I love to read. Far and away, reading is my number one hobby. If for some odd reason I were to become independently wealthy, all I would do is sit around and read. I’d curl up on the couch and read all night. I’d swing in a hammock on the beach and read all day. I’d read on the plane while I traveled from my couch to the beach. If my nephew asks me for girl advice someday, I will say to him, “Wyatt, you should Date a Girl Who Reads.”
Though I’ve always been a reader, I wouldn’t say I’m well read. I’ve never read any of the great Russian authors, (Tolstoy, Chekhov), and I honestly can’t think of any literary greats who I should be reading (Milton?). So why books? And why today?
At 3 p.m. EST today, the 2012 winners of the Pulitzer Prizes will be announced. I have a deal with myself to read every book that has ever won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Prior to 3 p.m. today, I’ve read 35 of the 53 prize-winners. And when I get through the list, I’ll take on another category. I have a lot of reading to do.
My two favorite books are “Gone With The Wind” (the movie does not do the book justice) and “Lonesome Dove.” Rounding out my top five would be “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay”, “Middlesex”, and “The Grapes of Wrath”. A few of my favorite authors include Jeffrey Eugenides, Wally Lamb, and John Updike. And though they’re not all that literary, anytime Emily Giffin releases a new book or Charlaine Harris writes a Sookie Stackhouse tale, I’m all over them.
As a kid, my summer routine was to ride my bike from my Grandma and Grandpa’s house to the library in the morning, then swim at our town’s pool in the afternoon. For a few years, I spent my mornings helping kids learn to hone their reading skills at the summer reading program in “the little red schoolhouse” before trekking over to the library. Those were the days.
And in those days I loved “Bridge to Terebithia,” “A Wrinkle in Time,” and anything Judy Blume wrote. I’d also be remiss not to mention I’m pretty sure I’ve read every Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley Twins, and Babysitter’s Club book in existence. Does that enhance or utterly destroy my cool image?
Since the Pulitzer winners are on my reading bucket list, and a Lane Cake was on my cake bucket list, it seemed fitting I should post a Lane Cake on Pulitzer Day. Lane Cake is referenced in Harper Lee’s 1961 Pulitzer winner “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Scout says, “Miss Maudie baked a Lane Cake so loaded with shinny it made me tight.” When I read that sentence for the first time, I didn’t know what “tight” meant. The first thing that went through my mind was, “Tight? Did it give the poor girl the runs?” Turns out tight is a slang term for drunk. (I warned you I’m not well read.) And in case you didn’t know, shinny references the liquor in the cake.
This cake recipe, from “Booze Cakes: Confections Spiked with Spirits, Wine, and Beer“, calls for bourbon in the cake, filling, and frosting. If I had made this Lane Cake a few weeks ago, it could have easily been my entry for the Cooking Hard Stuff challenge. It takes a lot of ingredients (10 eggs!), equipment (three cake pans, two mixing bowls, one candy thermometer), and time. I was pretty beat by the time I had it all put together, but I then again, it didn’t get to be on my cake bucket list because it was easy.
The full recipe is below but here are the high points. Be prepared to use both a hand mixer and a stand mixer as the cake batter needs to be mixed and the egg whites need to be beaten to stiff peaks to fold into the cake batter. I had a lot of filling left over. I wrote the ingredients below as they appear in the cookbook, but unless you plan to cut your three cake layers into halves for a six layer cake, I would recommend halving the ingredients for the filling. Avoid the urge to place too much filling on the cake layers or you will end up with a drippy mess that will be difficult to frost. Lastly, I found my Wilton Cake Lifter to be invaluable throughout the process of assembling and moving this cake.
If you would like to know what I have read or am currently reading, feel free to send me a friend request on Goodreads. If you are in need of some recipe inspiration, I also keep a Love & Flour Goodreads profile where I list all the cookbooks I peruse. Enjoy!
Updated to note: For the first time since 1977, no Pulitzer Prize was awarded for Fiction! I am so disappointed, yet I also find the irony of this post and no award hilarious. I am taking solace in the fact that I have read one of the nominated books, Swamplandia!, and that I have plenty of cake to eat.
- For the Cake
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup milk
- 10 egg whites
- For the Filling
- ¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter
- 1¾ cups granulated sugar
- ⅓ teaspoon salt
- 10 egg yolks
- 2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped
- 1 cup golden raisins, chopped
- 1½ cups assorted dried fruits, chopped
- ½ cup candied cherries
- 1½ cups unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted
- 1 cup bourbon
- ⅓ cup orange juice
- For the Frosting
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
- ¼ cup bourbon
- ¼ cup half-and-half
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add in the bourbon and the vanilla extract and continue to beat.
- Add part of the flour mixture, then some of the milk, to the mixing bowl. Continue to add the flour and milk in alternating additions, ending with the flour to prevent curdling.
- In another mixing bowl, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks.
- Gently fold the egg whites into the cake batter.
- Pour the batter into three, greased and floured 8-inch cake pans.
- Baked at 325 degrees F for approximately 30 minutes or until the cakes are golden and a knife inserted into them comes out clean.
- Set the cakes aside to cool.
- While the cakes bake and cool, prepare the filling. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
- Remove from heat and whisk in the sugar, salt, and egg yolks.
- Return to medium heat and stir constantly until a candy thermometer inserted into the mixture reads 180 degrees F.
- Remove the heat again and stir in the pecans, dried and candied fruits, coconut, bourbon and orange juice.
- Set the filling aside to cool.
- While the filling and cakes cool, prepare the frosting.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and salt until creamy.
- Add the confectioners’ sugar and bourbon in alternating additions until fully incorporated.
- Slowly add the half-and-half and continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy.
- Refrigerate the frosting until ready to use.
- When the cake and filling are cool, assemble the cake by placing one cake on a plate.
- Pipe a ring of icing along the edge of the cake to act as a dam for the filling.
- Spread filling to the dam, then place a second cake on top of the filling.
- Repeat piping and filling on the second cake, then place the remaining cake on the top of the filling.
- If possible, allow to sit overnight to allow the flavors of the filling to meld into the cake.
- Use a spatula to spread the frosting over the top then down the sides of the cake.
- Rejoice you are finally finished and enjoy a piece of cake.