Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Chris Smith's To Kill A Mockingbird Blog

Celebration? Time for a Lane Cake

Lane cake is mentioned several times in To Kill A Mockingbird, especially when there is a special occasion to celebrate.

Miss Maudie is the cook who makes Lane Cakes. In fact, in chapter five, she is mentioned as making “the best cakes in the neighborhood.”

In chapter eight, Miss Maudie’s house burns but she surprises Scout when she announces she will make a Lane Cake and give it to her neighbor Mr. Avery for his help in fighting the fire.

In chapter 13, when Aunt Alexandra arrives to stay with the Finches, Miss Maudie made a Lane cake to honor her arrival.

In chapter 22, Miss Stephanie pesters Jem, Scout and Dill about the trial but Miss Stephanie distracts them by asking them to her porch for cake.

Other cakes are mentioned too, such as angel food and pound cake, but Lane Cake is mentioned most often.

Lane cake is a symbol of the South

The first recipe for Lane Cake was first printed in Some Good Things to Eat, by Mrs. Emma Rylander Lane, which she published in 1898. It was originally called Prize cake because it place first in a baking contest at a county fair in Columbus, Georgia, where Mrs. Lane was demonstrating ranges.

Lane Cakes look simple from the outside but there is more to this cake than meets the eye. Lane Cakes generally are considered by many to be difficult to make due to the complicated preparations and multiple ingredients.

A traditional Lane Cake is a white cake, a type of sponge cake, made in layers. It has four layers separated by filling. Each layer is supposed to be made in a pie tins instead of cake pans, making each layer smaller. The layers have different ingredients, making the cake unique – and more labor intensive. For example, cocoanut, dried fruit, and nuts are common additions, but they are not included in the original recipe.

The outside usually has a white frosting made of water, sugar, and whipped egg white. It has a filling of butter, raisins, and whiskey. Each layer has different ingredients. For example, one layer may have pecans and coconut, the next layer almonds and raisins. The recipe has been modified many times through the years.

Miss Maudie prized her Lane Cake recipe. When her house burns and she is forced to move to Miss Stephanie’s house, she says: “Soon as I can get my hands clean and when Stephanie Crawford’s not looking, I’ll make him a Lane cake. That Stephanie’s been after my recipe for thirty years, and if she thinks I’ll give it to her just because I’m staying with her she’s got another thing coming.”

Stephanie had to wait, but you don’t. If you want to try to make Lane Cake, you can find all kinds of recipes on the internet.