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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78 Comments »

  1. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

    [Reply]

    Comment by amy — September 9, 2012 @ 7:05 PM

  2. […] 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

  3. 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]

    CLAIRE WOOD Reply:

    Another thing about this frosting (we used to call it boiled frosting when I was a kid) Beating too long will make it tough but cooking the syrup too long has a big impact too. It was our go to frosting for coconut cake, and my granny used it for her special Christmas cake which was a devil’s food cake with ground up Brazil nuts in the cake (this was back when you could not walk into a grocery and buy them pre shelled and those things are very difficult to shell)

    If you cook the syrup a little longer and beat it long enough,you get divinity candy!! Make it with brown sugar for a nice change. I have also made this frosting with brown sugar (the recipe I used was called Seafoam Frosting, and is amazing on a spice cake or pumpkin cake. When I make the brown sugar version, I add 1/2 tsp of pure vanilla extract. If I recall correctly, we also put vanilla in it when we were making divinity.

    You can fold finely chopped pecans or walnuts into it whether you are making frosting or candy. It really is a very versatile frosting. If making the candy, fold in the nuts before you beat it to the candy stage!!

    [Reply]

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

  4. 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

  5. […] 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

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    [Reply]

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

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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]

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  12. Hey, can i substitute the tartar?

    [Reply]

    CLAIRE WOOD Reply:

    You can always leave out cream of tartar but I do not know why you would want to. Cream of tartar is THE secret for good volume and body in your egg whites. Also do not forget the Cardinal Rule for meringue: egg whites at room temperature!!! They just will not whip up if they are cold. Also be sure your beaters and bowl are squeaky clean with no residue ( in other words if you are using the same bowl and mixers as for the cake, there can be greasy film from the butter in the cake if you don’t get them squeaky clean)

    [Reply]

    CLAIRE WOOD Reply:

    Easy trick for remembering the Whipping Rules:

    C= Cold for (whipping) Cream
    W= Warm for (egg))Whites

    [Reply]

    Comment by Cintia Weiser Benchimol — November 9, 2014 @ 10:32 AM

  13. Hello, do these make good cupcakes?

    [Reply]

    amy Reply:

    Not sure; I’ve never tried it. I’m sure you could; just reduce the baking time to 10-15 minutes or so. You wouldn’t get the yummy filling by doing cupcakes, though.

    [Reply]

    Heather Reply:

    You could pipe a bit of the filling into the center of the cupcake.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Mal — March 13, 2015 @ 2:08 PM

  14. Hey. Wondering if I added cocoa. If it will still stay so j nice and moist? I baked using this recipe and it was so fluffy. Wondered if adding cocoa to make a chocolate cake would work.

    [Reply]

    CLAIRE WOOD Reply:

    My guess would be if you did this, you would reduce the flour accordingly to avoid your cake becoming too dry. I may have to try that and think about this: if you went chocolate on the cake, you could go raspberry or cherry on the fruit filling!
    My granny used to frost her Devil’s Food Brazil Nut cake with this frosting, so it is good on chocolate.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Angie — May 5, 2015 @ 7:20 PM

  15. Can this cake be made in. Sheet pan and then tortes? Thank you linda

    [Reply]

    Comment by Linda billingsley — May 30, 2015 @ 10:26 AM

  16. Wonder how it would be if you substituted raspberry and frangelica for the orange and grand marnier? Or one layer of orange and one of raspberry? (I love raspberry) 🙂

    [Reply]

    amy Reply:

    Sorry for the delay- I wasn’t getting these comments in my inbox for some reason! Raspberry would be fantastic- I love the idea!

    [Reply]

    Comment by CeCe Cat — July 22, 2015 @ 12:27 PM

  17. Can you frost this cake with a butter cream frosting

    [Reply]

    Comment by Diana — September 30, 2016 @ 8:36 AM

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