’ll have to recommend this one next time I’m asked to do a shower cake :)

    [Reply]

    Comment by ashlee — March 11, 2011 @ 2:30 PM

  24. Such an elegant looking cake!
    My first visit to your blog and certainly not my last.

    Beautiful blog,stunning pictures.. Inspirational stuff!!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Anita Menon — March 12, 2011 @ 5:31 AM

  25. I just made this cake. I’ve yet to try it because it’s sitting in the refrigerator (only been 20 minutes) but I ran through a major problem.

    My cake did not rise. I followed everything to a T- measured everything perfectly but each of my layer is only about an inch thick, so it kind of looks like a giant cookie.

    Can you think of any reason why I might have encountered such problem?

    Thank you.

    [Reply]

    amy Reply:

    Zin- it could have been a couple of things- possibly your baking powder was old and therefore didn’t act like it should; or possibly you overbeat the batter. You have to use a very gentle hand when folding in the egg whites, otherwise the cake will fall flat.
    If not one of these 2 scenarios, I’m at a loss as to what could have happened. I’m very sorry it didn’t turn out for you!

    [Reply]

    zin Reply:

    Your first reason is very possible. Never again will I use my boyfriend’s baking powder who never cooks/bakes.

    I tasted it and it is great! I can imagine it to be so much better with a light cake texture.

    I’ll try it again!

    [Reply]

    Comment by zin — March 12, 2011 @ 10:46 PM

  26. I had a coconut cake for the first time last week. It’s absolutely delicious!! I can’t wait to try this :)

    [Reply]

    Comment by Anne Marie — March 14, 2011 @ 8:06 AM

  27. Your introduction to this recipe got me all choked up. I feel the same way about using the bowls that were my mothers and reading recipes written in her handwriting. With those things she’s still with me in the kitchen.
    This cake looks amazing and I’m going to bookmark it for my own birthday cake. Thanks.

    [Reply]

    amy Reply:

    Thank you so much for your sweet comment, Janna! I’m so excited you’re going to make this cake for your birthday! I hope you’ll love it!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Janna M — March 20, 2011 @ 4:04 PM

  28. I have seen many recipes for Lady Baltimore Cake, but I’ve never been interested in making one till I saw your picture. :)

    Would you tell me more about the cookbook your grandmother loved – The American Woman’s Cookbook? Is it the one by Ruth Berolzheimer?

    [Reply]

    amy Reply:

    It is the one by Ruth Berolzheimer. She cooked out of it for years and years! Her favorite recipes were the buttermilk biscuits and Lady Baltimore cake but she made tons of others all the time too! My mom always loved the icebox cookies recipe. It’s definitely a very special book to my family. I think there are many different (and newer) editions out now, so it’s not too hard to find. My mom found one at a garage sale, I think. Or maybe an antique store…can’t quite remember which!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Linda — April 12, 2011 @ 7:07 AM

  29. Thanks – I’m gonna check out eBay and our Goodwill store – you never know what you might find there! ;)

    [Reply]

    Comment by Linda — April 14, 2011 @ 9:12 AM

  30. I’ve been waiting to make this cake since last Spring and had decided on Christmas day. I could never get the frosting to thicken and I’m pretty familiar with the cooking methods. Not sure what happened, but my cake is a runny mess, even with dowels supporting the layers :(

    [Reply]

    amy Reply:

    I’m sorry it didn’t turn out for you. As I said in the post, I had to beat my frosting for almost a solid 20 minutes before it thickened.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Maeghan — December 24, 2011 @ 1:14 PM

  31. My mom used to make this cake as well but with out the marmalade filling. We always loved it so much that it would be gone before the next day.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Jean — January 8, 2012 @ 5:35 PM

  32. My mom talked all the time about this cake. It was my grandmother’s “go to cake” also. My grandma’s recipe was so old we couldn’t read it. Some variations of this cake, like my grandma’s, called for a fruit and/or nut filling, but all have the classic coconut. Thanks for posting.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Lisa Carver — April 23, 2012 @ 12:25 PM

  33. hello your cake looks beautiful, and i am sure it tast like it looks, may i ask you what family back ground you are, are family calls grandmother baba also.we are in california, where are you ?? please answer back
    thank you so much

    [Reply]

    Comment by LADYBUG LUCAS — May 19, 2012 @ 4:25 PM

  34. After finding this on Pinterest, I decided to give it a shot. Oh my goodness! I should have stayed away because it is insanely delicious, and now I’m going to have to eat it all! ;) Really though, it is an excellent cake: moist, tender, airy, and the frosting is so fluffy. This will be a recipe I go to often in the future. Thank you so much for introducing it to me!

    [Reply]

    amy Reply:

    I’m so happy you enjoyed it!! Thank you for telling me!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Daina — May 28, 2012 @ 4:15 PM

  35. [...] This beautiful special occasion cake has SO much history. The internet is full of different variations. Pictured above is from Erin Mann. I read lots of different recipes on this cake and decided to go with the one from Sing For your Supper. [...]

    Pingback by Lady Baltimore Cake « Where Flours Bloom — June 18, 2012 @ 9:27 AM

  36. I have to admit I have been eying this cake for quite some time it is beautiful and I know I will be using this recipe for my bridal shower cake thank you so much for sharing something that is so very special to you

    [Reply]

    amy Reply:

    I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Jennifer — September 6, 2012 @ 2:19 AM

  37. [...] am excited to share this lovely cake with you. I found this recipe from Sing For Your Supper awhile ago and have I have been wanting to make it. When I was reading [...]

    Pingback by Lady Baltimore Cake | Baking Chic... plus a little more — November 27, 2012 @ 10:54 AM

  38. This cake is absolutely stunning… i love how light and feathery it looks. So much that i attempted to try it for my sister’s 30th birthday as a surprise. The cake layers turned out beautifully, but i made a huge booboo on the marmalade filling and put too much alcohol in and it was way too watery, almost like syrup, but not thick at all… it just dripped all over the sides. Then i think i beat the icing too long after i poured the syrup over top of the egg whites…. resulting in a SUPER sticky marshmallow cream…. pretty much the exact same consistency as the JIffy stuff you buy in the jar! It was terrible! Everything tasted good… but it didn’t go onto the cake well. I had to in fact throw the whole thing out it was such a disaster! I hope to attempt this cake again and actually have it turn out as pretty as this one.

    [Reply]

    amy Reply:

    Sorry about the filling! Next time, feel free to use plain jarred jam- orange marmalade, raspberry jam…whatever you want! As for the frosting- it is like marshmallow cream. It’s supposed to be fluffy and sticky. If you overbeat it, it may have gotten a little too stiff. The consistency you’re looking for is billowy and smooth, but still spreadable.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Rachel — December 19, 2012 @ 9:15 AM

  39. Hello, I was wondering about the egg whites in the frosting. Is combining them with the hot sugar mixture enough to “cook” them? I have a concern about raw eggs or egg whites in food. Thanks!

    [Reply]

    amy Reply:

    Yes, it does. No worries!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Lynn — February 5, 2013 @ 4:59 PM

  40. [...] love layer cakes… so pretty and special. This is a Lady Baltimore Cake- a fluffy citrus-y white [...]

    Pingback by This Weeks Delish! — April 14, 2013 @ 5:08 AM

  41. Its like you learn my thoughts! You appear to know a lot about this, such as you wrote the guide in it or
    something. I think that you can do with some p.
    c. to pressure the message home a bit, but instead of that, that is
    excellent blog. A fantastic read. I’ll definitely be back.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Mexican Decor — June 7, 2013 @ 5:02 AM

  42. Just made this cake for my daughter’s teacher’s farewell so I won’t get a chance to eat it. But I did sample the frosting which was TO DIE FOR! Thank you!

    [Reply]

    amy Reply:

    I hope her teacher likes it! So happy you chose this cake- it’s such a special dessert!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Rebecca — August 20, 2013 @ 6:33 PM

  43. I thought the filling was more dried or candied fruit and nuts–but I much prefer your version with the orange marmalade. It sounds wonderful. I am anxious to give this a try!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Ellen — September 25, 2013 @ 7:54 PM

  44. Growing up in the south, Lady Baltimore cake was a common dessert at gatherings. All the ones I ever had had a nut and fruit filling. As I do NOT like nuts(I always left the nutty part on the plate) I never bothered to make one myself. This filling looks like just the change I would require to inspire me to give it a try. I think I’ll give it a try this weekend.

    [Reply]

    amy Reply:

    I hope you enjoy it! Don’t forget to really beat that frosting good! It seems like it takes forever to get spreadable!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Annette — October 18, 2013 @ 3:00 PM

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