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- Dish type
A three-layered white-coloured sponge with decorative white meringue icing and a filling of raisins, pecans, glacé cherries and vanilla (sweet sherry can be substituted for the vanilla). It was popularised by the 1906 novel "Lady Baltimore" set in Charleston, South Carolina and despite the name has no connection whatsoever to Baltimore, Maryland, USA!
8 people made this
- 225g butter, softened
- 250g caster sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 375g plain flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 235ml milk
- 6 egg whites
- 100g caster sugar
- 1 recipe Lady Baltimore cake icing
- 80g raisins, coarsely chopped
- 40g chopped pecans
- 55g chopped glacé cherries
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or sweet sherry)
MethodPrep:30min ›Cook:1hr ›Ready in:1hr30min
- Preheat oven to 180 C / Gas 4. Grease and flour three 23cm round cake tins.
- In a large bowl cream butter, 250g sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla together well. Beat until light and fluffy.
- In another bowl stir flour, baking powder and salt together; add flour mixture to butter mixture in 3 parts alternating with milk in 2 parts, beginning and ending with flour.
- Using clean beaters, beat egg whites in mixing bowl until soft peaks form. Add 100g sugar gradually while beating until stiff. Fold whipped egg whites into cake mixture and pour into prepared tins.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until an inserted wooden skewer comes out clean, and cool.
- Stir 480g Lady Baltimore cake icing, raisins, nuts, cherries and 2 teaspoons vanilla or sherry all together. Use as filling to spread between layers. Spread remaining icing on tops and sides of cake.
To make cake:
To make filling:
Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(9)
Reviews in English (7)
My Grandmother and my Mother used to make this cake. It was soooooooooo good. I had lost the recipe in all my movings over the years, Now I'v got it back. Thanks a heap. Wouldn't change a thing.-29 Sep 2007
I'll give this 5 stars, it tastes good, however I probably won't make it again. I have another white cake recipe that I use and get similar results without jumping through all the hoops. It is good and worth trying. Thanks.-31 Aug 2008
My boss who is an awesome chef/baker wanted her mom to make her famous LB cake, but she wouldn't so I took a stab at it and this turned out great! Everyone loved it, even boss's mom!-30 Jan 2010
The History Behind the Legendary Lady Baltimore Cake
A Lady Baltimore cake is among the most elegant and impressive of swoon-worthy Southern layer cakes. It&aposs three layers of pristine white cake coupled with a boozy dried fruit-and-nut filling and crowned with swirls of fluffy white 7-minute frosting.
But it&aposs not from Baltimore. No, this classic cake hails from Charleston and its origin story lies in fiction. In 1903, author Owen Wister wrote a romantic novel titled Lady Baltimore in which a cake so impresses the narrator that it becomes the focal point of the story set in fictional Kings Port, which bears strong resemblance to Charleston. A groom with second thoughts about his upcoming marriage goes to a local bakery to order a Lady Baltimore wedding cake. He winds up falling in love with Eliza, the young woman who takes his order, and he marries her instead. They live happily ever after, all thanks to the Lady Baltimore cake.
Wister wrote: "I stepped forward to the counter, adventurous, but polite. ‘I should like a slice, if you please, of Lady Baltimore,&apos I said, with extreme formality . I returned to the table and she brought me the cake, and I had my first felicitous meeting with Lady Baltimore. Oh, my goodness! Did you ever taste it? It&aposs all soft, and it&aposs in layers, and it has nuts𠅋ut I can`t write any more about it my mouth waters too much. Delighted surprise caused me once more to speak aloud and with my mouth full. "But, dear me, this is delicious!"&apos
The novel got mixed reviews, but the cake was a hit and recipes for Lady Baltimore cake began popping up in newspapers and ladies&apos journals across the country.
The cake Wister described was one that he likely enjoyed in real life at The Women&aposs Exchange tearoom in Charleston, perhaps baked by Alicia Rhett Mayberry, who is often credited for the cake. (In another nod to fiction comingling with true stories, her niece and namesake Alicia Rhett played India Wilkes in Gone with the Wind.) But a deeper dig into the history of the cake tells us that the recipe was more likely developed by sisters Florrie and Nina Ottolengui, longtime managers of the tearoom. No one knows why they named the cake Lady Baltimore, but there really was a Lady Baltimore (Joan Calvert, second wife of the first Lord Baltimore) and using her name was a bit of a fad in its own right, and was also bestowed on a fancy silver pattern and a showy variety of African violet.
Numerous recipes for Lady Baltimore appear in Southern cookbooks and family recipe boxes, but most are rooted in the recipe found in Two Hundred Years of Charleston Cooking by Blanch Rhett, a relative of Alicia. The cake layers are made with only egg whites, a style once categorized as a white or silver cake. Miss Rhett&aposs filling included dried figs, raisins, toasted walnuts, and sherry, although other bakers have substituted other dried fruits and replaced the sherry with brandy or fruit juice.
A Lady Baltimore Cake puts bakers through their paces, but it&aposs worth the time and care. It&aposs delicious with stop-and-stare good looks. It was – and is—grand enough to be served as a wedding cake, holiday centerpiece, special birthday, or any occasion where an over-the-top cake is in order.
Lady Baltimore Cake
- Quick Glance
- 1 H
- 1 H, 25 M
- Serves 10 to 12
Ingredients US Metric
- For the cake
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (6 oz), softened
- 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups milk (preferably whole or 2%)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 3 cups self-rising flour
- 6 large egg whites
- For the filling
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
- 1/4 cup oatmeal cookie crumbs
- 1/4 cup finely chopped toasted almonds (see Note)
- 1/4 cup quartered maraschino cherries
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- For the frosting
- 3 large egg whites
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- For the garnish
- Oatmeal cookie crumbs
- About 4 maraschino cherries, halved or whole
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter and lightly flour three 9-by-2-inch round cake pans, tapping out any excess flour. Line the bottom of each pan with waxed paper cut to fit.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine the milk and the vanilla and almond extracts.
Add the flour to the butter mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the milk mixture, beating well after each addition.
In a separate bowl, on the high speed of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold into batter, making sure no streaks of white are showing. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the milk with the sugar and flour until thoroughly combined. Cook and stir constantly over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly, about 5 minutes.
Remove the pan from heat and add the coconut, cookie crumbs, almonds, and cherries. Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts. Cool to room temperature.
When the cake and filling have cooled, place 1 cake layer on a cake stand or a platter. Spread half the filling on top of the first cake. Top with the second cake and then slather the rest of the filling on top of that cake. Place the third cake on top. The cake should be assembled so it can be frosted as soon as the frosting is completed.
In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the egg whites and vanilla.
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over high heat, combine the water, sugar, and cream of tartar. When the mixture begins to bubble at the edges, stir once to make sure the sugar is dissolved completely. Then let it come to a rolling boil, which will take 2 to 5 minutes.
While the sugar mixture boils, with a mixer on medium speed, beat the egg whites and vanilla extract with the whisk attachment until foamy, about 1 minute. Without turning off the mixer, pour the sugar syrup into the beaten egg whites in a thin, steady stream. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and continue to beat constantly until stiff peaks form, 5 to 10 minutes. Use the frosting immediately.
Frost the top and sides of the cake with the meringue frosting, making lavish swoops and swirls.
Generously sprinkle the top of the cake with cookie crumbs and place halved cherries on top in a decorative fashion. Originally published June 21, 2001.
To toast almonds, place on a baking sheet in a 325°F (160°C) oven for approximately 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned and fragrant.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
This is a classic cake and was fun to test. My guests loved the frosting. I liked the filling but found the frosting to be a bit too sweet for my taste although I think it's really a matter of taste.
If I made it again, I would probably soak it in a simple syrup.
The cake is really good. I liked the flavor of the filling and the cake was light. My brother-in-law has eaten many of these and said that he thought this one was good.
I have one 9-inch cake pan but I actually have two 6-inch, two 8-inch, and 2 10-inch cake pans as well as unusual sizes, etc. I think it could be made in 8-inch pans.
There was a lot of frosting. I think it could be reduced by 1/3. I think that the cake and the frosting could be made ahead to save time.
This gorgeous cake is moist, delicious, and bursting with flavor.
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Filling and Frosting
I also followed the recipes for the filling and frosting. The filling is made up of dried fruit that’s been soaked in hot water for a few minutes and then drained. The frosting is a Divinity Frosting, made of sugar and egg whites. I know I make some pretty sweet frostings, but this was overkill for even me!
If you want to make a classic Lady Baltimore filling and frosting, I suggest using THIS recipe.
For this blog post, I’ll just be sharing the cake layers with you because that’s what I truly, truly loved about this vintage cake. In fact, I loved the layers so much that I used them over the weekend as the base of my new Mojito Cake (coming next week).
The Recipe for Lady Baltimore Cake
In the beginning, you’ll start out with two layers of a white cake. It is not yellow cake (meaning, no egg yolks are used in the recipe) and, additionally, there is no butter used in the cake (it only uses a little shortening).
The frosting and filling start out with what you may know as “7-minute frosting.”
For the filling, Martha suggests putting aside one-third of the frosting, but, in my personal opinion, one-quarter of the frosting would’ve been sufficient.
Additionally, to add to the suggested ingredients of soaked raisins, chopped walnuts, and dried figs, I also chopped up some dried cranberries for some tartness. I personally think this was a really nice addition to the ingredients and cake overall. You may also want to experiment with different ingredients perhaps and make a creation of your own! If you’re unable to find dried or fresh figs, note that you can also use fresh or dried dates since both figs and dates tend to have similar tastes, especially when dried.
When you mix all the goodies with part of the frosting will look something like this (Apologies for the blurry picture):
Then, after leveling the cake layers, filling them, stacking and frosting them with the remaining icing it will look something like this:
The frosting doesn’t have to be done too neatly, as it still looks really nice to just make a pattern with a spatula or spoon. You can easily make any pattern or design you want by using a spoon or spatula as I did!
My finished Lady Baltimore cake did not have the most aesthetic appeal as I was in a big hurry to get to my dad’s birthday party. But the taste was great and very different from your standard flavors. Perhaps if you have a bit more time to spend on making the cake and if aesthetics are important to you, then yours may turn out looking a bit different.
I did not regret venturing out of my “cake comfort-zone” to try this cake with an elegant name. If you, too, are looking to venture out of your own personal baking comfort zone, this is a great place for you to start!
- 3/4 cup butter, unsalted
- 2 cups Dixie Crystals Extra Fine Granulated Sugar
- 3 cups cake flour*, sifted
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond or lemon extract
- 6 large eggs, beaten until stiff
- 1/2 cup figs, chopped & dried
- 1/2 cup chopped raisins
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup brandy
- 1 1/2 cup Dixie Crystals Extra Fine Granulated Sugar
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 2 large egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/3 cup of water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Buttercream Frosting
- 2 cups (4 sticks) butter, unsalted, softened
- 4 cups Dixie Crystals Confectioners Powdered Sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
*Spoon & Sweep method: Use a spoon to fill measuring cup with flour until required amount is obtained. Scooping measuring cup directly into flour bag will firmly pack flour resulting in too much flour required for recipe.
Recipes from the Twentieth Century
By Sylvia Lovegren
Let Them Eat Cake
A Betty Crocker booklet called the Twenties &ldquothe beginning of the real cake era.&rdquo In looking at the cookbooks from the period you begin to see what was meant. There are spice cakes, angel cakes, devil cakes, sponge cakes, and fudge cakes. There were date cakes, nut cakes, prune cakes, and jam cakes. There were pound cakes, fairy cakes, buttermilk cakes, chocolate cakes, eggless cakes, burnt-sugar cakes, mocha cakes, sunshine cakes, maple cakes, marble cakes, and checkerboard cakes. These lush creations were stuffed, gilded, and embellished with luscious frostings, fillings, and icings opulently flavored with chocolate, coconut, marshmallow, lemon, orange, whipped cream, mocha, caramel, pineapple, maple, maraschino, and brown sugar.
Part of the reason for cake&rsquos newfound popularity was that, in those recently maidless and hurry-up days, it became fashionable to have only one dish for the dessert course. Pictorial Review&rsquos April 1928 issue assured the worried hostess that her cake could be made as tall and imposing as she wished, and that by &ldquoadding story upon story to her confection &hellip everyone who beholds it will be convinced that such a cake only, is sufficient for the complete course.&rdquo
Certainly one of the most imposing cakes was the Lady Baltimore. Although this cake of Charleston, South Carolina, origin was first made in the late 1800s, it was immensely popular in the Twenties. More confection than cake, rich with butter and eggs, stuffed with nuts and fruits, and topped with a devastatingly sweet meringue frosting, Lady Baltimore was perfect Ladies&rsquo Luncheon food&mdashand perfectly delicious.
There are as many variations of Lady Baltimore cake as there are cooks. The following one, however, is from Alicia Rhett Mayberry, a great lady of Charleston who is usually conceded to have introduced the cake. Mrs. Mayberry&rsquos recipe is made with two separate fillings and contains no figs or rose water, common additions in other recipes.
Lady Baltimore Cake
Although the original recipe says this will make three layers, I found it to be a two-layer, plus one very large cupcake, cake. Two layers will not make a cake as ineffably high as the standard Lady Baltimore. On the other hand, the fillings in this recipe are so achingly sweet and rich&mdashmore like divinity fudge than frosting&mdashthat two layers are already overkill. Reserve this cake only for those with a real sweet tooth.
For the Cake
½ cup (1 stick) butter
1½ cups sugar
2 large eggs, separated
2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
For Filling I
1 cup sugar
½ cup walnut meats
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
For Filling II and Assembly
2 cups sugar
½ cup water
2 large egg whites, beaten until stiff but not dry
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup chopped raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
Juice of ½ lemon
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter two 8-inch layer cake pans and 2 medium muffin cups. To make the cake, cream the butter and sugar together until light. Beat the egg yolks until light, then beat them into the butter mixture. Sift the dry ingredients together three times. Fold the dry ingredients into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, ending with the flour mixture. Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold the whites into the batter. Spoon the batter into the cake and muffin cups and bake until they test done, about 25 minutes. Take out of the oven and let rest in the pans 10 minutes. Remove from the pans and cool on a wire rack. When cool, set the cupcakes aside for another use fill and frost the cake layers as described below.
While the cakes are baking, make the fillings. For Filling I, put the sugar, walnuts, and water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat without stirring to the very soft ball stage (232°F on a candy thermometer) when a spoonful of syrup dropped into a cup of ice water forms thick threads. Remove from the heat and let cool to 110°F. Stir in the extracts, then beat until slightly thickened. Set aside until the cake layers are cool. Spread half of Filling I over each cake layer.
For Filling II, dissolve the sugar in the water in a heavy saucepan. Do not stir after this point. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover and boil for 3 minutes. Remove the cover and boil over medium-low heat until the mixture reaches the firm ball stage (246°F on a candy thermometer) when a spoonful of the syrup dropped into a cup of ice water forms a ball that holds its shape unless pressed with a finger. Pour the hot syrup slowly into the beaten egg whites, beating constantly. (Be sure to add slowly or you will end up with very nasty, sticky nuggets of cooked egg.) Continue beating until cool. Quickly add the extracts, raisins, nuts, and lemon juice. Set aside until the cake layers are cooled. Spread a little of Filling II over Filling I on each layer. Stack one layer on top of the other, filling sides up. Frost the sides with the rest of Filling II.
Makes 1 cake and 2 cupcakes
Fashionable Food: Seven Decades of Food Fads
With a new Preface
©1995, 2005 464 pages, 35 halftones, 7 line drawings
Paper $19.00 ISBN: 978-0-226-49407-4
For information on purchasing the book&mdashfrom bookstores or here online&mdashplease go to the webpage for Fashionable Food.
Lady Baltimore Cake with Mocha Frosting
HEAT oven to 350ºF. Coat two round 9-inch cake pans with flour no-stick cooking spray.
COMBINE cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in large mixing bowl. Add 1 cup milk and shortening. Blend with electric mixer at low speed. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed. Add eggs, 1/3 cup milk and vanilla. Beat 2 minutes. Pour batter into prepared cake pans.
BAKE 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes in pans on racks. Remove from pans to cool completely.
BEAT shortening, vanilla, salt and cocoa. Add powdered sugar and coffee alternately, beating until smooth.
PLACE 1 cake layer, rounded side down, on serving plate. Stir together 2/3 cup frosting with raisins, pecans and marmalade. Spread on top of layer. Top with second layer, rounded side up. Frost sides and top of cake with remaining frosting.
*To make 1 cup strong brewed coffee: Measure 1/3 cup Folgers Classic Roast ground coffee and 1 1/3 cup cold water into a drip coffeemaker.
Lady Baltimore Cake.
Yesterday I gave you a recipe for Fannie Farmer's version of Lady Baltimore Cake without giving you any history of the cake itself. My conscience was pricked and my curiosity piqued by the comment posted by T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types, who was intrigued by the name of the cake, and what is more, he actually made it, and it looks fantastic! You can see the pictures HERE.
So, to correct my omission, I give you the results of my very brief foray into the story behind the Lady Baltimore Cake.
Naturally, its origins are disputed and controversial which is good news as such stories are much more fun. We can probably fairly quickly discount the idea that it was named after the real Lady Baltimore, whose Irish husband inherited Maryland in the mid-seventeenth century. The Lady never got to America, and in any case baking powder leavening agents were not invented until well into the nineteenth century – a ‘cake’ in her day was more like sweet fruit bread. Another story says it was a variation of a cake enjoyed by Dolly Madison, the fourth First Lady but this story fails to explain why it is not then called Dolly Madison cake.
The other two common explanations have more substance, and perhaps both of them are right. One says it originated in Charleston at the end of the nineteenth century, at “The Lady Baltimore Tearooms”, and was a variation of another popular cake (aren’t all cake recipes variations of of one that has gone before?). The final story says that the original cake was purely fictional, and made its first appearance in a novel but sounded so good readers clamoured for the recipe. The book was called, in case you cannot guess - ‘Lady Baltimore’, and it was set in a Southern city something like Charleston. It was written by Owen Wister and published in 1906.
Here is the relevant passage from the book:
… at twelve, it was my habit to leave my Fanning researches for a while, and lunch at the Exchange upon chocolate and sandwiches most delicate in savor. As, one day, I was luxuriously biting one of these, I heard his voice and what he was saying. .
Young he was, very young, twenty-two or three at the most, and as he stood, with hat in hand, speaking to the pretty girl behind the counter, his head and side-face were of a romantic and high-strung look. It was a cake that he desired made, a cake for a wedding and I directly found myself curious to know whose wedding.
…. "Are you quite sure you want that?" the girl was asking.
"Lady Baltimore? Yes, that is what I want."
"Because," she began to explain, then hesitated, and looked at him. Perhaps it was in his face perhaps it was that she remembered at this point the serious difference between the price of Lady Baltimore (by my small bill-of-fare I was now made acquainted with its price) and the cost of that rich article which convention has prescribed as the cake for weddings at any rate, swift, sudden delicacy of feeling prevented her explaining any more to him, for she saw how it was: his means were too humble for the approved kind of wedding cake! She was too young, too unskilled yet in the world's ways, to rise above her embarrassment and so she stood blushing at him behind the counter, while he stood blushing at her in front of it.
…. My day had been dull, my researches had not brought me a whit nearer royal blood I looked at my little bill-of-fare, and then I stepped forward to the counter, adventurous, but polite.
"I should like a slice, if you please, of Lady Baltimore," I said with extreme formality. I thought she was going to burst but after an interesting second she replied, "Certainly," in her fit Regular Exchange tone only, I thought it trembled a little.
I returned to the table and she brought me the cake, and I had my first felicitous meeting with Lady Baltimore. Oh, my goodness! Did you ever taste it? It's all soft, and it's in layers, and it has nuts--but I can't write any more about it my mouth waters too much.
Delighted surprise caused me once more to speak aloud, and with my mouth full. "But, dear me, this Is delicious!"
A choking ripple of laughter came from the counter. "It's I who make them," said the girl. "I thank you for the unintentional compliment."
The narrator finds that the incident has ‘broken the ice’ with the charming cake-maker, and he returns to continue the flirtation. In case that still isn't enough romance for you, another embellishment of the tale of the novel itself says that Wister had been given some delicious cake by a beautiful Southern belle, and decided to write about it.
No wonder the public clamoured for an actual recipe for this romance-soaked idea of a cake!
Now for the evidence. There seems to be no mention anywhere of a cake with the name of ‘Lady Baltimore’ until 1906. Suddenly there was a spate of newpaper articles mentioning it as the ‘famous’ or ‘original’ cake, with one writer (in January 1907) coyly agreeing to part with the recipe ‘with the sanction of Owen Wister’. The very first mention of the cake that I have been able to find is on October 27th 1906 in the The Post Standard of Syracuse NY, in an article about an upcoming sale and dance on behalf of the Harmony Circle, the auxillary to the Womens and Childrens Hospital. Slices of the cake with the recipe were ‘sold by chance’ that evening, and the lucky winner was Mrs Frederick R Hazard.
The first recipe that I have been able to find appeared on December 24th 1906 in the Daily Gazette And Bulletin of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and here it is:
‘Lady Baltimore Cake’.
Beat the whites of six eggs. Take a cup and a half of granulated sugar, a cup of milk, nearly a cup of butter, three cups of flour and two teaspoonfuls of good baking powder. Sift the flour and baking powder together into the other ingredients, adding the eggs last of all. Bake in two buttered pans for fifteen or twenty minutes.
For the frosting: Two cups of granulated sugar and a cup and a half of water, boil until stringly, about five minutes usually does it. Beat the whites of two eggs very light, and pour the boiling sugar slowly into it, mixing well. Take out of this enough for the top and sides of the cake, and stir into the remainder for the filling between the two layers, one cup of finely chopped raisins and a cup of chopped nuts. This is delicious when properly baked.
Who originated this recipe? We will probably never know for certain, but undoubtedly some entrepreneurial cake-shop owner noted the interest – perhaps had even read the book – tweaked a popular white cake recipe and re-named it. Perhaps it was indeed the ladies at the Lady Baltimore Tea Rooms in Charleston.
P.S there is a yellow-cake version, using egg yolks, called, of course ‘Lord Baltimore Cake’.