Julia Cakes with Mango Custard Sauce — A Lovely Vintage Vanilla Tea Cake Made Modern

Julia Cake slice close up 2 side plated over mango sauce LifeForcePhotos BakeThisCake

Lovely little vanilla tea cakes made moist with sour cream and baked in muffin tins or in small bread pans. Serve slices of the cake on a bed of our chilled Mango Custard or use our old-fashioned buttermilk frosting recipe to frost them vintage style. These little cuties will remind you of sunshine and all things yummy! Continue reading

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The New and Improved Mary Todd Lincoln Vanilla Almond Cake Recipe

Abe Lincoln overshot Lifeforcephotos for Bake This Cake

A rich and buttery vanilla almond cake made from scratch with fine quality ingredients just like an old-fashioned Seduction Cake — and it needs no frosting! ooohh! Continue reading

Life Force Lemon Drizzle Vintage Cake Recipe

Lemons from the Tree Bake This Cake

The Life Force Lemon Drizzle Cake — a moist vintage lemon cake drizzled with a lemon glaze and served with a dollop of Lemon Chantilly (hint-of-lemon whipped cream. Feel the bright life force in it and bring it!! Continue reading

The Amazing Boiled Icing and Nutty Filling for the Lady Baltimore Cake

Lady Baltimore Cake Cutaway shot on milk platter by BakeThisCake Photo by LifeForcePhotos

Presenting Boiled Icing – a classic cake frosting and throw-back to turn-of-the-century recipes …perfect for ringing in the new year vintage style!  The filling for the Lady Baltimore Cake is decked with nuts and dried fruits all twirled together with the special Boiled Icing to re-create an unusual vintage surprise with each bite.

Lady Baltimore Cake tall overview with buffet foods by BakeThisCake  Photo by Lifeforcephotos

The party season has not quite concluded.  Yo! Champagne tray by the Christmas Tree Photo by LifeForcePhotos for BakeThisCakeResolutions are being mentally scripted by the boatloads. Mine?  I have so many!  I will try to think up better passwords. I will stop worrying about not exercising enough. I will grow a thicker head of hair. I will embrace auto-correct. I will learn to talk like the GPS lady. And on and on!  We are reflecting on the people, events and ideas that have impressed us over the past year of change. Questions about what the new year will bring are sneaking into our thoughts. And hooking up with friends and family continues to play a a pivotal role in the season of holiday fellowship. Which brings me to — cake. You knew I was headed there, right? :) Hip and cool vintage cake, that is.  What better way to ring in the prospects of an amazing new year than with an historic cake from century-old recipes, tweaked to perfection for present-day tastes.

Here’s my favorite short version of the nutty Lady Baltimore Filling from a crusty little copy of Iglehart’s 1920′s booklet. A good starting point, for sure.  :)

Lady Baltimore fig filling by Iglehearts booklet 1921

Party Size Cake, Party Size Filling With Extras: The filling recipe presented here is for our Lady Baltimore Cake – made in two very large 22″ by 2″ round pans (those are LARGE cake pans).  We’re celebrating my 90-year-old mom’s book signing for her book, While Wandering: A Photo-Poetic Journey Through California Landscapes – so we need a large celebration cake! (Divide the recipe by 4 if you will be making a standard family-sized cake.)  We’ve made more fruit and nuts than you may actually want to use but this is where your own personal taste comes into play. Deck every cake layer and even the top of the cake with the filling ingredients before smothering it all with Boiled Icing — OR leave the very top of the cake pristine with just icing, OR use less nuts and fruits for a less crunchy filling. This is all according to your taste preference. So play with it — or go by the book, either way. If you have leftovers, they won’t be around for long. :)

Lady Baltimore 3 slices BakeThisCake Photo by LifeForcePhotos

Slow Cooking Warning: 1.) The lovely and colorful raisins take an hour to plump with a little hot vanilla soak and they take another hour to dry out again; 2.) The nuts must be roasted to enhance their highest flavor potential; 3.) The dried fruits are best hand-chopped to get them to a nice uniform dice; and 4.) The Boiled Icing needs to, well, boil for a while and, after the cake is frosted, it needs a little time to transform to a crusted snowy showpiece. So, yeah. Consider yourself warned. Set aside your briefcase, jack up the music and have some fun with this slow cooking vintage cake project. :)

Lady Baltimore being served on the table by BakeThisCake

Tools Needed for Filling:
Tea kettle or pot for boiling water (or large boil if using the microwave)
2 large bowls (for soaking raisins and mixing dried fruits with nuts)
Strainer or sieve (for draining raisins)
Paper towels (for drying raisins)
Cookie baking sheet (for roasting nuts)
Food processor (for nuts)
Nice sharp knife for hand-chopping the dried fruits

Ingredients for Filling:
4 cups of seedless organic raisins mixed with golden raisins
4 cups of boiling water (to dispose of after soaking raisins)
1 Tablespoon of pure vanilla extract, fine quality (you can substitute with sherry or brandy)
4 cups of whole almonds, chopped, then roasted (substitute: walnuts or pecans)
15 dried figs (we used 10 small dried Mission black figs, 5 large Calimyrna figs)
4 large dried dates (we used Medjool dates)

Directions for Filling:

In a large bowl, pour boiling water to cover:
4 cups of seedless organic raisins mixed with golden raisins

Add to the raisins, stir gently and let soak for 1 hour:
1 Tablespoon of pure vanilla extract, fine quality (you can substitute with sherry or brandy)

Photo clarification note: This looks like a one-cup measuring cup but it’s really a large 2-quart bowl marked like a standard measuring cup. :)

Raisins mixture soaking for Lady Baltimore Cake filling by BakeThisCake

Drain the raisins in a sieve or strainer for about 1 hour.

Raisins draining for Lady Baltimore Cake filling by BakeThisCake

Pat the raisins dry with a few paper towels to make sure they are not soggy.

Slice and chop into very small diced bits:
15 dried figs (we used 10 small dried Mission black figs, 5 large Calimyrna figs)
4 dried Medjool dates
Tip: This combination of figs and dates should make about 2 cups of a finely sliced and chopped mixture.

Chopping Figs and Dates for Lady Baltimore Cake filling by BakeThisCake

Chop the slices into dices and make them as small as you can by hand, even smaller than shown in this photo if possible…

Chopped dried fruits for Lady Baltimore Cake by Bake This Cake

Now to the nuts…You may use walnuts or pecans for this recipe if you like.

Spread evenly on a baking sheet pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes until golden brown:
4 cups whole skin-on almonds (substitute walnuts or pecans)

Remove the roasted almonds, stir and bake an additional 10 minutes at reduced heat of 325 degrees using the broiler or top heat in the oven if possible. Watch carefully to be sure the almonds don’t get too brown. We’re looking for a perfectly golden color. :)

Roasted almonds for Lady Baltimore Cake filling by BakeThisCake

Now. SMELL the aroma wafting through your kitchen! Amazing, isn’t it?

When the almonds are cooled, chop them into a small diced chop using the food processor — or chop by hand.

Tip: Kick on my Pandora radio channel and listen to some classic rock if you’re chopping by hand and you’ll do fine. Just know, them’s a lot of nuts.  Whew!

Roasted almonds chopped for Lady Baltimore Cake filling by BakeThisCake

In a large bowl, combine the nuts with the prepared fruits…

Photo clarification note: This looks like a one-cup measuring cup but it’s really a large 2-quart bowl marked like a standard measuring cup. :)

Combining almonds with fruits for Lady Baltimore Cake frosting by BakeThisCake

You MUST use your fingers to start working all nuts and fruits together nicely into a well-combined bowl of figgie, date, raisin-y, nuts…

Combining nuts and fruits in bowl for Lady Baltimore Cake frosting by Bake This Cake

Your mixed fruits and nuts are now ready and the next stage –

The Boiled Icing is ready to prepare. Remember, from this bowl of nuts and fruits, feel free to take away as much as 2 cups of mixed fruit and nuts (to use for snacks or other purposes) if you think you will want a cake filling with less nut-fruit mixture.

Prepared fruits and nuts mix for the Lady Baltimore Cake with Boiled Icing on the stove by BakeThisCake

Now on to the Boiled Icing for the crowning glory of the Lady Baltimore Cake…

2-step Boiled Icing for Filling and Frosting: a fabulous, dreamy frosting that is purest white. We will separate some of the frosting ingredients so that you don’t have to work so fast to frost the outer cake before the frosting does it’s cool science trick and hardens. The bulk of the frosting will be prepared first to mix with the fruits and nuts for filling the inner cake layers. The top of the cake can be spread with this filling also, but that’s optional. Then we’ll work on the outer frosting. It’s a fun 2-step process resulting in a cake frosting that will transform before your eyes to harden into a soft white crust over the outer cake.

Lady Baltimore Cake closeup with orange flowers by BakeThisCake Photo by LifeForcePhotos

Let’s take a way-quick look at a bit of the history of Boiled Icing…

This is a “soft ball” discussion from Iglehart’s 1920′s recipe booklet…

Boiled Icing by Ingelheart's booklet 1921

Don’t forget the 1897 “saltpoonful” from the “Up To Date Cook Book” by Thought and Work Club, Salem, Mass, 1897…

Boiled Icing from The Up To Date Cook Book by Thought and Work Club Salem Mass 1897

Tools Needed for Boiled Icing:
Large heavy pot
1 Medium bowls (for removed egg yolks)
Large bowl (for main whipped egg whites)
Medium bowl (for reserved second batch of frosting for the outer cake)
Electric mixer (stand mixer preferred but hand-held is do-able…I know, I’ve done it. :) )
Large spouted pouring device (optional, to pour hot sugar water into egg whites)

Ingredients for Boiled Icing:
3 cups of granulated sugar
3 cups of fresh water
12 large egg whites

Directions for Boiled Icing:

Place into a large heavy pot:
3 cups of granulated sugar

Pour over the sugar without stirring and bring to a medium boil on medium heat without stirring:
3 cups of fresh water

Boil the sugar-water mixture until the sugar “threads” or until the mixture reaches a heat point of 240 degrees (could take up to 30 minutes). This is where the strongly recommended thermometer comes in. Since this mixture will be used to cook the egg whites for the icing, this mixture must reach a high heat point of 240 degrees in order to properly cook the egg whites for safety reasons (and to make this icing work the way we want it to).

Boiling water to thread stage for Lady Baltimore Cake by Bake This Cake

Separate 12 large eggs (egg yolks will not be used in this recipe).

Using an electric mixer, beat on high-speed until stiff:
the separated 12 large egg whites

Beaten egg whites for Lady Baltimore Cake frosting by BakeThisCake

Set aside some egg whites: Remove and set aside 3 cups of the whipped egg whites (to use for the plain frosting for the sides and top of the cake).

Remove boiled egg whites for filling Lady Baltimore Cake by BakeThisCake

Set aside some sugar syrup: From the molten sugar-water pot, carefully pour into a holding container and set aside 1-1/2 cups of the very hot sugar syrup (to be re-heated for the plain frosting for the sides and top of the cake).

Now back to our filling: Slowly drizzle the balance of the hot sugar syrup into egg whites while the mixer is on low-speed.

Drizzling boiled sugar water into egg white for Lady Baltimore Cake by Bake This Cake

Increase the mixer speed to high-speed and whip away until you have a finished glossy boiled frosting that looks just as loverly as this…

Boiled Frosting for Lady Baltimore Cake by Bake This Cake

Okay. You’re doing great!

Now get your cakes at the ready for frosting activity like little soldiers all in a row. :) And get your fruit-nut mix ready to rock too…

Getting the Lady Baltimore Cakes ready to frost by BakeThisCake

Decide if you want to use the entire bowl of mixed fruits and nuts for the cake filling. As discussed above, you may choose to remove as much as 2 cups of fruit-nut mix and the cake filling will still be nutty and fruity. Decide if you want to use fruits and nuts on the top of the cake or leave the top smooth.

Mix the prepared Boiled Icing in with the prepared fruit-nut mix.

Boiled Frosting to mix with fruits and nuts for Lady Baltimore Cake by BakeThisCake

Fold nuts and fruit thoroughly into frosting.

Filling for Lady Baltimore Cake mixed in a bowl by BakeThisCake

Spread the frosting on the cake layers…

Spreading bottom 2 layers of Lady Baltimore Cake with filling by BakeThisCake

The top of the cake can be left pristine or dolloped with the nutty frosting (or covered the plain mixed nuts mixture without frosting)…your choice.  All will soon be swallowed in pure white icing.

I left the top of my cake plain…

Unfrosted filled Lady Baltimore Cake by BakeThisCake

Re-heat the reserved 1-1/2 cups of sugar-water syrup to 240 degrees and drizzle it slowly into the reserved 3 cups of egg whites, beating to a heavenly and glossy finish.

Using a spatula or other frosting tool, spread the prepared Boiled Icing over the top of the filled cake, adding extra Boiled Icing at the top sides to let it run over the edges, smoothing it down and across the sides of the cake and decorating the cake in your preferred fashion. You may create swirls or dots or make it completely smooth using a flat tool or spatula.

Pouring Frosting over Lady Baltimore Cake by BakeThisCake

Here is a photo of the sides of the cake being frosted. It is a little sticky but it spreads like a dream…Lady Baltimore Cake with sides being frosted by BakeThisCake

Because this sticky Boiled Icing will harden soon, be sure to wipe away any drips while the frosting is still wet. I used a few wet paper towels to clean away my messy drips.

The Grand Lady Baltimore has now been freshly frosted with the historic Boiled Icing. Before it dries, you will see a glistening snow-white cake…

Lady Baltimore Cake frosted with Boiled Icing by BakeThisCake

It may take a good hour before the cake is fully hardened.  Store the cake in a large cake container without letting anything touch the frosting at any point before serving. Initially, the frosting could become “dented”. After it dries, the frosting could become “chipped”. Overall, this is a nice cake for traveling and I would say it travels well on a large sturdy cake plate, covered or uncovered.

Here’s to your vintage celebration cake!

Lady Baltimore Cake by BakeThisCake tilt angle Photo by LifeForcePhotos

Happy New Year’s to you all and be sure to join us on Facebook, on Twitter and now on Pinterest!


Leslie Macchiarella Author of BakeThisCake Photo by LifeForcePhotos

Leslie with Mom at Mom's book signing for While Wandering book

Leslie with Mom at Mom's book signing for While Wandering book

Viola Odell signing While Wandering books Photo by John Albritton

Viola Odell signing While Wandering books Photo by John Albritton

Christine speaking at book signing event Photo by John Albritton

Christine Murphy, Photographer, speaking at book signing event for While Wandering book by Viola Geary Odell

While Wandering book signing Christine Murphy Photographer with Viola Geary Odell Author

Christine Murphy, Photographer, with Viola Geary Odell, Author of While Wandering

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River House Whipped Cream Cake Recipe

Our River House Whipped Cream Cake is a simple and delicate holiday cake filled with a sweet mixture of pureed cranberries, strawberries  and buttercream (we call it Berry-Berry Filling).  It’s frosted in classic style with an old-fashioned silky cream cheese buttercream frosting. What could be more charming for your holiday festivities (or any special celebration) when you want a simple and elegant homemade classic?

California Road Tripping: Heading north from L.A. to the country to cook up a  storm with the fam.  Nearly every trip to the ole’ hometown of Merced, we try to visit the Merced National Wildlife Refuge at some point – if only just to drive through on a circle loop. As long as the windows will roll down we’ll be rolling through. Why? Because it’s inspiring.

The Photo Blind is a big ground hole for photographers

This ten-thousand-acre wildlife reserve is an unusual spot of earth — like an incredible free and open bird zoo. It’s also an amazing feat of technology — with specialized plantings, rotating food crops and pumping water systems for different times of the year. It is one of many (even larger and more diverse) in the 400-mile-long Central Valley of California. And it is home to up to 60,000 geese. Okay. THAT’S a big bunch of geese! (They’re winging their way along the Pacific Flyway south from Alaska and Canada.) The geese hang with about 20,000 cranes and what seems like a gazillion ducks, owls (burrrowing owls, you said?  yes!) and other amazing creatures.  We now know that a “paddling of ducks” refers to ducks on water and a group of geese on the ground is called a “gaggle of geese” (actually, we already knew that, right? :) ). But this one’s good —  A “skein of geese” refers to geese in flight.

The reserve is loaded up with hidden duck blinds and geese blinds for the hunters. In this area hunting season runs from about October through January.  (I come from a way-Photo Blind sign Merced National Wildlife Reservehunting family (when I was a kid my dad owned the local duck hunting club for a time) so that doesn’t bother me…but you will hear rifle fire every now and then during the cold season.  Sorry.)  My dad always said that the reserves would not be around if not for the hunters who help to fund them in a big way but, if you’re timid about being around hunters, maybe visit in the spring — there are always tons of birds to see.

But when it’s cold and foggy and darkish, it can sort of blow your mind. How about tripping around in the tule fog through the marshland at dawn only to freeze stone-cold solid as TENS OF THOUSANDS OF GEESE launch into the sky all at once!!  TALK ABOUT WOW!  I’m telling you it’s like standing on an airport runway. Think: jumbo jet taking off right next to you. Just the SOUND of a million fluttering wings.  BUT THEN — the honking. Aw, yes, the honking!

I took this little video with my iPhone so you could sense how strange it was to hear the sound of all these birds coming close but not seeing them in the fog — catching only sporadic glimpses of the “skein” (see, I can learn a new word along with the best of ‘em). :)

Here is the panoramic series of 3 photos I took along the marshy shores in a dawn fog…If you ever get the chance, check it out (and let me know what you think). :)

Home for the holidays: When we’re cooking at the river house we always aim to use great-grandma’s vintage cooking tools and long-lost recipes to bring that old-fashioned holiday feeling back for the family.  Everyone takes part in bringing the house alive. My 90-year old mum plays the upright piano while Uncle Bill acts as the chef d’jour. On Thanksgiving he made us slow-roasted turkey brined in orange juice, cornbread stuffing, baked sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes with giblet gravy and green bean mushroom casserole. My son, Michelangelo, created some lovely yeast rolls for us using the bread baker skills he’s learning at the restaurant where he works in Carmel. Our family friend, Felix, brought his father’s amazing-and-incredible baked ham (that his father prepares only on special order nowadays for friends after retiring as a chef). Sister Christine brought us, not one — but three — homemade pumpkin pies (my son ate nearly one whole pie all by himself!).  Brother Mark brought special champagne and nephew, John, the family wine connoisseur, brought lovely wines (and a carrying case packed with traveling wine glasses and decanter). :)

Of course, I brought the Whipped Cream Cake, all locked and loaded for the trip from Los Angeles, along with some holiday sugar cookies and a homemade cranberry sauce (that we used a portion of for creating the cake filling for this cake).

The Whipped Cream Cake: This cake has no butter but the heavy cream adds the goodness (and the fat) needed to make a delightful vintage celebration cake. I think it would be hard to find a more delicate cake that speaks of old-fashioned homemade goodness.  Although I sliced the bottom cake layer to be level, I left the top cake uncut so that the slight mound of the finished cake resembles just what we’re after — the by-gone days come alive again.

A slice of history: Recipes for Whipped Cream Cake are plentiful in old cookbooks and on the web. Sometimes you’ll find them under the heading, “Cream Cakes” (although many

Amercian Woman's Cook Book recipe for Whipped Cream Cake 1939 p471

older recipes mean “milk” when they say “cream” and “sweet cream” when they mean “heavy cream” and on and on…so be prepared for some confusion when it comes to terms like “cream cake”.  Not to confuse matters further, but check out our recipe for a vintage Cream Cake (a lovely tea cake) that uses milk (in accordance with the historic recipe) as its main ingredient — our Carmel Cottage Cake — that you can find by clicking HERE.

Okay. Time to make whipped cream memories…This one’s easy!

Vintage Whipped Cream Cake

Tools Needed for Cake:

2 – 8″ baking pans
Butter for greasing baking pans
Wax paper or parchment for lining
2 Large mixing bowls
1 Medium mixing bowl
Electric mixer
Spatula (for folding flour into whipped cream)
Measuring cups and spoons

Whipped Cream Cake Ingredients:
Prep: 1 Tablespoon of butter for preparing the baking pans
1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream (also called just “heavy cream”)
1-1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, fine quality
1-3/4 cups cake flour
2-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cake Baking Directions:

Set out on the counter to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes (or place them in a bowl of warm water until they lose their chill):
2 large fresh eggs
Tip: This step of warming the eggs is optional but seems to produce a lighter cake. :)

Set the oven rack to center position and temperature to 375 degrees.

Prepare two 8″ baking pans by rubbing them with about a tablespoon of unsalted butter and lining the bottom with a cut-out circle of wax paper or parchment that is also rubbed with butter.
Tip: I used wax paper instead of parchment and it works fine.
Alternative method (but not recommended): Spray pans with cooking spray, line with paper, spray again. Butter tastes better on the crumb crust of this cake. :)

In a large bowl, beat on high until just soft and fluffy (but not stiff, about 1 to 2 minutes):
1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

In a medium bowl, beat on high until creamed and thickened (about 5 minutes):
the room temperature eggs
1-1/3 cups sugar

Beat into the egg-sugar mixture until incorporated:
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, fine quality

Using a spatula, fold the whipped cream into the egg-sugar mixture until thoroughly incorporated.

In a large bowl, whisk until thoroughly mixed:
1-3/4 cups cake flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Using a spatula, fold the whipped cream-egg-sugar mixture into the flour mixture until thoroughly incorporated.
Tip: As an alternative, you may use the electric mixer on low to beat the flour into the egg mixture in portions beating only until just thoroughly incorporated.

The batter itself is delightful and it looks like a whipped cream cake right from the start. :)

Load the batter into the prepared pans. (See how the batter shines?)

Bake the cakes at 375 for 25 to 30 minutes until lightly golden and toothpick test comes clean.
Tip: If you press very gently on the top center of the cakes when you believe they are done, they should not leave an indent mark. If this happens, just plop them back in a tad. :)

Cool the cakes thoroughly before frosting (or before wrapping for storage or travel).  They are quite delicate but will hold nicely for pre-prep while you work on other holiday dinner goodies.

I baked my cakes 2 days early, wrapping them tightly in plastic wrap and tucking them inside a cake-keeper — and then hiding them from inquisitive teens. :) They stayed light and fresh and traveled well unfrosted.

Stay tuned for the silky and luscious Old-Fashioned Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting…We’re going to keep the crumbs on this cake (because they’re delicious) but I’ll show you how to frost it even when it is loaded with a light crust.

…and the delightful Berry-Berry Filling in our next post….

Thank you for all your kind words!  I so love hearing from you.  Be sure to stay in touch and follow us on Facebook and Pinterest!

Happy holidays,


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Boiled Milk Cake for The Italian Lovesong Cake

Italian Lovesong Cake side view

The Italian Lovesong Cake — a cake-upon-cake cake with an old-fashioned Boiled Milk Cake (Torta di Latte Caldo) on the bottom, double-decked with an elegant cheesecake (Torta di Latte Formaggio) that is wrapped in a Ladyfinger Cookie Crumb Crust, and dolloped center stage with a wildly unique Hibiscus Custard. Continue reading

Marco Polo Cake

Marco Polo Cake tight close up on cream puffs Photo by Christine Murphy

An Italian caramelized profiterole cake made with 100 petite choux pastry puffs filled with sweet mascarpone, ricotta and whipped cream. Each cream-filled puff is dipped in homemade caramel sauce then stacked into a magnificent hollow dome, drizzled with candied caramel sauce and swirled with strands of angel hair caramel. Continue reading

San Francisco Blueberry Cake

Blueberry Cake

An elegant San Francisco Blueberry Cake loaded to the brim with fresh local blueberries, drizzled with a classic Creme Anglaise (vanilla custard) Sauce and dolloped with sweetened whipped cream. The perfect elegant travel dessert when you’re bringing the cake! Continue reading